Governor Okorocha has transformed Imo State- Charles Abia

Mr. Charles Abia, is a Chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC), a youthful but vibrant politician of Imo State Origin, a crusader for visionary, purposeful and good governance. This management guru in this exclusive interview with EVEREST EZIHE, X-rayed Governor Rochas Okorocha’s 6 years in the office, the gains and challenges so far, he also shared his thoughts national politics.

Mr. Charles Abia, can we meet you? What are your antecedents?

It is difficult to say or one blowing his trumpet. I am from Okwudor in Njaba Local Government area of Imo State. I am a foundation member of All Progressives Congress (APC). I was instrumental in the early formation of the party, thus in 2013 and 2014 when we were committed to wrestling power from the incumbent – President Goodluck Jonathan of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). I have paid my dues politically, I have also had a little bit of education, I started from Trans Ekulu Primary School, Enugu and then gained entrance to Federal Government College, Enugu where I got my West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE). Then I proceeded to the University of Nigeria Nsukka, where I graduated as the best Management Student and won the prestigious Zik and Late Sir Louis Odimegwu Ojukwu awards as an all round best graduating student of the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences. From there I proceeded to gainful employment with KPMG which is a multinational management and consulting firm. Later on, I moved to Zenith Bank PLC, I left the banking job and go into private business in 2010. Since then it has been wonderful. I am also an Alumnus of Lagos Business School where I studied Business and Government Policies and by His grace, I was judged as one of the most outstanding students.

Considering your age and the saying that you are a foundation member of APC, one will assume you joined the party right from the womb?

We must be conscious of the fact that APC was a child of circumstances. Some of the legacy parties that originated to APC were formed as far back as 1998. APC came as a mega party due to the outcry of Nigerians over the maladministration of PDP led Federal and some states government. There was impunity in corruption, things were not properly done. The outcry was unimaginable. It was the gross mistakes of PDP that instigated the formation of APC through merger, and during all the politicking, I was at the forefront and our vision was to wrestle power from PDP and restore positive change.

Certainly, your are a political leader in Imo state and a chieftain of APC, just recently Governor Rochas Okorocha celebrated his 6 years in office with pomp and pageantry can you critically X-ray the APC led Rescue Mission Administration of the Heartland State? The journey so far?

However, before we dwelt into this, do you have any political ambition?

Everest, I think you are jumping the gun, for the mere fact that I am a principal stakeholder in All Progressives Congress (APC) is enough to tell you that I am not a political, but to answer your question straight, If by God’s special grace and favour, my people of Njaba State Constituency, the good people of my Federal Constituency and Senatorial Zone nay Imo State find me worthy to serve them in whatever capacity, I think I will not hesitate because Umunna wu ike. Above all, I am such a man that believes that the best services ever rendered are that rendered to humanity our Priority in life is to purposefully serve God and humanity. I love my people and my people equally love me, but now Everest, is it not better we allow the sleeping dog to lie.

In several quarters some people says Governor Okorocha’s greatest achievement is in education, if not, What then do you consider as his landmark Achievement so far?

Comfortably, I will say yes, but to some other people, their viewpoints could be different. They may say roads infrastructure, considering the massive networks of roads the administration have done. Another will take up the Urban Renewal projects of the administration. It is the Urban renewal project initiatives that have led to the recovery of Owerri, Okigwe and Orlu Urban cities original Master plans. Governor Rochas Okorocha’s achievement is Multi-faceted, it could be likened to the story of the 12 blind men that were asked to touch the elephant and give their independent description of what the animal looks like. However, for me as a lover of education and a firm believer, that it is better for a child to be Unborn than being untaught and that knowledge is power, therefore I could say his greatest achievement could be in education Sector. This is a sector he has used to restore the dignity and confidence of the poor masses, he built ultra modern schools, specialized secondary schools, renovated majority of the State’s primary and secondary schools, gave scholarship from Primary to tertiary institution for over six years, paid a stipend to primary and secondary school pupils. Pay special salary to motivate teaching, recruited over 2,000 teachers to beef-up lapses in teaching special subjects. His achievements in education are awesome and amazing. As a visionary partner, am proud of him. These things are unprecedented. For transporters who were conversant with the state of Urban and rural roads six to seven years ago, will definitely tell you that it is a road. People who were conversant with the deplorable state of health sector years back will say Owelle is a magician when it comes to the health sector and its facilities. There is this Igbo adage that says – Eburu Ozu onye ozo odika ebu osisi nku (i.e. if another person corpse is carried, to those not affected, it will look like a log of firewood) to me what the Governor has achieved in educational sector is legendary in the next 60 years Imolites will still appreciate his input in making their children go to school under comprehensive free education programme. The proceed are cumulative. It is exactingly what late Chief Obafemi Awolowo did to the Yorubas before, during and after independent, today the entire Western region is beneficiary of the free education Programme of the siege. If you recall, just last month the governor of Sokoto assented to a bill making free education compulsory for Children between the ages of 6 to 18 years. They cited Rochas Okorocha as their idol. This justifies Okorocha as a man of vision and patriotism.

