His Excellency, the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha, in 2012 announced the creation of seven new cities in Imo State. The cities are Ahiara, Akokwa, Anara, Mgbidi, Nwaorieubi, Okpala and Umuaka. The development of these cities which is a strong plank in the Governor’s Agenda to rescue Imo State from “underdevelopment” and “rural-urban migration” thereby “creating employment, wealth and improved standard of living” was very welcome especially in Ahiara which has enormous comparative advantage for urban development. This comparative advantage has been waiting for years to be exploited. The Catholic Church saw it long ago and located their Mbaise headquarters there. Ikemba Ojukwu saw it and held the Ahiara Declaration there. Owelle on becoming the Governor of Imo State barely two years ago also saw it. He liked what he saw and followed it up quickly with the announcement and the preliminary contacts by his officials. It is the slowdown in the initial speed that prompted this write-up. I remember that Sam Mbakwe also saw the potentials of Ahiara but that “saw” ended up in the air waves. This present “saw” will not end up in the air waves in Jesus name, Amen. As expected, Ahiara people are very happy with the Government over this pronouncement of Ahiara as a new city and are looking forward to its actualisation.
According to the past Special Adviser to the Governor on New City Development, Hon. Barr. Vita Ogbonna, the development of these new cities would include the following, namely: the construction of ultra modern markets/shopping centres; the building of city centres, recreation centres, children’s parks, and restaurants; the construction of housing estates; the building of city roads and roundabouts – each city will have about 30 kilometres of paved roads; the construction of abattoirs, building materials markets, artisan villages and business clusters; the provision of street lights and city gates; and the development of city secretariats.
The development of Umuaka, the Aka City, has taken off with the construction of its ultra modern market/shopping centre at an advanced stage; some of the buildings are currently at or above the lintel level. The development would, indeed, have gone very far but for some initial and serious challenges faced by the Government at the beginning of the project.
The Government team visited Ahiara early in 2013 for the development of a similar ultramodern market/shopping centre at Afor Ogbe. The host community was very receptive to the idea. A tour of the site was conducted. The site was suitable and inviting. Afor Ogbe has always been the major commercial centre in Mbaise. Subsequently, meetings have been held between Imo State Government officials and the host community represented by the Traditional Rulers of Ogbe and Ogbe Nneisii Autonomous Communities, officers of the two Community Government Councils (CGC), and some other representatives of Ezuruezu Ogbe. The Town Unions and subsequently the successor CGCs had met and put things in place to ensure a conducive atmosphere for concluding discussions and the take-off of the project. The willingness of the Ogbe autonomous communities to cooperate with the Imo State Government accordingly was conveyed to the Mayor of Ahiara City in June 2013. Four months after the said communication, no serious discussions have been held towards a quick realisation of the Ahiara ultra modern market/shopping centre project. The question every responsible Ogbe man and indeed Ahiara man is asking right now is, “gini ji nkita onwu?“ What is the matter?
We are aware of the recent order given to the road contractors in Imo State to go back to site. The author believes that it will be a good thing for the officials of the Imo State New City Development to likewise go back to Ogbe and conclude discussions to enable the development of the ultramodern market to start. Ahiara people will like to buy their food, drinks, clothing and other household goods from Ogbe Ahiara Ultramodern Market/Shopping Centre, at the earliest possible time. They are therefore looking forward to seeing this project listed among the successful achievements of the “action” Governor of Imo State.
Dr. Joe Onyike, Acting Head, Dept. of Estate Management, Imo State University, Owerri; Chairman, Ahiara Forum.
Enough of these Religious Pilgrimages
The new telegraphs newspaper of July 10, 2020 (pg 14) under the heading “Hajji 2020: No refunding for Oyo State intending pilgrims”, made an interesting reading.
According to the report, the governmentt of Oyo State refused to refund money for the 2020 intending pilgrims who requested for a refund.
It is very disappointing that since December 1983 coup it became the pre-occupation of the Federal and State Governments to arrange for religious pilgrimages through which trillions of Naira and our foreign exchange are carted away to the middle East. Millions of people – infants, youths, men, women, old and young are sponsored to grow the religious and medical tourism of the Middle East countries.
Had Saudi Arabia not strongly banned the 2020 HAJJ, millions of Nigerians would have trouped there to interact with their Muslim brothers of Iran and other coronavirus infested pilgrims; thus complicating our situation. Having thrown away the proceeds of our oil riches we now go begging for loans and investments from the Arab world with the collateral of concessioning our air and sea ports that will expose Nigeria to easy terrorist infiltration from the “BENEVOLENT” Arab countries.
The Lesson of COVID 19 should have taught us that God is everywhere and that Nigerians need not be travelling to Israel, Saudi Arabia or Rome, sponsored to waste our scarce oil money. It is enough that Islam and Christianity had their roots in the Middle East.
