President Muhammadu Buhari Is likely To Return In The Next Two Weeks – Okorocha

Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, might return back to the country in the next two weeks, Governor Rochas Okorocha has reportedly said.

President Buhari had not been seen in public since leaving Nigeria on May 7th, 2017 for treatment in the United Kingdom. But, on Sunday a delegation of governors elected on the platform of the All Progressive Congress met with Buhari in London.

According to the BBC, Okorocha, who was part of the delegation, said he expects President Buhari to return home from the UK within the next two weeks.

Governor Okorocha said President Buhari was completely unperturbed by the cocktail of lies. He, instead, sent his best wishes to Nigerians.

According to the governor, Nigerians don’t have to worry at all, adding that President Buhari will be back as soon as the doctors give him the green light.

“By our visit to London today, the merchants of lies have been put out of business and Nigerians will not buy the garbage they have been selling.

“All those who look up to fake news can find a better use for their time,” Governor Okorocha said.

Governors Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa; Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna; Yahaya Bello of Kogi; and APC National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun, were also in the delegation.

 

Okorocha Ban Imo Monarchs From Speaking In English At Functions

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo has banned traditional rulers in the State from speaking in English at official functions and while conducting affairs at their palaces.

Mr Okorocha gave the directive while handing over letters of recognition and staffs of office to 19 newly recognised traditional rulers in the State in Owerri on Tuesday.

He directed that every monarch must only speak in Igbo at functions and in their palaces, adding that interpreters could be employed if the need arises.

The governor said this was in a bid to ensure that the Igbo language did not die as predicted in some quarters.

He also told traditional rulers in the state to be agents of peace, progress and prosperity in their respective domains instead of being tools of disunity and destabilisation.

He warned that any traditional ruler who could not show genuine leadership in his autonomous community would have his Certificate of Recognition and Staff of Office withdrawn.

The governor further encouraged the new traditional rulers to help the government to develop the resources of the state while urging them to rule equitably.

“Every community requires an Eze to function effectively as the head of the Community 2Government Council. Today, that responsibility has fallen on you.

I urge you not to fail as failure is not an option and I encourage you to help the government in developing the resources of our land.

“Remember that to whom much is given much is expected. This whole exercise you must understand is not an election or appointment to enable you distinguish between those who love you and those who hate you.

“Today, you are an Eze, and you must be the Eze for everyone both those against you and those who were for you. I advise you to take all of them along and embrace peace.

“Your first assignment should be to invite those who were against you to make peace in your land as no Eze can function effectively if there is no peace in your land,” he said.

Delivering a vote of thanks, Lucky Ajoku of Ihiagwa Autonomous Community, promised that they will embrace peace.

Mr. Ajoku also pledged the support of the monarchs in helping the government attain the lofty ideals of the Community Government Councils in their various communities.

One Week, Two Dramas: Who Will Save Okorocha From Himself? By Azu Ishiekwene

Whenever I’m about to forget what it means to be a politician in these parts, I remind myself of the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha. He combines the drama and ebullience of Ayo Fayose with the shenanigans and hubris of Wada Nas. The fellow just keeps your jaw agape, making you laugh and cry at once. It happened to me twice last week.

First came the news that Okorocha had rejected the appointment of his daughter, Uju Anwuka, to the Board of the Federal College of Education and Technology, Omoku.

He said he rejected it because he was not consulted and he suspected that it was a Greek gift by unnamed politicians who don’t wish him and his family well.

I’m sure that Okorocha knows by now that if his wellbeing depended on what people, especially those in his State wish, he would be long gone back to his village in Ogboko. The Imo State that he is governing today is, in many ways, a shadow of itself unable to pay its workers
or pensioners and yet having enough to dedicate official quarters to the first family.

Imo is a chattel of Okorocha, a piece of real estate for the governor and his family. I will come to that.

If Okorocha says the offer of a board appointment to his daughter was a setup, he must know what he is talking about. But I still don’t understand why it was his job to reject the offer for his adult daughter.  Wasn’t it possible for him to explain whatever dilemma it
was privately to his daughter and for her to publicly and personally eject the offer for whatever reason?

How many Nigerians who are not Okorochas get such malicious offers of appointment? And God knows that out of the 541 Federal boards in this country you can count on the fingers of one hand those where an appointment means an appointment to work.

Take the National Population Commission (NPC) board, for example. The Board comprises 37 commissioners statutorily appointed from the 36 states and Abuja with a five-year tenure each. They are virtually on the same level with Federal ministers, drawing comparable personal benefits, allowances, and perks.

