Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State yesterday dispensed with partisan considerations to broach issues of core interest to the Igbo nation when Acting President Yemi Osibanjo visited the state on strategic consultations.
The governor detailed account of marginalization of people of the South-East and Imo State in particular by the present Muhammadu Buhari administration. Okorocha regretted that the region has been grossly shortchanged on many fronts, particularly in the areas of appointments and allocation of Federal Government projects.
His words: “No other group in Nigeria that had invested as much into our nationhood can sing the song of marginalisation as much as Ndigbo has been made to sing it.We have nothing to show that we are part of the Nigerian project; neither do we have any sense of belonging in the present government at the national level. “We have been marginalised both in terms of projects and appointments. In Imo State, for instance, all we have is a Minister of State to show for all the efforts and extreme sacrifices we made to ensure that the All Progressive Congress (APC) had a good outing in the last general elections.”
Okorocha continued: “I know you are the Acting President and has the ears of the President. So, there is no better person to tell our painful story than you. You need to take a second look at what is happening in the South-East. No serious political appointment, no visible federal infrastructure so far, to show the presence of Federal Government in the South- East in general. “I beg that as the government gives subsequent appointments, let the qualified sons and daughters of the state and region be considered.” Those in business should be considered for federal patronage.”
Apparently, these were no easy words for Okorocha who is also the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC)Governors’ Forum as he carefully chose his words. “Imo State played major role in bringing APC to power because if what had taken place in other states was allowed to happen in Imo State and other states in the South-East, probably we wouldn’t have had the APC government today.“ Given the roles that I personally played as a sacrificial lamb in the South- East during the elections, my state deserves a better deal. There is no Federal Government presence in the oil-producing areas, and none of our youths benefitted from the Federal Government’s Amnesty Programme. I also use this opportunity to ask for the quick refund of the money spent by the state on Imo International Cargo Airport and on some federal roads in the state.”
Okorocha, who noted that he had made a case previously to President Buhari, expressed confidence that Osinbajo had the ear of the President and will convey the feelings and grievances expressed by stakeholders in the state.
Responding, Osinbajo said that it was not exactly correct that President Buhari had been unfair to Imo people. He said that the Presidency couldn’t deliberately set out to marginalise Ndigbo in view of their contributions to the development of the country.“You said that the highest appointment given to Imo under Buhari was Minister of State for Education. I will like to equally inform you that Katsina, the home state of Mr.President, and Kaduna State where Buhari resides both have ministers of state.“ If there is any governor in this country that has the ear of Mr. President, I will say that it is Governor Okorocha. As such, it cannot be said that the state is marginalised by the APC-led Federal Government”, the acting president said.