By CHIDI NKWOPARA, OWERRI.
Scores of security personnel present at the 2014 New Yam Festival of Mbaise people had a hectic time at the weekend, in stopping what could have degenerated to a full scale war between the supporters of Governor Rochas Okorocha and Mbaise youths.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Deputy Speaker, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, who chaired the event, reminded the Governor of the palpable lack of state government presence in Mbaise.
He pointed out that “the major projects in Mbaise are those executed by the Federal Government”, adding that “as a matter of expediency, it is expected that you (Okorocha) will hand over the reins of state administration in 2015, so we can help out.”
Responding, an obviously angry Governor said: “There is nobody in Imo PDP that is my match in an electoral contest. My three years in office is more productive than the 12 years spent in Imo by the PDP. Imo people have rejected PDP because PDP is worse than the Ebola virus”.
The booing multiplied when Okorocha said he had laid the foundation for a campus of the Imo State University to be sited in Aboh Mbaise/ Ngor Okpala federal constituency.
The crowd became uncontrollable when the confusion quickly degenerated into a free for all between Okorocha’s supporters and Mbaise youths, while the Governor was whisked away into safety before the unveiling of the yam barn and cutting of the new yam.
Speaking to newsmen at the scene of the near ugly incident, the Foreign Affairs Minister 1, Professor Viola Onwuliri, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan during the ceremony, lamented that “from what transpired here, it is evident that the Governor was not interested in the festival but came to create confusion and derail the event”
It was the considered opinion of the Minister that “since the Governor assumed office in 2011, he has never attended the Iri ji Mbaise until this one that precedes the election year”.
Continuing, Professor Onwuliri said: “This is not the ground for venting personal animosities. He even left before the actual ceremony began. He just brought trouble to the event and this is an embarrassment to the state and its people. I am positive that by 2015, we will all have a chance to redress this anomaly”.