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Last week, the media in Imo State was agog and awash with information that Governor Rochas Anayo Okorocha was slated to present before the Imo State House Assembly the state 2018 Budget Estimate on Tuesday 28th November, 2017. According to the Governor's Press Secretary, Chief Sam Onwuemeodo, the governor would use the budget presentation to reel off his achievements too numerous to be accommodated within such a time-frame. The announcement was intermittently repeated on the Orient Radio to raise the awareness of Imo people.

Last week, the media in Imo State was agog and awash with information that Governor Rochas Anayo Okorocha was slated to present before the Imo State House Assembly the state 2018 Budget Estimate on Tuesday 28th November, 2017. According to the Governor's Press Secretary, Chief Sam Onwuemeodo, the governor would use the budget presentation to reel off his achievements too numerous to be accommodated within such a time-frame. The announcement was intermittently repeated on the Orient Radio to raise the awareness of Imo people.


Conscious of the importance the people of Imo attached to the economy especially ameliorating the economic adversity the government recently foisted on the people as a result of its demolitions of markets and people's property in the government urban renewal policies, the script on hand on the People's Democratic Party 9th December National Convention was stepped down. This marked the beginning and conceptualization of the ACRONYM 'IMSITB' translated as Imo State Injury Time Budget 2018 and Boycott by IMHA.
When on Tuesday the expectation of listening to the Governor address the legislators at the floor of the Assembly evaporated because both parties refused to meet. The failure to read the budget did not come from the Executive but as a result of the unavailability of the Acho Ihim led 27-member House. On inquiry, I understood, the House Assembly is insisting that until the governor of Imo State shows explanation in writing and published on the pages   of Newspapers how the Paris Club and Bailout funds were spent, the members of the House would not give audience to him to announce the 2018 budget. Ideally the position of the House is apt commendable and within the ambits of legislative engagements. But here is a legislature that has long time ago surrendered its Independence, Sovereignty and charisma to the Executive. The legislators in subordinating their rights also sacrificed their financial autonomy. The IMHA ended like a sheep to the slaughter, humiliated, subjugated and conquered. Okorocha took the privileged to unleash injustice and misgovernance on Imo people since 2015.
But why did the writer choose Imo State Injury Time Budget 2018? Granted that both arms of government settle their differences over the budget if passed into law will be the appropriation act the governor will pass, implement fully. That of 2019 will undergo alteration or abandoned completely by a new administration from the 29th May, 2019. The 2018 budget is viewed as Injury  time Budget because governor Okorocha is expected, like in a football competition, in its dying minutes  to use the 2018 to salvage his reputation and image occasioned by abandoning his indices of democracy in preference to aberration. The budget is either a make or mar one.
Both parties have expressed reasons and apologize for the postponement indefinitely of the budget presentation through Sam Onwuemeodo and Acho Ihim Press Secretary but such the failure has done monumental damage to the credibility of both the House and the Executive. Tongues are wagging in condemnation of the governor and the House. Imolites are watching the scenario.
Before now, we have been condemning, writing against Imo Legislators sacrificing their sovereignty. Our concern is that the legislators should rise to their responsibility to monitor, check the excesses, recklessness and the profligacy by the governor in the management of resources. We demanded that the legislature should assume and be alive to its constitutional responsibilities. Consequent upon the failure to do so, governor Okorocha gradually and systematically hamstrung the functions of the Imo legislature. Some argue true or false that governor Okorocha financed the emergence of the legislators. If it is true that their elections were sponsored or bankrolled, there is always freedom for apprenticeship. The legislators played into the awaiting hands of Okorocha that on emergence in the 2015 House of Assembly election they accepted being Chairmen  of Task Forces thus becoming a putty in the hands of governor Okorocha. All efforts to salvage the House within the House by the public, the legislators were outwitted to accept to being bamboozled to an illusive, delusive and diversionary pursuit for investors in Turkey. Up till today, Imolites are yet to see the benefits emanating from such expensive pursuit or waste of the resources of Imo people.
Never did we relax in calling the legislators to order but to no avail. To raise the bar of leadership, whether for the executive or the legislature, I have written and expressed reservations the way the two arms of government have been disappointing Ndi-Imo.
In 2011, governor Okorocha emerged as the governor of Imo State, the House of Assembly was composed of House members of APGA and PDP  a balanced, healthy development but seen by Okorocha as a threat to his ambition. Sincerely or by subterfuge, some of the PDP members defected to APGA to give Okorocha the needed majority. About two years after, the governor Okorocha defected to APC to spite APGA. From 2015 general elections, members already defected along the State House of Assembly still the majority in the House with about five legislators from PDP arm-twisted to join APC, what APC could not achieve from election, it achieved by defection. Quite unlike in 2011, there were honourable members of the House who insisted to maintain their integrity by bluffing all the entreaties of Okorocha to quit APGA. Such legislators included Honourable Dan Ikpeazu, Greg Okemiri. Although they did not succeed in their aspirations in 2015they left the Imo State House of Assembly with their reputation intact and blossomed.
