Governor Ikedi Ohakim is one of Chief Executive that is always in the news. His image maker don’t know why  negative stories trail their governor. In this interview the new spokesman of the governor, Okpalaeke Cletus tries to sell the governor. Excerpt.

What are the things you think Gov. Ohakim has  achieved since he came to office?

Governor Ohakim, upon assuming power, inculcated a philosophy of governance he nicknamed New Face. Many people have their own meaning of what constitutes New Face. But when you take a close, analytical look on the totality of what constitutes New Face, you will inevitably come to the conclusion that New Face is simply building a society by building its people from the ground up.

Imo State, as you know, was carved out from the Old East Central State. And the Old East Central State was carved out from the Old Eastern Region. In 1976, when Imo State was carved out from the Old East Central State, it constituted just the old Owerri, and Umuahia provinces of the former Eastern Region. These two provinces were not the capital of the former Eastern Region, nor the port.

They were simply back wood provinces that became in 1976 the make-up of a State. As a result of this, the infrastructural state fell short of that of a state.

So, when Mbakwe became the first elected governor of the newly created Imo State in 1979, he embarked on building the necessary foundation required of a bona fide State.

This foundation laying for a bonafide state by Mbakwe was cut short by the Jan 1st 1984 coup of Buhari. Ever since, no governor of Imo State, whether elected or appointed, paid attention to building and completing the foundation started by Mbakwe to the point that all accomplishments of the Mbakwe administration were allowed to rot. To compound the problem, there were state creations in 1996.

This exercise saw the city of Aba, the commercial hub of Mbakwe’s Imo State, now in Abia State.

Since 1996, Ikedi Ohakim had studied the prevailing environment. As a Commissioner for Commerce and Environment, he had taken time and presented position papers on the accelerated development of the area through infrastructural development and human capacity building.

Ikedi Ohakim

Under New Face philosophy, for example if N1b is budgeted for road construction, the philosophy calls for the usage of this money for the construction of the road that will bring the most value to the State in all its ramification. Typically, the governor throws it open to a debate on what road the money should be applied. This is discussed and deliberated upon by the EXCO, and once the factors are marshaled out and once a decision is reached,  the enlightenment campaign is commenced to educate, inform, to persuade Imolites on why X road is the best for the money to be spent on.

New Face philosophy in governance, in my opinion, is the greatest achievement of Ohakim now and whenever he leaves office. Because to me, it is not the actual inventor but the conceptualization of an invention that should be praised. For example, Egypt is given credit for inventing the wheel by the world, but Egypt may not have invented the best wheel. So, it is actually the Egyptian conceptualization of the wheel that brings her the accolades.

New Face policies of Ohakim takes into cognizance the peculiar environmental situation in Imo State and ensures that human capacity building and material and infrastructural development that afford the best value for the entire state are embarked upon.
Another example is the 10, 000 jobs for graduates.

This is a New Face origin. Upon assuming the office of the governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim stated that the youths are his constituency. This is based on the New Face philosophical understanding that to create a model modern State, the youths must be the emphasised.

First and foremost, he ensured that the jobs created by the clean and green initiatives is focused on the youths of Imo State. Secondly, IROMA jobs created under his administration is over 90% a youth initiative. Then came the 10,000.00 jobs for youths programme.

To cap it all are the 27 youths from the 27 Local Governments of Imo State lottery that went for world cup in South Africa.

What are Ohakim’s biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge is laying the requisite foundation for a model modern state as he promised the people of Imo State.
As you know, Imo State has been bedeviled by godfatherism. And if you have studied godfatherism in Nigeria politics, you will agree with me that any reformist that will jettison their influence in politics will be fought with every muscle.

So, in a nutshell, Imo State, as a corporate entity, is bedeviled by godfatherism in politics and Ikedi Ohakim, an opponent of this system of disenfranchisement of the masses, finds that the greatest challenge he has in the development of Imo State and has nothing to do with the finances of building the State as against the opposition from the godfathers, who feel that their political coffins will be nailed when the people of Imo decide without outside interference.

