INTERROGATING OMEGARA’S N4.5bn ACCUSATION AND IHEDIOHA’S DEFENCE. By Kizito Duru

One of the things that characterize every political period is propaganda. Some of these propaganda are too watery to deserve a rejoinder, hence it is allowed to die a natural death, some are professionally shaped and manufactured to the point that the receiver or the target would have to engage media warlords to counter and change the narrative. But overtime, events have shown that, no matter how watery or unbelievable a narrative appears to be, there is need to combat it with truth before the little false story grows into a monster and causes so much damages to one’s political career.

Propaganda are essential tools, when used expertly, especially by the opposition parties. This tool was instrumental to the ousting of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015. Not a few are still of the opinion that the Chibok news that greeted the country and the world at large on April 15, 2014, was a hoax. Whether the narrative was true or not, the media department of the APC, ably led by Alhaji Lai Muhammad, made the most of it, by ensuring that it gets the attention of international media and the story exaggerated and sustained until desired result, winning the presidential election, was achieved.

However, when one is accused of a related crime by different quarters, the need to investigate the issue becomes pertinent. In an an electioneering year when the torch lights are beamed on candidates of various political parties vying for one elective position or the other, stories that tell of their alleged shoddy financial dealings paint bad pictures of their images. The credibility of such stories most times is hinged on the personality, credibility, knowledgeability of the writer. Hence the recent stories that have the name of Ihedioha crested in them are deserving of discourse and analysis.

A forth night ago, the former chairman House of Reps Committee on Reform of Government Institutions, Hon Matthew Omegara, accused Chief Ihedioha who is the governorship candidate of the Imo PDP of siphoning the 4.5 billion naria earmarked for the Sam Mbakwe cargo Airport project. Responding to a comment by one Ogu Bundu, a media aide to Ihedioha, in a whatsapp forum, Omegara wrote,

” You Certainly do not know Emeka Ihedioha till you met him running to become the Governor of Imo State.

When next you met (sic) him ask him what happened to over N4.5bn Sam Mbakwe Cargo Airport Project awarded to his company for which he once told my Committee during Oversight inspection that the Supper (sic) Structure was being Fabricated in Germany and will arrive soon and installed as a complete building.

Ask him for or better still go to NDDC and demand for four copies of Imo State Budget for the past 16 years while he was a principal Officer.

You will discover that 80 per cent Imo State Budget on NDDC mainly Roads we’re (sic) sighted in Mbaise an Average of 4.5b every year and the said Roads were never done but were fully paid for. If they were built Mbaise will be another London today at least Imo Government will then face other LGAS.

That is how he became so rich and can Continue to run to Govern Imo State for as long as possible but God will continue to disappoint dishonest people.”

Sadly, in his response to Omegara’s claim, the spokesman of Ihedioha Campaign Organization, Barr Kissinger Ikeokwu decided to attack less fancied issue while deliberately dodging a concrete issue raised by the House member of Okigwe North Federal Constituency. Kissinger failed to debunk the allegation and address if actually Ihedioha received 4.5 billion naria for the Imo Airport project and possibly explain why the project stalled. Thus leaving his readers with no other option than to believe the revelation of Okigwe born Omegara. In fact, the tone of the rebuttal which was laced with verbal attacks on Hon Mathew Omegara’s personality suggested that Omegara touched an issue that wasn’t made for public consumption. If there is one thing Ihedioha and his team achieved with the rejoinder, it was that Omegara claims are far from propaganda. Kissinger was more concerned with reeling out projects attracted by Ihedioha and calling Omegara unprintable names than discussing the issue. Below were the issues Kissinger Ikeokwu rebuked and one is left to wonder why he failed to address the issue of N4.5 billion Imo Cargo Airport Project. Is silence an admission of guilt to Omegara’s revelation?

1. That Hon. Ihedioha attracted many NDDC Road projects but diverted them to only his Federal Constituency while he served as Deputy Speaker.

2. That Hon Ihedioha’s company did all the Road contracts he attracted from NDDC and diverted the monies.

3. That Hon. Ihedioha had the opportunity but failed to make Mbaise London in Nigeria.

An issue as serious as this shouldn’t be swept under the carpet. For a man who is justling to become the number one citizen of Imo State to have allowed such grievous accusation unattended to means he is either not ready to challenge Omegara and his claim or that he feels Imolites are uneducated and too ignorant to pay attention to it. N4.5b could set up two standard factories in Imo with a work force of a thousand heads, or even revitalize moribund ones in Mbaise land.

Quoting a financial expert, Dr Nnaemeka Obiaraeri, “Imo state today has a debt burden that is estimated to be over N200bn . To service the interest elements of these huge debt overhang will take average of N36-42bn annually. We are not even addressing the principal repayments .

The next Governor of Imo state will have to contend with these unusual atrocious fiscal deformities.

The average Imo state monthly civil service wage bill is N2.08bn . The overhead cost is N2.8bn monthly.

The next Governor of Imo state will have a monthly recurrent expenditure of over N4.8bn to contend with. This is outside the monthly debt service charge of over N3.5bn.”

Going by the above analysis, Imo State cannot afford to have another governor who is not sincere with finances as that will finally spell doom for the state. We deserve an explanation on how the N4.5bn was spent. Anything short of that, it is safe to say that Imo State may be making an outrageous mistake voting Ihedioha as the next governor of the state. I have said in my previous articles that come rain come shrine, Okorocha will not be the governor of Imo beyond June 12, 2019. It behoves on us to scrutinize and pay more attention to the various guber candidates of the political parties in Imo State, their antecedent and character, to ensure Imo State does not go from frying pan to fire.

Conclusively, legally, Ihedioha remains innocent of every accusation until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. However, politically, accusations such as this does more harm than good to him and his ambition, especially, when it is treated with silence.

Egbe bere Ugo bere.

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