Okorocha’s exco dissolution: Do we still need Commissioners? – By John Mgbe - disnaija.com

Categories: Nigeria News

 The news of the dissolution of Governor Okorocha’s Executive Council (EXCO)   rent the air with a mixed feeling of sadness, joy and even psychological equanimity from the populace.Yes, to those who were adversely affected in the dissolution, it was a season of sadness; yet, to several others who were not amused at the perceived very poor and lousy performance of majority of the commissioners, the sacking of the political appointees was a thing of joy. It was a good riddance to bad rubbish. Fact is that majority of the populace had waited too long to see most of these appointees thrown out of office. So, when it eventually came, it was jubilations galore.

Perhaps, there is a need to state from the outset that Governor Okorocha has exhibited a very poor sense of making political appointments since he became governor in May, 2011.Often some of the appointments were so bizzare and awkward that one found it difficult to identify the parameters and criteria that qualified some of them to be recruited into Governor Okorocha’s political bureaucracy.

When he made his first appointment of commissioners and special assistants, the group was so unwieldy and amorphous that right thinking members of society simply turned up their noses in contempt and derision.On that maiden outing, he appointed over 100 senior assistants/advisers and the commissioners. Among the list could be found all manner of characters from various walks of life; some actors from the Nollywood were in the list; there were clowns and comedians who were recruited from Ariaria Market in Enyimba City of Aba.Of course, there were also the like of Papilo, the celebrated soccer star, Nwankwo Kālu.

There was no shortage of professors including some of them who are still being prosecuted for involvement in financial scams and thus were disgraced out of the Federal EXCO. There is a consensus among the populace that  majority of these appointees did not even have offices .In the case of Soccer Star, Papillo Nwankwo Kalu, frantic efforts made to seek him out in order to ascertain his manifesto on sports failed irretrievably.It was at this point I asked whether these appointees were genuine persons or Unidentified Flying Objects(UFOs).

Even as at now, nobody has been show me Nwankwo Kalu’s office. He was appointed Senior Special Assistant on Sports.The same can be said of quite a good number of them.There was a need to find out from Nwankwo Kanu why he floated a sports academy in Lagos instead of Imo State where he holds a political appointment as well as his work plan to transform the sporting sector in Imo State.

Since his first appointment of EXCO members ,there has been wide spread  murmurings from across the citizenry to the effect that Governor Okorocha’s appointments are not a representative sample of the human resource endowment of Imo State. Most of the volunteers who played critical roles in Okorochas 2011 election triumph are often seen complaining that Governor Okorocha and Chief Martin Agbaso simply shared off the appointments to themselves thus turning a blind eye to the several volunteers who worked for owelle in the 2011 political brouhaha.

A cross section of the Rescue Imo volunteers can be seen often in a mood of dejection and melancholy as they lament their perceived abandonment by the Administration of Owelle Okorocha.In fact, a good number of eagle-eyed analysts who seem to understand the profile of most of these appointees have written toxic viewpoints in which they tried to trace virtually all the appointees to either Governor Okorocha or Chief Martin Agbaso.

For those who do not know, Chief Martin  Agbaso was the strong man of APGA who actually won the 2007 governorship election in Imo State but some misguided and mischievous human beings cancelled the election and went ahead to impose a winner on Imo State. It is that singular act of injustice  to Chief Martin Agbaso that has caused all the political  upheavals in the political ambience of Imo State since then.He is also the elder brother to Sir Jude Agbaso, the recently impeached deputy governor Imo State and above all, it was Chief Martin Agbaso who facilitated the emergence of Owelle Rochas Okorocha as the flag bearer of APGA in the governorship election of 2011.The choice of Sir Jude Agbaso as Deputy Governor was an effort to appease and compensate Chief Martin Agbaso as a bigwig of APGA.

Furthermore, the authentic members of APGA have often accused Governor Okorocha of often sidelining them from government largese and were rather favouring members of his pet political Group, AGENDA GROUP, in his political appointments. The Local Government Chairmen of APGA were also vehement in complaining that Governor Okorocha was partnering with the Chairmen of Campaign Committees(aka CCC) – an ad hoc  group which was formed specifically for Okorocha’s  2011 governorship bid.The APGA Chairmen did not see why the CCC, an ad hoc body, was not disbanded after the 2011 electioneering. The simmering acrimony and bad blood among the APGA faithful was clearly betrayed in a viewpoint recently written by MR AGU,O.C, the media aide to the State Publicity Secretary of APGA.

