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Ex-Gov.Ohakim to Okorocha:Your Policies hurting the populace

The immediate Past governor of Imo State, Sir Ikedi Ohakim has in a recent letter to the incumbent governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha warned on the dire consequences of the State government’s policies especially in the face of present economic reality in the country.

Read full Text of the letter as leaked to the Public:

OHAKIM WRITES TO GOV. OKOROCHA ON 10 KEY AREAS OF GOVERNANCE, CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS

A MUST READ:

His Excellency
Governor of Imo State
Government House
Owerri, Imo State
22nd August, 2016

Attn.: Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha

CURRENT TREND OF EVENTS IN OUR STATE

I bring you warm greetings from my family, and may the Almighty God continue to keep you and your family in the light of His grace. Let me go straight to the main objective of this letter,which is to draw your kind attention to a dangerous build up of anger in the State, especially against the backdrop of some of your recent actions as the current Chief Executive. I hasten to add, however, that I take full cognisance of the fact that this letter to you may be misconstrued as an attempt to get even with you,or play politics for reasons that are not difficult to fathom. It is definitely not.

Let me assure you that I mean well, first because we are both faithful of the Body of Christ whose main message is peace and love and secondly because both of us have had the privilege of presiding over the affairs of more than four million Imo citizens with whom we share a collective destiny. Politics or no politics,the reality is that in or out of office, anybody so privileged as you and I have the twin obligation of continually making inputs on how to achieve political stability and economic prosperity in the state. Your Excellency, believe me; this is the reason behind this letter and nothing more.

Still, let me add that I duly appreciate the current economic situation in the country which can be likened to the global financial meltdown of 2008 to 2010, which affected my own
administration adversely, with crude oil selling at $38 per barrel.We had to work extra hard at resource management to maintain regular payments of salaries, pensions and allowances in those years and throughout my administration. It was tough.

1. DEMOLITION OF BUILDINGS IN OWERRI CAPITAL CITY

I have in the last couple of weeks received several calls from well meaning citizens of the state, drawing my attention to the ongoing demolition of buildings in parts of the Owerri Capital City, ostensibly in furtherance of a road-expansion programme your administration has embarked upon.
Consequently, I have personally driven round the municipality and seen what is going on. The major complaint by those affected by these demolitions is that they were neither given adequate notice nor compensation
discussed/paid before bulldozers were sent to destroy their properties.

I am told that some officials of your administration, to whom the people managed to have access, merely told the owners of the houses that they contravened existing regulations on location and specifications of buildings. I also hear that they are told that all land belongs to government and that the
latter can take any land at will without giving explanations.
You and I know that given the current economic
situation in the country, this is the most inappropriate time to destroy the houses of people or destroy structures that house their means of livelihood without adequate alternative arrangement. Agreed, multiple
lane roads are desirable but it should not be achieved by suddenly throwing hapless citizens into homelessness, joblessness and excruciating economic pains from which
they may never recover.

The state officials should be told that it is not true that
government can take any land and ask the occupants to go
to hell. To say such a thing in a place like Imo state is to
assault the collective dignity of a people reputed as being
among the most educated in the entire country.
Your colleague in Ogun state, for example, who is of the
same political party with you, attempted a similar exercise
recently but met with stiff resistance and a barrage of court
cases. He quickly retreated, organized a public hearing,
negotiated adequate compensation and modified the
project to reduce destruction of peoples' properties.

2. ROAD EXPANSION

Your Excellency, your present road expansion in Owerri
Municipal is not in conformity with the master plan and any
known element of road design. For example, the huge
economic loses from the present exercise will far outweigh
the few metres to be gained from the proposed expansion.
To worsen matters, no public right of way is left for the
replacement of pipes and cables, as your proposed roads
will end at the foundation of people's houses.
I have it on good authority also that the ongoing exercise
were not captured in any of the state budgets in the last five
years. This, therefore, makes it fiscally wrong to embark on
such projects because it negates the essence of due process
and good governance.

