Ohakim, The Making of a Phantom Governor.
When sometime ago, someone wrote about Ohakim’s phantom budget in Imo State, I did not really subscribe to his argument because I thought Ohakim came with some better packages for Imo State. Since I am not living in Nigeria but hail from Imo State, I had the belief that with the way Ohakim sounded when he came to power, he needed our maximum cooperation to succeed where many governors have failed. I have been eagerly following news and reports about my state through the Internet since Ohakim came to power. The stories were flattering and I was seduced to believe that Imo State was one state placed on auto-wheels. I must say that I expected to see my state wearing a new and vibrant clothe but I am disappointed with what I saw when I visited some weeks ago. I had expected Imo State to be booming with activities, business and personal but what I saw was Imo State and Imo people in their most despondent spirit ever. I had witnessed a state that is clean and
I stayed for three weeks in Imo State and traveled to most parts of Imo State and can comfortably say that the state is in for its worst deal ever in its history. Most of what I read in the Internet is nothing more than glamorous pictures of success where open fraud is the case. Most of what I read were fictions and fairy tales made to give the governor out as a performing governor and nothing more. I understand what we read most times in the internet editions of the Nigerian papers and the internet as successful stories from Imo State are mere forgeries from some hired hands in the Imo State government house. Most of the views that appear in Nigerian papers speaking so glowingly of the wonders in Imo State are mere stories invented and sold under several fictitious names and nothing more. I also understand that a certain Special Adviser who was once a fiery writer was recruited for the purpose of churning these fictions. I visited even the government house to see things for myself and apart from the many barricades and war zones that have been created to shield the people from their ‘wonder governor’ nothing has changed from the sad days of Udenwa.
After I came back to base and still compiling my reports on Imo State, I read somewhere a report of Ohakim’s latest showing at Niteshift Coliseum where he was boasting freely of the wonders he has done in Imo State and I cannot help but weep for my Imo State. He said he has offered 10,000 jobs to Imo graduates through his Imo Job Center. I asked myself how many jobless graduates reside in Imo State in the first instance. Again, I cannot but ponder if the center employed this hefty number directly or wherever and I couldn’t find the answer since I know not any of the fairy lucky 10,000 that got employed through this process. Listen to Ohakim in his favourite pastime of self-glorifying himself, “I have collected only N37billion from the Federal Government, but if you see the project I have handled today, you will think that I am commanding miracles”, Sunday Independent, October 12, 2008, Page B3. Although he made no attempt to list any of these projects, it was not difficult to see that this is just one of the phantom and fake report cards that ensnared me to initially believe that something great is happening in Imo State. The truth is that although he remains so immodest in his loud boast of achievements, Ohakim is presently the most unproductive governor in the South East.
My dear readers should please not be deceived about the so-called Clean and Green Initiative that started and ended with planting grasses in some parts of Douglas and Wetheral Road. It should matter to them that cutting these grasses that have now grown wild is a challenge Ohakim and his men are finding so difficult these days. It should matter to them that the gutters in both roads are filled with septic waters and are breeding mosquitoes because there are no drainages to free them. But then, take a visit to the Ikenegbu and Aladimma Estates and you will shed buckets of tears for Imo State under Ohakim. Man-eating gullies have taken over the roads in the two housing estates and the areas are so impassable that you wonder if Imo has a government indeed. Better, go to the Relief Market and adjoining streets where an epidemic is looming because of the entrails that have blocked the streets and emit life-threatening stench that permeates the entire neighborhoods. This was a state capital that was declared the cleanest state capital in Nigeria. One wonders what the dirtiest capital will look like. If the state capital where Ohakim always invites people to ‘come and enjoy’ has this sordid picture, you can then imagine what the hinterlands look like.
Before my visit, I had subscribed to the fiction that most of the negative stories we read in the Internet about Ohakim were fables from his political enemies but after my visit, I had cause to believe that even the so-called opposition has not highlighted so well the picture of fraud that is happening in Imo State. Simply stated, Ohakim sees the governance of the state as mere con art and the loud protests of Imo people are there for any discerning journalist to capture. The true story in Imo State is that Ohakim believes that he can manipulate the minds of Nigerians through his fanatical courting of the limelight and the media to accept that he is doing wonders when all he had been doing is playing a game of deception. I will not go to enumerate the many financial scandals that have been traced to his government. I don’t know the veracity of such stories but I will further investigate. My contention is that there is nothing to show for the huge allocation he has collected from the federation account and the huge budgets he always announces.
Please, when next you see Ohakim, ask him of the following projects he promised to execute in his first two years in office.
i. The Imo Wonder Lake, for which I understand no soil, has been moved and for which he is now intent on raising a N40billion bond to finance.
ii. The new secretariat, which President Yar Adua laid the foundation with so much fun fair last year.
iii. The Nnanna Ukegbu Boulevard, which he promised to complete with his Rivers State counterpart in his first year of office to link Owerri and Port Harcourt.
iv. The hundreds of rural roads he promised to execute in his first year in power.
v. The league of foreign investors he promised to draw to the state.
vi. The end to the petroleum racketeering in Imo State.
vii. The Quangdong Chinese project he said he had brought to Imo State.
viii. The 21 st Century Health Emergency Unit in the rural areas.
ix. The dualisation of the Owerri-Umuahia, Owerri-Orlu, Owerri-Okigwe Roads which have ended up as the dividing the existing Owerri-Egbu, Owerri-Amakohia and Owerri-Orji township roads, and each of these does not measure up to a kilometer
x. The Owerri Inner Ring Roads. Etc.
These are just few promises the Governor has repeatedly made but which are not even at the conception stage. There are many more of these fake promises and Imo people are openly discussing how they ended up in the hands of a crook who enjoys celebrating himself and scoring himself so highly on projects that do not exist. What more, Ohakim surrounds himself with so many sycophants and praise singers, most of whom he inherited from the ineffective Udenwa regime as part of the deal that saw him to power.
Listening to his speeches, there is no attempt to hide the fact that the man believes he is playing on the intelligence of Imo people. His speeches are so hollow that most times, they were meant to amuse and provoke laughter. They lack depth, facts and conviction and he believes he is always in a theater any time he speaks in public. He goes about with a retinue of hangers on who make merry at his con arts and interrupt his speeches with loud praise of him. Between them, billions of Naira has disappeared and Imo is in the worst state of rot. The villages have become killing fields even with the all the money quoted to have been spent on providing security.
He believes he can cook a good image of performance for himself through organizing and sponsoring dubious awards to himself yet Imo people suffer and gnash their teeth in pain and agony. Let him send his men to the markets, the buses, public spaces and he would be shocked that he has become the most hated governor in the history of the state presently because Imo people believe they are in the hands of a crook. This has nothing to do with his main challenger, Ifeanyi Ararume, who I believe would even be worse than Ohakim. It has got everything to do with the fact that Ohakim is doing just nothing but celebrating himself since he came to power. For a governor who feels so good advertising how he had chased Imo people from the state, destroyed their properties and lives, gloats how he has banned the sale of sachet water in Imo State, how he has driven commercial motorcyclists from Owerri and how he has demolished buildings and structures, sadism completes the story of woes in Imo State under Ikedi Ohakim.
By Stephen Nwahiri.