Sunday, 12 May 2019

A must read; I have received more insult from Apc. (Gov. Okorocha said in an interview )


Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha, the governor
of Imo State, in this interview,
bares his mind on his running battle with the
Independent National Electoral Commission,
INEC, accusing the National Chairman of the
All Progressives Congress, APC, Adams
Oshiomhole, of conniving with the electoral
umpire to frustrate his ambition for the
Upper Legislative Chamber, the Senate; among
other salient national issues. Excerpts:
How far have you gone about your Certificate
of Return seized by INEC?
Last week, I wrote a letter to INEC officials
myself informing INEC about their wrong
doings and illegal actions; withhold my
certificate on mere allegations, which was
never investigated. INEC on its own believed
the report of its Returning Officer without
verifying the authenticity of such allegation.
So, there was no issue of fair hearing at all,
whether I committed the offence that their
person alleged.
However, what is important here is that INEC
doesn’t have the power to withhold a
certificate of return, having declared a
result. Both the certificate of return and the
declaration is just one subject matter. The
other one is ceremonial because the result has
been declared. It has become obvious that the
INEC Chairman is up to a game with the
Chairman of APC, who are bent on frustrating
my senatorial ambition. I have given enough
time to INEC officials to do the needful and
issue me my certificate of return, all to no
avail.
My case has witnessed a lot of drama. INEC
that made a submission to the tribunal in
Owerri has gone back to withdraw the
submission it made. The submission they made
was defending the declaration by INEC, which
is normal. But because that submission was
seen to be in my favour, INEC has gone back
to say they will withdraw the submission, which
is also out of time.
Furthermore, the APC National Chairman has
allegedly approached the tribunal to also ask
to withdraw the submission of the party. What
INEC is doing is the same thing the APC is
doing. So, this tells you that there is a game
going on. I wonder what they will do with the
certificate. If they don’t give me the
certificate, who will they give it to?
But you were one of those who supported him
to emerge as the National Chairman of your
party. What suddenly happened that he is
now against you?
There is nothing personal between me and
Adams Oshiomhole, other than that Adams
Oshiomhole is part and parcel of this high
level conspiracy to bring down Rochas
politically. This is just aimed at making sure
that Rochas doesn’t have a solid foundation
politically. They say if I get to the Senate, I
want to run for the President and all of that;
I want to run for 2023 elections. Who told
them? Have I declared? You wait until I
declare and when I do declare, we now fight
politically.
But what is painful is that the Adams
Oshiomhole that I literally put into this
position, I never asked him to do me any
favour, but all I requested of him is to do
what is right, could turn around to commit
this evil of mankind. It is totally
unacceptable. That the party that I formed,
that brought out the APC we have today will
treat me in this manner is also unfortunate
because the evil I feared in the PDP has
befallen me ten times in the APC. I hate
injustice and that’s what I’m seeing on a
daily basis.
There are allegations of alleged anti-party
activities against you. That you supported one
of your principal officers to join another
party to contest and even used state
machinery to support him
You forgot there was a primaries. There was
even a congress where the then Organizing
Secretary, Osita Izunaso allegedly ran away
with the ballot boxes and the Police
Commissioner was later transferred? It is just
a booklet that is opened page by page, on a
daily basis by the authors. Gulak came and
ran away with the result sheets and said
election is finished. The security were there
and all of these people. That’s part of the
conspiracy. It’s not about anti-party.
You met with the President on this matter on
two occasions. How come the party has not
resolved the problem?
What I took to the President was entirely a
different matter because I believe that this
matter shouldn’t be a matter that Mr.
President should come in. If you know
President Muhammadu Buhari as a person, he
is not such a person who interferes. Once he
gives you a job, you do your job, he doesn’t
want to interfere. At the end of it all, you
make yourself good or bad. I know his style
and I know his person. So, I didn’t want to
belabour him with ‘talk to this’ or ‘that
person’ on what is clear and right.
