Former Imo State governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha has condemned in strong terms, the demolition Somto Hospital built by his administration at the old site of Ekeukwu Market, Owerri, the state capital by the current administration of Governor Hope Uzodinma.
The former governor in a statement by his Special Adviser on media, Sam Onwuemeodo, denied claim by the Uzodinma government that the hospital was defective, alleging that the incumbent governor has since formed a habit of destroying infrastructure buit by his administration without rebuilding them.
“On Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, Governor Hope Uzodinma, deployed Caterpillars to demolish the ultra-modern Somto Hospital built by Senator Rochas Okorocha, when he was governor, at the former site of Ekeukwu Market, Owerri,” the statement said.
“Following the general outcry and ceaseless Condemnation of that insensitive action, the government has, since that Monday, been speaking from both sides of its mouth, just to justify the demolition of the hospital, built with Imo people’s money. They have told a lot of lies to that effect, but their lies have refused to fly, because there was no reason for the demolition.
“One of the lies from the government was that, the Construction of the hospital was defective. And we have waited patiently for the government, known for its unquenchable appetite for lies, to exhaust its unfounded lies.
“The truth is that, the former Ekeukwu Market site has been sold outrightly to AMANDA PROJECTS GROUP in Billions of naira and the Company had paid in full and taken delivery of the site, wholesale. And their preoccupation now is how to hold Imo people to ransom and make their own billions of naira, perhaps, hundred times more than what they paid. This is the game.
“On Monday, October 18, 2020, the governor met with stakeholders and leaders of Owerri Municipal Council, over the Ekeukwu Market site. In that meeting, he told them that he was going to build 2000 stalls at the site, with Fire Service Station, a police post, warehouse, lock up shops and other facilities. He concluded by promising them that the project would be completed in 18 months by “Modern Engineers”.
“Now, if the governor was sincere, why didn’t he convert the gigantic structure of Somto Hospital into a Shopping Mall or Plaza or Police post, or warehouse, or even Fire Service Station? We are only trying to prove that, governance in Imo is now in strange hands.
“Before the governor’s meeting with Owerri leaders, on October 7, 2020, the government informed its audience that it had signed MoU with the AMANDA PROJECTS GROUP to rebuild the demolished Ekeukwu Market with 1,850 buildings. It was no more 2000 Stalls, but now, 1,850 buildings.
“While briefing Journalists after signing the MoU, the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Hon. Simeon Ebegbulem, who signed on behalf of the government, said that the 1,850 buildings would include, car park, police post, Health Care Centre, Mini-Park, retail stores, and open stalls. And if Health Care Centre would be built, out of the 1,850 buildings at the site, why demolishing the Hospital already in place? We are trying to expose their deceit. These people are giving a very queer meaning or interpretation to governance.
“Few weeks before the Coming of the AMANDA PROJECTS GROUP, and because of the Billions of naira involved, the governor quickly did a minor Cabinet reshuffle. He took Barr. Kingsley Ononuju, son of the soil, from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to Special Duties’ Ministry. And Hon. Ebegbulem, from the Special Duties’ Ministry to Commerce and Industry. Another son of the soil, Hon. Blyden Amajirionwu, was also removed as Special Adviser on Markets Development.
“The governor had removed Barr. Ononuju and Hon. Amajirionwu from all the offices associated with Market to prevent them from having the idea of the Ekeukwu Market deal with AMANDA PROJECTS GROUP. Hon. Ebegbulem is an Imo man, but one would be shocked to hear that he has spent one month in Imo for a very long time before his appointment. He was media aide to Adams Oshiomhole, who gave him to Governor Uzodinma.
“We challenge the governor to publish the MoU his government signed with AMANDA PROJECTS GROUP. And also tell Imo people and by extension, Nigerians, how much was involved in the whole deal. The current owners of the Ekeukwu Market Site, the AMANDA GROUP, is working to secure its future.
“The government in the State has adopted lies as a policy. When Gov. Uzodinma’s government demolished the Akanu Ibiam tunnel also built by Okorocha, he said he was going to build roundabout there. And several months after, nothing has happened at the place.
“They have also tried to discredit the quality of the demolished projects, yet, they had engaged Caterpillars for the demolition and the Caterpillars would be having difficulties pulling down these structures. If these structures were not strong, why engaging caterpillars and payloaders? Why not engage artisans to pull them down with hands.
“It is worrisome that a government that has not been able to meet its financial obligations in all facets of governance in the State, would be taking delight in demolishing or pulling down befitting projects he met on ground, giving flimsy excuses.
“The governor said he came through Ben Johnson way. Which means he has also chosen Ben Johnson as his role model. Ben Johnson whose full name is Benjamin Sinclair Johnson, a Jamaican born Canadian, became the world champion in athletics through tricks. And the championship was taken away from him, when the tricks or deceit was discovered. And for our governor to settle for him as his role model, speaks volume.
“Okorocha’s relocation of Ekeukwu Market to a more befitting location was in the best interest of the State. Governments before Okorocha had tried to relocate the Market, but could not do that. But Okorocha relocated the Market to a more secured and more Convenient place. But that dream has been dashed by those expected to know better. And Okorocha built many markets, including the Egbeada International Market, Alaba International Market, Naze International Automobile Market, Artisans market, Amakohia Market, and so many others.
“The traders at the Ekeukwu market had moved to the new Market built for them until Governor Uzodinma came and told them to come back. They came back and began to Vandalize the Somto Hospital which the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo had Commissioned. There was no effort by the government to prevent the looting and vandalization of the hospital. They allowed the lawlessness, to ensure that the hospital was largely defaced to enable them do their business with AMANDA PROJECTS GROUP.
“Finally, the government in the State should face governance and stop shooting itself on the leg. The government has only done well in the areas of arresting, detaining and arraignment of Imo Citizens and in the area of demolition of existing projects or structures. One year is almost gone in the life of the administration, with Virtually nothing to show for the period in question. This is very unfortunate.”