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Imo state and its shambolic governance

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On Monday 5th June 2017, I read a press release from Imo state’s Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo where it viciously critiqued the compelling review of THISDAY Newspaper regarding Imo state under Rochas Okorocha. Needless to say that the state’s official response was both childish in its writing and very unprofessional in the wordings!

The review conducted by The Platform News had been fair in giving Okorocha’s performance a less than average review overall. Mr. Onwuemeodo made certain claims regarding Okorocha’s achievements, a claim that has repeatedly been championed by media apparatchiks and the paid propagandists’ of the state. This rejoinder is an effort to set the records truly straight.

Here are the claims from Imo state’s media team regarding THISDAY’s verdict:
– that THISDAY was unfair in its assessment of Okorocha’s performance
– that the mid-term review were skewed because of the “origin” of its correspondence, thereby insinuating a lack of fairness in its review.
“The THISDAY Newspaper’s Correspondent in Owerri, is from Mbaise. Those who have been following Political developments in Imo especially concerning the 2015 governorship election would understand and appreciate why it is incumbent upon us to mention where he comes from. And he was the Returning Officer for Ngor-Okpala LGA during the 2015 governorship election in the State.”
– that Okorocha has over-performed its expectations, and that
– Imo state was now a haven of investors invasion owing to Okorocha’s resounding performance

An appropriate claim can be made by the press secretary regarding the methodology of governance index adopted in THISDAY’s review. However, what cannot be disputed is the shoddy level of governance that has overwhelmed Imo state since Okorocha’s inception. Okorocha’s acclaimed “monumental achievements” are nothing but the attempts of an outlandish under-performing governor at deception.

Our Review.

1. On ease of doing business.

The claims:
– “The governor re-purchased the Resin Paint Industry in Mbaise sold by those before him and handed it over to a Chinese Company SKYRUN now producing electrical gadgets at Nguru Mbaise.
– The Paper Packaging Industry at Owerre ebiri equally sold by those before him was also repurchased by Governor Okorocha and is today working.
– There is an industrial Park now in Owerri and artisan village.
– And because of the high level of security and infrastructural revolution in the state, investors have “invaded” the state and there is, at the moment, population explosion and business/investment evolution in the State.”

THE FACT: Rochas Okorocha’s administration views governance as a perfunctory exercise. None of the claims above by his media team talked about reforms on providing an enabling environment for local and foreign entrepreneurs.

Here are the INDICES of measuring EASE OF DOING BUSINESS:
– bureaucratic processes,
– registering property,
– registering businesses,
– permits and licences.

In all of these, Imo state ranks extremely low out of 36 states. Imo state ranks low in Starting a business (31), Dealing with construction permits (34), registering a property (27), and enforcing contracts (34). None of these will incentivize any serious investor to Imo state. There are currently no reforms in Imo state to rectify these inadequacies.

If Okorocha’s claims were true at all, let him mention one investment in the state and the attracted FDI, the way Kaduna screams from the rooftops of its $350m FDI in just two (2) years. Imo state belongs to the worst category in Nigeria.

The VERDICT for Imo state in EASE OF DOING BUSINESS is very poor

2. HEALTHCARE

The claim: “Governor Okorocha has built 27 ultra-modern 200 bed hospitals of International Standard with one in each of the 27 LGAs, with some of them equipped and four of the hospitals handed over to the Navy, Airforce, Army and Police.”
The FACT: Do not allow Okorocha’s media gang deceive you. The pictures attached beneath show our survey on the 16th of May, 2017. Only 1 hospital has been completed and equipped. The others, after 3 years of propaganda and media campaign, and after spending billions of naira, remain uncompleted. The status of these hospitals are well documented.

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The claim: “Renovated some of the Old General Hospitals in the state.”
The FACT: All of the general hospitals are in total dysfunction expected of general hospitals that serve the populace. Again, these are not spurious claims, we have evidence.

The claim: “Introduced functional and effective Health at Your Door programme.”
The FACT: It is left to be shown the effectiveness and efficiency of this project. Governor Okorocha should ask his team to conduct a thorough assessment and polling for proper feedback in a proper monitoring and evaluation framework. If done, his policy experts would have given him the sufficient response that would warrant a thorough assessment of the ineffective policy.

Of the 1,002 respondents in our trip, more than 83% of pregnant women and others who have been delivered of their babies had stopped patronising the general hospitals and have resorted to the private clinics increasing out-of-pocket spending, exacerbating the level of poverty. Imo state has no healthcare policy, no is its leadership interested in reforms or domesticating the National Health Bill.

Our INDICES for rating Imo State In healthcare:
– quality of infrastructure (hospitals and equipment): very poor
– quality of care: poor
– affordability (cost): very poor
– access (number of doctors and medical personnel): poor
– general welfare: very poor

The VERDICT on Healthcare for Imo is poor.