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Governance is all about making an impact in the life of people by not only given them fish but also teaching them to fish.

Are you impressed with the extent of provision of infrastructures within the three senatorial zones of the state?

I am very much impressed, one thing about Governor Okorocha is that he sees the three senatorial zone i.e. Orlu, Okigwe and Owerri as equal partners, thus why all his infrastructural developmental agenda and transformational initiative goes on simultaneously. He is committed in the overall and accelerated development of the three senatorial zones. All the zones are simultaneously feeling the impact of Governance, what surprises some us is that even drop in revenue and the global economic recession, the Governor seems unperturbed. Honestly, most often I use to ask how and where does Governor Okorocha get all this money. If you come to Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe and its environs, they are like construction sites, it shows the commitment of the Governor in equitable development. The difference is that Okorocha came into politics not to enrich himself because he was already very wealthy before he joined politics. Obviously, apart from governance, he has been able to distinguish himself as a son of nobody to somebody. He has a large heart and sees governance as a commitment towards the development of the nooks and crannies of the state.

Sir, some people are complaining about the quality of the roads, as a chieftain of APC are you not worried about that?

I am only worried about the people that are talking about that.

Are they Imolites?

Yes, they are Imolites, who choose to be in opposition. What do you expect from them when the breast they were sucking dry has been removed. They peddled rumors, falsehood, and propaganda against an innocent government. The average man in the streets of Imo State are not saying that the people that voted for APC government are equally not saying that because they appreciate the level of positive changes they are enjoying now. You are aware that most of these roads projects are ongoing. You recall that PDP once boasted that they will rule the nation for at least 60 years and with the people’s revolution you don’t expect them to see anything good in APC. I can assure you that Imolites are happy, most of the road projects are stone based quality projects. Obviously, some of these roads projects are not yet completed, you must see them completed before you criticize. Moreso, what is their yardstick of saying that the projects are not properly done? Are they members of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) or are they Civil engineers? Emphatically no! If you say this is sweet you must tell me what it tastes like, we want issue based politics. Most of us in APC are worried on the level of propaganda and falsehood being propelled, these are politicians Ndi-Imo rejected long ago and they don’t want to bury their face in shame. They should be prepared to accept the wind of positive changes or remain in political oblivion. Their antics are not working and can never work because Imolites are wise people. I am quite convinced that before the political end of 2019 with the level of infrastructural development, Owerri will be the fastest grown state capital in Nigeria probably second to Abuja because the ongoing projects are unprecedented.

You could see so much going on, massive road constructions and rehabilitations, flyovers here and there, the first of its kind tunnels, industrial layouts, security out post, ultra-modern hospitals, the inland roads have decongested traffics. If any person with sincerity of purpose and God fearing Spirit will see all these things and still not impress with the Rescue Mission Government that person is either a sadist or need to see a psychiatric Doctor. If Governor Okorocha has not done well with all these monumental projects and programmes, who then has done well? Let’s look at the 12 years of PDP administration in the state; it was a disgrace and wasteful experience. They achieved little or nothing.

In terms of environmental, beautification and protection, do you think what Governor Okorocha did have met the expectations of your party?