For all the free milk and honey, in a place like the NPC board, for example, all 37 commissioners appointed after 2006 when the last census was conducted have done nothing in 11 years. No enumeration, no census, nothing. But they earned their allowances and perks
nonetheless.

Multiply this waste in about 541 places, including the College of Education board, where Okorocha would have us believe that his daughter was ruthlessly set up, and you will understand why the biggest favour anyone can do us is to scrap the boards, including the one where Uju Anwuka has been offered an unsolicited letter of employment. The board members should all go home.

But the College of Education board recusal was just one incident. It was, for Okorocha – my governor, my governor – one week, two dramas. The second was at the Children’s Day leadership summit hosted by the Imo State government and broadcast live on Friday, May 26.

I thought it was a day when any modest host would lead from behind, allowing the children to take the stage as they share their hopes, aspirations, and disappointments with us.

In a country where one million children die of preventable diseases yearly and where 40 percent of children between the ages of six and eleven have no access to primary education, I thought the generation of leaders that has been responsible for this mess would be ashamed to
preach to the same children whose future they have eaten along with their own.

Not Okorocha. He shamed shame. The summit stage was his shrine with his life-size pictures emblazoned in a backdrop. They provided a throne for him on his altar, while a few aides and security men squatted, almost incognito, on a low bench behind the governor’s
throne.

Speaker after speaker mounted the stage to speak of how the governor has turned their night into day. They spoke of how he makes the sun to rise and the rain to fall and how the state could never see the like of him again in our lifetime. His Excellency grinned through it all as
he fiddled with his trademark sash.

Hardly anything was said about leadership or the tens of hundreds left behind.

I didn’t see civil servants who have been compelled by Okorocha to forfeit 60 percent of their monthly salaries and still don’t get paid the balance regularly. I didn’t see pensioners who traveled all the way to Owerri, the State capital, to sign off 60 percent of their 24-month pension arrears and yet are not getting the balance regularly. I didn’t see elders of communities who levied themselves to support Okorocha’s fourth-tier community government but who have apparently been conned.

Only the whitewashed crowd was invited. Depressingly, they also recruited children, who took turns to praise the governor in exchange for plastic hugs from him. I’m trying hard to remember the lessons the children learnt about leadership but it’s the charade that keeps coming to my mind.

I know that with Okorocha nearing the end of his second term, there’s  nothing we can do to make him change his ways. He will continue to reign like an emperor and we must bow or be bended for his good pleasure.

His fingers are in every pie. His wife, Nkechi, is the only person in Nigeria who has more government portfolios than Babatunde Fashola: she supervises the Ministries of Women Affairs, Works, Health and the Office of the Secretary to the State Government. His son-in-law, Uche
Nwosu, is the Chief of Staff, and a government building is named after one of his daughters, Uloma Nwosu. Imo is Okorocha’s chattel.

Is it too much to ask that he should leave the children out of his drama the next time?

As for the rest of Imo and other states afflicted with wolves in sheep’s clothing, the lesson is to be a little more careful the next time you vote. That’s your only insurance.

Ishiekwene is the MD/Editor-In-Chief The Interview magazine and board member of the Paris-based Global Editors Network.

Okorocha Dismisses Cabinet, LG Council Members

In a surprise move, Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo state has sacked his cabinet and members of the 27 local government transition committees with immediate effect.

A statement by the Principal Secretary to the Governor, Mr Pascal Obi, in Owerri directed all former members of the executive to hand over to permanent secretaries or the most senior director in their ministries.

Obi quoted the governor as appreciating the invaluable contributions of the affected appointees to the success recorded by his rescue mission administration and wishes them well in their future endeavours.

According to him, the secretary to the government, the chief of staff, chairmen and members of statutory commissions such as ISEC, Civil Service Commission, local government service commission are not affected.

“Also not affected in the cabinet shake off are the state universal basic education board, the judicial service commission, and the House of Assembly Service Commission.

“The governor also dissolved the 27 transition committees (TC) of the 27 local government areas in the state.

“The Transition Committee (TC) chairmen are advised to hand over to the directors of administration and general services of their respective council areas.

“The governor appreciates the contributions of the TC chairmen to the success of the rescue mission and wishes them well in their future endeavours,” Obi said in the statement. reports that the governor, however, did not state any reason for the action.

The report says that the governor, however, did not state any reason for the action.

Imo, Fastest Growing State in Nigeria?

Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has described the state as the `fastest developing state’ in Nigeria, following the conservative lifestyle of his economic team and the unconventional style of administration he adopted.

Okorocha made the disclosure in a statement signed and issued to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Owerri on Friday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Sam Onwuemeodo.