You are very close to the President and there
is this impression that the President may be
behind this?
I don’t think Mr. President is behind this.
Buhari is definitely not behind this. If you
know President Muhammadu Buhari in his own
style, you will know that he will keep quiet
and never say anything about this until they
prove themselves right or wrong.
If those behind it are very close to President,
can’t the President call them to order?
Remember this matter has to do with INEC
and INEC is perceived to be independent and
if Mr. President is going to talk to INEC, he’s
interfering with the independence of INEC.
Whether Mr. President speaks or not, what is
right is right and what is wrong is wrong.
Do you still feel comfortable in the APC?
I am APC. I have never thought of leaving the
party for now and I have no reason because I
won under the platform of APC.
When you say the misfortune you feared in
PDP has fallen ten times on the APC, are you
still comfortable remaining and allowing the
misfortune to multiply?
Where will I go to? I have to be in the APC, I
formed the APC.
Are you stranded?
I am not stranded, I remain in APC and I
have not indicated that I’m going to leave
APC. Remember that the intention of these
people is to frustrate me out of politics and
out of APC so that they can have a field of
play. But all I advise today is that let no
institution or organization allow themselves to
be used as an instrument to destroy somebody
politically, who has committed no offence.
If by chance you meet Adams Oshiomhole
today, what will you tell him?
We will chat as usual. What will I do to him?
The last time I saw Oshiomhole was when I
went to his office and he sent his SSS man to
insult me in his office, before the
governorship candidate of Akwa Ibom, the
NDDC guy, Obong Nsima Ekere, who also
reacted against the gentleman. An SSS was
pushing me out as a governor from his office.
So, I’ve taken enough insults from Oshiomhole
and all those that are planning this evil.
You said the anti-graft agencies are on the
trail of many people in your government. Are
you suspecting that they are part of this
conspiracy because what they said before the
election, they claimed that you were taking
money from government coffers for vote
buying?
First and foremost, if you think right and
people reason well, if you want to withdraw
N17 billion in this country now, it will take you
two years to get N17 billion from all the banks
in Nigeria. So, these are frivolities. But
anybody can say anything against you just to
find a way to attack you and I’m saying that
they should reason well in what they do.
Nobody should be used as an instrument to
fight anybody for political reasons. If not,
such institutions also will lose their credibility.
Aren’t you worried about the deteriorating
security situation?
It is of great concern really and my heart
goes to those who have lost their dear ones.
What is happening in Nigeria, we don’t need
it. We don’t need such distractions. We don’t
need such bloodsheds. But what is happening
is deeper than we all can tell because at a
point, we thought it was taking a religious
tone. The fight against this insurgency should
be collective responsibility and not for
government alone. These people are taking
advantage of the disunity amongst all us. We
need to close ranks to fight insurgency and
banditry. But how can you deal with a matter
when you are divided.
How did you tackle kidnapping in Imo?
What I did was very simple. All the
autonomous communities in Imo State, six
hundred and something, of them, I called a
meeting of the Ezes, the chief security
officers and set up a community government
council, so that after federal, state and
local, I had and I still have a community
government working in Imo State and each of
them is charged with the responsibility to
fight crime without arms. First of all,
information is key. We lack adequate
information on the activities of the Boko
Haram and the kidnappers. If you don’t have
information, you will be shooting in the dark
and wasting arms, spending more money than
you should.
When I set up this community government
council, it changed the story in Imo State.
Within a few days, I began to see results. I
developed what is called the black book. In my
black book, they got me names of all the
criminals, while protecting the traditional
rulers because it was a personal matter
between me and security agencies. We even
got to know about somebody who built up
something in his roof where he disappears
and he is a kidnapper. So, the day we led
operation to go and get the gentleman, they
pay loader was there, they said the man had
disappeared. The man told us that even if the
man disappears, we should continue and
break down that house. As we did that, the
man came out like a rat. That’s the power of
information. But I would have spent money
hiring army, police, pay allowance and
overnight allowance, meanwhile the man is
eating food upstairs there for one year. So,
information is nor there and that is a major
problem of the nation’s insecurity.