When you talk of expectations, the beatification exercise is on going, you talk about expectations when this administration is winding up and then you objectively and constructively assess her based on the things on the ground. You then talk of expectations in its totality, now the administration has about two years to round up. The APC government is delivery the dividends of democracy not minding the short falls in oil and other sectors of income revenue. Based on the recession, there are so many states that cannot even do 10 kilometers of road, but in Imo State despite all the challenges, the state government is counting hundreds of built and asphalted roads. Surprisingly, some states their IGR and Federal fiscal allocations are ten times more than Imo State are complaining bitterly over projects execution, but in Imo all we see is commitment to duty. For Rescue Mission government all we say is that work is still in progress and our expectations will be justified when the projects are completed. APC abhors the conspiracy of the few rich against the poor. For this past 6years we have a lot to celebrate. Is it yet Uhuru? No. is yet perfect? No. yes, there will be criticism;

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We are committed in ensuring the entrenchment of good governance by ceding power to the people as Owelle has just renamed Douglas House to Peoples House. It is not an issue of few groups of people sitting down and dictates to the people but a government that listens to the feelings, opinion and aspirations of the people. Owelle is a true democrat and a bridge builder. We in All Progressives Congress are proud of Governor Okorocha. I don’t joke with my integrity, in various parts of Europe, the name of our Governor is positively in every Nigerian mouth.

Mr. Abia lets look at the Health Sector; will your rate Governor Okorocha high as you rated him in the other sector?

He has equally done well bearing in mind that Government is a continuous process.

He has made a landmark achievement in Health Sector. As I said earlier, it is not yet Uhuru even Owelle himself cannot ascribe to his sainthood or that everything has been done, it was only Jesus Christ during his earth work that said” it is finished” but for all of us, it is still work in progress. In health sector, he built and furnished Ochiedike Diagnostic Centre, 27 general hospitals across the 27 local government area of the state even though some of them are still on going. The reward for hard work is more work; we have 24 hours emergency health services instituted by the governor. The good news is that most of these general hospitals have been ceded to security agencies for effective and efficient management.

Can you also emphatically say that Governor Okorocha has done well in terms of human capacity development especially as it concerns the youths?

What is more human capacity building than given free comprehensive compulsory education from primary to tertiary schools, the beneficiaries are youths. Since Governor Okorocha’s administration, Imo State ran first in JAMB subscriptions all over the country. The implication is that Imo State has subscription more than Lagos, Rivers, Kano and Ogun States despite the population of these areas. Given N1m each to 305 youths from the 305 wards of the state as seed money to start a business, over 6,000 youths employed. Attracted investors into the state. You can’t fault Governor Okorocha’s achievements in human capital development. He also built International College of Advanced Studies (ICAPS), Egbu Road Owerri for skills development and improvement. He sponsored AMA to raise intending actors and actresses of Imo origins. You are aware of Nneoma Skills Acquisition Centres scattered here and there and training people free in various skills and vocations. The good news is that most of these things we may not feel their impacts now but we may continue to enjoy the benefits for the next 60 years.

One fundamental issue is the daily cry of Imo pensioners and workers of not getting up to 70% of their monthly earnings, is your party satisfied with that?

Imo state has been regular in terms of payment of salaries, and am aware that there are certain categories of workers that have been asked to make sacrifices due to the recession. It is not all levels of workers. Am equally aware that there some states in Nigeria that are owing up to 12-16 months of salaries due to the recession. The outstanding percentages, the government said will be paid over time. The government weeded ghost workers.

The issue of pensioners has been on the front burner even before Okorocha came into power, but what the governor is dong is to sort out the problem once and for all. Forget the antics of aggrieved politicians, very soon the issue of pensioners will be amicably resolved based on the on going consultations.

The governor has respect and regards for the senior citizens of this country. He has best of intentions, thus why investors are trooping into the state and night life restored.

What is your message to the people of Imo state?

The Governor has done very well and he is a special gift to Imo people and Nigerians at large, they should continue to have confidence in him and gives him their maximum co-operations, despite the great level of propaganda being build-up, against the government by politicians already rejected by Imolites but we are now prepared to take them on. We are ever ready now to march them with facts and figures. The truth will always make people free and this we will continue to present because Governor Rochas Okorocha has re-invented Imo state history.