He said Imo was able to achieve the feat through sacrifice and prudence especially in handling public fund.

“I was able to fund such projects following my unconventional style of administration that has blocked all financial leakages,” the statement quoted the governor as saying.

Okorocha noted that the state has not borrowed any money to execute any ongoing project since he came into office.

“I have not borrowed any money; neither is Imo owing any bank or institution.

“I am using the state fund to execute all my projects for the state especially the new urban renewal program.

“Those people carrying rumours that the state is hugely indebted to new generation banks are either not well informed or enemies of progress.

“Upon completion of the massive infrastructural developmental stride of this administration, the incoming governors will have less work to do for the state.

“I am laying a solid foundation for the future and I have cut off all means of embezzlement.

“This bold step has enabled me to achieve what I am doing today,’’ he said.

NAN

Aregbesola, Other APC Governors Pay Enugu Solidarity Visit Over Herdsmen Killings

All Progressives Congress (APC) governors were in Enugu State yesterday to condole with Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on the killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen at Ukpabi Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area.

About 50 residents were killed when suspected Fulani herdsmen invaded the community last week.

Several others were injured.

Led by the Chairman of APC Governors’ Forum and Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha, the delegation include Governors Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa) and deputy governors of Kogi and Yobe states, Simon Achuba and Abubakar Aliyu.

The APC governors, who spoke through Okorocha, hailed Ugwuanyi for handling the herdsmen’s attacks with maturity and stopping reprisals.

Okorocha said the government and people of Enugu State exhibited uncommon restraint, adding: “If it were elsewhere, the story would have been different.”

The governor noted that though the invaders of Nimbo were common criminals, the incident should not be seen as an ethno-religious attack.

He said: “A criminal in Borno State is the same thing with a criminal in Enugu State or any other state.”

Okorocha philosophised that “death is death and very painful, but it is most painful if it is man-made”.

The Imo governor told Ugwuanyi that political differences pale out in matters of death.

“We are APC governors and you are in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But in death, there is no party. That is why we are here to commiserate with you,” he said.

Okorocha said the APC governors were also in Enugu to display the need for Nigeria’s unity.

The governor urged all to always think of the nation’s unity. He said the Nimbo attack would not happen again anywhere in Nigeria.

Shettima likened Ugwuanyi’s maturity to that of the late first President of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who always called for peaceful coexistence among Nigerians.

He said the perpetrators were criminals who could be found in any part of the country.

Ugwuanyi thanked his guests for commiserating with him and his people.

The governor described the visit as heart-warming.

He said his administration had set up a judicial panel of enquiry on the attack and as well established Neighbourhood Watch to prevent future attacks.

Governors, Others Profer Solutions To Economic Woes

Governors yesterday spoke on their efforts to ride through the economic turbulence Nigeria is going through.

To Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, the economy is at a critical threshold which requires leaders to think outside the box and come up with innovations that will trigger growth.

He lamented that previous governments at the federal level failed to take advantage of the oil boom to grow other sectors of the economy, adding that the fall in oil price, coupled with many years of corruption, made the economy vulnerable.

Ambode said: “It is very unfortunate that we wasted the golden opportunity to deploy the trillions of dollars earned from our oil exports to develop the critical sectors of the economy, including power, agriculture, industries, solid minerals, transportation infrastructure, among others. No doubt, if we had done the right thing as some other oil producing countries did, keeping in mind that crude oil is a finite resource, we would not be experiencing the devastating effect of oil price crash on the scale we are experiencing it now.

“We are now being forced to do, with pains, what we should have done with ease years ago. The task of charting a new direction for the economy is not going to be a tea party. Various policy options must be identified and assessed on the basis of our current situation and needs. Moving our economy forward requires thinking outside the box and doing things differently. We need creativity, innovation and the courage to take difficult and tough decisions.”

“The leadership of the country at national and state levels must have the courage to take tough decisions and make sacrifices in the near term which will, in the long run, make our economy stronger and sustainable and, consequently, result in prosperity across all regions of Nigeria,” he said.

Recommending strategies to improve the economy, Ambode said Nigeria must begin to explore and expand the opportunities that abound in inter-state relations and strengthen regional competitiveness by maximising economies of scale, regional optimisation of assets and endowments and mitigation of afflictions and natural disasters.

“Given our current economic challenge, I believe it is time we took a cue from our old ‘playbook’ for a viable ‘game plan’ to revive our national economy. States and regions must, once again, begin to leverage on their respective areas of comparative advantage by establishing partnerships towards establishing inter-state or inter-regional commodity value chain. We must re-start inter-state/regional cooperation,” he said.

