Ohakim to Okorocha: You are a wicked leader
successor, Mr. Rochas Okorocha, that the anger of the citizens of the
State is brewing against him and his administration’s policies.
Mr. Ohakim’s warning is contained in a letter to his successor. Titled
“Current Trends of Events In Our State” and dated 22 August, Mr. Ohakim
opened with the rote greetings typical of such missives before aiming
arrows at the conduct of Mr. Okorocha and policies of his government.
The first target of Mr. Ohakim’s arrow is the ongoing demolition of
structures in Owerri, the State capital, on account of road construction.
The former governor said he has been receiving complaints from those
affected that on the government’s action.
“I have personally driven around the municipality and seen what is going
- The major complaint by those affected by these demolitions is that
they were neither given adequate notice nor compensation discussed/paid
before bulldozers were sent to demolish their properties.
“I am told that some officials of your administration, to whom the people
managed to have access, merely told the owners of the houses that they
contravened existing regulations on location and specifications of
buildings. I also hear that they are told that all land belongs to
government and that the latter can take any land at will without giving
explanations,” wrote Mr. Ohakim.
He added that in the face of the grim economic phase the country is
passing through, Mr. Okorocha should have realized that this is a wrong
time to demolish properties, as many use them as the only source of
While conceding that multiple lane roads are desirable, Mr. Ohakim said
the impact of such should have been considered. He called on Mr. Okorocha
to inform officials of his government, who claimed the government can do
as it wishes with people’s land, that such claims are false and constitute
an assault on the dignity of the people.
“To say such a thing in a place like Imo State is to assault the
collective dignity of a people reputed as being among the most educated in
the entire country,” he added.
Mr. Ohakim drew Mr. Okorocha’s attention to Ogun State, where he said
Governor Ibikunle Amosun attempted a similar exercise, but was legally
resisted, backtracked, negotiated adequate compensations and modified the
project to reduce the rate of demolition.
Similarly, Mr. Ohakim pointed out that the road expansion exercise in
Owerri is at variance with the city’s master plan and any known element of
road design, arguing that the huge economic loses from it will outstrip
the benefits derivable from “the few metres to be gained from the proposed
He contended that matters are worsened by the fact that the expansion will
ensure that there is no room for the replacement of pipes and cables, as
the proposed roads will end at the foundation of people’s houses.
A graver problem, Mr. Ohakim alleged, is the fact that the ongoing road
expansion exercise has not been captured in the budgets of the state over
the last five years.
This, he pointed out, connotes indifference to due process and reflects
“It is a trite argument that embarking on any project, however well
intentioned, without first putting it in the budget is against the law. It
also makes room for arbitrary, uncoordinated and aimless application of
funds and makes monitoring and accountability difficult if not
impossible,” he argued.
In addition, he accused Mr. Okorocha of not taking into consideration the
peculiarities of Owerri, which he said is the only State capital with a
twin design concept.
He explained that Owerri is located in a valley, the reason the original
designers of its master plan considered a variety of engineering and
One of such, he said is that indiscriminate excavations, as currently
happening, would make the city highly susceptible to flooding.
It was in the attempt to limit the city’s vulnerability, he claimed that
the that the old part of the city was designed to be left with minimal
destruction and the twin city fitted with 62 flood draining manholes,
which require periodic de-silting.
Mr. Ohakim called Mr. Okorocha’s attention to the road expansion projects
carried out under his administration, which he said were executed with
fidelity to the masterplan and with thought about the salaries of workers
and payment to pensioners.
“We found the need to expand certain roads in the state capital such as
Orji/Okigwe Road, Egbu/Umuahia Road, Egbeada/Orji Road and Orlu Road. This
entailed removing illegal structures, but we did so within the confines of
the existing lawful master plan. We made sure all such projects were
captured in the appropriation and the Federal Ministry of Works duly
consulted both in design and execution. We did not embark on constructing
the famed multi-lane English MI motor way with the money meant for
salaries of workers and our aged pensioners,” he claimed.
He told his predecessor that if he had consulted professionals, he would
have been informed that Orlu Road, Okigwe/Orji Road and Egbu Road, which
were dualized by his (Ohakim’s) administration between 2008 and 2010, have
reached the maximum permissible limit of expansion recommended by the
The ongoing excavations necessitated by the road-expansion programme,
Ohakim pointed out, have destroyed the water pipelines on which the late
Chief Sam Mbakwe’s administration spent over $34 million to lay.