The viewpoint entitled : “Okorocha’s style of Governance: Democracy or Family-to-cracy”   wapublished on the back page of Diamond Express Newspaper of June 28 – July 1st, 2013. In the viewpoint, the writer bared it all as he laboured hard to prove that majority of the Governor Okorocha’s political appointees  are kiths and kin of the families of Chief Martin Agbaso and Governor Okorocha. Although some other analysts had expressed the same opinion elsewhere O.C.Agu’s opinion stands out because he just served   as press aide in APGA Secretariat,Owerri. A good many of these appointees forgot that they were working for Imo State Government,they felt so complacent as if they were working in Owelle Rochas Okorocha Foundation business empire.They were proud,cocky,brash and lousy.

What is surprising is that most of those who are favoured in the award of contracts are former  members of PDP who were the arch foes of Governor Okorocha during the electioneering.Governor Okorocha’s new confidants  include the PDP politicians who vowed that “one man one vote has never happened before,it will not happen now” as well as those who said they would go on exile if Owelle won the election.They are sticking to him like a leech not because they believe in him but because they are like goats who must always follow the man that is carrying the palm frond. If per chance , the gravy train breaks down, they will vamoose and flee to the new king.These sycophants are mercenary politicians whose political party is “Any Government in Power(AGIP)”.Today, Governor Okorocha is EBEANO; tomorrow they will  decamp to the new King and the new song will be EBEANOZIKWA.Yes, these are the sort of political turncoats that have hijacked our Revolution of May 6th,2011.Those of us who took risks for the Revolution are no longer useful, we watch others consuming the cake we baked. It rankles.

The difficulty which Governor Okorocha’s Administration encountered in its efforts to win  the last re-run State Assembly poll in Oguta is a sad commentary on how a popularity built over time  is ebbing away gradually.This becomes worrisome when one considers the fact that Oguta Local Government Area is  in Governor Okorocha’s Orlu senatorial zone and, above all, the Secretary to the State Government(SGI) is a son of Oguta Local Government Area.So, with all these favourable logistics coupled with the power of incumbency and the governor’s ability to deliver democracy dividends,Governor Okorocha would have won the Oguta rerun poll with effortless ease.The governor should find out why a governor who defeated  an incumbent governor just two years ago was unable to emerge with a land slide victory in the Oguta re-run election.

The APGA had also lost another rerun election into  a Federal Constituency in  Mbaise.The inescapable fact is that Governor Okorocha surrounded himself with  ineffective aides most of who were his arch political opponents in the 2011 election. Some (not all) of the so-called Hapurum Group members were opportunists who donated huge amounts to  more than one governorship candidate-just to make sure they don’t lose out entirely.In fact, one of them actually told me that was in business hence he donated a princely amount to the front runners in the 2011 governorship contest.He said he did not believe in any of them but that his trap must catch a big animal. They invested into the governorship candidates of the major parties in the hope of reaping bounteously in the long run.

Among the group that was extremely sidelined and treated with contempt are the media professionals who took risks to project the gospel of Owelle Okorocha in the print, electronic and online press. Today, Governor Okorocha and his EXCO prefer to import journalists from Abuja-Lagos –Ibadan axis to grace Governor Okorocha’s official duties while turning a blind eye to the home-grown journalists (the so-called Ekeonunwa Columnists) who stood by him in 2011 in the face of insuperable odds. While mega millions have been wasted in retaining the services of AIT,Channels Television and the like,the signals of the Government owned Orient Television is  not received outside Owerri Municipal Council.

The huge amount  wasted in empowering these Lagos-Abuja-Ibadan media platforms should have been used to upgrade Imo Broadcasting Corporation and The Statesman Newspaper to  the status of Cable Network News(CNN),British Broadcasting Corporation(BBC) and Voice of America(VOA)and the Washington Post newspaper(i.e in the case of Statesman Newspaper).The Administration like its predecessor,is spending so much money empowering media Houses from foreign climes to the detriment of our local press and Rescue Imo Journalists.

Even here in Imo State, some media Houses that now sing Hosanna to everything Governor Okorocha says were his implacable foes during the 2011 electioneering season.They will never produce one editorial or viewpoint which they wrote in  support of Owelle Okorocha’s  governorship bid.But today,they are the new friends of the Rescue Imo  Administration, even though they did not cast their votes for Governor Okorocha and did not believe in him.

