The Owelle Phenomenon in Imo State and Lamentations of Shaka MomoduArticles/Opinion, Latest News, Letters/Rejoinders, News Features/Analysis Sunday, November 15th, 2015
By Charles Agu
These days I read a lot but I hardly write. But there are things you must respond to like the article written by one Shaka Momodu on governance in Imo State. I do not know the author in person but I am aware that he works for Thisday Newspapers. From the name you could easily decipher that the writer is at least not from Imo State. He sounds more like someone from Edo State. Because of this I would not have bothered to reply to him but we all have a responsibility to put the records straight. I would have preferred to hear from an Imolite who is on ground, who voted in the last election and who is entitled to ask questions on governance and demand an answer from the political leadership in the state.
Let me state upfront that I do not work for neither have I ever met the Governor of Imo State. However I am from Imo State and an admirer of the positive impact of the policies of the governor since he was elected in 2011. I am also not responding on his behalf as I am sure that there are so many persons whose responsibility it is to do so on behalf of the governor.
I am aware that many things could motivate people like Shaka Momodu to write such a caustic piece. Hack writing has become a flourishing alternative enterprise in these days when newspaper publishers have abandoned their staff without salaries. The case of Thisday newspapers is reportedly very pathetic. Many of these journalists have to rely on tokenism of brown envelops while others stretch the boundaries of ethics and professionalism just to make ends meet. Some of the luckier ones resort to keeping the company of unscrupulous politicians, get on their pay roll and suddenly end up living questionably ostentatious lifestyles like them. Like their political paymasters, their lifestyle does not in any way correspond with their legitimate earning even if they were paid in arrears. I would image that Shaka Momodu belongs to the later group and not the former.
For these reasons I am not surprised that a Shaka Momodu will take such infamous enterprise to my home state. He has a right to make ends meet. My only curiosity is that he did a few days after the Supreme Court affirmed the victory of Owelle Rochas Okorocha. I do not know whether that article was inspired by the leaders of the People’s Democratic Party in Imo State but their frustration and dashed hopes has some relationship with the lamentations of the author. There is a trend in the writing of the Edo born journalist and political pugilist- he is always angry and venomous. Such sentiments obstruct his sense of nuanced reasoning and objectivity and makes him reflect only one side of the argument. By the time you read his first paragraph, you will decipher where he is headed.
I remember that at one time, Shaka Momodu directed his missiles at the personality of the former Governor of River State, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi. He was very consistent in his critics against the former governor as if there was something personal between both of them. It took a while for observers to discover that the author was inspired by the sponsorship of a former aide to the former President. As soon as the former President was defeated, the author’s column went on recess for a while. With the resurrection of the column, it is probable that someone might have taken over the funding to revive the column to continue what the author knows best- falsehood and blackmail.
Before I proceed, let me state that I take strong exceptions to the use of the word deceptive and pretence in subtle reference to my governor. Any sane commentator will refrain from such unsubstantiated references like an invitation for a psychiatric examination when describing a governor of a state no matter how aggrieved one may be. I am not the lawyer of His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha but I am sure that his lawyers know the implication of such a statement in the public domain and will soon do the needful. I wish to point out a few things for the author and other readers to reflect on but let me invite him to visit Owerri first. I am ready to sponsor his trip and will be happy if a neutral person can undertake a referendum among ordinary Imolites about the performance of their governor. During the trip, I will be happy to engage Mr. Momodu to a public debate at the newly constructed International Conference Centre on issues of development in Imo State.
I read where the author talked about wastage of public resources by the governor but could not attach any figure to it. Such a statement remains boring and banal. Until we see the figures it will be hasty to make any judgements. How can someone talk about poor health infrastructure in Owerri when the General Hospital have been fully refurbished and the Imo State Teaching Hospital Orlu has been equipped with modern facilities? What about the new Ochiedike diagnostic centre which is now serving the whole of the south east zone?
I will not talk about all the new roads constructed by the Owelle admiration. Mr. Momodu will see for himself when he visits. I am sure he will take time to visit the Egbu Water scheme, Otamiri Water Scheme and the Orji Water Scheme. He must try to visit the ultra-modern College of Advanced professional studies and the Imo free trade zone. What about the Industrial Clusters in Naze that is approaching completion? On the trip of Governor Okorocha to Turkey. The author was quick to point at the fact that the delegation was made up one hundred persons but he did not say that more than eighty of them catered for themselves. Due to the conducive business climate created by the governor, many Imolites are now interested in investing back home. If local private sector players who are interested in searching for partners in Turkey decide to join the governor on his trip, should he stop them?
I should not go further in engaging these paid lamentations and innuendos of Mr. Shaka Momodu. His style of working towards predetermined objectives is a trick known to many. I wish he can come down from his high horses and take up the offer for a visit to Imo state. I am looking forward to both an engaging and enlightening public debate with him where facts will be laid bare for everyone to judge and arrive at their own conclusions. Let truth and falsehood engage themselves on the table of free inquiry, I am sure superior ideas will surely displace inferior ones. In journalism they say that facts are sacred. Till then I rest my case.
Charles Agu, a concerned citizen of Imo State wrote in from Lagos. You can reach him on email@example.com
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