By Collins Opurozor
For sometime now, the Imo State House of Assembly has been preoccupied with just one issue: the probe of the former governor, Emeka Ihedioha. This obsession for Ihedioha’s probe began shortly after the government of Hope Uzodinma raised allegations of financial malfeasance to the tune of N19.63 billion against the Ihedioha administration.
The amount, it was alleged, belonged to the local governments but was misappropriated by the past administration, even though audit papers have revealed that the Ihedioha administration never spent anything like N19.63 billion. Instead, it was the Okorocha administration that spent the money. By the breakdown of the expenditures and the dates they bore, the Ihedioha administration only spent N3.7 billion. This fact has been established and Uzodinma and his band of political undertakers have kept mum over it.
What is therefore worrisome about this whole debacle is that while it has become increasingly clear that the government of Hope Uzodinma has embarked upon cowardly witch-hunt against Ihedioha, the House of Assembly in Imo State has abdicated its core legislative mandate and has made itself malleable and susceptible to the whims and caprices of Uzodinma. Members of the Assembly have thrown their honour to the wind and readily afflicted themselves with greed, gullibility and myopia. They have so lent themselves to the acquisitive impulses that have defiled the administration of Hope Uzodinma that nothing really matters to them anymore. They have forgotten the plight of those they represent and the mandates they hold in trust. They have sold their souls to the devil!
At a time that responsible governments around the world are battling to save their people from the dreaded covid-19 pandemic, the only thing that is of importance to the Imo State House of Assembly is to strip itself of every semblance of honor to become a tool for political vendetta in the hands of a very unpopular ruler. With the confirmation of four additional cases of the deadly virus in the state, Imo has emerged as the epicenter of the disease in the entire South East. Yet no parliamentary action has ever been taken to save the lives of Imo people. More heartrending is the fact that the House members do not observe social distancing, neither do they even have in place any measure to check the outbreak of the infection in the often overcrowded complex where they converge to carry out the hatchet job.
Make no mistake, it will be unpatriotic for anyone to seek a cover for corrupt practices. But what is going on in the Imo Assembly is far from being a fight against corruption. It is an aimless search for what does not exist in the face of life-threatening challenges!
What has this Assembly done about the billions of Naira looted by the Okorocha administration? What has the Assembly done to stop Okorocha’s well-orchestrated plot to hand over Eastern Palm University to Rochas Foundation, a school that was built with public funds and licensed as the 42nd state university in Nigeria and 2nd state-owned university in Imo State? What has the Assembly done about the seizure of four months allocations to the local government by Hope Uzodinma?
Can any member of the Assembly tell Imo peole with certainty the amount that has accrued to the local government system since January that Uzodinma came to power? Ihedioha was governor for seven months and the local governments built 27 secretariats, 27 mini stadia, many health centers, many school blocks, purchased 27 vehicles, paid salaries and pensions and acquired ICT facilities. Has this Assembly asked Hope Uzodinma what he has done for five months in the local governments with their humongous allocations? No single project! Workers are not being paid! Pensioners are dying of starvation! Has this Assembly probed Okorocha’s eight years that witnessed the pillage and plunder of the local governments? Let justice be collective!
This wild goose chase by the Assembly now that the perils of coronavirus are on the rise and the inadequacies of the Uzodinma administration are glaring will etch the names of all the members this Assembly on the stones of history as the Neros who fiddled while Imo was on fire.