The Imo State Commissioner for Information, Barrister Obinna Duruji at a parley with newsmen spoke on the strides, successes and challenges of Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State. He also spoke on issues emanating from the Governor’s recent victory at the Court of Appeal. Excerpts:
EIght months in office, what can you say are the attainments of the administration?
The governor on assumption of office declared free and compulsory education in both primary and secondary levels in Imo State which PDP and Ohakim told Imo people was impossible, placement of order to procure one million school scandals and ordered procurement of 600,000 school bags and desks to boost free education in Imo State.
The governor also ordered the payment of backlog of pension arrears owed for over 12 years by the past administrations, establishment of Imo Pension/Senior Citizens’ Club and donation of vehicles to the club, release of N450 million bailout fund to missionary schools in Imo State, increase of government monthly subvention to IMSU from N57m to N100m, revival of the Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH) abandoned by Ohakim’s administration.
He introduced fourth tier Government and appointment of community speakers, which have brought governance closer to the grassroots, reformation of the vigilante outfits by restricting their operations in the communities rather than using them to fight political opponents, establishment of General Security Council and Local Government Security Council and Local Government Security Council in the 27 LGAs, reconstruction of Commissioners’ Quarters abandoned by Ohakim’s administration.
Reconstruction of ALGON and Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers Secretariats, construction of 405 rural roads at 15km per L.G.A, introduction of Health-at-your-door-steps programme in Imo State, the first of its kind in Africa, upgrading of Umuguma General Hospital to a Specialist Hospital, reformation of the State Civil Service Local Government System, blockage of revenue leakages thus saving billions of naira for capital projects in Imo State, construction of International Conference Centre at Oguta Blue Lake of Treasure (formerly known as Oguta Wonder Lake).
It is worthy of note that the Oguta Wonder Lake project only existed in the internet during Ohakim’s regime. These are some of the tremendous achievements of His Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha in less than one year of his administration, which is an eloquent testimony that Imo Rescue Mission has come to stay.
The last administration of Governor Ikedi Ohakim took N18.5b bond from the Stock Market. What does the current administration of Governor Rochas Okorocha intend to do with the bond?
Government is a continuum. We are going to redirect the bond and ensure that it is used for meaningful development projects.
The bond was to be used for the rehabilitation of the Imo state water scheme, rehabilitation and construction of major roads, financing the Imo State government’s equity investment in Imo Wonder Lake and conference centre in Oguta. Okorocha’s administration has started work in all these areas and that’s why I said government is continuum.
There were speculations that APGA wasresponsible for the transfer of the governorship election tribunal to Abuja. Is this true?
No, we are a responsible government and our priority and focus is the delivery of dividends of democracy. You can see that even on the day of the tribunal verdict on the 12th of November, 2011; the governor was not bothered; he was driving his government bus to various sites inspecting projects.
I was shocked when I came from the tribunal and I saw him at the gate of the Government House in shorts, addressing the crowd and I was curious and I said your excellency are you addressing Imo citizens on shorts, he said it doesn’t matter and that he was coming from the project sites.
So that’s how unruffled he is. His mandate was ordained by God and delivered on the planet earth. It is not our own making. Imo citizens for the first time expressed their wishes and aspirations in the mandate delivered to the Governor.
It was not their making, it was ordained in heaven. So what we saw on earth was the manifestation of the heavenly intervention. So, the governor is loved by his people and those who came to the court were there to show their solidarity to the mandate they gave to him. Neither our party APGA nor government influenced the move to Abuja.
The governor is accused of formulating policies in the state without due process; they cited as example the creation of community speakers without the input of the house of assembly. What is your reaction to this?
He didn’t have to. What people don’t understand is that the only constant thing in life is change. This is a man who is a change agent; he is a catalyst, a facilitator for change and development. He is not going to be held hostage by protocol and mundane understanding of the rule of law.
Law trails development, development does not trail laws unnecessarily, and law trails development all over the world. I am a senior advocate in the Unites States and I do know that law follows development, development does not follow law; otherwise society will not move forward.
As events are happening, law catches up, you don’t wait to make the law for the average human thinking before you can implement, it is only as you evolve that the law trails behind, and all over the world, the due process is a twin sister or brother of democracy.
So the two are not mutually exclusive, they are mutually inclusive. Once you see democracy, the government of the people, for the people and by the people, you are talking about rule of law.
So once he envisions, he conceptualizes and then the legal process takes place. If he does not envision, conceptualize, articulate the polices before the implementation, how can the Legislative house formulate. The House formulates based on the fine prints of articulation of the policies and programmes that emanate from the executive arm whenever necessary.
It is only then that the policy is transmitted to the house for articulation of an enabling law. It cannot be the other way round; otherwise the House will be dictating to the executive. So there is no violation of the rule of law, I challenge any opponent of this administration to come up with a clear indication of where we have violated the law.
Imo indigenes sacked in Abia. Why is the problem still lingering?
Well it is not an Imo problem; it is the South East problem as a matter of fact. But the issue is still pending before the South East Governor’s Forum. So Governor Okorocha has advised us to be cautious in our approach, that dialogue will be a better approach to resolve the quagmire and as obedient servants we so obliged.
Cushioning of effects of the sack
He has also cushioned the effects of the sack, which is our major concern and apprehension about the fate of the Imo indigenes, by assuring us in no mistaken terms that at the appropriate time, if the obnoxious decision is not rescinded, that Imo citizens would be absorbed in the Imo workforce. So that is the last resort and that’s by way of assurance.
What is your reaction to Court of Appeal decision?
Owelle’s victory at the Court of Appeal recently in Abuja is a further manifestation of its divine origin and a revalidation of Imo people’s mandate. The judgment has also rekindled our faith and confidence in the Nigerian judiciary. Imo people applaud the judges for remaining resolute in their determination to uphold Imo people’s mandate despite pressure to the contrary.
Given the wisdom of the tribunal and court of appeal, we are confident that the dismissal will stand Supreme Court scrutiny. To God be the glory.