It is trite argument that embarking on any project, however
well intentioned, without first putting it in the budget is
against the law. It also makes room for arbitrary,
uncoordinated and aimless application of funds and makes
monitoring and accountability difficult if not impossible.

Besides, you have not taken into cognisance the
peculiarities of Owerri Capital City. For example, Owerri
Capital City is the only state capital in Nigeria with twin
design concept. It is also the only Capital City in Nigeria
located in a valley. This made the designers of the original
Master Plan to take a number of Engineering and Technical"
issues into consideration. One of such considerations is that
indiscriminate excavations, as we now have, would make
the city highly vulnerable to flooding. It was indeed in the
conscious effort to limit this vulnerability that the old City
was designed to be left with minimal destruction and the
Twin City fitted with 62 flood draining manholes which need
to be desilted periodically to remove blockages and avoid
vulnerability to flooding.

Your Excellency, I make bold to say that my administration,
for example, found the need to expand certain roads in the
state capital; such as Orji/Okigwe Road, Egbu/Umuahia
Road, Egbeada/Orji Road and Orlu Road. This entailed
removing illegal structures but we did so within the confines
of the existing lawful master plan. We made sure all such
projects were captured in the appropriation and the Federal
Ministry of Works duly consulted both in design and
execution. We did not embark on constructing the famed
multi-lane English MI motor way with the money meant for
salaries of workers and our aged pensioners.

If you had consulted the professionals, you would have been
told that Orlu Road, Okigwe/Orji Road and Egbu Road that
were dualized by my administration between 2008 and
2010, have reached the maximum permissible limit of
expansion, going by the city's Master Plan.
Insisting on expanding the above mentioned roads further
will only lead to both physical- and socio-economic
dislocations _that will ultimately defeat the overall objective.
Your Excellency, you will agree with me that the state is
fortunate to have the Twin City design with the New Capital
City layout that still has so much space to accommodate
innovations and new ideas so as to resist the temptation of
turning the older part of the city into a perpetual
archaeological excavation site.

3. DAMAGE TO PUBLIC WATER PIPE LINES

By the indiscriminate excavations now going on as part of
your road-expansion programme, you are destroying public
water pipelines that took Chief Sam Mbakwe's administration
over $34 million and four years to lay. It will require
billions of Naira this time around to replace them if
inhabitants of Owerri will ever -enjoy public pipe borne
water again.

As I write, nearly all the buildings, including business
houses, along the affected roads 'hove now been
disconnected from the public electricity supply as a result of
the damage of electricity wires, cables and poles.

As a matter of fact, two Hotels along Orlu Road in
Amakohia have closed for business and sent their workers
away; ditto other businesses. This should not be at a time
like this.

4. NWORIE AND OTAMIRI RIVERS

With due respect, Your Excellency, I want state that by your
actions, we are on the verge of loosing two very important
gifts nature gave to Ndi Owerri and indeed Imo State
namely, the Nworie and Otamiri rivers. Otamiri, you must
note, is the intake source of the Owerri main water scheme.
Now that it is going into extinction, it means it can no
longer play that role as an important source of life for the
people. As things stand, both rivers may disappear within
the next few years.

Your idea of linking the old and new Owerri through the
two rivers is lofty but you failed it when you used ordinary
culverts to cross over the two rivers. This is the greatest
damage to these natural resources. You may wish to take a
drive across the two rivers and see for yourself that your
action has effectively constricted the rivers, causing a
barricade for free flow of water.

Your Excellency, what should cross over the rivers are
bridges, not culverts. I would like you to take a look at the
bridge crossing Nworie at Egbeada and the one crossing
Nekede road which were constructed during my
administration as part of the inner ring roads project. You
will definitely notice the width and head-room of the two
bridges and appreciate what I am saying.