With the present scenario in the House and APC almost incharge Okorocha did not see it an healthy development by sending bills to enhance the development of the people, the governor saw the legislators as errand boys, toys to feather his rest. At a time the legislators should confront the governor to stop the desperation to destroy the psyches of Imo people the legislators kept quiet.
In my Discourse column of the Nigeria Moment Newspaper edition 6-7 May, 2015 between the swearing of Governor Okorocha into second term in office titled: Okorocha 2nd missionary journey: Punitive or corrective”?
“Democracy  without credibility” September 18-20 2015, “Governance in Imo State: There is more to it than meets the eyes”, 19th October, 2015, “Imo 6th May 2017”; a Douglas House 2019: Governor Okorocha on Tenter hooks”, 9th June, 2017; 'Imolites in distress: The Rescue Mission at its culdisac”, 5th May, 2017; “Kayode media Diatribe Against Okorocha too serious to be ignored”, 4th August 2017 and other too numerous to be accommodated have come to pass as indictments of the Rescue Mission government and vindicated us of being constructive and critical of the administration.
In the same vein and inseparably too, we have written and canvassed for a State Assembly that is vibrant, on red-alert to engage the government. the State House of Assembly, 54 eyes legislators from 27 local government councils are made of egg heads, vesatilely competent nationally and internationally in matters of Legislation, more versed than the executive arm but unfortunately cringing and prostrating before the executive that is on equal pedestal not more assertive than the legislature. Of course having surrendered its sovereignty, the House members are unable to check the arbitrariness, profligacy, impunity and excesses of Okorocha.
In my Discourse Column edition of 2-5 December, 2016 titled: “From malnutrition to Kwashiorkor: Imo House of Assembly playing Nero” “Anti-media Bill like a sheep to the slaughter”, 7-9 March 2017, “IMHA not elected to impeach Okorocha Nor elected to be 'Ikuana Nkwu' Assembly”, 10 November, 2017, show our commitment to stimulate the 27 Legislators to rise to the expectations of Imo people.
Between the Legislature and the Executive arms, the Legislature stands tall and distinct and by the 1999 constitution as amended, members of the Assembly are entitled to time indefinite to contest and return to the House as long as their people wish them well for representing them, whereas the same constitution only permits governors and governor Okorocha two terms of 4 years each which governor Okorocha, no matter his so-called, philanthropy and benevolence will vacate office on the 29th May, 2019. Unfortunately for about 17 members of the House who expressed intention to return to the house of Assembly in the next dispensation got a rude shock from the people for not living up to Imolites expectations.   
Perhaps sensing that their future electoral fortunes are in jeopardy and occasioned by their standing aloof while governor Okorocha unleashes hardship and suffering on the various sections of Ndi-Imo, the people of Imo State are awaiting for a day of reckoning to pay the legislators in their own coin.
The Tuesday incident when the legislators for the first time raised objection to Okorocha is a sign-post that such make-believe cordial relationship would end.
To use the occasion of budget presentation while the executive arm of government had gone on air to announce to the public the budget presentation when the Assembly was not ready to receive the governor, to the public it was a monumental disaster, a disappointment and embarrassment to the executive.
The House is now waking up from its slumber sensing that what is happening since the emergence of APGA in Anambra gubernatorial election, when Obiano swept the polls against all subterfuges, intrigues and conspiracy, is beginning to manifest. No doubt there is uneasy calm in the Executive in the South-East zone. The House is embarking on self-appraisal to salvage its bad image and whipping boy status imposed on them by governor Okorocha.
The task before the House is not as simple as it assumes. To challenge the executive like the governor is herculean. To ask for a tabulation of how the Paris Club and bailout funds were utilized is not unconstitutional. But to chicken out at the intimidation of governor Okorocha will be a great injustice to 27  member legislature. The battle line is drawn. Members of the Assembly should be vigilant, watchful because the speaker, Chief Acho Ihim is larger than life, a lackey or stooge to the governor. He may well be scheming to sabotage the demand by the whole house for governor Okorocha to tabulate detailed information account how the funds belonging to the whole state was used. There are other disbursements of public funds spent by governor without the state House of Assembly consulted. Although the Speaker defended the whopping millions of naira the governor spent on erection of statuses, this House was not consulted for any inputs.
Similarly the demolition of the Ekeukwu Owerri market was taken without the knowledge of the House.
Imolites are watching the beautiful scenario and its end. The House should use this opportunity to compile all these offences governor Okorocha committed. If the State Assembly could remove a sitting deputy governor, Jude Agbaso, the House under the present dispensation should compile all impeachable offences committed by the governor and set up a committee to investigate these allegations, afterall, the chairman of NBA in the state, a legal expert urged the House to commence impeachment procedure against Okorocha, it all means he is convinced that governor Okorocha has breached the law and constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If Acho Ihim poses a stumbling block, the House knows the best. We wish the House well as it has woken from its slumber to rebrand its battered image between now and 2019.
Sydney O. Madukwem, guest writer, Dile Emeohe, Mbaoma Emii Owerri North LG. 07069123994.     
             

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