The only industry in Imo was the government. Governor Ikedi Ohakim’s policies are making it possible for tourism to flourish. Consequently, people are making decent living without any attachment to government and this marks the beginning of the death of godfatherism in Imo State. The godfathers are fighting with every arsenal, including intimidation, propaganda and personal attacks because their practical survival is threatened by these policies.

SAMUELSON.  Why is Ohakim bent on punishing him?

I do not think the question is properly phrased. It is a conclusive question because it assumes the premise that the governor is in punishing Samuelson. Despite this factor, I will go ahead and discuss the issue once and for all. First and foremost, where did Samuelson emerge from to become the biggest subject of media discussion in Imo State for almost half  a year? Samuelson was an illegal petrol, kerosene and diesel dealer. You know the roadside black market dealer.

His structure was demolished by Imo State Environmental Sanitation agents. It is important to note, that the boss of this Agency, Barrister Willie Amadi, who doubles as the Special Adviser to the Governor on Sanitation, before he demolished even one structure, demolished his own father’s house that happened to be an illegal structure.

It was the demolition of illegal structures in Owerri, capital of Imo State, that gave birth to Samuelson the media darling. Samuelson has not had the time in his busy illegal fuel dealership to become an internet wizard, but with the demolition of the illegal structure, Samuelson suddenly became a celebrated internet media icon and computer wizard. But I frankly do believe that both the information people of this administration and even the mainstream media did not handle the matter appropriately.

Personally, if I was in charge of the information ministry, I would have totally ignored Samuelson. Regardless of what Samuelson may have written or said, I would have ignored him and at most,  having the police make him verify the veracity of his publications since he is willing to be used as a genuine pig by affixing his name on other people’s publications.

Now, your question, I do not believe that Ohakim is punishing Samuelson. Samuelson was just one of the victims of a well thought out policy of government. Lagos State demolished more illegal structures than Imo State. Rivers State demolished more illegal structures than Imo State.

There is this allegation that frauds are back on the streets of Owerri?

I do not know exactly what the question insinuates. Who is a 419ner? To me a 419ner is someone convicted of 419. Now if one is charged with the offense of 419, whether he is convicted or not, he is charged, and therefore should be watched. But if one is neither charged with the offense of 419, nor is he or she ever been convicted of 419, such a person should not be discriminated against in terms of their freedom, at least, so says our constitution.

The government of Ohakim’s Imo State cannot violate the constitution by stopping anybody from travelling into Imo State or residing in Imo State because another carries a rumour that such a person is a 419ner.

We should ask people that peddle these rumours to identify the individual that they claim is a 419ner, when next they are peddling such rumours.

What do you think you can achieve in the information ministry for the governor?

Frankly speaking, my objective is to accentuate the virtues of New Face philosophy and make Imolites know each step the government takes and why? For example, when this government saw that it was possible to attract a Federal Court of Appeal, we made sure that it came to Owerri.

Only the practising community of laws in Imo State knows the benefit of the Court of Appeal in Owerri. Also, once this administration found out that it could have stock exchange in Imo, it spared no cost to have it.

The answer is New Face, which has been interpreted as building a society by building its people.

Before five years, there will be more SANS whose primary practice is here in Imo State because of the presence of the Court of Appeal in Imo State. The citizens of Imo state will benefit immeasurably from the presence of this court here in Owerri. The transporting and the hotel accommodation costs spent by Imo citizens during the tribunal appeals in Port Harcourt may have run into the billions of Naira. But this will now and forever be a thing of the past.

With the presence of the stock exchange in Owerri, the workforce of Imo State added another dimension in terms of stockbrokers resident in the State. This information, I hope to put in perspective so that the rank and file would appreciate the thinking process of His Excellency and the reasons for those flagship programmes and projects.

More so, I will like to put a stamp of broadcasting excellence in the state owned radio and TV station, Orient FM and TV Station.

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