It is pertinent to state that in a breakfast meeting with his former political appointees on Monday July 22 at Ahiajoku Centre, Owerri, Governor Okorocha extolled the effectiveness of some of them and pledged that the award winning appointees would automatically be included in the list of members of the next EXCO. Those who were given awards for  effectiveness include :-Ichie Best Uche Mbanaso(Best Performer); Chinedu Offor,(Best PR Man); Uche Nwosu(Best Team Player);Peter Ohagwa won the Dedication to Service award.Others  include Benjamin Nnadozie, Amaechi Nwoha, Emma Nzeribe, Lady Ogechi Ololo, Uche Ogbuagu,Louisa Asowa, and Princess Akobundu.Speaking during the breakfast meeting, Governor Okorocha said that the honour and award were assurances for a reappointment into the next EXCO.Furthermore,  Governor Okorocha said:”My next appointment and new cabinet will not be based on sentiment because sentimentality in Imo governance has kept Imo in darkness as poverty  descended heavily on Imo People.I am determined and focused to move Imo forward”.

Governor Okorocha should take advantage of the EXCO  restucturing to strenghten his structure for the gargantuan task that lies ahead in this second half of the race.Since Governor Okorocha has already held a send forth ceremony in honour of the appointees and has already categorized them in terms of effectiveness, I do not wish to disturb the governor’s  rating, more so, since he is the only person that  has a copy of the marking scheme.As the person who hired them, perhaps, he alone knows the job descriptions and set goals/targets assigned to each appointee.

In deference to the Governor, I congratulate those appointees who the Governor classified as highly effective thus bagging automatic tickets to the next EXCO. I advise that the reward for hard work is more work; so, the lucky appointees should gird their loins for the titanic challenges that lie ahead of 2015. It is heartwarming that the Governor has come to terms with the murmuring of the people that he did not have a sound EXCO.It is a good augury that these inadequacies are surfacing early enough   as 2015 approaches.The Oguta rerun election revealed the crevices and lacuna in the Rescue Imo bureacracy.

Without prejudice to Governor Okorocha’s categorization of the appointees in terms of effectiveness,I deem it necessary to make a few  observations which may assist the governor to make decisions from an informed mind.

Ministry of Education:This Ministry needs the services of a very effective  technocrat who will be able to liaise with the relevant parastatals and Agencies under that Ministry in order to find a final solution to the myriad  challenges in that sector.Such a Commissioner should liaise with the Governing Councils of Imo State University and Imo Polytechnic,Umuagwo in order to clean up the  nagging and interminable challenges in these institutions.It leaves a sour taste in the mouth that the leadership   problems in Imo State University(IMSU) have still not been resolved two years after Governor Okorocha took office.

IMSU appears to be the only university that has been operating without a substantive Vice Chancellor for as long as four years.Perhaps ,it’s the only university in the world that has operated from a temporary campus for over 30 years.When Governor Okorocha became Governor in 2011, most people felt that the leadership problem in the university would be resolved timely and the institution would finally move to a permanent site. This has not happened. Again,the high incidence of certifcate racketeering and financial scams involving both academic staff, other staff, and students is increasing in geometrical proportions and there is a dire need for the affected culprits to be severely investigated and  the aberations redressed so that normalcy can return to the campus. The case of the suspended Vice Chancellor, Professor Innocent Chuka Okonkwo,  which is pending in the Court of Appeal,Owerri should be resolved out of court.Preferably, he should be allowed to  complete his outstanding tenure.This will enable the Governing Council to set in motion the task of searching for a substantive Vice Chancellor who will take over from him  once he serves out the residue of his tenure.