Ambode expressed his desire to see okada riders off the streets of the mega city by making the environment conducive for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s).

He said a large percentage of those engaged in okada riding are not there for the love of the vocation but pushed into it due to an absence of an enabling environment for the trades they were engaged in.

His administration has come up with various stimulus packages for SMEs to thrive.

Ambode gave instances of soft loans and other stimulus packages put in place to help trade and economy thrive in the state.

The event attracted eminent personalities, including the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Vintage Press, publishers of The Nation, Mr. Wale Edun, Prof. Adebayo Williams, Hon. Wale Oshun, Mr. Ayo Opadokun, Prof. Olatunde Dare, Secretary to Lagos State Government Mr. Tunji Bello and top government officials from Imo State.

Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha said the difficult economic time required the wisest course of action and not sentiments.

According to him, Presidennt Muhammadu Buhari is a visionary who is addressing the problems. Before now, people did not fear to be associated with corruption because the government’s claim to fighting corruption was mere theoretical pronouncements but now corruption is not taken lightly.

In Okorocha’s view, Nigeria is not a poor nation by any standard; “it is the most blessed of all nations in the world”. He said Nigeria’s economic problem is not about the fall in oil price or the government’s lack of attention to the economy.

According to him, Nigeria’s problem is that the Federal Government overburdened itself with a lot of power and responsibilities, including those that are most appropriately undertaken by state and local governments.

He said the local government, which is the closest to the people, has the least powers and funding while the state governments also depend on handouts from the Federation Account to drive their operations, which is a misnomer.

Governors, Okorocha said, are just executive cashiers who wait to collect allocations monthly to be able to carry out their responsibilities to the people they govern. Besides Lagos State, other states run on allocations from Abuja, most of which go to payment of salaries, the governor said.

Okoroacha added: “We must do things differently, if we want to move the economy forward and meet the expectations of the populace. How long shall we (state governments) depend on the Federal Government for survival? The Federal Government should devolve power. Nigeria has practised top to bottom (federal to local government) process of governance for so long and has continued to achieve unfavourable result. It is time to practise bottom to top (local government to federal) system of governance where the bulk of funds goes to the local government and the least to the federal.

“Why should the Federal Ministry of Agriculture get very fat budgetary allocation while it has no land to farm? We must do things differently to move the economy forward.

“Also, our educational system doesn’t encourage economic development. We still practise neocolonialism. Why should it be mandatory to have credit pass in English language and Mathematics before gaining admission into a higher institution, especially the university? We should tailor our education to specialties. There is need for special schools to develop expertise.

“In my state, I introduced the fourth tier of government – the community government – where all the traditional rulers and other community leaders play prominent roles. This tier of government has helped me to ensure security. They report any criminal or someone with questionable character to my government, and we go after such people. The Imo State Government also empowered the communities by dedicating a fund in the community banks to access money to embark on production of goods that they have comparative advantage. This process has significantly reduced unemployment and crime.”

Oyo State Deputy Governor Adeyemo highlighted the importance of diversification of the economy along the lines of states’ natural resources.

He said there was no advantage whatsoever in monoculture and mono-economy, underlining the importance of diversification.

Alluding to the need to diversify from crude oil and refocus on Nigeria’s abundant resources, especially agriculture, Adeyemo pointed out that the Cocoa House in Ibadan, the first high-rise building in Nigeria built 50 years ago, and the Airport Hotel, built 40 years ago, were built with proceeds from cocoa by the then Western region.

He expressed the willingness of the Oyo State Government to further explore opportunities in inter-state relationship, noting that the state will be willing to partner with the Lagos State Government in agriculture.

According to him, Oyo State, with a vast landmass of 32,000 hectares for farming, and Lagos State, with its enormous capital and appetite for agricultural investments, can partner to explore the agricultural potential of the state and create wealth and jobs across the states.

“We will like to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lagos State in the area of agriculture,” Adeyemo said.

Ogun State Commissioner for Industry Ashiru, who represented the governor, said: “Nigeria should move beyond production of agricultural produce to manufacturing of agricultural products.”

He said Nigeria should develop the value chain of the agricultural sector to take maximum advantage of the nation’s resources.

To Ashiru, the decline in the global crude oil price is a blessing in disguise for Nigeria as it presents the opportunity for the nation to reassess its consumption pattern and taste in favour of local production and consumption.

According to him, the time is ripe for Nigerians to look inward by supporting local production by advocating for and consuming locally made products as a matter of patriotic duty for national economic development.

