The Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha, has said that his administration has completed over 1000 projects ready for commissioning by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr Okorocha stated this in an interview with State House correspondents on Monday shortly after he met with Mr Buhari behind closed doors in his office.
He said his mission to the State House was to invite Mr Buhari to to commission some of the projects.
The governor also spoke about the controversy surrounding his certificate of return, internal politics of the APC and the need for the South East to be considered for top principal positions at the National Assembly.
Q: What is the true position regarding your certificate of return from INEC?
A: As it stands today, I am just waiting patiently for the release of my certificate of return for an election that I duly won, and I am hoping that INEC will release my certificate of return. I have not contravened any section of the constitution and I have not done anything wrong not to be given my certificate. I pray and hope INEC would do what is just and what is right.
Q: Why are here to see the president?
I came here precisely to discuss with Mr President to come and commission my projects. I have completed the construction of a new Cargo Airport Terminal, Warehouses and cargo sheds that is to be commissioned. I have also completed a new police headquarters and also a new prison headquarters in Imo State. These are federal government projects built by Imo State government. Another landmark project is the Justice Oputa Court – the new Imo State High Court Complex which we have built.
So, we have over a thousand verifiable projects to be commissioned. So I am requesting Mr President to kindly commission the federal ones and see how many of the state’s projects he could commission for me. This is precisely why I am here.
Q: People are wondering why you didn’t complete the 27 model hospitals that you started?
A: Those hospitals are much bigger than the state will need. Those hospitals were built for possible concessions – as people come, they take over the hospitals and equip it. But we have some of them running already – the one in Ikeduru is running, and has been taken over by an American company and we have some taken by some churches and some organizations. That was our style of making Imo State a tourist destination for Nigeria by building these 27 general hospitals with another diagnostic centre and a free child and mother hospital and Imo Medical Centre. So put together, we have 30 hospitals of close to 10,000 beds built by this administration.
Q: The one in Aboh Mbaise seems to have been abandoned?
A: That is part of it too. Those hospitals are meant for people to take. They are more than what the state will need. They are futuristic so to say. But if you notice, they have all been roofed, they have all been tiled, finished and fenced. Why it remains there is because we are looking for management because if we park in now, we may not have the need for it. I was thinking about the future, not now.
Q: Did you discuss your INEC issue with the president?
A: I don’t think that would have been necessary to do because it’s a straight forward matter. INEC conducted election, results were declared – the returning officer declared the results and I won. Only one week later to hear that somebody wrote a petition that he issued that declaration under duress. I say where? Was it in his private house or was it in the collation centre? If it is the collation SSS were there, police were there, international observers, INEC officials and many others. So who actually put him under duress? The man has not been able to say that. Nobody has ever sent a statement about that but I think INEC would want to do the right thing very very soon.
Now, in the same way, the governorship candidate of PDP never won that election because the election flouted section 179 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which says that you must have the highest votes and you must have 25 per cent in two thirds of the local governments. Now, this gentleman who was declared the winner by the same INEC, had 135,000 votes from 24 local government but had over 130,000 votes from his three local governments. Of course you know, he didn’t win that election. But even at that, we had the highest mark, the Returning Officer of INEC was never patient to even calculate to know that it was 200,000 votes where there (was) supposed to be a rerun. Also flouting that basic constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria which says you must have 25 percent in two-third, he doesn’t have it.
So, as far as I am concerned, there will be a rerun in Imo State and the Prof that did that should either be derobed as a professor and he should be charged for that serious offense of not respecting the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria. What this means is that someday, one crazy person might just walk on the street and take one mad man, give him result sheet and declare him winner even if the man did not belong to a party. And we are getting to stage in this country that once you are declared, you are declared. This is the crazy thing that is happening in Imo State and also it happened in Okigwe zone where a loser ran away with the result sheet. The person came fifth, and is trying to return himself. Up till now as I speak to you the Okgwe senatorial seat has not been declared. I don’t know what INEC is waiting for because the man who won the election they could not declare him. Now the person who ran with the result sheet, and the Prof ran away to the US, he is not back. So there is a stalemate everywhere, I think INEC should revisit Imo matter.
Q: Why is it that your party is not making any case for you over your certificate of return?
A: I won’t be surprised because, of course, you know the imposition we suffered in the party. When you say the party, you talk about the leadership of that party, it’s not the party. I don’t have problem with the Working Committee of that party, I only have problem with the chairman of that party, who took it upon himself to do the wrong thing against me for just no cause and to fight a battle that he can never win. No, he is the one that is behind all these impositions, can you imagine, as I speak to you the APC candidate in Imo State did not win a seat, APC does not have a councilor in Imo State now, it does not even have a House member. But the AA candidate has eight seats in the Imo State House of Assembly, two Federal House and they have one senator about to come to the senate. This is why internal democracy must be respected, let the will of the people prevail rather than this imposition. It is unfortunate what has happened in Imo State. At least, I have been vindicated for the fact that I said the APC candidate they are imposing on Imo people is not popular, he came from the opposition. When I was the leader of that party, when I was running the affairs of that party, we won 24 seats in the House of Assembly, we have governor, federal house members but today APC does not have because of imposition.
Q: Talking about imposition, what will you say about the mistake of 2015 and the emergence of new leadership for the National Assembly?
A: I have been watching carefully what is happening in the National Assembly, it’s a very interesting drama. But all I ask of them is that they should consider the South East in their calculations. This nation will not be properly balanced if South East is not carried along properly in the affairs of the National Assembly.
Nobody seems to be talking about the South East, it looks like the South East doesn’t have a place anymore, that is wrong, politically speaking and that is not good for APC. Because there is going to be a bigger APC after President Muhammadu Buhari must have left the seat. My fear now is that APC might have a serious set back in 2023 because the Oshiomhole led executive is actually turning APC into a regional minority party which shouldn’t be because of his mistakes. Right now in the whole South East, we don’t have an APC governor. So if there is any discussion in Nigeria now within the APC governors and President Muhammadu Buhari, there would be nobody from the South East.
This is what the APC chairman has done in the South East. I think it’s a capital attempt to frustrate the efforts of the South East but I appeal to every Nigerian to support the cause of the South East – their cause germane and it should be supported in whatever position that is due them. They shouldn’t think about giving South East, whatever position for giving sake. You can’t just wake up and give them any position. South East is a key primary zone in this country and if we don’t get the number one seat, we should get the number two seat.
Q: Has your relationship with Mr President been affected in anyway as a result of the outcome of last elections?
A: As a matter of fact, Buhari is a great man, he is a man of wisdom, a visionary leader. That is why you see some of us going along with him. It’s for what he has upstairs – he can see far that is why he made that declaration in Imo State – “vote according to your conscience”. It was in Imo state that he first used that word. So my relationship with him is not affected in anyway.