The Federal Government is blocking governors
from local government accounts. What is your
view, especially as chairman of APC governors
forum?
How the three tiers of government operate is a
constitutional issue and local government is
one of these tiers of government. There is no
clear cut arrangement as to how local
government affairs are managed because it is
still the state assemblies that make their laws
and control their activities. If you look at the
other side, the local governments are actually
a part of the state government. If the local
governments do not come together, what they
will be operating will be on recurrent
expenditures. Take for instance, in Imo
State, and I must say this proudly that I do
not know of any state where the local
government has achieved the much I have
achieved. Today, in my local government, they
built a 200 bed hospital in each of the local
governments. We built 546 primary schools in
the wards because of this arrangement. We
have ICT centre and we have done over 1,000
kilometers of road.
Before I became governor, I checked the local
government achievements; all I saw was
borehole and transformer and renovation of
health centres. So, the funds of local
governments cannot impact on any major
project unless there is a collective
arrangement. Again, I think the idea of
Federal Government or NFIU, in this matter is
because of the perceived corruption that takes
place within the system. As it is, I think there
should be better clear cut issues as to the
autonomy of the local government, based on
the constitutional provision.

You claim to be popular haven done a lot of
projects, but why were the people celebrating
when the APC stripped you of hold on the
party?
It is not true. We have a population of over 5
million people and you say a hundred youths,
miscreants, coming out tearing billboards and
you say they celebrate. No sane person in Imo
State will tell you that Rochas has not done
well because the record I have set in Imo
cannot be broken soon. I’ve beaten the
records of those before me. This might shock
you and it is subject to verification that what
I have done in Imo State, if you put together
what others that have governed Imo State for
the past 34 years have done, it cannot be
equal to what I have done. Let somebody come
and say it is not true. Today, Imo State has
an International Cargo Airport, the best in
the country. Last week, FAAN confirmed so,
the best and the biggest in the country.
Recently, I collected 3 university licenses, I
have built six universities all completed. Who
has built it? I built six universities because I
needed them, because Imo State remains the
highest in the number of JAMB candidates.
Since 2011, because of my free education
policy, more children go to school now in Imo
State. When I came, I had over 600 students
in the primary schools, today, I have over
close to a million students going to school and
they don’t pay a dime in all the tertiary
institutions. I proudly say so. In 2012 for
instance the number of students looking for
JAMB admission from Imo State was 143,000
in Nigeria. The second was 67,000 in Delta
and we have maintained the lead for the
past seven years and we can only take about
20 percent.
While embarking on these projects, are you
looking at sustainability? Can a state like
yours sustain six universities?
You should have asked me how does a single
man in this country offer free education to
over 22,000 children with 6,000
undergraduates and 4,000 graduates via the
Rochas Foundation. It is not money, it is
vision. Where there is no vision, the people
perish, it didn’t say where there is no money.
But you people put money first. If I am still
the Governor of Imo State or allowed to
advise whoever is there, those institutions will
run hitch free because every university can
fund itself in this country.
What is your own narrative of what happened
on Election Day. Did your supporters kidnap
the Returning Officer?
When people ask the question of what
happened on the day of the election, they
forget that election venue is not Sambisa
forest. There are human beings in the place.
You have SSS, you have the police, you have
the army, you have the Navy, you have the
Airforce, you have agents of the party. You
have all these people there and remember
that it is the collation centre, so all the
security from local governments all gathered
there to protect the votes. The Army has told
you there was nothing like that. The police
wrote in their report that there was nothing
like that. SSS report said there was nothing
like that. The agents of the parties, including
the one of PDP, nobody has said that. The
candidates never said there was one.
All the candidates of the party never said
there was any duress. Only one man: the
Returning Officer and he also said on BBC
Pidgin English that Rochas never touched him.
Why didn’t he say it when he was submitting
his report to INEC?
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