These are not the best of times for Governor Rochas Okorocha as different interest groups including widows, contractors and teachers are protesting maltreatment. But the government has dismissed their claims as untrue and the handiwork of the opposition party
| By Maureen Chigbo | Mar. 23, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
THE last one month has not been easy for Governor Rochas Okorocha, who is seeking a re-election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC. The governor has been have altercation with different interest group in the state, They include Imo Widows Association, whose members were allegedly assaulted by government paid thugs recently while they were peaceful protesting the harsh treatment meted to one of them. Contractors in the state in February also protested the non-payment of money for services they rendered to government. There is also the case of Imo teachers who on February 27, deserted schools because they were being owed seven months arrears of salary.
The teachers who were mostly employed under Okorocha’s Youth Must Work programmes got their job after the sacking of more than 5000 teachers employed by the governor’s predecessor in 2011. Governor Okorocha had through his Community Government Council, CGC, recruited about 7000 primary and secondary school teachers in November 2013 with monthly salary of N20,000 to each of the teachers. He also promised to make their job permanent after a six-month probation. But the striking teachers said the promise has not been fulfilled.
Okorocha’s latest headache happened last week when a debate for governorship candidates organised by the Owerri Catholic Archdiocese was disrupted allegedly by a band of hired thugs of the APC government. The government allegedly bought uniforms of Catholic Women Organisation which were distributed unsuspectingly to some women to pass off as genuine members of the organisation. According to media reports, as soon as the organisers set up the stage, some APC supporters among the women attacked the contingent of Imo Widows Association. The attack threw up pandemonium at the venue forcing men and women to scamper to safety. The fighting that ensued grew into heavy fisticuffs thus bringing the programme to an abrupt end. The much awaited event had generated some dust within the state as members of the APC openly expressed their disdain for any debate organised by the Catholic Church.
However, Sam Onwuemeodo, chief press secretary to the Imo State governor, dismissed all the allegation as untrue and being hatched by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to discredit the Okorocha-led government in the dim hope of getting back to power in the State. Onwuemeodo told Realnews on the phone March 12, that there was nothing like Imo Widows Association in the state. But he said that some women who claimed to be widows were hosted by the PDP in Abuja. On the contractors protest, he said that it was all politically motivated as the government was not owing any contractor. He challenged the contractors to show the roads and the contract documents to prove their case. “I don’t react to speculations. Get one of the contractors to produce all the papers or they should use the money they are paying radio stations to publish the contract documents in newspapers or the job verification they have done for the government. Since there is no paper, the only thing they have is claim that they did contract. Uptil now nobody has produced any paper to prove their case.”
The chief press secretary also said that the Catholic Church organised debate was cancelled by the Church when they realised that the crowd control will be a problem because more than 20,000 people turned up at the venue of the debate. He said that none of the governorship candidates had arrived the venue before it was cancelled and fixed at a later date because the crowd was unprecedented and supporters of the candidates were singing. “If there was fracas, people would have been wounded. Whatever happened, nobody was beaten, nobody died. The police did not use tear gas. Those who are desperate for power are spewing falsehood about what happened because they are desperate for power,” he said.
According to him, “No teacher protested. Teachers are not on strike. That claim should be seen as spewed from hell. Teachers are the backbone of Okorocha’s government. PDP feast on falsehood and it is no more in existence in Imo”, he said.