By Chinasa Ogbonna
An idea mooted by the Imo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) was implemented last Wednesday by the Imo State government when the commissioners gave account of the performances of their respective ministries in the last five years of Governor Okorocha’s administration.
In an innovative programme before a fully-packed Imo International Conference Centre (IICC), Owerri, that lasted for over four hours, the submissions of each commissioner, aided by video chips, were scored by a panel of judges headed by retired Justice Jude Njiribeako at the end of which princely prizes of N10 million, N5 million and N3 million, as well as a plot of land each were awarded to the three best performing commissioners.
The Chief of Staff, Hon Uche Nwosu, carted home the first prize of N10 million and a plot of land. The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mrs Getrude Oduka, won the second position with N5 million and a plot of land as prize while the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Hon. Ifeanyichukwu Araraume, smiled home with the prize of N3 million and a plot of land.
A noticeable feature of the occasion was the zeal with which the commissioners, many of who had been commissioners only recently, ably gave account of their ministries in the past five years, thus practicalising the saying that government is a continuum.
The event attracted a galaxy of personalities, including the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the governors of Kaduna and Bauchi states, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, respectively, the Speaker House of Representatives represented by Hon. Engr. Israel Ajibola, the Speaker and members of Imo State House of Assembly , members of the House of Representatives and other political bigwigs in the APC in Imo State and others.
In his address, the host, Gov. Rochas Okorocha, picked out due process as a factor constituting a bottleneck that slowed down the administration of governments by leaders, tagging it “due process of corruption”.
He said that he overcame the impediment by getting the approval of the Imo State House of Assembly for a four-year budget. Gov. Okorocha acknowledged the cooperation from Imo people, adding that it was a unique opportunity to serve, promising that he would use the opportunity to make contributions for which he would not be forgotten by posterity.
All who spoke were profuse in complimenting Gov. Okorocha, with Chief Odigie-Oyegun expressing surprise that he could make such an impact despite the downturn in the economy.
Gov. el-Rufai of Kaduna State described Owelle Okorocha as “seeing tomorrow” by his choice to join APC as he congratulated him for his achievements in Imo State and for his “one Nigerianness”.
Gov. Mohammed Abubakar promised to replicate what he saw in Imo in Bauchi State and equally congratulated the commissioners for their performances. One of the highlights of the night was Gov. Abubakar’s handover of the certificate of occupancy (C-of-O) of land for the construction of Rochas Foundation College in Bauchi to Gov. Okorocha.
The Chairman of the NUJ, Imo State Council, Sir Innocent Igwe, recalled that it was the UJ that requested for the sectoral account of stewardship from the commissioners and thanked the governor for approving the programme, assuring that the NUJ would continue to play the role of partners in progress with the government.