This is the line of least resistance,more so, since IMSU may not have a substantive Vice Chancellor as long as Professor Innocent Chuka Okonkwos’s case is in court. Since a court of competent jurisdiction has given him a certificate of clean bill in regard to the reports of the Kangaroo Visitation Panel, why can’t the conflict be resolved through the instrumentality of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)? Is there any danger that is posed to the university if Professor Innocent Okonkwo is allowed to complete his tenure? Alternatively, the Governing Council should cut a deal that will be mutually acceptable to both parties.If Governor Okorocha can personally get involved in resolving EZESHIP conflicts in Imo State, his intervention should also be extended to IMSU.Again, a panel shoud be set up, preferably an Independent Cousel from outside Imo State, to investigate the litany of incidents of fake professorships, P.hDs. as well as financial scams involving top members of the IMSU administration.In fact, as the Visitor of the university, Governor Okorocha should set up an authentic Visitation Panel to clean up the place  before a new substantive Vice Chancellor takes over from Professor Okonkwo or so.Furthermore, it is the wish of a  majority of Imo populace that the Ogboko Campus of Imo State University should serve as the Orlu Campus of IMSU.

Majority of our people are not happy that the Ogboko Campus is now concessioned to what is called “IMO European University”. We need a very powerful Commissioner for Education to sanitize the education sector. Who are the owners of the proposed IMO European University? Will they also offer free education services as is now the case with IMSU? The last Commissioner for Education was probably overwhelmed by the demands of the office.

Poor Library Infrastructure:The poor state of the library  infrastructure in Imo State is exemplified by the fact that the first Divisional library in Imo State was built by the Administration of Lt Commander Ndubuisi Kanu,Military Governor of Imo State, and opened on the 12th day of November,1976.Since then no other modern library has been built anywhere in Imo State.In this  Governor Okorocha’s Administration, we have seen five-star Hotel projects for each of the three zones.We have seen monumental projects on roads, legacy buildings and sundry projects, but I am yet to see any  plan to build a state of the art Library Complex anywhere in Imo State.It is my opinion that the  luxury precast concrete school buildings  for each of the 305 INEC wards in the state should be scaled down so that part of the budget should be used to provide model/modern library complexes in each of the Senatorial Headquarters(OWERRI,ORLU AND OKIGWE).There was no provision for library infrastructure in the 2013 fiscal budget and worse still,I am  afraid to say that I am unable see any budget  provision for library projects in the 4-YEAR Rolling budget which the State Legislature approved in 2011.From time immemorial, a library  has always been described as “THE POOR MAN’S UNIVERSITY”).

It leaves a pall of doubt on the integrity of the  free edcation scheme  if libraries are not given deserved priority.In an ideal situation , every local government headquarter should have a model library complex complete with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) facilities and fitted with high speed servers.This will go a long way to expand the degree of internet penetration together with the concomittant awareness  of internet platforms.Governor Okorocha is capable of providing these facilities  but the snag is that  the Commissioner for Education was grossly ineffective and she failed to provide useful advice to the governor on how to add capacity to the free education scheme. it is my appeal that the next Commississioner for Education does not need to be a professor because virtually all the professors in Okorocha’s Administation are creating more crises than they set out to solve.The inability of Governor Okorocha to take a decisive  stand on Professor Innocent Okonkwo’s reinstatement is traceable to the ignoble role of a certain professor in the Engine room of this Administration.Governor Okorocha should be courageous enough to appoint a tested technocrat as Commissioner for Education;a strong willed person who can partner with the Governing Council of IMSU in order to redress the various flashpoints there within the shortest possible time. With an effective and vibrant technocrat as Commissioner for Education, he/she will make a strong case for   each Local Government Area to be provided with a modern and model library. Again, working in synergy with the Governing Council, the lingering case of the suspended VICE Chancellor, Professor Innocent Okonkwo, will be summarily redressed within a few weeks.

Commissioner for Works:In view of the capital intensive civil engineering jobs in the state, a rugged civil/structural Engineer should be appointed as Commissioner for Works.This is one way of checkmating the oft-repeated complaints of shoddy and sub-standard jobs by contractors .We should also set up a duly constituted  State Tenders Board in order to keep a close tab on contract awards.This is one way to avert the incessant cases of abandonments of jobs by contractors as well as  fraudulent misapplication of moneys appropriated for specific  projects.

IMO Polytecnic Umuagwo: As a result of the harsh economic realities of today, governments all over the world are discouraging the building of multi-campus tertiary institutions.The cost implication of a multi -campus  institution is colossal. Recently, Ebonyi State Government banned the policy of multi-campus for Ebonyi State University in preference to one campus. Also in Ogun State, about three tertiary institutions were recently merged.A mono-campus tertiary institution is comparatively cost-effective and makes for ease of administrative convenience. Operating a multi-campus university in an environment of paucity of funds can be very cumbruos, unwieldy and even frustrating to all the members of a university community.My vote is that Imo Polytechnic Umuagwo should be run as a mono-campus institution so that in future it will be a local equivalent of the Massachusets Institute of Technology (MIT) U.S.A.However, a panel of knowledgeable experts should be empannelled to give useful advice to the government.