“Nearly all the buildings, including business houses, along the affected
roads ‘have now been disconnected from the public electricity supply as a
result of the damage of electricity wires, cables and poles. As a matter
of fact, two hotels along Orlu Road in Amakohia have closed for business
and sent their workers away. Ditto other businesses,” he further wrote.
The former governor also laid into Mr. Okorocha for his treatment of
Nworie and Otamiri Rivers, nature’s gift that Ohakim said the State is
Mr. Otamiri, he said, is the intake source of the Owerri main water scheme.
“Now that it is going into extinction, it means it can no longer play that
role as an important source of life for the people. As things stand, both
rivers may disappear within the next few years. Your idea of linking the
old and new Owerri through the two rivers is lofty, but you failed it when
you used ordinary culverts to cross over the two rivers. This is the
greatest damage to these natural resources,” Mr. Ohakim stated.
He equally accused Mr. Okorocha of attracting the people’s ire by his
administration’s shabby handling of the Imo State Water Corporation, which
he said resulted in the sacking of over 200 technicians trained by the
immediate past administration.
“Your administration is paying little or no attention to affordable clean
drinking water. Our people are dying,” Mr. Ohakim said.
Another complaint in Mr. Ohakim’s letter was the abandonment of three ring
roads started by previous administrations in Owerri that you were caught
in the current dilemma over roads in Owerri. These, Ohakim argued, should
have been completed with the funds Mr. Okorocha is spending on those being
expanded by his administration.
“I am in a position to know that the funds you are currently channeling
into the needless expansion of some roads within the state are enough to
complete the ring roads. I can also state without any fear of
contradiction that the only way to truly achieve the aesthetics you are
probably very much after and as well effectively decongest traffic in
Owerri, is to complete the ring roads,” the letter stated.
On the Eke-Ukwu Owerri Market, which the Okorocha administration has
slated for relocation, Mr. Ohakim advised that it should be left alone, as
proceeding with the relocation would have grave grave economic and social
outcomes. Rather than relocate the market, Mr. Ohakim advised Mr. Okorocha
to relocate Ama Hausa along Douglas Road.
The space occupied by the market, he argued, has become too small to
accommodate the trader population and promotes lack of hygiene.
“I am of the view that Ama Hausa should be relocated to give Eke-Ukwu
Owerri more space for expansion. I understand that some officials of your
administration go about saying that you are following a plan and drawing
made during my administration on Eke-Ukwu Owerri market. The truth,
however, is that we made no drawings and we had no plan to relocate the
market. Our plan was to build a new market at the New Owerri following the
On Mr. Okorocha himself, Mr. Ohakim said the governor has been a poor
advertisement for adherence to the rule of law, as he routinely disobeys
court orders. This habit, Mr. Ohakim reasoned, is being copied by the
people and has made the State into a lawless enclave and provoked a slew
of lawsuits, notably filed by contractors, on account indifference to due
This, Mr. Ohakim explained, has cost the State up to N7 billion in
judgment debts, a sum that could rise up to N50 billion, further dent the
capacity of the government to fulfill its obligations and yoke future
administrations with gargantuan indebtedness.
“Right now, there are over 250 cases in court against the State government
by the very citizens you are governing. What an irony. When you assumed
office, you adopted, curiously, the policy of awarding contracts without
due process, claiming that due process is a waste of time. But at the end,
problems have arisen because, there are little or no records to enforce
agreements even in some cases where the contractors had put in large
chunks of their money.
“The ensuing disagreements led to court actions and many of the
contractors are getting favorable judgments that have left the State with
a total judgment debt and garnishee proceedings in excess of N7 billion.
This may rise up to N50b in the next two years if care is not taken.
Clearly, this will be a huge burden to incoming administrations and the
entire state, besides that it makes planning, even for your own
administration, difficult,” reasoned Mr. Ohakim.
Mr. Ohakim stated that he watched a recent video showing Mr. Okorocha’s
encounter with artisans at the Orji Mechanic Village. The artisans, he
said, regrettably, were rude to the governor. However, Mr. Okorocha’s
response to their rudeness, added Mr. Ohakim, was less than dignified.
He advised Mr. Okorocha to relook the economy of the State with a view to
seeing how it could be revitalized.
One of the ways he recommended to his successor is a focus on
revenue-yielding, employment-creating capital projects, for which he
should ensure that contractors are faithfully paid to enable them pay
their workers and sub-contractors so that money can circulate. He also
advised that he should discontinue further demolition of properties and
road expansion projects in the older section of Owerri. POINTBLANKNEWS.COM