He noted that Ogun State has emerged as the most attractive destination for investors because of the government’s business- friendly policies adding that the state would further explore its synergistic relationship and closeness to Lagos State to develop mutually beneficial businesses.

Citing the Lagos State-owned Adiyan Waterworks and farm settlement in Ogun State as well as granite supply from Ogun State to Lagos State, Ashiru said inter-state economic cooperation could be mutually rewarding for all the partnering states.

He warned against the call for the devaluation of the Naira, noting that devaluation would constrain the long-term national economy and transfer Nigerian economic benefits to other countries.

The Italian Consular General in Nigeria, Mr. Andrea Pompermaier, said the country should make a more concerted effort to engage the international investment community to showcase the latent potential and resources of the country to global investors.

Pompermaier said Nigeria has so much vast resources that could attract global investors but the country’s international profile has been largely dominated by its crude oil and sleaze.

According to him, there is need to represent Nigeria and its abounding opportunities to the global investment community to give a broader view of the country, its resources and people.

He said his personal experience in Nigeria has shown that some of the international opinions about this country were misplaced as there is much more to Nigeria than oil.

Pompermaier said Italy believes in the future of Nigeria, assuring the audience that the Italian consulate would work to further strengthen the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and Italy by bringing Nigerian and Italian businessmen together.

Okorocha Agrees To Recall Suspended Workers

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo has finally agreed with the leadership of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), to immediately recall all suspended workers and stop everything about concession in the state.

The agreement ends the halt of economic and social activities in Owerri following a mass protest organised by the NLC.

The National President of NLC, Comrade, Ayuba Wabba, read the statement to the protesting workers shortly after the conclusion of their negotiation with Imo Government.

The statement was signed by Princess A. N. Eluwa -Solicitor General of Imo, for the government, Chairman NLC in Imo, Austin Chilakpu, Chairman, TUC, Ezeji Ezeji and eight others for NLC.

Wabba directed the workers to suspend the protest and go back to work.

The agreement stated that government would source for funds to pay workers which would be verified by the joint committee of government and labour.

According to the agreement, government would fund its operations with not more than 30 per cent of the verified revenue for the month.

The committee would apply the balance of 70 per cent in the settlement of salaries of public servants and pensioners.

The organised labour had shut down the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, all ministries and offices including the LGAs and the state Secretariat as workers trooped out for the protest.

The protesters were led by the National President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba and other national leaders including the state chairmen from South/East, South/South and North.

They matched from the secretariat of the Nigeria Medical Association along Port Harcourt road, toward Imo Government House, where they blocked all major entrances.

Wabba had demanded for immediate recall of all sacked workers and stopping further sack of workers in the state without following laid down procedures.

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Oyegun has appealed to Gov. Rochas Okorocha to adopt the spirit of flexibility in handling issues concerning workers.

He told newsmen at Government House, Owerri that workers and government needed to cooperate with each other to get the state out of the present situation.

“If a child is crying continuously and refuses to stop despite everything done to pacify him, something needed to be done”, he said.

Oyegun also appealed to workers in the state to face the fact and have a round table with government on possible solutions that would continue to unite them.

He said the party leadership was concerned about the welfare of the people of the state.

Okorocha had insisted his idea of concession was for the interest of the people of state.

According to him, he never sacked any worker in the state nor owed any but merely suspended them because of indolence.

He condemned Imo labour union for bringing down the national leadership of NLC to shut down the state.

The governor said he was ready to abide by labour proposal to be collecting 70 per cent of the total revenue for the state, if that would bring about peace to him.

“Imo, despite being an oil producing state, gets one of the least allocations from the Federal Government and that has not helped matters.

“For the past 10 months, Imo has been getting between N1.9 billion and N2.3billion monthly with a wage bill of over N4billion.

“The state had to look for external sources to make up to pay salaries every month and take care of its other obligations”, he said.

Okorocha, therefore, stressed the need to make some adjustments in the present situation so as to save the state from collapse.

PM News

Okorocha Begs NLC To Shelve Protest Over Workers’ Suspension

Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha has appealed to the state and National Leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to shelve the protest against the suspension of parastatal workers in the state.

A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, read, “His Excellency has wished that instead of embarking on the protest that might end up not benefitting anyone, the National Leadership of the NLC should be patriotic enough to advise the leadership of the NLC in the state to honour their invitations to participate in the high-powered 18 – member committee set up by the state governor to review the cases of the staff affected by the suspension in question, so that the matter can be resolved amicably in the spirit of no victor, no vanquished.

“The committee would have been inaugurated last Tuesday, but it could not take place because the labour representatives did not come for the exercise.