Interestingly, the first crossing over Nworie along Assumpta
Avenue, adjacent to Holy Ghost College, is a full bridge, not
a culvert. It is noteworthy that those who built that bridge
more than sixty (60) years ago saw the need for a full
bridge. Up to the late 1980s, students of Holy Ghost
College were still swimming under that bridge. Infact, the
whole idea behind the dredging project my administration
attracted from the federal government through the Niger
Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was not only to
return the entire river and the bridges across it to their
original utility state, but also to improve on that, by having
boats sail across with standard beaches to match.
Unfortunately, some uninformed people decided to play
politics with it and we were even derided for coming up with
the project.
Today, the people know better. Nworie and Otamiri are
headed for extinction. However, I advise that you follow up
with the N9billion NDDC/Federal Government dredging
project.

5. PUBLIC WATER UTILITY

Your Excellency, you and I know that there are two major
things that make life meaningful for the urban dweller.
These are water and electricity. Since electricity is in the
exclusive list in our Constitution, state governments strive to
pay attention to water. But in our own case in Imo, you have
technically disbanded the Water Corporation and sent away
over 200 technicians that were trained by my administration
to man the state's water schemes. You may wish to review
that decision.

I also urge you to revisit the 906 Rural, 7 Semi and 2 Major
water schemes completed before your administration. Your
Excellency, your administration is paying little or no
attention to affordable clean drinking water. Our people are
dying.

6. OWERRI CITY RING ROADS

Your Excellency, I am of the sincere belief that it was
because you abandoned the ring roads began by previous
administrations that you were caught in the current dilemma
over roads in the Capital City of Owerri. There are three
major ring roads in the Master Plan: inner, outer and outer
outer. The inner ring road has a total of five fly-over
bridges. I am, however, in a position to know that the funds
you are currently channelling into the needless expansion of
some roads within the state are enough to complete the
ring roads. I can also state without any fear of contradiction
that the only way to truly achieve the aesthetics you are
probably very much after and as well effectively decongest
traffic in Owerri, is to complete the ring roads.

7. EKE-UKWU OWERRI MARKET

Please reconsider your proposal to demolish the Eke-Ukwu
Owerri market. Such a move at this point in time will have
grave economic and social consequences. Rather than
relocating the market, I think you should go to Ama Hausa
along the same Douglas road and take a second look at the
place. The space has become too small for the population
and does not make room for good sanitation and hygiene.
Infact, I am of the view that Ama Hausa should be
relocated to give Eke-Ukwu Owerri more space for
expansion.

I understand that some officials of your administration go
about saying that you are following a plan and drawing
made during my administration on Eke-Ukwu Owerri
market. The truth, however, is that we made no drawings
and we had no plan to relocate the market. Our plan was to
build a new market at the New Owerri following the Master
Plan.

8. RULE OF LAW

Another disturbing area Your Excellency must address
seriously and urgently is your penchant for disobeying Court
rulings and Orders. This has turned the state into a lawless
enclave as the people, consciously and unconsciously, tend
to take a cue from their governor. There is so much
unruliness in the state with government officials showing the
lead. But the truth is that they are like the proverbial young
goat which watches the mother while it chews cord.

Your Excellency, there is a built-up anger over the way the
people are being displaced from their business locations,
more so as this reminds them of the indiscriminate
revocation and reallocation of lands in Owerri for which
several complaints have been made in the last five years.

Few days ago, I watched a disturbing video recording (which
has gone viral), of your recent encounter with artisans at the
Orji mechanic village. I was shocked at the heady
demeanour of some of the boys towards you and while I
condemn it entirely, I am of the view that your approach
lacked gubernatorial finesse and decorum. You should
avoid exchange of words with kids no matter the
provocation. We may not be lucky next time in escaping an
outright physical revolt from hapless youths who feel that
they have been pushed to the wall or that the government is
not sensitive to their plight.