3. Education is touted to be a massive improvement under Okorocha, but that seems to be the crux of all his 6 years of “work”.

The claim: “Imo College of Advanced Professional Studies (ICAPS) Owerri”
The FACT: The Imo College of Advanced Professional Studies (ICAPS) Owerri is largely non-functional. In fact, we made enquiries on the studentship and productivity. The “institute” is being occupied by lorries. It can be claimed as a lorry park rightfully.

The claim: “Introduced new dressing code for teachers in the state. They also claim to have paid teachers’ salaries up to April, 2017.”
The FACT: This is a perfunctory reform, and has nothing to affect the efficiency and quality of teaching and the curriculum.

The claim: “Built magnificent new structures at IMSU”
The FACT: We have evidence to show that ALL of the new structures in IMSU were constructed by TETFUND, except the Senate building and the Bindery. These include the Law buildings and lecture theatres, the Admin buildings, and the ICT centre. The post graduate section is in shambles.

Besides, Governor Okorocha as a showman would want you to equate his shabby constructions and construction activities in Imo as a sign of performance. Buildings do not equate with, neither does it replace the quality of reforms especially for soft capital development required of the education sector.

You can infer about the quality of Governor Okorocha’s thoughts when you look at the superficial “improvements” in the free education which he boasts about! Even then, the free education is not totally free in tertiary institutions as Imo students still amass fees termed “ancillary” while students of other state origin pay the full fees. Worse, claims of sexual overtures and indiscipline amongst IMSU lecturers and staff are rife and not attended to.

Yes Okorocha is busy with construction of classroom blocks. Nevertheless under Okorocha, the decline in educational standards is at par with other terribly governed states. Indeed, Okorocha, like other perfunctory governors, make claim of educational improvement based on JAMB and WAEC performance. It is not a hidden fact in Nigeria how examinations are doctored and how very low, unskilled and unfit for the market economy Nigerian graduates are.

Our indices in rating Imo state’s education are:
– quality of reform/education (very poor)
– quality of infrastructure (average)
– affordability (very good)
– access to education (average)
– equality (good)

The score for Imo state in EDUCATION is average.

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4. INFRASTRUCTURE:

The claims: “Governor Okorocha has to his credits more than 600 kilometres of urban roads and more than 1000 kilometres of rural roads. The list and locations of the roads are available to give to any group or establishment on demand.”
The FACT: Okorocha has widened roads, and opened new areas. These include areas spanning the New Owerri, and inlan routes. Unfortunately, it seems most were handled by his cronies, not well paid or monitored. Take for instance, that all of Okorocha’s roads, except the Akachia road, has been re-touched more than three times. These include MCC, Amakohia, Akwakuma, Orul road, 4th inland road, among others.

And the phantom bogus projects are in abundant quantity.

The claims: “He has remodelled & rebuilt the Government House with befitting new structures including a new governor’s lodge, a new chapel, a new clinic, new twin story building for the Deputy Governor and first Lady’s Offices, Sam Mbakwe EXCO Chamber, Ndubuisi Kanu EXCO Chamber, Nick Banquet hall, Media building, Staff Canteen and all, inside the Government House.

Other claims include:
Built Imo International Convention Centre (IICC), built two flyovers and three tunnels, built Treasury House and Imo Trade & Investment Centre, built Odenigbo guest house with nine apartments, built four-floor ISOPADEC Complex headquarters, built Ikemba Ojukwu Centre, built Computer and Lounge for Civil Servants. built Eze Imo Palace, built CGC Office Complex, made major roads in Owerri eight-lanes in his urban renewal programme, built Imo Micro Finance Bank, built Cultural Centres in the three zones of the state, renovated the State Secretariat and Computerised the Offices, building New High Court Complex called Justice Oputa Complex, reconstructed and remodeled Old Concord Hotel to a five-star hotel, built New NYSC headquarters, built twelve round-abouts within Owerri and environs, built pedestrian bridges, rebuilt all the Council headquarters, built Chapels & ICT Centres in the LGA Headquarters, built more than 270 bungalows for indigent women and widows through the wife’s Pet Project, SNARP.

The FACT: Okorocha thinks governance is just about constructing phantom projects: roads that lead to nowhere or add no economic value to industrialization or economic clusters, hospitals that are not completed, buildings like IICC, Imo Youth CentreIYC, ICAP, CGC, and others that serve no specific purpose or has little or no value for money in terms of return on investments.

