In the year 2000, British Government built a Millennium Dome for exhibition. The Dome which cost £625million to build was projected to attract 12million visitors yearly for the project to meet its investment portfolio.
It became Britain’s second most popular attraction at that time. In its first and subsequent years, only six or seven million people visited the Dome. The Millennium Dome crashed before it took off. The promoters became jittery as the Dome was considered a reckless spending project. Many Britons viewed the project as an unacceptable waste of money and a project that failed entirely on the needs of the people. To them, if the fund was well deployed, it could have enhanced development of decaying infrastructures, education, healthcare and housing. The Millennium Dome died because of poor projection and needs assessment guide.
Recently, Chief Emeka Ihedioha who is not only a critical stakeholder in Imo State but a former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives advised Imo State Government that the high rate of profligacy, unplanned and unsustainable projects adorning all nooks and crannies of the state is destroying the beauty of Imo State.
In his insightful but nationalistic thoughts, he warned that Imo State is today the highest debtor state in the nation. The money the government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha has realized from Paris Club Exit, Bailout fund, Abuja monthly allocation as oil producing state and internally generated fund when compared to the states investment portfolio shows a dismal performance rating. An honest advice so to say. But before Chief Ihedioha could drop the interview session, attack dogs of the Governor who could not even synthesize the message took Ihedioha to the cleaners. But the attack dogs forgot to realize that bad governance has a limited shelf life.
I am one of those who in the early stage of this administration canvassed that Owelle Rochas Okorocha be given a chance to rule Imo State given his poor background. He is one man who saw what poverty could do to the mind and equally to the body. My conviction was that the typing institute which he established in Jos that later blossomed into mega schools will influence his approach, perception to management and development of the people. But as events unfold today, we are feeling betrayed and deceived.
I started having doubts about Owelle Rochas Okorocha Government when his mantra… my people, my people, my Governor, my Governor started wanning. The mantra changed to my Governor pay us our salary. Things have started falling apart. A Government with heavy load of unpaid salaries and pensions was not to be trusted. A Government that took 40 of his cabinet members to China and Turkey to understudy how streets are maintained smacks of underdevelopment of the mind. To portray his ineptitude in management, he built 27 general hospitals on the expressways leading to the 27 local government headquarters in Imo State and as today, none of the highway hospitals is equipped or functioning. It is work in progress. Nor has any Chinese investor or Turkish investor visited Imo State to begin the turning around of Imo State economy.
In the early stage of his administration, Owelle Rochas Okorocha sounded it loud and clear that his administration will cleanse all brand of impurities and rid the state of unholy accretions gathered from the unrepentant past governments. But here we are today that the previous governments baptized us with water but Owelle is baptizing us with fire and scorpion. In politics, our intellectual visions are sometimes blurred because our beliefs and allegiances often have strong emotive elements.
Last week, the maverick governor added another “Millennium Dome” in Imo State by floating an airline… Imo Air. This is a state where 80 percent of its employable youths are unemployed, civil servants, teachers, local government workers, pensioners have not been paid for at least one year. This is a state, ease of doing business is the highest in the nation. This is the only state in the whole West and Central Africa where a Governor’s wife is supervising four ministries whereas the commissioners who underwent scrutiny in the House of Assembly report to a woman who has no role as stated in the constitution. If we may ask! Who owns Imo Air? Imo people and Dana Airline or Imo State Government and Dana Airline. We need the clarification.
The fact that airline satisfies some need of the elite does not for now justify the huge resources deployed to service a minute percentage of Imolites. Whatever amount that was expended on this project is scandalously wasteful spending of tax payer’s money. In your heart of hearts and as ‘Servants’ of the people can the Government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Imo House of Assembly and retinue of economic advisers justify this airline project as one that is curiously needed by Imo Citizens? We think that if this money was deployed to energy, most of the dying hotels and businesses in Owerri will be resuscitated thereby creating employment.
Finally, we urge the Governor to listen when the likes of Ihedioha, Ohakim and other political, stakeholders of Imo State extraction teach him governance. For now, his approach to governance and utterances look disconnected from the needs of the people.
Imo citizens deserve more than the peanut given to them and they should not be treated so sanguinely. The Imo Air Project is a total drain in the tax payers’ money more so as Arik, Air Peace, Aero and Dana Airlines make daily flights to Owerri. Be honest to tell Imo people that you bought an aircraft that will do domestic chores for you and your family. This project will not add any economic value to Imo State. You may ask Rivers and Gombe States.
Also, it may not be out of place if the Leadership of the ruling party APC looks into the activities and governance style of state chief executives. Some of them have militarized the states as opposition, a key ingredient to democracy, is now being hounded. Owelle Okorocha, what will posterity in Imo State remember you for?
– Frank wrote from Lagos.