A Case Study of Imo State (Part 2) ? By John Mgbe
In the first part of this report which was published on this website a few days ago, I tried to peep into some of the several federal government?s presence in Imo State .The essence of the exercise was to debunk the claim of the Okorocha-led APC Administration in Imo State which has serially accused the President Goodluck Azikiwe Jonathan-led FGN of not having any federal presence in Imo State. I wish to start this second stanza by reminding the reader that aside the other facilities listed in part 1 of this review, the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC), the Nigerian Census Board, the National Open University of Nigeria(NOUN) and River Basin Authority are well represented in Imo State. As I said earlier, I don?t have the full list of FGN presence in Imo State because I am not a PDP-sponsored journalist ; I am also not a member of the PDP ;but in Journalism, facts are sacred. So, it will be a wanton betrayal of professional oath for media professionals to turn a blind eye while the Okorocha Government which we elected into office embarks on a barefaced campaign of propaganda and malicious falsehood against the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).
I must not fail to mention that one of the critical areas of identifying the FGN presence in any state can be traced to the cumulative projects of the members of the National Assembly (Senators and House of Reps) in that particular state. These projects which are called ?Constituency Projects? represent the various FGN projects which are routed through the members of the NASS for onward actualization in their various constituencies. These projects are not executed with the personal funds of the NASS members; they are federal government projects. Hon Emeka Ihedioha has incessantly made it clear that the constituency projects are FGN projects as they are fully funded by the FGN. Unfortunately, there are some misguided NASS members who give the impression that they are using their money for such projects.
Hon Emeka Ihedioha?s Example: A good example is the case of Hon Emeka Ihedioha , Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, who has maintained a very impressive record in constituency projects and empowerment of Youths and Women. It is on account of his track record in the realm of constituency projects and Youth/Women empowerment that I referred to him as ?Mr. Constituency Projects? in one of my viewpoints. If you do an exhaustive analysis of Hon. Emeka Ihedioha?s constituency projects/Youth and Women Empowerment, you will be overwhelmed at what the federal government has done in Imo State through Emeka?s representation in the NASS. So, the cumulative constituency projects of the three senators and ten members of the House of Representatives in the National Assembly also represent the FGN presence in the various senatorial zones and federal constituencies. It is not the fault of President Azikiwe Jonathan that some members of the NASS from Imo State are bench warmers who have failed woefully in attracting federal projects to their constituencies. Rather than blame President Jonathan for such travails, the Constitution has made provision to enable the constituents to recall such an indolent and non-performing legislator. Ditto for State Assemblies. When you consider what Hon Emeka Ihedioha has achieved through his Constituency Projects/Youth/Women Empowerment, you are forced to wonder why some NASS members in IMO State don?t have any iota of achievement to show that they are in the same NASS with the like of HON Emeka Ihedioha.The reason is not far to seek. One of the secrets of Hon Emeka?s superlative performance is that he has served three tenures and thus risen to the NO 6th in the country. As Deputy Speaker, he belongs to the IME OBI or the caucus that decides how the patrimony of state is appropriated. Above all, he has always blended with the grass roots in his constituency even from his days as a university student. After all, in Orlu zone there was a senator who served for over 12 years but today, you cannot point at any constituency project that could be traced to him. There is no trace of anybody that was empowered by him . Above all, such people can never be appointed as principal officers of the NASS on account of their embarrassing lifestyle. However, in the case of Hon Emeka Ihedioha, he started front loading impressive constituency projects even before his third tenure. As Chairman, House Committee on Marine Transport(2003-2007), (i.e. his first tenure) he attracted a Jetty project at Imo River, Okpala. It?s too high a capital intensive project for a first timer to present to his constituency.Since every legislator cannot be HON Ihedioha who started making impact from his tenure, I am making a case that our NASS members should be allowed to serve up to three tenures or so in order to become ranking members who influence policy in the NASS. The ongoing policy of serving just one term is not helping Imo State. The Senate President, Senator David Mark, has been there since 1999 and he can do for his state what the President can do for the country.
Although I said that I would restrict my analysis to a small sample of Imo State, it may be germane to make some passing comments on the FGN presence in other states in the South East, after all, Ndigbo are members of a family. I will not forget to commend President Jonathan on the 2nd Niger Bridge contract which was recently awarded. The President personally came to Onitsha for the turning of the Sod of the great project. During his election campaign in 2011, he promised to build the 2nd Niger Bridge-a promise which has now been fulfilled. The project is funded through the Subsidy Reinvestment Scheme and the Public Private Partnership(PPP) ; this means that the project cannot be abandoned, more so, since the contractor is the well known construction giant, Julius Berger Group. The project has a whopping contract value of N117 billion. In spite of some minor hiccup in regard to the issue of Environmental Impact Assessment clearance from the relevant Ministry, the project is on course as it cannot be abandoned. It is a thing of joy that the first Niger Bridge was built by President DR. Nnamdi Azikiwe and several years after, another President DR. Azikiwe Jonathan is building the 2nd Niger Bridge. Praise God! This is the Lord?s doing and it?s marvelous before our eyes.
In fact, during one of his official visits to Anambra State after his 2011 election victory , President Goodluck Azikiwe Jonathan vowed that he must build the 2nd Niger Bridge. He said:?The first Niger bridge was built by DR Nnamdi Azikiwe in the 60s .I want to assure you that the 2nd Niger Bridge will also be built by another Azikiwe. If I don?t do it, I will go on exile?. So, the 2nd Niger bridge project is a classic case of promise made and promise fulfilled. It?s pathetic that Governor Okorocha was the only South East Governor that was not present on the occasion of the turning of the Sod of this great project. The reason for his indifference to such a great project is a matter for personal conjecture.