The flyovers left by Ohakim (the Uji “red” bridge) remain uncompleted; government projects started by Udenwa remain abandoned, whilst Okorocha begins new ones. The roundabouts built by Okorocha are useless, serves no sensible purpose, and most are poor quality projects (built with bricks). Anyone can inquire about the purpose of the Okigwe roundabout when the road are in extreme dilapidation. Okorocha lays claim to cultural centres: is it the derelict Freedom fall, or the hand of God?

Can Imo state declare the Return on Investment of all these projects? What has been the state revenue accruing from the utilisation of the projects? What jobs have been created? What investments have flowed into Imo state? What about the mayoral offices? What purposes do they serve?

Here are the indices of measuring INFRASTRUCTURE:
– Road design: poor
– Access and road networks: good
– Quality of construction: very poor
– Transparency of the Procurement process: very poor
– Value for money: very poor

We rate Imo state’s INFRASTRUCTURE very poor

5. SOCIAL WELFARE:

The claims: “Built Imo Foundation that has assisted a lot of Imo people and even non-indigenes with complicated health issues to be treated outside the country.”

The FACT: Creating Imo Foundation is unnecessary and a lavish waste. What is the purpose of creating Imo foundation when the state has horrible health infrastructure, poor healthcare policy, and where its citizens are highly impoverished? What is the purpose of setting up another project when the health sector is massively under-funded? The beneficiary of Imo Foundation is Okorocha’s wife. Can the accounts of Imo Foundation be opened for scrutiny? How is it funded? Is it a conduit for money laundering?

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The claim: “The result is that with free education, the poverty level in the state has drastically gone down from 57% in 2011 to 14% in 2017, according to United Nation’s report.”

The FACT: It is a widely acknowledged of Okorocha’s high handedness in dealing with civil servants and pensioners, 90% of which declined to be interviewed for fear of being victimized. It is however clear that their household income and consumerism has massively declined as witnessed from retailers in the state.
One should be wary of any touted United Nations report that is not grounded in current socio-economic reality!

Here are the indices of measuring SOCIAL WELFARE:
– Improved wellbeing: poor
– Quality of life/healthiness: average
– Poverty: poor
– Social welfare scheme/packages: very poor

We rate Imo state’s SOCIAL WELFARE PROGRAMS very poor.

6. AGRICULTURE:

The claim: “Governor Okorocha introduced Ikuona nkwu in all the communities and the outcome has been remarkable.”
The fact: No. it has been shambolic at best.

The claim: “Introduced rice farming in the state.
The fact: Neighbouring Ebonyi is the rice farming paradise of the east. If rice has been a tremendous success, where are the celebrated stories? Where are the huge factories and what is the total job toll as a result of the industrialization in agriculture in Imo state? What happened to the state oil palm plantation, now Roche plantation?

Here are the indices of measuring AGRICULTURE:
– Access to land: poor
– Road access to farmlands/markets: very poor
– Access to capital/Government programs and incentives (subsidies for small farmers): very poor
– Improvement of skills and agricultural methods: very poor

We rate Imo state’s AGRICULTURAL program as very poor

7. CORRUPTION PERCEPTION:

Over 90% of respondents describe Okorocha as corrupt, shady, and non-transparent. Maybe these claims are not unfounded.

According to respondents, they claim that
– half of Imo state is run by Okorocha’s family and close circuit.
– he literally made the state’s oil plantation his (Roche Plantation)
– Okorocha resides in a huge estate sitting over 3 hectares, where he currently resides, and which is undergoing continued expansion as a chief executive (now named Rochas Foundation College of Africa)
– Imo state has a security squad, which is being administered by a specially reckless cohort of touts, extorting civilians and harassing drivers in daylight in Owerri.
– there are reckless behaviours of political appointees within Imo conducting government businesses

Here are the indices of measuring CORRUPTION:
– Transparency: very poor
– Bureaucratic process/Bribery/Brazenness in extorting the public: poor
– Impunity: very poor
– Public Perception: poor

We rate Imo state’s CORRUPTION index as very poor

SUMMARY

Imo state has been unfortunate with the advent and ascension of Okorocha to power. It is more depressing when one sees that he has a presidential ambition to replace Muhammadu Buhari; belongs to the APC which screams “change” as its mantra, or worse; that he chairs the Progressive Governors Forum.

One would think that such an institution should be chaired by someone more cerebral, hands-on and forward thinking (a reformer) unlike Okorocha! Little wonder how no one knows of PGF!

Currently participating in the Citizens Governance and Media Advocacy Project across South East Nigeria, this writer (along with five others) went across most parts of Imo state. In our view, Okorocha is one of the most outlandish, outspoken, yet under-performing governors of the past 6 years amongst Southern Governors of the APC. There are extensive pictures (with date stamps) and videos to corroborate the findings, and Mr. Okorocha’s team can reach out to us to verify.

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