We Need To Declare State Of Emergency On Economy- Okorocha

Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, spoke to select journalists in Abuja on a wide range of issues. MBACHU GODWIN NNANNA was there for LEADERSHIP

You have just returned from an overseas trip, can you tell us where you went and what you went there to do?

Well, I was just coming from the United States of America, I went to see my grandson. I have just been blessed with another grandson, making a total of four grandchildren. So, I went to see my family and they are doing well.

There was this rumour that you were sick and that was the reason you were flown out?

No, I have never been sick at all, I have never been sick. I am always healthy. I am not in a hurry to go (laughs). I am very health and I have never been to any hospital. I am fine, stronger and better. I don’t know where the rumour comes from but it is nothing to write home about.

Could it be a political comment from the political detractors?

Well, it’s normal. Sometimes, you know a very few, I call them the PDPs, the saducees and those who never like anything good would always wish evil for another person and it’s unfortunate that in our society, people could be so primitive. This is primitivity at the highest level. I have never been to hospital, I’m fine, I’m healthy and as you can see, I’m very much relaxed than ever.

How many weeks did you stay?

I did two weeks plus.

I think that must have fueled the speculation.

I know, they are not used to me going out. They are not used to me travelling and they saw this quiet silence, I don’t blame them. But everything is okay and I’m back again to resume work.

The ongoing development in Owerri is attracting criticisms with some saying the ongoing demolition in the state capital is being carried out without human face?

I don’t know about demolition, what I’m trying to do is that I promised them that Imo must be better and I’m making Imo better. By simple law, we have a set back with the road. So, if I go by the setback, there will be none of those houses left. What I have just cleaned up were the shanties along the road. We are just coming back from America, we went to Europe. And we do go to other developed countries of the world and we see development and we like. Why can’t we replicate it, we are not animals.

I refuse that, I assured them that Imo must be better and I’m here on a rescue mission to make Imo better and it is getting better. And so, what we are doing now is that we are doing an eight-lane road on all the streets of Owerri. And that will make it to begin to look attractive for investors. We can’t be living in shanties. We have made adequate arrangements to relocate the people-the mechanics, the market people and the rest. We have made adequate arrangements, so, it’s not that we are doing this thing without arrangements.

Are you going to compensate those affected?

No, there is nothing about compensation really. If you come there, you will see what we have done. These are shanties, and when we removed the shanties, we will relocate them to a proper market where they will stay. I don’t think there’s demolition in Imo State. What we are doing is urban renewal.

What about the residential houses affected, are the owners going to be compensated?

There’s no residential house unfortunately. We are trying to make sure that no houses are removed, but shanties and these small lock-up shops on the fences. I think they will like it later, they will appreciate it.

Where do you intend to source money from considering the present economic reality in the country?

Don’t bother how I source my money, I will do it.

Your two-day work-free day appears to be misconstrued, is it working? (cuts in)

Oh, beautiful, it has to work because under the present economic situation we find ourselves, I think the best thing to do is putting more emphasis on agriculture. I am asking the civil servants to just give me three days, just three three days is enough to carry out activities of the state. That they should take the two days and go to back to agriculture to help themselves. We have launched Community Government Council to enable them farm.

We have done many agricultural programmes, and they have to be around to do it because those Thursdays and Fridays, they use them for burial. They use those two days for burial activities anyway. And you hardly see them in the office, so why don’t you give me three quality days, that’s enough for me and then use the two days for farming? Then use the Saturday for naming ceremonies and other things. We have to go that way if Nigeria has to grow.

The president is working on a bill to be submitted to the National Assembly to get sweeping powers for money to tackle the country’s economy, what’s your take on that?

There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, we have to declare a state of economic emergency right now in Nigeria and all hands must be on deck to fix the economy of this country. For some of us and I think for all Nigerians who travel out, we know that we need to stand up and avoid sentiment and face the issue.

Your message to Imo people?

My message to the Imo people is that they are my great people, I love them. I’m coming back to continue the good work. The very vocal few must not constitute the opinion of the majority of the people of Imo State.

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