Ordinarily I would not join issues with a character like one Temple Okonji who has proved to all that he is nothing but a militant.
Ordinarily I would not join issues with a character like one Temple Okonji who has proved to all that he is nothing but a militant.
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He brags about it. He had told me once that he is a militant and that he trains militants too. Whether he was just bragging or not is left for him. But what you cannot take away from Temple is that he is loquacious. He is always irritated and has the kind of temper that you would give award to anyone who has kept him around either as friend or employee.
Temple is loose with his tongues. He suffers from paranoia and he is a conniving maniacal bully who cannot avail himself for any intellectual discourse. He would bully you once you disagree with him.
The first time I met Temple was at the Prefab residence of Dr Ikedi Ohakim. On that fateful day Dr Ikedi Ohakim was to deliver a lecture at the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Ikeduru. From Prefab where we took off to the venue of the Synod and back to Prefab, Temple was talking without swallowing saliva. They say people like that talk like women (apologies to the women).
From Politics to History, from Geography to Foreign Relations, from the Economy to Religion, Temple appeared to know all but he displayed such embarrassing shallow mentality that he quarrelled with everyone. He never entrained any differing opinion. And that was what led to my clash with him: I had sharply disagreed with him and gave him my view of the topic under discussion. He became uncontrollably furious, threatening hell and brimstone. Even when others in the bus intervened and asked him to calm down, he said he must deal with me.
But people like me don't get frightened by characters like Temple, because he is ignorant and an ungrateful braggart; and when he talks he sounds hollow, especially these days when he has left his root, because the elders say that when a lizard abandons the tree, that which is pursuing it would catch it.
I have read an article by Temple Okonji on the governorship aspiration of Dr Ikedi Ohakim and the only reason I am dignifying him with a response is just to correct his flawed perception and put the record straight before the public, because after reading him I was forced to agree that he needs to have his brain examined.
It is true that former Governor of Lagos State, Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was running for second term in 2003 when Dr Ikedi Ohakim and now Senator Hope Uzodimma ran a joint ticket for the governorship election of 2003 under the AD. It is believed also that Tinubu has produced two governors after him, Babatunde Raji Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode; but trying to compare Governor Okorocha and Tinubu is like comparing day and night.
It is clear to everyone that Tinubu did not produce Fashola and Ambode by giving them free access to Lagos State purse. Fashola was called to the Bar in November 1988, with his legal career spanning a period of 15 years. He worked for Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe and Belgore legal firms, with specialization in intellectual property, commercial law, etc.
With this credentials it is obvious that Fashola did not become rich overnight by marrying Tinubu's daughter, even though he was his Chief of Staff.
Unlike Uche Nwosu, Akinwumi Ambode did not become rich overnight. He did not marry Tinubu's daughter in order to find himself into Tinubu's heart and thereby enriching himself.
Between 1988 and 1991, Ambode was the Assistant Treasurer of Badagry Local Government Area of Lagos State. He was posted to Shomolu LGA as an Auditor and later became Council Treasurer in Shomolu LGA. He had also served as Council Treasurer of Alimosho LGA and in 2001 he became the Auditor General of Local Governments in Lagos State.
In January 2005, Ambode was appointed the Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Finance. From 2006 to 2012 Ambode became the Accountant General of Lagos State, during which period he revolutionalized the manner Lagos State finances were raised, budgeted and planned. Under him Lagos State finances improved significantly.
When he retired in 2012 Ambode did not go home roaming the streets and waiting for one Governor to pick him on the streets. He established the Brand smiths Consulting Limited to provide Public Finance Management Consulting services to governments at all levels.
But what do we say about Uche Nwosu? According to Governor Okorocha, Uche Nwosu was an unemployed street boy whom he picked up along Wetheral Road in 1999. Since then there is no record of Nwosu doing any major job either in the private sector or public sector. The only job we know he has done is being personal assistant to Owelle Rochas Okorocha. Uche Nwosu's only known public sector job is his political appointment by his father in-law, Governor Okorocha, and he got this window by marrying the Governor's daughter. Under him as Commissioner for Lands Imo people have seen how top government officials grabbed their lands, with the Governor and his wife converting public land to themselves. Governor Okorocha has converted the old IBC land to Rochas Foundation College after sacking the residents in the area and demolishing the buildings. His wife has converted the old Secretariat at Orlu Road to her own private establishment, WODDI, after sacking the occupants and demolishing the structures there.
The question then is: would Tinubu have made Uche Nwosu Governor of Lagos State? Were those who became Lagos State Governor after Tinubu like Uche Nwosu? Would Tinubu have made Uche Nwosu who was reported to have failed the 10,000 jobs interview Governor? The answer is NO; that Tinubu would not make anyone like Uche Nwosu Governor, and it is only a man who wants to protect his evil deeds that would contemplate making Uche Nwosu Governor.
Tinubu would not support anyone who changes loyalty like he changes his underwear, like Temple, to become Governor in Lagos State, just because he is a youth.
Nevertheless, what Tinubu did in Lagos State is quite much more than producing his successors. Governor Tinubu built institutions of government which were built upon by his successors. Tinubu designed the new Tejuosho Market but Fashola built it. He did not destroy it. Tinubu created LASTMA, LAWMA, etc, but Fashola and Ambode have built on them, including public utility like water.
More importantly, it was Tinubu who came up with the idea of development centers with the hope of making them local governments. While Tinubu was doing this in Lagos, Chief Achike Udenwa was also creating development centers in Imo State. Ohakim inherited them but did not destroy them. Instead he built on them.
