A former Chief Press Secretary in Imo State, Sam Onwuemeodo, has fired back at the administration of Governor Hope Uzodinma, describing it as a failed government.
Onwuemeodo, who was CPS to Governor Rochas Okorocha for eight years, said his former principal was friendly with different segments of the populace unlike Uzodinma, whom he alleged had “abandoned” the state.
He was reacting to verbal attacks by the sitting Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Urban Planning, Eyinnaya Onuegbu.
He also alleged that the Okorocha administration had a robust relationship with the media, adding that it paid regular stipends to journalists operating in the state.
Full text of his article below:
WHEN ENYINNAYA ONUEGBU GROSSLY MISFIRED ON OKOROCHA & MYSELF (SAM ONWUEMEODO)
My attention was not drawn, but I rather, read what Enyinnaya Onuegbu, Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Urban Planning Imo State, wrote on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. He had written in reaction to what he termed, “Sam Onwuemeodo’s Lame dog media attack on the performing shared prosperity government of Distinguish Senator Hope Uzodinma”. He failed or refused to make reference to the “lame dog media attack”, he had chosen to react to. And that is why, I would make hay to say that, his attack was unwarranted and unprovoked.
However, he scratched me. Scratched Senator Rochas Okorocha. And massaged or patronized governor Hope Uzodinma with avalanche of lies. And let me also say that, Onuegbu, for reasons best known to him, decided to be extravagant or prodigal or liberal with falsehood, but stingy or austere with facts.
In all, he only Confirmed, perhaps, unknown to him that, the government of His Excellency, Senator Uzodinma has “Patch-Patch” as its policy. He was also describing former governor Okorocha, as “Oro”, I won’t follow that bad example. To show the light.
Onuegbu listed the following roads, as Senator Uzodinma’s achievements; Douglas road, Relief Market road, MCC road, Chukwuma Nwoha road, Dick tiger road, Oparanozie and Amaigbo roads. All these roads are old roads, not new ones. In other words, Governor Uzodinma has not Constructed one or half kilometer new road, since January 15, 2020, when he became governor.
Okorocha Constructed the Relief Market road. What Governor Uzodinma is doing there now, is “Patch-Patch” which has also become an endless journey. Okorocha dualized MCC road, Douglas road and Wethdral road. So, whatever Governor Uzodinma is doing on any of the roads, as we speak, is “Patch-Patch”.
Let Onuegbu mention one new road Governor Uzodinma has Constructed even if it is half a kilometer road, for the more than one year he has been governor.
Onuegbu also talked about street lights along Douglas Road. Okorocha mounted Solar Powered street lights on all the major roads in Owerri, including Douglas road, but Governor Uzodinma came and made away with those superior ones and replaced them with “shine-shine” or “wash-wash” streets lights, that look like Candle lights.
MYSELF AS CPS TO OKOROCHA.
While Senator Rochas Okorocha remains the defending Champion of Imo governorship, I, Sam Onwuemeodo, the Okangaoziri 1 of Mbutu Nwenkwo Autonomous Community, Aboh Mbaise, is the defending Champion of the office of the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor in the State, right from the Creation of the State, till date. And I stand to be Contradicted or Challenged on this harmless, innocent and humble claim. I have decided to sound boisterous. And I don’t need the approval of anyone or the licence from any agency to make the claim. And a claim, based on facts, and not on hear-say. CPS is not a title but an office that must be justified for one to be reckoned with.
I am the first CPS in Imo, to take a sitting governor to the Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Imo State, to interact with the whole Journalists in the State. And we were there, about three times. And in each Case, he was confronted by more than four hundred journalists in the State, asking him questions without restrictions, for more than five hours. I made Imo State the most vibrant and attractive State in terms of media activities, outside Lagos and Abuja. The State was bubbling in terms of media outings. Hence, the State government with me as CPS, hosted the highest media Award in the Country, the Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA). Hosted, the Guild of Editors’ Conference with Femi Adesina as President; Hosted NEC of the Nigeria Union of Journalists with Waheedi Odusile as President; Hosted the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON) with John Momoh as Chairman. Editors and front row Columnists in the Country, came to the State on five occasions to tour Okorocha’s projects.
With me as CPS, Okorocha met with Publishers, Correspondents and entire Journalists in this State, more than they had met with the previous governors and administrators put together. There was hardly any month passed, without Okorocha meeting with Correspondents and Publishers. These were known facts. I opened the gate of the Government House for all the Journalists in the State. There was no restriction or tags or “Pass” for any reason. They were coming and going. Hence; the re-naming of the Douglas House, as the People’s House.
With me as CPS, the Imo NUJ became the most popular State Chapter in the Country, because I had made sure that each trip they made, Government would sponsor them. And gave them all the needed supports. I made the NUJ part of all the government’s activities. Sir Innocent Igwe who was the NUJ Chairman then is alive. I made it possible for some journalists to travel to China with the government’s delegates. Even my own slot, I gave it to the Nation Newspaper’s Correspondent then, Ndidi Okodile. The Journalists are alive to testify of all these.
