The immediate past Governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, spoke to Vanguard’s CHIDI NKWOPARA, on a number of issues, including his days in office, the scores of allegations leveled against him and his aspirations. Excerpts of the interview..
When asked what he had to say to the People of Imo State, here’s what he said..
I want to seize this opportunity to tell Imo people to forgive me and forgive any of my aides that fell short of any expectation. I am human. One thing that is very common to every human being is the ability to offend people or to make mistakes. I made my own mistakes as a human being.
What kind of mistakes? The Journalist asked.
I took certain decisions that I did not market very well. But because of the hunger in trying to develop our people, because of the hunger in trying to convert civil service environment to an economic environment, I over pushed our people.
I want to apologize to them and appeal to them. Today, many of them are happy. If you go to the General Hospital, you will hardly see anybody hanging his leg there. The ban on okada reduced accidents rate and crime in the state. Owerri is better for it today.
I want to also apologize to the street traders, who defied building regulations to erect shanties that we removed to clear the drainages and begin to come with our Clean and Green environment programme.
I want to appeal to those teachers that were affected by our certificate verification exercise. When we carried out this exercise, 499 teachers were fished out for parading fake certificates, fake school certificate, fake National Certificate in Education, and some of them rose to the position of principal!
We decided not to make it a media thing. We did not prosecute them because they were Imo citizens. We only asked them to resign and we employed 5,000 teachers, including science teachers to replace them. But unfortunately, those 499 teachers became the campaign directors of Governor Rochas Okorocha, and most of them worked as members of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, ad-hoc staff.
I want to apologize to them. I may have offended them one way or the other, offended their families, offended their children, but I was doing the right thing, as I thought. Maybe, if I had known, I would have left them until after my second tenure before showing them the way out of the system. But I was in a hurry to make sure there was law and order and there was no fraud in the system. I can go on and on.
There was also the accusation that you flogged a Catholic priest.
There was nothing in this world that they didn’t say I did. Yes, they said I flogged a Reverend Father. They said I flogged a journalist. Every effort I made to clear myself at the time proved abortive. But today, people know the truth.
The Reverend Father said even if he saw Ohakim on the street, he wouldn’t even recognize the man. He knew the man only in the newspapers. Yet people were saying Ohakim flogged a Reverend Father but that is now a past tense. I want to thank Imo people for their understanding.
Where do you go from here?
I have come back home. I have no other place to go to. I cannot go to Owerri and sleep. I sleep in my country home, Okohia, Isiala Mbano local council area. I served my people to the best of my ability. There will be a time for me to talk. My administration tried to build for posterity.
We did no build for the mob. There is a difference between building for posterity, building for economic survival, building for economic emancipation and building for the mob or building for acclamation, packaging roads where people pass and building halls with nothing in them. There is also the problem of building things that do not have economic value. Resources are wasted.
People are dying of hunger. Time has come for all of us to say enough is enough. Any position my party says I should hold, I will be glad to lead the battle, so that we can recover this state. People are dying. Kwashiorkor has sadly resurfaced in the state. See how filthy Owerri is now.