Jude Okeke: Imo Government versus Imo critics

One thing readily observable in Imo State today is the multi-faceted achievements of Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha which, by its intimidating standing, is sending a disturbing signals to Imo opposition groups. The fact that the expansive development record of the governor is appealing to the greater majority of Imo people, the few that have a contrary viewpoint tend to constitute themselves into opposition and critics. This disposition is premised on the belief of the opposition camps that he (the governor) will prove a hard nut to crack in 2015 if he decides to run for any office given the impressive impact of his achievements within the two years of his assumption of office as the Governor of Imo State.

As a counter measure to the governor’s rising popularity which he gained on the strength of his tremendous people-oriented achievements, the opposition camps have been jittery and panic-stricken and, as a result, resorting to misinformation of members of the public, false alarm and campaign of calumny to distract the government.

For instance, in a recent news release by an Owerri-based tabloid, Nigerian Weekend hotline, which was published on the front page of its July 26-28 edition with the caption, “Okorocha Perfects Plans to Retire GL. 13 – 16 Officers”, the newspaper purported that the governor has concluded plans to retire civil servants from grade level 13 to 16 as part of measures to sanitize the civil service. The publication further alleged that the governor… “wants to do a total over-haul of the civil service to create room for new employment, having lifted embargo on employment.”

As if to confirm who the sponsors of the publication are, the report continued thus:”A People’s Democratic Party Chieftain in the State, Chief (Barr.) C.O.C Akaolisa has described the governor’s plan on massive employment for youths as a give and take thing, advising imolites not to be carried away by the flambouyant promises of Governor Okorocha”.

Any discernible reader will pick holes with the report as something spurious, baseless, unfounded and a figment of the imagination of the sponsors/writers of the publication. For one, who gave the directive to the Head of Service and on what date? On what dates did the meeting relating to the directive take place and who and who were there? Come to think of it, how come a PDP chieftain was commenting on a report not yet published and not yet of public knowledge if not because they invented the story themselves in order to rupture the existing industrial peace in the State and dent the public service record of the governor?

Criticism is acceptable and helpful only when they are constructive and genuinely seeking to correct or to sincerely and honestly draw attention to sensitive and critical areas of need which otherwise would have been over-looked. Seeking to give a dog a bad name in order to have a reason to hang it seems to be right metaphor to describe the actions and attitudes of the members of the opposition camp in the State. By their body movements, they are likely to subscribe to throwing the dirty birth water alongside the basin and child. Okorocha has done marvelously well for Imo State and should be supported by every well-meaning Imo son and daughter, party affiliation notwithstanding.

The Governor has a great deal of respect for Imo State Civil servants. He sees them as partners in development and the stepping stone to his success stories. His actions so far has never directly or indirectly reflected an attitude of one who despises his workforce as the publication tend to portray. Of course, retirements of civil servants in the State are based on the rules guiding the civil service, that is, attainment of 60 years of age or 35 years of service, depending on whichever that comes first.

Assuming the government is compiling a list of officers on grade level 13 to 16 for purposes of retirement, the recently released promotions in the State civil service would have been put off.
However, the government, in releasing the promotions, seeks to ascertain the correct and accurate vacancy positions in the State Civil Service as a strategy to determine the number of people employable and the capacity of workforce required for smooth operation of the service.

Besides the fore-going, another ploy by the opposition camps in discrediting the government is the mobilization of street urchins and lay-about to talk against government policies, programmes and projects on beer parlours and other depraved circles. This action is intended to counteract with the larger than life reputation of Governor Okorocha. In the morbid thinking of the opposition members, they can puncture the productive capacity of the government through cheap propaganda and refusal to call a spade, a spade. This way, they believe that, at best, they would discredit the image of the government and at worse, cause
injurious distraction from his commitments to the affairs of the State.

In these two targets, they are at a loss because the government is neither losing face before Imo electorate nor is it losing sleep over the malicious claims of the opposition camps.

The critics of the government could only be taken seriously if they are able to establish that, based on a sound comparative analysis between the present Imo State government and the preceding ones, that the government of the day is not doing well. That is, if they are able to show that the quantum of achievements of the present government is comparatively lower than what obtained during the first two years of governors Udenwa and Ohakim of PDP.

However, based on objective surveys and available statistics, the present administration in the state has achieved in two years, what none of its predecessors could achieve in four years hence constraining the opposition groups to opt for unwanted criticism.

As William Shakespeare queried in his book, the Merchant of Venice, “Should People kill the things they cannot over-come?” The answer is no. The opposition camps cannot over-come the rising fame of Governor Rochas Okorocha, they should therefore let it be.

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