With me as CPS, the Correspondents, NUJ leaders and few others were getting monthly stipends, while those in the media team in Government House were getting both monthly and weekly stipends. I was a “goal getter”. I was in-charge. And every journalist that had health issue, or marriage or burial event through me, got something reasonable from the government. With me, the government gave buses to NUJ, Publishers and Correspondents. With me, the government built a befitting Secretariat for the NUJ.
With me as CPS, no Publisher or newspaper was attacked or tasked by the government. The relationship was there. The incident that happened at the Horn Newspaper was before Okorocha’s election as governor in 2011. It happened during the Campaigns. The Horn Publisher, Chief Bright Chimezie was one of the closest allies. And the problem among the Publishers was not Okorocha’s making. We know what happened. The only two Correspondents Okorocha told to stop attending his media events, were my brother, Amby Uneze of ThisDay and Chidi Nkwo-Opara. And most Journalists in the State knew why.
With me as CPS, the government had no problem with the Trumpeta Newspaper to the best of my knowledge. The Publishers in the State got divided over an issue. That was the situation. It was not a Case of any Publisher having issue with the government or with the governor then. Every Journalist could meet with any appointee then for any reason. I created a lively media State. And Connected the State with the entire world. You may not understand. I had the media world in one flash. You do not give what you do not have. The number of journalists that married and wedded and those that bought cars under Owelle as governor and under me as CPS, out numbered those who did same, under all the past administrations put together.
It was all these that made the NUJ, with the National President, Comrade Chris Isiguzo Present, to give me the Best Service Award. The first of its kind in the history of the State. I made the office of CPS so attractive in the State that even media aides to Commissioners and others, began to answer CPS. It was the LORD’s doing.
One year after, Governor Uzodinma has not met with Journalists in the State. Whereas Senator Okorocha was calling Journalists by their individual names. Okorocha had no skeleton in his cupboard, hence he was not afraid of meeting with journalists.
Under me, at the end of every media meeting, I would tell Okorocha to announce whatever he had for them. That was the reason I still enjoy the confidence of most Journalists in the State, even after leaving the office.
Onuegbu talked about adverts. Newspapers are business ventures. Even your worst enemy can give you adverts depending on what he intends to achieve. The day Governor Uzodinma invited Publishers, they didn’t invite me. But, that didn’t bother me. At the end, the governor didn’t see them after they had waited for the whole day. He asked the Publishers through the man in-charge of IGR to pay N5 million each, which Okorocha never dreamt of doing. I had only gotten two adverts from the governments’ appointees including that of Enyinnaya Onuegbu. And that was what he wanted to tell his audience, but didn’t know how to go about that.
Okorocha ran people-oriented government. A government with human face. Unlike the government today. Governor Uzodinma sponsored a bill that would empower him to arrest and detain any Citizen for as long as he would want the person to be in Custody. He arrested, detained and arraigned Ambrose Nwaogwugwu on charges of terrorism and treason. He got a House Member, Hon, Heclus Okoro beaten in Government House, arrested, detained and taken to Court. He arrested ISOPADEC Staff, detained them, and took them to Court on charges of arson and terrorism, for protesting against non-payment of Salaries. Under this government, Pensioners on their usual protests were flogged, whereas Okorocha built the Freedom Square to enable Imo people go there to voice out, even against him. Built a Centre for the Pensioners. The same Labour leaders he is fighting today, were the same Labour leaders under Okorocha and Emeka Ihedioha. Why has the story Changed now?
The only achievements of governor Uzodinma, to the best of our knowledge are; demolition of existing structures built by Okorocha, out of envy. And the sharing of rabbits to Imo youths. Whereas Okorocha gave the youths millions.
As Commissioner for Lands, Onuegbu confirmed that the past administrations before Okorocha gave the State a total of nine (9) outlets, whereas the government of Okorocha alone gave the State Twenty-Seven outlets. Okorocha ran a government that bubbled. And not this Okirika-Wake-Up or Push and Start government. Oke Bekee government. Stop and “top” water or Engine oil government.
Okorocha had more than one thousand Verifiable Projects to his Credit. I won’t torture Onuegbu or any other person with all of them, but let me mention some, including bushes he cleared and Constructed roads there.
Owerri, the State Capital had stopped at Concorde Hotel before the coming of Okorocha. Okorocha opened Owerri. All the roads at New Owerri were all Constructed by Okorocha. To decongest the heart of Owerri, he built the Ultra-Modern Justice Oputa High Court Complex at New Owerri. The best State High Court in Nigeria. He built the Secretariats of NUJ, NLC, CAN, also at New Owerri. Okorocha built s Secretariat for the NLC but this government sent thugs to attack and vandalize the office. Okorocha Connected Owerri with Naze, Umuguma etc. Built the Police Headquarters and Prison Headquarters also at New Owerri.
He Constructed the Sirleaf Johnson road, linking Amakohia and Onitcha road. Constructed the Assumpta road. Constructed the road from the Police Command Headquarters to Okigwe road. Constructed the Akachi road. Constructed the road linking Relief Market road and Mbaise road. Constructed the 8-lane road from Amakohia to Orji road. Constructed Sam Mbakwe road. Constructed about 600 Kilometres of Urban roads and about one thousand kilometers of rural roads. I am talking about new roads, Constructed by Okorocha and not “patch-patch”. There is no Local Government Okorocha didn’t have roads Constructed by his government.