But we must stay in Nigeria to worship God who is omniscient and omnipresent. He lives in Nigeria. The Government must stop organizing or sponsoring religious pilgrimage.
The Federal Government must come out of the Organization of Islamic Conference, O.I.C, because it is an organization of Islamic countries whose only state law is Sharia. The duty of governments should be to create a level playing grounds for religious organizations, rather than involvement.
The Nigerian economy can no longer bear the wastage in religious and medical tourism. It is a fallacy talking of loans without interest because SUKKUK and other Islamic Bank loans are to promote Islamization. Let Oyo State Government refund the money to the intending 2020 pilgrims to enable them survive the lock down and its attendant economic pressure arising from coronavirus.
When a would be 2020 hajj pilgrim survives COVID-19 then he has the right to decide for himself whether or not to do the future pilgrimage. The Federal, the State and the Local governments must remove their hands entirety from promoting any religious faith in any way.
If COVID-19 abates or ends then Nigerian Muslims can organize their hajj and such events in the expansive areas of northern States and other African countries may converge there.
Since the Nigeria government is not a member of the C.A.R.I.T.A.S, the World Council of Churches or even the Traditional Religion, equity requires that the FGN comes out of O.I.C, otherwise, where is the SECULARITY of the Nigerian nation?
We must get out of the deceitful sentiments of the military rulers that preyed on us to support their autocracy. The Arabs are not Africans or black. No! Femi Adesina some time ago wrote to say that Muammar Ghadaffi was a Xenophobist. He was right. So are the Arabs!
Amato, Orogwe, Owerri West LGA.,
Imo State, Nigeria
Gov. Uzodimma should take payment of salaries, pensions more seriously
Amid hunger, poverty and penury occasioned by corona virus (Covid-19) which made us to sit at home, with its concomitant agonies, Imo State workers and pensioners are not paid, and the seven months arrears of gratuity which Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha was about to pay them as part of their arrears owed by Rochas Okorocha administration is now a dream.
The question now is, ‘Is the Federal allocation to Imo State a pledge? There is no unique or major project going on in the state now for one to say, that is where the allocations are channeled to!
The cogitation among other things is that Imo State has five major sources of monthly income, namely: Federal Allocation, 13% Oil Derivation, Ecological Fund, Internally Generated Revenue and Value Added Tax (VAT). And in addition to the IGR, Rt. Hon. Emeka Iheadioha, before he was removed from power announced that the IGR has risen to two hundred billion naira. Yet Imo workers who were paid recently received half salary of the months of February and March out of the five months owed them. Upon that, many workers have not received any thing inspite of having children, wives, aged parents and relations to carter for.
Inspite of Rochas Okorocha’s Government of scorpionism, he equivocally said, like his predecessor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, that Imo State is rich, but this current regime said Imo State is wretched. Whereas his motor convoy is about thirty five to forty, even more! Right now costly jeeps and cars have been bought for the judges and permanent secretaries, perhaps, for support.
All these are done amid the wretched state coffer. But Emeka Ihedioha, paid workers, pensioners, and planned paying gradually the backlog of gratuities owed pensioners and still went ahead with the reconstruction of the Chinese roads of his predecessor and other projects.
Moreso, on his notice of no payment for promotion issued to parastatals in the state after eleven years of no promotion to them, Emeka Ihedioha, like one who sucked his mother’s breast, humanly paid it in July. But it was stopped for investigation following a petition that Rochas Okorocha employed some first degree holders either on level 09, or 10 or 12 instead of on level 08.
When the anomalies were corrected, Ihedioha redirected for the payment before he was ousted by the Supreme Court. But when the matter came to this government, it was pushed away. This narration is just to let Nigerians know what Imo State parastatals are passing through in an oil producing state.
May I ask, ‘Is Imo State cursed over good government?’ After Governor Sam Mbakwe’s regime (Though he had it rough with Teachers), both the Military and paramilitary governors as well as the civilian governors kept the indigenes hoping on hope for good government, but when we wholeheartedly fought and got one in the person of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, the ‘Abujas’ said no!
You see, Imo politics is a goldmine. But now a public servant in the state hardly retires nowadays with a two bedroom flat due to the dehumanizing salary paid.
Its high time workers and pensioners made away with the state labour leaders as they no longer represent their interests and troupe out for their constituted rights such as promotion, workers quarters, Housing loan, pension rights, gratuity of pensioners and review of pension.
Isn’t it scornful and a mockery that some pensioners in the state are paid one thousand or two thousand naira a month? Whereas many states, including non-oil producing states like Kaduna state had reviewed pensions.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Chairman of the state, Comrade Austin Chalakpu promised to make a broadcast on May Day (Workers’ Day) over workers denied constituted rights, but to the chagrin of workers he did not do it again. Worse still, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) and the NLC refuted pensioners’ peaceful protest.