“The committee has the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) chairman in the state, chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), chairman Nigeria Medical Association, Imo State chapter, chairman National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Representative of Magistrates Association, Representative of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) IMSU, Imo Polytechnic, Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), chairman of  Imo State branch of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and Representative of the Judiciary Service Union of Nigeria, (JUSUN) as members.

“On the part of the Government, the Head of Service, Principal Secretary to the Governor, the Attorney General, the Accountant General, Commissioner of Finance, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Principal Secretary to the Deputy Governor are also members of the committee. The chairman, Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM Eze Samuel Ohiri is equally a member.

“This is a high-profiled committee and the governor believes that with this calibre of people in the committee whatever is the bone of contention between the government and the labour union in the state over the suspension issue can be resolved.

“The government has repeatedly explained that the suspension of the parastatal workers was not an outright sack or dismissal. The suspension was to enable the new managements of the establishments involved to take off in earnest.

“So, the essence of the 18-member committee is to look at the cases of these workers and decide whether to post all of them out to other government ministries and establishments or to even ask some of them to go back to the parastatals. And until the committee sits and takes decision on the suspended workers, nobody could accuse the government of any wrong doing.”

Letter To Pres. Buhari About Gov. Rochas Okorocha’s Brutal Tactics Against Imo Workers

 ‪Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) is a network of 49 civil society organizations spread across Nigeria and committed to promoting police accountability and respect for human rights.

It was established in 2000 to provide an opportunity for civil society input to police reform processes and the enhancement of safety, security and justice.

NOPRIN writes to bring to your attention the disturbing and totally condemnable reign of terror currently pervading Imo State and which manifests in the use of the police and an armed terror squad set up by the Imperial Governor of Imo State, Mr. Rochas Okorocha, to harass, intimidate, and viciously attack groups peacefully protesting against his anti-people government.

On February 3, 2016, police officers from Imo State Command opened fire on a group of protesting Medical Doctors. One of the Doctors, a Consultant Family Physician in the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri, Dr. Bende Azudialo was shot in the head. While it was expected that the Commissioner of Police (CP), Imo State Command would order a prompt and impartial investigation with a view to identifying the officers behind this senseless act brutality and misuse of firearms and bring them to account, the CP, instead, came out to openly defend the police and blamed the dastardly attack on faceless ‘thugs’. It was obvious that the protesting Doctors were all dressed in their professional white over-all attire as they came face to face with armed and uniformed police officers.

It is believed that the motive for this attack on the protesting Medical Doctors was to create a sense of fear and intimidate the NLC and their CSO allies as they prepare to lead peaceful protests in Owerri this week to press home the Imo State workers’ demand that the Governor reverses his callous and illegal mass sack of workers across the state civil service.

Clearly, this indicates how far Mr. Okorocha is determined to go in using the force of arms and violence to suppress brutally opposition against his discredited and unpopular government.
In his arrogant conception of his own importance, Mr. Okorocha has placed himself above the collective will of the people whom he purports to govern, and he appears determined to subjugate and silence everyone in the state.

NOPRIN has received further disturbing information from credible sources concerning a further diabolical and nefarious plot by the Imo State Governor, Mr. Okorocha, to deploy and unleash his terror squad, the so-called ‘Imo State Security Network’ led by his own younger brother, Okey Okorocha, who is also his Special Assistant on Youth Affairs, to violently disrupt the planned Labour/Civil Society-led peaceful protests against the Governor’s illegal sack of 6,111 workers whom he  owes several months of salary arrears. The Governor’s younger brother and other aides are also reported to be mobilising hundreds of misguided youths whom they will pay some money and be deployed to join the ‘Imo Security Network’ to counter and attack peaceful protesters. Going to the event of last week when police officers shot at protesting Doctors, it is clear that the police in Imo will also act on the side of the oppressors of the people, to scuttle the Imo people’s struggle for a responsive and accountable Government, instead discharging their duties to serve and protect the people.

Already, Mr. Okorocha’s hit squad, working in collusion with the police, has been harassing, attacking and maiming in a bid to intimidate and gag aggrieved citizens protesting and speaking out against his injustices against them. We call on the President to direct the Inspector General of Police to ensure that the Police are not used to suppress the people’s demands for human rights and justice. It was the struggle of these same Imo people that forced out the immediate past Governor and paved the way for the emergence of this incumbent who today has assumed absolute powers and using State and Federal Government apparatus to oppress and intimidate the people. If the police shoot and kill protesting citizens, it may degenerate into anarchy and complicate the already parlous state of insecurity in the country.

