Immediate past governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha has accused his successor, Emeka Ihedioha of being arrogant, anti-masses and mismanaging over ₦48 billion he left behind barely three months in office. In this interview with STANLEY UZOARU, he also spoke on the alleged attacks on his family and government properties recovered from his wife as well as daughter’s shops. He also attacked his party, the APC for lying against him before President Buhari during the last general elections.
What do you think about the idea of a panel set up by the Imo State government to probe you?
It’s politically motivated and witch-hunting. How can you expect a PDP member to head such panel, what kind of justice would you get? Everybody knows that Eze Duruiheoma (SAN) was a former chairman of PDP and from his utterances in the past you will know that they have been sent to do a hatchet job; how can you have retired Justice Eudora Igwe who was the wife of an SSG in the state, another PDP chieftain who has been angry? Definitely, you shouldn’t expect justice from this, and they said that Igwe has given more than 100 orders just to fight my government and any of my cases that goes to court can never receive justice; same person is going to chair a panel on land, so you can see that there’s a setup but if they can do the right thing, people who will be unbiased to probe my activities, that’s fine, but I wish they would bring people from the time of Ohakim. It’s just a gimmick. My advice for the government is to remain focused rather than fighting left, right and centre.
As a former governor of the state, can you say the present administration can be focused?
Well, what I think is that right now, Emeka Ihedioha-led administration is diversionary, using intimidation, harassment and probe allegations to attract public sympathy for the fear of likely rerun because in the first place, Emeka Ihedioha did not win this election and he knows both in terms of number or spread; wining over 140,000 votes just from three local governments out of about 200,000 votes goes to show that he did not win that election. How do we get 137,000 votes from 24 local governments and then you have more than that from three local governments, what miracle would he have performed? That is not all; there is the idea that he did not meet the constitutional requirement of two-third which is actually known to everybody on the street. We are heading to about hundred days in office and the PDP-led government in the state doesn’t have a single thing to show for the time, their first achievement is the demolition of Akachi Tower; second achievement, demolition of Freedom Square; third achievement, beating up Okorocha’s daughter; fourth achievement, packing of fridges and ACs from Okorocha’s daughter‘s store; fifth achievement, going to Rochas’ wife’s store to ransack it only to find nothing; sixth achievement, to set up a probe panel to probe Rochas’ activities; seventh achievement, to take over the Rochas Foundation College, where over 1000 poor children, orphans who are Imo children are going to learn, and the eight achievement is breaking into my house, forcefully planting things and taking pictures. I wasn’t a small man before I came into government . So ninth achievement, going to peoples houses and seizing their properties; tenth achievement, removing the streetlight bars that were used in decorating the city. So you can see that their ten-point agenda is attack Rochas, but that is not what democracy calls for and if you look at how they appointed commissioners and other positions, you will notice that this is preparatory to a rerun, so all the PDP members that have submitted their CVs including the 16-year-old chief of staff, you can see that the same PDP of share the money is back.
What do you think is responsible for your probe?
You should know it was a deliberate attack on Rochas , these things are politically motivated, for those of you who know how we came into power in 2011 and 2015, we chased away the political class then, it was a PDP government, this is a state recovered from PDP government if not for the internal implosion in APC then that gave them opportunity to do what they did, this is the situation of Imo State we found ourselves in. They are aggrieved and trying to see how they can create havoc in the system. My concern though is that the searching of my house, my daughter’s premises, my wife’s shop is not a good news for the state; in trying to fight Rochas, they might be discouraging those who want to come and invest in the state. To show my love for the state I asked my people to come back home, I governed Imo with passion. I brought my wife to open a shop; this shop cannot do as well as it has done if it were in Lagos or Abuja. I have the capacity to tell them to go there but I wanted to show my love for the state. Charity, they say, begins at home. I don’t know of any governor’s daughter or wife that could open a restaurant to sell rice and stew and serve customers. They forgot that before I became governor, my wife was running 70 different hotels. We have hotels in Jos, Abuja, Owerri . I don’t know who has the biggest furniture shop like my wife in Abuja for more than 20 years. Does it mean they can’t make profit anymore to expand? When I was investing at home, I didn’t know I was committing an offence. How many of these leaders have invested in the state with their children? How many of them have a shop that employed one person? This gentleman called Uche Nwosu came to the Land Ministry and transformed it. He did the biggest miracle as Commissioner for Lands. Today, land is more valued. Where you never believe land can worth one million naira now is ten million naira because we opened up Owerri and they can see that, all they want to set up is a panel to probe.
How does your party, APC, which fought you during the election, feel, seeing all that is happening to you now?
Let me say that what APC did in the state destroyed the party in the state and at the end we had nothing to show for it, but I realised that what destroyed PDP has come into APC––gossip and lies. Could you imagine somebody could go to tell lies about Rochas to say that I was supporting PDP in the presidential election. That’s the party I founded myself and they believed the story because somebody wants to impose himself as the governorship candidate. They met the leaders and the leaders who did not want me took the matter to the presidency, but during the result of the last presidential election, Buhari’s highest votes in the southeast came from my local government of Ideato North and South; the same candidate they put as governorship candidate, Buhari lost in his booth and lost in his local government. How else can one prove commitment? But time will tell and truth shall be revealed.
Don’t you think this is a way of demonising you against your 2023 ambition?
Power comes from God and power is a trust which can be used for the benefit of the society. I agree with you that the essence of PDP in the state is to demonize me, but would they succeed, because what I have done in Imo State would speak till eternity. This present government cannot in 50 years achieve what I have achieved. If they are demonizing Rochas, they should demonize the International Cargo Airport, which they said does not exist but has been adjudged the best even by the Vice President of Nigeria. How can you demonize that? There was no road in Imo State when I came in. Just three roads––Douglas road, Bank road and Whetheral road. Today, there are many roads. Is that what you demonize? Akachi road was never in existence; the inland roads were never there; Okigwe road,who made them eight lanes that there is no more traffic in Imo State? Is that what you are going to demonize or would you demonize the Eze Imo palace, which the Ooni of Ife and Sultan of Sokoto have adjudged the best in the country? Would you demonize the six universities or the new prisons, Justice Oputa High Court complex, new police headquarters, would you demonize the free education which nobody thought it was going to be possible for complete eight years of my administration? What about the 27 general hospitals, some of them completed already or the 1000 beds at Somtochukwu Hospital along Douglas road? 1000 beds at Mother and Child hospital, have you ever had this in the state? They should be asking me what is my secret? They went to Akachi looking for juju. This government is arrogant. I heard the news that they ‘frogjumped’ some DSS officers and some political leaders in the government house––it has not started; this is just the beginning. They would beat up people on the road. This government is not pro-masses. It is a government of the few by the few and for the few, and watch how they would share the state money. l left over N48 billion for them. I will tell you they are now three months in office and Imo State would have gotten nothing less than N24 billion more; I know the account of Imo like the palm of my hands. So this government now has over N70 billion and if care is not taken, all we would hear is stories. They have gone to bring political engineers to inspect my projects. If you want to do that you allow me bring my engineers against yours, not going at night pouring chemicals on my projects and in the morning they would say it has fall down. They blocked the tunnel I built and has been used for six years saying it’s weak. Again, they are closing the university I built, the Eastern Palm University, attended by those orphans and poor people from Rochas Foundation, they said they are taking over. Eastern Palm University gets 90 percent while the state gets 10; let them take over and take care of those children.Some states get licences with classroom blocks but we have good structures for these institutions.(The Sun)