Ministry of Sports: This ministry is being grossly underutilized.If properly harnessed, it is capable of acting as a  critical economic empowerment platform for a cross section of the teeming youths.We have always had a Ministry of football instead of  Ministry of Sports. The next Commissioner for sports should be recruited from the litany of sports technocrats who have excelled on the international sports circuit. The next Sports Commissioner must show a record. of actually participating on the international circuit as well as  having a cognate experience in sports management. Imo State has a record of indigenous athletes that have played international sports in various fields. I know that one of the basketball greats, OSSY Nwachukwu, a native of Nworieubi in Mbaitoli Local Government Area played professional Basketball game in United States.Althouugh Ossy’s family is in the United States, he virtually lives in Nigeria. During the 2011 electioneering, Ossy was part of the advocates for regime change who campaigned vigorously on the side of Owelle Okorocha.

After the victory of Owelle Okorocha in the 2011 election, Ossy Nwachukwu addressed a letter to the Governor specifying a work plan to enable him help to popularize the game of basket ball in Imo State, but his work plan was treated with derision. It was not even sent to the governor. Again, there is another sports idol of Imo State extraction in the person of the gazelle, Lady Christy Opara, who hails from Irette in Mbaitoli Local Government Area. She represented Nigeria in the Barcelona Olympics and other games  .She was part of the Rescue Imo electioneering team in 2011.There are so many of such world class athletes of Imo State origin who should be  considered for appointment as  commissioner for sports. Lady Christy Opara did not just play international athletics; she also pursued a tertiary programme on sports management.

In conclusion, it is pertinent to recall that in the penultimate minor EXCO reshuffle which took place in June 2012, the following changes were effected:

(1) The former Commissioner for Planning and Economic Development, Mr. Nick Oparandudu, became Commissioner for Works and Transport;

2. The   former Commissioner for lands, Hon Uche Nwosu (Gov. Okorocha’s son in law), became Commissioner for Lands and Housing;

3. Barrrister Ugochi Nnana Okoro, former Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, became the Commissioner for Community Government Council (CGC);

4. The former Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Chinedu Offor, was appointed Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism;

5. The former Commissioner for Community Government Council ,Prof Chima Iwuchukwu , became  Commissioner for  Planning and Economic Development ;

6. The former Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. Ifeanyi Nwachukwu, became Commissioner for Utilities, Public Safety and Youth Empowerment;

7. Prince Charles Onuoha, former Commissioner for Housing became Commissioner for Special Duties;

8. Governor Okorocha also said that  Ichie Best Uche Mbanaso ,the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, will also double as the Deputy Chief of Staff Government House., Government House. It is this selfsame Ichie Best Uche Mbanaso that Governor Okorocha has just declared the most effective Commissioner in the just dissolved EXCO.

It is also pertinent to remind the reader that  in that minor exco rejig which took place in June,2012, the commissioners who were dropped include Chief Ejike Uche(Public Utilities and Rural Development; Nze Ogueri Enwerem(Commerce and Industry); Dr Obinna Duruji (Information and Strategy; Engineer Ugwuazuo (Culture and Tourism); Nelson Ezerioha (Transport);  and Mrs.Ann Dozie (Women Affairs). According to a release by the Commissioner for Information and strategy, Chinedu Offor, the reshuffle was made as a result of the need to inject new blood into the running of government business.Of all the commissioners who were dropped on that occasion, that of Dr Duruji Obinna came as a shock to a cross section of the populace because he was generally regarded as the most resourceful and innovative political appointee in that dispensation.

All in all, the pertinent question now is: Taking cognizance of the perceived very poor performance of most of our political appointees, do we really need them now or is it much result oriented to ignore them for at least six months and work with the permanent secretaries? While I congratulate the award winning commissioners and others on the honour done them by the Governor and for automatically being reappointed into the next EXCO, there may be a need to make some brief comments on the challenges facing them because to whom much is given much is expected. This insight will be done presently.

 

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Posted in Nigeria News. A DisNaija.Com network.

Source: Imo State Blog

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