We request the President to direct the Inspector General of Police to demobilise the terror squad in Imo State and investigate the activities of its members, order the Imo State Police Commissioner to ensure his officers act impartially and professionally and guarantee the safety of organised groups and citizens at large. In the alternative, we request the President to direct the Inspector General of Police to dispatch a team of professional, disciplined and impartial officers to monitor or take charge of affairs in the State during the period of the Labour/CSO-led protests to avoid unnecessary clashes and casualties.

The Imo Governor, by his latest insensitive act of mass sack of suffering workers from 19 agencies whom he owes several months of salary, has deepened misery and hardship, not only for the 6,111 workers directly affected but also for their numerous dependents. This is coming at the same time that Imo State received ‘bailout’ funds from the Federal Government meant to settle outstanding workers’ salaries, yet the Governor went ahead to sack these workers without paying them and without accounting for the funds.  Imo people are yet to come to terms with the Governor’s squandermania. The Governor continues to waste the state’s resources on frivolous projects that do not add any value to the lives of the toiling Imo people, while important projects, which he merely uses to gain publicity have remained abandoned or uncompleted. For example, what is the justification for the 2015 Christmas Decorations in the State Capital and other major cities with the longest statute of Jesus Christ as well as the touted longest Christmas tree in Africa, which have been put at the cost of five hundred million naira, when workers are still being owed several months of arrears of salary?

Governor Okorocha is known to boast openly of his lack of regard for due process and contempt for the rule of law, hence his habitual neglect and failure to comply with due process in taking sensitive official decisions and actions. He has the penchant for disregarding court orders and judgments ordering him to reverse some of his illegal actions. Imo State is the only state in Nigeria where Local Governments have continued to be administered by unelected Sole Administrators, appointed by Mr. Okorocha, in the last six years. The Governor has also illegally dissolved town unions that have registered trustees with the Corporate Affairs Commission. Mr. Okorocha’s recent arbitrary and sadistic sack of 6,111 workers from 19 agencies which he purportedly concessioned to private individuals is the height of his highhandedness and lawlessness.

Unfortunately, Imo State House of Assembly- a preponderant of whose members were practically handpicked and sponsored by the office by the Emperor-Governor, have totally sold and surrendered their souls to their master and are thus, incapacitated to discharge their statutory oversight functions. They are mere puppets in the hands of the Emperor. Instead of working towards ensuring good governance, majority members of the Imo State House of Assembly are preoccupied with the pursuit and protection of their self-interest and the selfish interest of their master, against the overall interest of members of their various constituencies and the people of the state as a whole.

With the Imo State House of Assembly fully in the Governor’s pocket, and with the State Judiciary reduced to a toothless bulldog, the Governor now enjoys  a field day riding roughshod over the people, treating them with disdain, and doing whatever pleases him, without restraint, and without qualms of conscience or fear of any consequences.

Now, left with no other option than to take their own destinies into their own hands, the people have resolved to liberate themselves from the oppressive clutches of the Emperor. But the workers’ decision to resist their purported sack has been met with increasing tyrannical attempts to suppress them. Okorocha has unleashed his armed thugs and members of his terror squad, acting with cover from Imo State Police Command, to harass, attack and brutalise the people peacefully protesting injustice.

As part of Okorocha’s repressive counter measure against the planned labour and civil society mass protest in Imo State, he is seriously mobilizing and arming thugs together with members of his illegally armed ‘Imo Security Network’ to unleash maximum terror on the citizens and to violently disrupt the peaceful protests being planned by NLC and CSOs in Imo state from February 10, 2016 to force his hands to reverse his ill-motivated mass sack of workers.

Governor Okorocha has already demonstrated his propensities for violence and his real intention to use the terror squad disguised as Imo Security Network to achieve his self-serving objectives.

Recently he has been using armed members of his ‘Imo Security Network’ to lock out the illegally sacked workers from the 19 agencies. Since the day the governor announced his purported mass sack of the workers, he has consistently used members of this terror network to intimidate the workers. They have besieged and taken over the premises of the offices of the sacked workers, shooting sporadically into the air to scare workers from coming to resume work in compliance with directives by their leaders to defy the Governor’s purported sack order.

Unfortunately, Imo State Police Command has been actively conniving with the Governor’s terror squad, always standing by and watching as the armed thugs unleash mayhem on innocent and defenceless people.

Members of the Imo Security Network beat up the Medical Director of Ihitte Uboma General Hospital, and dumped him at Imo State Police Command, while still unconscious.