He made Bank road, 8-lane. Okigwe road, 8-lane. Egbu road, 8-lane. Dualized Amakohia road, MCC Uratta road and others. When he was doing that of Amakohia, he was called names. But today, Amakohia has become a choice area. Sipbat area was a bush, but today it has become a city within a city, Courtesy of Okorocha.
To ease traffic and prevent deaths caused by accidents, Okorocha Constructed two flyovers, one at Orji, and one at Amakohia. Constructed Assumpta Cathedral roundabout, Imo State University roundabout, Emmanuel College roundabout, Warehouse road roundabout, Mbaise road roundabout, Shoprite roundabout etc. Naze junction roundabout, Nworieubi roundabout, City School Pedestrian Bridge, Emmanuel College Pedestrian Bridge, Freedom Square Pedestrian Bridge. Also Constructed two tunnels, one at Concorde Junction and one at Assembly Junction. The Current government demolished some of the roundabouts and the results have been the return of accidents and deaths, including the one that claimed Six lives the previous day.
Okorocha Constructed the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th in-land roads. Never paid indiscriminate Salaries and Pensions. And when issues arose, they would be amicably resolved like in 2015 and 2017 when Okorocha’s government met with Labour leaders and resolved outstanding issues, instead of blackmailing them and using thugs to attack them.
Okorocha stopped kidnapping, armed robbery and other numerous heinous crimes in the State, through the establishments of CGC and Imo Community Watch, which worked in collaboration with Security agencies to secure the State. But today, kidnapping, armed robbery etc are all fully back to the State. Okorocha also got militants in the Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta areas to drop their arms and embrace peace, without trying to play politics with the issue. Why is it that, the bloody Orlu clash would take place today? It is because the State has been abandoned and only existing on few WhatsApp platforms.
Okorocha built a befitting Secretariat for ISOPADEC. The Commission had operated from a 4-bedroom bungalow several years before Okorocha. Okorocha began to build the Marine University at Ossemotor, Oguta. And not using intimidation to cow the people of the Oil Producing Areas of the State.
Okorocha introduced Free Education at all levels and sustained it till he left office. He increased the Imo State University Subvention from N57 million a month to N257 million per month. In his first one year, Medical Students IMSUTH graduated for the first time in twelve (12) years. He cleared 12 months arrears of Salaries and Pensions. And also gave workers wardrobe allowance. And paid N20,000 minimum wage instead of the N18,000 federal government approved minimum wage. Okorocha’s government began to have issues with Salaries and Pensions towards the end of his administration. But the current government began to have issues with Salaries and Pensions right from day one. Okorocha openly employed teachers and graduates into the State’s School System and Civil Service through the CGC Coordinators. But now, Government House had handled employments unknown to the people of the State. Okorocha gave Imo Students free bags, free lockers, free sandals, free desks and free school uniform. All to make the free education policy work effectively.
Okorocha built the Alaba International Market, Egbeada Market, Artisan Market. Automobile Market, Amakohia Market, Timber Market etc.
He remodeled all the Premier Colleges in Owerri and environs, including Government College, Emmanuel College, Government Technical College, Ikenegbu Girls College, Akwakuma Girls College, Amakohia Girls College. Built the Ultra-Moden Owerri City College. Built Imo Girls College along Okigwe road. Built the Young Scientists College, Egbu road. Built five Universities and got their licences. Built Imo International Conference Centre (IICC). Built the Government House Chapel. Built the Governor’s Lodge. Built Odenigbo Guest House. Built the Presidential Guest House. Remodeled the Multi-Purpose Hall into Sam Mbakwe EXCO Chambers. Ditto, Ndubuisi Kanu Council Chamber. Built Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport.
Built the twin upstair building housing the office of the Deputy governor and the first Lady. Renovated Concorde Hotel. And Converted the long abandoned Assembly quarters into Concorde Blue Apartments. Built one upstair School building in each of the 305 wards in the State. Built the College of Health Okporo. Rebuilt Imo State Polytechnic Umuagwo. Built New Police College Ogboko. Built one hospital each in the 27 Local Governments of the State. Built the Somto hospital. Built the Eze Imo Palace. It is an endless list. I said that Okorocha had more than one thousand verifiable projects to his Credit. Too numerous to mention.
The apostles of this government would always talk against Comparing Okorocha’s government with that of Uzodinma, on the ground that one had done eight years and the other, had only done one year. But you know that a government with Prospect, would show the signs from the Scratch. Even after one year, Onuegbu could only talk about four old roads the government has been patching and has not been able to finish the “patch-patch” works. There is therefore no tendency that it would perform miracles in four or eight years. It is all about vision and passion. And not about number of years. I like what Onuegbu had done. It had helped me now to fly. And the next Challenge would also enable me come up, perhaps, with the comprehensive lists of Okorocha’s verifiable projects or achievements. And also make people know that he is the defending champion of Imo governorship, while, I am the defending champion of the office of the CPS to the governor in the State. My name is Sam Onwuemeodo.”