Right now, there are over 250 cases in court against the
state government by the very citizens you are governing.
What an irony. When you assumed office, you adopted,
curiously, the policy of awarding contracts without due
process, claiming that due process is a waste of time. But at
the end, problems have arisen because, there are little or
no records to enforce agreements even in some cases where
the contractors had put in large chunks of their money.

The ensuing disagreements led to Court actions and many
of the contractors are getting favourable judgements that
have left the state with a total [udqernent debt and
garnishing proceedings in excess of N7billion. This may rise
up to N50b in the next two years if care is not taken.
Clearly, this will be a huge burden to incoming
administrations and the entire state, besides that it makes
planning, even for your own administration, difficult.

9. PIECES OF ADVICE

May I conclude this letter by offering Your Excellency the
following pieces of advice:

i)
Take a second look at the state's economy with a view
to seeing how it could be revitalized. One way of
achieving this is to prioritize. Go now for only
revenue-yielding and employment-creating capital
projects, ensuring that contractors are faithfully paid to
enable them pay their workers and sub-contractors so
that money can circulate. The same with the payment
of salaries and pension of the civil servants.

I can assure you that with proper planning, it is
possible to come up with an arrangement that will limit
the vulnerability of the state's civil servants to the
general economic down turn in the country as a whole.

ii)
Discontinue further demolition of both private
properties and state-owned structures in Owerri
Capital City and make good all such demolitions.

iii)
Discontinue the road expansion projects in the old
Owerri Capital City for reasons I have already given
above. The roads are even wider than most London
roads.

iv)
Return to the ring roads which are of three interlaced
dimensions: the inner ring road; the outer ring road
and the outer-outer ring road.

v)
Dismantle all the four culverts you built across Nworie
and Otamiri rivers and replace them with appropriate
bridges. If this is not done quickly, the two rivers will
disappear finally. The environmental, health and
ecological consequences will be very disastrous.

vi)
Job! Job!! Job!!!; Factory! Factory!! Factory!!!; Industry!
Industry!! Industry!!!. People are wondering what
happened to that idea which caught the attention of
many of us as it was laudable. Discontinue the 27
general hospital projects. They are White Elephant
projects, pure and simple.

The existing general hospitals and health centres are
adequate in number but are just under-staffed and
under-equipped. Go ahead to refurbish and equip
them and use the sites of the 27 general hospitals
project as cottage industries for each of the 27 Local
Government Areas. With proper planning, this can
create more than 5,000 jobs for the teeming
unemployed youths among who are the 10,000 you
disengaged unceremoniously on assumption of office.

vii)
As a matter of urgency, bring back IMO ROAD MAINTENANCE
AGENCY (IROMA); our Rural Roads are in
worst condition ever and those you completed earlier
are giving way for lack of maintenance. Our gutters
and drains are not being desilted as regularly as
required and the sanitation condition is becoming a
public health issue.

viii)
As a matter of urgent economic importance, raise the
necessary funding for the relocation and rehabilitation
of Orji mechanic village which you demolished out of
annoyance and without adequate notice and attractive
alternative.

10. CONCLUSION

Your Excellency, let me reassure you that there is no other
intention behind this letter other than the desire to ensure
that our people get the highest good from governance no
matter who is in charge at any point in time. As I pointed
out at the beginning, we have both had the privilege of
leading our people but I believe there is a bigger obligation
of ensuring that their welfare is not trampled upon even out
of office. God forbid that after you might have completed
your tenure, you will wallow in silence if confronted with
issues that affect the general well being of the people you
once governed and cherished. This is my guiding principle.

Finally, may I inform Your Excellency that since this is a
formal letter, I shall copy very few leaders in the state who
may wish to take a cue to similarly offer some advice. I wish
you well and pray the good Lord to give you the wisdom
and courage to embrace due process; consult stakeholders
and professionals regularly and always do the proper
things, to the glory of His name and to the good of
mankind.

Sincerely Yours

HE (Dr.)Ikedi Ohakim

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