These recent activities of the Imo State Security Network have confirmed the long-held suspicion by Imo citizens and residents that the Imo Governor set up the Security Network as a tool to harass, intimidate and suppress citizens whenever they protest against his inhumane actions such as the recent sack of workers. The outfit is now out to do what it was originally contemplated and set up to do- to terrorise the people and silence them into submission.

In the case of the Doctor, who was mercilessly beaten up by Ihitte Uboma, Imo State Police did not intervene while he was being brutalized. Instead, they later took the already battered Doctor into custody before he was later granted bail without being informed of any offence he may have committed.

It was also members of Imo Security Network who, sometime last week, under the close watch of Police Officers from Imo State Command, bullied and chased away workers of Umuguma General Hospital and locked up the offices against them.

We recall that during the January 2012 nationwide anti-subsidy removal protests tagged ‘Occupy Nigeria’, it was also in Owerri, at Okigwe Road Roundabout, that thugs dispatched by Imo State Government, unleashed mayhem on peaceful protesters, destroying their musical equipment. Nowhere else in Nigeria was this type of repressive attack recorded!  That dastardly attack was later confirmed to have been coordinated from the office of the Special Assistant to Governor Okorocha on Youth, his self-same younger brother, who also coordinates the ‘Imo Security Network’.

Now that the State Government is planning to launch another unprovoked attack on peaceful protesters as they peacefully protest against the injustice of the mass sack of workers, and to assert their rights to livelihood, we consider it pertinent at this time to request the President to urgently direct the IGP to ensure adequate and effective security for the protesters. Imo citizens have no confidence in Imo State Police Command to provide them security as they are already compromised and beholden to the oppressor-Governor and acting according to his dictates against the collective will of the citizens whom they are supposed to serve and protect.

As NLC national leadership has exhausted all legal avenues and processes to resolve the contending issues with the state government, to no avail, in particular, to impress it on the Governor to reverse his unjustified and inexplicable decision to sack the workers, the NLC and its civil society allies have resolved to lead peaceful protests this week to drive home the workers demands that the governor reverses his illegal actions and to henceforth acts within the law.

We request you to direct the IGP to ensure that the Imo State Command acts impartially and professionally and ensures that protesters are not subjected to harassment and brutality but should be provided adequate security as they exercise their rights to freedom of expression, including protesting peacefully against injustice.

Imo State citizens and residents will hold the Federal Government and the Nigeria Police responsible, if they allow the governor to use his illegally armed Imo Security Network, or the Police, which is controlled by the federal government, to harm workers and Imo citizens and their allies.

In this era of change, Imo people deserve the right to know how their resources cannot pay their workers while other states, including non-oil bearing states, are paying their own workers.

We also believe that the President should take an interest in what is going on in Imo, like an APC state.

Yours sincerely,
Okechukwu Nwanguma
National Coordinator

Privitization Of Govt. Agencies: NLC, Okorocha Set For War

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Imo chapter, has criticized the state government’s plan to concession some of its institutions, expressing fears that the policy would expose the people to serious danger.

The Chairman of NLC in the state, Mr Austin Chilakpu, expressed the workers’ fears in an interview in an interview with NAN in Owerri on Sunday.

It would be recalled that Governor Rochas Okorocha on January 17 announced the sack of more than 5, 000 workers in 19 parastatal organizations, agencies and departments in the state, in line with the policy.

But Chilakpu said, “concessioning the primary health sector and the Imo State Agricultural Development Agency (ADP) for instance, is one big mistake that will expose the entire Imo people to danger.

“A lot of international donor agencies funding healthcare and food security programmes in the state would withdraw their support immediately these government outfits get into private hands.

“If Imo state goes ahead with the so-called concession policy, it means that the state would be cut off from assessing funds from IFAD, for instance.

“This international donor funds agriculture and polio eradication programmes in the country.

“I foresee a situation where cases of wild polio infection will re-surface in the state.

“The matter is made worse when the health workers are sacked and Lassa fever and bird flu are lurking around; the people will be endangered in the event of any outbreak.”

The chairman told NAN that the leadership of NLC was not opposed to reduction in the number of workforce of the state government, considering its dwindling resources.

“What NLC is kicking against is the faulty process because these workers are employed under the civil and public service rules.

“The statute book engaging them spelt out the ways and manners they shall be hired or fired,” he added.

Chilakpu said that already, the NLC had given seven days ultimatum to the state government to reverse the decision.

The NLC added that if the government failed to do that, labour would take the next step considered necessary.

He advised the affected workers to continue to report for duties despite the reported molestation by some groups who claimed to have been authorized by government to take over the affected establishments.