Again, President Jonathan must be commended on the brand new retooled Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu which was commissioned a short while ago. It is a mark of courage for President Jonathan to actualize this project, in spite of the efforts by enemies of NDIGBO to truncate the project for obvious reasons. Ordinarily, it would not have been feasible for a President from the outside to build an International Airport in the South East Zone. In view of the demands of some ethnic militia for a separate state of Biafra, the decision to build an international airport in such zone is not a task for the faint of heart. In spite of the uproar generated in some quarters, President Azikiwe Jonathan went ahead to actualize this project. He insisted on embarking on this project because of his sanguinary relationship with the Igbo nation. Again, Governor Okorocha of Imo State was the only South East Governor that was not present on that great event.
In the same, the remodeling of the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri to accord with International Best Practices is progressing smoothly. The dual carriageway of Owerri/Onitsha road has been completed and plans are on stream for the dualization of Onitsha/Owerri/PH Highway. In the same vein, the dualization of Owerri/Elele road is on course. The Owerri/Elele dual Highway is a pet project of former Governor Ikedi Ohakim which he could not actualize because of paucity of funds. However, the project was adopted by Hon Emeka Ihedioha for inclusion in the regional projects of Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC).In one of his official engagements recently Hon Ihedioha assured all that adequate funding would be provided to execute the project. Before now, projects under the Regional Budget of NDDC States were limited to the coastal states (Rivers ,Bayelsa,Delta, e.t.c )_ of the Niger Delta zone. The vassal states of Imo and Abia states were always discriminated against in NDDC projects before now. A short while ago, the NDDC recently constructed a large hostel for Imo State University. It is also handling various projects in the nooks and crannies of Imo State. These are FGN projects, or if you like, President Azikiwe Jonathan?s projects in the South East.
It is necessary to state that aside the above listed FGN presence, Imo State is well represented in federal appointments into the Federal Ministries, Agencies, and Departments(MADs).Information from my data bank shows that Imo State has over fifty political appointees in the Administration of President Azikiwe Jonathan. How can you say that a state with the above fundamentals is hated / marginalized by President Goodluck Jonathan.There is also the capital- intensive ALAOJI power plant in Abia State .I am also aware that at, least, two more federal interventions are slated for Imo State, but I am not authorized to let the cat out of the bag, until the affected MADs conclude their work.
One of the projects of President Goodluck Azikiwe Jonathan which must remain fresh in the consciousness of right thinking members of Igbo nation is the State Burial which he gave to our leader, DIM Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu when he died.In spite of intense opposition from the National Assembly, President Jonathan moved ASO ROCK to NNEWI in order to give, ikemba Nnewi, Dike di Oramma of Igbo land, a befitting state burial. This is one of the reasons why some disgruntled Nigerians are fighting President Jonathan.They are not happy that President Jonathan accorded such high honour to our leader, Dim Emeka Ojukwu, a man they planned to humiliate in death. So, how can any genuine Igbo man abandon a President who, in spite of insuperable odds, wiped our tears at a time some others thought DIM Ojukwu would be shamed in death. Once again, the Igbo political leaders who are against President Jonathan ?s 2015 presidential project are Caliphate politicians and Fifth Columnists in Igbo land. They should be ignored. In the same vein, President Jonathan swiftly appointed MRS. Bianca Ojukwu an ambassador to Spain in order to defuse and ameliorate the extent of her sorrows and grief after her husband?s demise.
There is a need to appeal to our Governor, Owelle Okorocha, to emulate the dynamism and humility of the like of MR. Peter Obi, immediate past governor of Anambra State, and Governor Godson Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State who have done so much to transform their two states by their loyalty and synergy with Aso Rock. A state governor who has a penchant for exhibiting nonchalance and disrespect to a sitting President is not doing his State any good. Imo state has lost a lot of opportunities as a result of Governor Okorocha?s disdain and contempt to President Jonathan. As stated above, Imo State has over fifty members in the MADS. This may even higher since I have not captured the full list. The media unit of the Imo State PDP is not doing enough to market the activities of President Jonathan in Imo State. They are totally preoccupied with the task off marketing themselves for appointive and legislative offices. I advise President Jonathan to recruit core media technocrats who who will take care of showcasing his achievements in Imo State and even in the South East.
RECCOMMENDATION on FUTO: In view of the large number of candidates who seek university admission in Imo State, it is my opinion that PDP chieftains in IMO State should approach President Azikiwe Jonathan to convert FUTO to a conventional university. This should form part of PDP campaign manifestoe for Jonathan 2015 election. The thousands of youths who cannot secure admission into IMSU will give total support to this project. In fact, the youths will support this project more that the free education project. If FUTO becomes a conventional university, it can then offer courses in Law, Medicine, Management, Pharmacy, Humanities/ Social Sciences, Igbo Language, Economics and the others. It will offer various programmes like University of Nigeria, University of Lagos ,Nnamdi Azikiwe university, University of Ibadan and other such tertiary institutions. The PDP should sell this idea to the President and if it is adopted, the PDP will get majority of the votes of the Jambites in Imo State.
EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY, OGBOKO: The PDP and other opposition parties must also tell us what they intend to do with the so-called ?European University, Ogboko, in Ideato North Local government Area. How can a university built with state fund become a private university of some persons whose identity is not yet manifest? The IMSU facility at Ogboko must revert to its status as the Orlu Campus of IMSU. We want to know the stand of the 2015 governorship candidates of the various parties on this strategic issue. Finally, it is a gratuitous insult on the right thinking members of the society for those who used the compassion and ladder of President JONATHAN to clinch political power to be sponsoring a campaign of calumny, propaganda and frivolous falsehood on President Goodluck Azikiwe Jonathan. (CONCLUDED).