Again, this government severally announced paying all workers’ salaries but later said they are owing some workers. During their peaceful protest on Friday, 26th of June, 2020, pensioners were promised to expect their salary in the next few days. But there was nothing. You see, Governor Hope Uzodinma is never known for telling lies.
What Nigerian politicians, especially Imo politicians do not known is that payment of salary, allowance; pension, gratuity etc. are not achievement. They are constituted by law all over the world. Things that are achievement are things done after meeting those rights of government workers. So the issue of paying salaries, pension and gratuity on air, is a mockery of the government.
Moreso, as the government roared recovering two billion naira from ghost workers which other blind governors failed to see, it may be added to the six billion naira returned by the Economic and Finance Crime Commission (EFCC) from a former governor’s loot and pay the backlog of gratuities owed pensioners.
An open Letter to Sir Emeka Ihedioha – What’s next?
This may not be the best time to address this type of letter to you Sir. However, I have mustered the courage to write you at this trying moment in the history of Imo State as well as the history of Igbo people and nation. You may not know me, since we have never met, especially since you became the elected governor of Imo State. Perhaps your closest friends and your government officials must have called your attention to two or three write-ups I purposely addressed to you and your administration at the beginning and mid-way through till the latest catastrophic event of your removal from office by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
In those write-ups I encouraged you to do your best and as well called on all Imolites to solidly support your administration irrespective of party affiliations and ethnic groups. I remember I referred to you as “Our Savior” the only hope Imolites have in the restoration of order, equity and sanity to governance in Imo State after the catastrophic regime of the administration you, our Governor IHEDIOHA succeeded.
Supreme Court Verdict:
Any enlightened Nigerian who claims to be ignorant of what happened must be a notorious hypocrite. Since that ruling I have come up with two write-ups. I was neither for IHEDIOHA nor UZODIMMA, since I am not a politician or a party member, though over ninety percent of Nigerians accept that the only difference between the two major political parties in Nigeria is found only in NAME. In my two write-ups I declared a lamentation in the entire Igboland. The court ruling was a tragedy, simply because it is a great setback to peace, love, progress, unity and development in our land.
I was the first in the entire Imo State who advised that you, Sir IHEDIOHA should ignore the prophets of doom; when a certain soothsayer and fortune-teller in clerical garb was seeing ‘visions’ and receiving orders and directives from an unknown god. Our living God of Christians is not the God of anarchy, confusion and favoritism. The true prophetic mission in the modern times is that defined by the messianic and salvific teachings of Christ Jesus.
Any deviation from “i’detti e i‘fatti’ Gesu” (sayings and doings/actions of Jesus), the true Messenger, Lord, Teacher and Prophet, is false prophetism and deceit.
I lamented loudly that our collective enemies through the Supreme Court had won by setting us up against each other. See now! One cross-section of NDIGBO is lamenting, the other is rejoicing; one is demonstrating ‘against injustice’, the other ‘for justice’. Wow!
What to do next
Sir IHEDIOHA! As we, a great number of Imolites supported you right from the day you were sworn in as Imo State governor, so shall we support our present governor HOPE UZODIMMA. As I wrote and encouraged you, at the same time pointing out the consequences of inaction, so I will now turn to our friend, brother and our new leader. This is so because we are true patriots and lovers of peace, love, unity and development. The development of Imo State is our priority.
Sir IHEDIOHA, I must openly confess I could not find the most appropriate words to express my honest convictions here, the heart, the main point of this OPEN LETTER. However without mincing words, I am appealing to you to ‘leave’ this case as it stands. Let the Supreme Court Ruling be final. Let them win.
But this word is too‘weak’. I thought of saying: please‘surrender’ to them so that peace may reign! But this looks ‘harsh’ and perhaps, too, ‘unreasonable’. Why should you ‘surrender’ You have not been known to be a‘coward’. But I think I am not misunderstood! Let go Sir, heavens will not fall.
Yes, the only option, the only way out of this mess, this quagmire
This is the only option many of your lovers see, a way out of this quagmire, awkward, complex and hazardous situation.
If you don’t ‘forgive and forget’; if you continue with the litigation, our ‘enemies will continue to win. There are already strong rumors that federal government had planned to declare a state of emergency if any further signs of disorder continue in Imo State. There are stronger ‘rumors’ that a special force, as fierce as OPERATION PYTHON DANCE SQUAD is ready to enter Imo State at any time.
We will not allow our enemies to continue encroaching, because they have an agenda. I am not in any way raising false alarm. This is not a political prophecy of Nigerian color. No! Mine is an appeal for peaceful atmosphere, under which our present political leaders in Imo State can work and with God’s guidance and everyone’s support achieve meaningful goals, development of our state, so that our suffering will lessen. Igbos say “EBE NNWA SIRI LOO UWA YA HIRI” Thank you and God bless.
(May close associates and friends of our former governor allow him read this script)
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