But what did Okorocha do when he became Governor? He destroyed them all. Today, Lagos State Government conducts elections into her development centers while those of Imo State have been destroyed by Governor Okorocha, and when these elections are conducted in Lagos it is the youths that win and take part in the political/governance process. That is real empowerment. Ikedi Ohakim did it too, by conducting local government elections, giving the youths 10,000 jobs and appointing them into development centers. Ikedi Ohakim also appointed aides who later aspired for higher political offices, such as Hon Williams Ejiakor who ran for the state assembly seat for Oguta State Constituency in 2015. He did not win but he will try again.
Apart from destroying the development centers in Imo, Governor Okorocha has also destroyed the local government system in the state. Not only did he sack elected local government officials, Governor Okorocha is illegally running the local governments with his appointees and has refused to conduct local government election since 2011 and create the needed space for the youths to play freely and live their dreams. More than these, Governor Okorocha has destroyed all the public health infrastructure in the state alongside all water infrastructure, including about 2,000 water schemes built by Ikedi Ohakim. Would we stop talking about Okorocha's destruction of the healthcare infrastructure in the state?
While Tinubu was Governor no contract failed. No contractor ran away with billions of money belonging to Lagos State Government. Tinubu did not legalize corruption by destroying all institutions of government, including the tenders board, as we have seen in Imo State under Okorocha.
Tinubu did not destroy government's establishments like Adapalm, ITC, etc. But not only has Okorocha destroyed them, he has also destroyed Ohakim's ISIPA, Imo Job Centre, IROMA and the wonderful transport system Ohakim put in place, whereas Ambode is building on Lagos State's BRT.
It is rather appalling that Temple wants Imo people to believe that allowing a few people access to state fund is the real meaning of empowerment. Uche Nwosu was a poor man until he married Okorocha's daughter and was subsequently given political appointment. His only known means of livelihood is his involvement in Okorocha's government. Tinubu gave Lagos the very best, not some jobless, wandering and job-interview-failing youth.
Temple did not know that whereas Ohakim became Governor at 50, Ambode became Governor of Lagos State at 52. Moreover, I grew up in Lagos, and it is an aberration for any Yoruba youth to tell his elders to go and sit down, that it is their turn to lead. Interestingly also, Tinubu did not make Fashola and Ambode governors because of their ages but because they were competent. Therefore, no amount of propaganda and deceit will distract Imo people from rejecting Okorocha and embracing Ikedi Ohakim who represents competence.
Imo people should also note that Temple was lying when he claimed that leaders in Imo do not empower their aides. The only thing is that except Okorocha no other Imo leader, particularly Ikedi Ohakim, would give his aides or in-laws free access to public money to enrich themselves as they want. It is this stealing of public money that Temple calls empowerment. They are not. Stealing cannot become empowerment no matter what. No wonder Governor Okorocha recently justified armed robbery, saying that it is better to be an armed robber than to smoke weed.
It has been said that the sole contractor handling all the contracts in Imo State, particularly roads, is the Deputy Chief of Staff, Kingsley Uju, the man Temple now worships - the same man he had categorically castigated on several occasions and said he was not from Ohaji/Egbema. These contacts do not follow the due processes, and this allows for stealing of state funds. Sadly, youths like Temple think this is proper.
If Temple wanted to tell the truth, he would have mentioned that his former boss, Rt Hon Goodluck Nana Opiah, who first became member, later Speaker, of Imo State House of Assembly, and now a member of the House of Reps is a product of the PDP and was empowered to reach where he is today. What of Hon Ikenga Mayor Eze? He was two terms Executive Chairman of Orlu LGA and later went to the House of Reps. Hon Gerald Irona was a councilor, became LGA Chairman, went to state assembly and later the House of Reps. What of Senator Sam Daddy? He was LGA Chairman, went to state assembly and now a Senator.
The PDP has empowered several people, including producing Senate President, Deputy Speaker, ministers, Senators, House of Reps members and other important offices, from Imo State. But Governor Okorocha in seven years has produced only two House of Reps members and one Senator. This is a marked failure.
The list of those empowered under the PDP, especially while Ohakim was Governor, is endless. That someone like Prof Nnamdi Obiareri did not succeed in going to the Senate does not mean no one else was empowered or even went to the Senate from his area. That he feels he is better than the person is normal.
Beyond this, Imo people know that leadership is not about cronyism and clannishness, such as the empowering of aides, etc. What Temple Okonji said about empowerment is therefore a reflection of the philosophy of the Okorocha's government, where cronyism and clannishness have been lifted to state policy. It is this selfish disposition that pervades the Okorocha's government that have also become the driving force behind the quest for a younger person as governor in 2019 as championed by Temple etal. Such selfish disposition cannot find any space among Imo people.
Imo State needs Ikedi Ohakim in 2019. He will bring back the right investment climate that would credibly and consistently support businesses and attract new investments by promoting investor-friendly reforms and providing valuable incentives; building effective partnership aimed at targeting and generating investment opportunities.
He will create a system that would place premium on justice, peace and security that would challenge the entrepreneurial and competitive spirit of the Imo people, which is the touchstone of Igbo high achievement.
Above all, he will add value to leadership through accountability and responsible governance. He will complete the Imo Free Trade Zone, Imo Freeway, the Ring Roads, the Housing Schemes, the Wonder Lake Resort and Conference Centre; to rejuvenate the tourism and hospitality sector; to boost agriculture through Agro-nova, complete the Imo Refinery and Petrochemical project in the oil communities of Ohaji-Egbema and Oguta LGAs, and lots of other projects that have been abandoned immediately he left office in 2011.
The apprehension of people like Temple because Ikedi Ohakim is in the race again will not stop the moving train.