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Mr. President, change the cabinet

Your Excellency, first, my sincere condolence on the death of Mr. James Ocholi – one of the few good ones. But quickly back to the subject, I’m not saying you should sack anyone and swell the overflowing labour market with unemployed VIPs. That’s the last thing those of us without jobs want right now. All I’m advocating is a rejigging of what you have assembled. And, in case you are actually thinking about it, let me offer you, free of charge, some of my observations.
First, the Minister of Youth and Sports has no business in that elite circle of ministers. With his penchant for berets and khaki, he can head the civil defence or some other para-military agency. Or you can even create a new body for him that would act as change marshals or something like the KAI we have in Lagos. His energies, comportment and mannerism could best be served there. And I really do not know what he knows about sports or youth matters. There are smart, energetic and powerful millennials, who would key easily into sports and youth matters. A minister in charge of the youth ministry has to be someone youth can actually relate with; someone who cuts the image of a swashbuckling, 21st century-compliant fellow. The current minister is everything but that. He looks like a hostile freedom fighter suited mainly for warfare in the trenches.
Again, sir, your current minister of finance should be moved to women affairs or youth ministry where her good looks, youthful zest would come in handy to galvanise the potential of our womenfolk. As it stands, it appears her current portfolio is above her metier. She is a far cry from a Soludo or an Okonjo-Iweala. The man at Budget and Planning should be moved upstairs to handle the gigantic construction work needed in the top finance sector.
Mr. President, the minister of education, who is also my mentor, is one of the finest columnists in Nigeria. In those columns, he says it like it is fearlessly. He needs to be allotted a place where he can continue to bring to bear that cerebral capacity. I’m not too sure he is really giving his best in his current role, especially as his professorial second in command in the ministry appears to be more on ground in that sector. They may not be showing it but I sense a friction between the two strong men.
Sir, move the communications minister to agriculture or water resources. Even in appearance, the Oyo chief looks more like a farmer. Your minister of agriculture, a great farmer in his own right, is also suited for communications – an area he even once held down.
The minister of power, works and housing is dying under the heavy weight you have placed on him. I’m sure he can’t find the guts to tell you that to your face. How many mortals can actually tell you the truth to your face, Mr. President? Everyone is scared of you – something I consider healthy because we were taking the other Commander-in- Chief for granted before you came in. So, I don’t see the former Lagos State governor complaining to you but, sir, just look at how grey he has become. He is ageing fast because of the Herculean task you have placed on him like a fine. Unbundle him, sir.
The good doctor at the labour ministry has no business being there. Does he have the temperament and negotiating skills? As a doctor, his skills are more suited for either the medical or science based sectors. Rather, the red capped soft spoken man at Science and Technology should be sent to labour to do diplomacy with hot headed union leaders. He seems to know one or two things about negotiations too, having brokered the emergence of the ruling party.
The FCT minister should go elsewhere (Budget and planning, perhaps). He doesn’t look to me like someone prepared to turn Abuja to Dubai or any other modern city. At the screening, he said he was in his village where he heard his nomination on radio.  His frail frame apart, he has no charisma to match the el-Rufais, Modibbos and Mohammeds, who had held that position.
That guy at Aviation looks more like an FCT minister – urbane, suave and dapper. Some of the ministers need to trade places. Just make the switch and let’s see how that works. Generally, all of them need to be reenergised. I get the feeling they are not as motivated as they should be. Could be they are overwhelmed by the volume of work or they are scared of you because, even before they came in, you dubbed them noise makers. Only they are not even making any noise now.  Compared to the last set of ministers, the class of 2015 are not bringing it on.


Re: “My people, my people”

By Sam Onwuemeodo

Emmanuel Bello, a known columnist with the Daily Sun Newspaper had, last Tuesday, written a piece in his “BACKSTORY” Column with the title “my people, my people”. He was referring to the Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, known for such phrase or synonyms. The governor, at every forum, would tell Imo people, “My people, my people”. And they would echo thunderously “our governor, our governor”. That has been the case between the governor and the citizenry in Imo. When we saw the caption, even without the governor’s photograph, we knew that Mr. Bello was talking about the Ideato-born governor of Imo State. Interestingly, most Nigerians like our friend, Emmanuel Bello, have always appreciated that convivial salutation between the Imo governor and his people.
In the article in question, which was a full-page stuff, Mr. Bello was, to say the least, too hard on the governor and from all indications, not out of personal hatred against him but largely because he didn’t have the correct information on the issues he had taken up in his work. Whoever had briefed him or whichever source he must have got his information was very stingy with the truth.
Our friend, Bello, wrote “I’m not ready to side with those who say Governor Okorocha hasn’t done anything tangible for Imo or that he is just a clown, who loves to garrulously entertain his people”. He continued “whatever was the case, in Imo State, the people taught their governor a lesson that he cannot continuously take them on a ride… Today, I’m told, relationship between the bigman and his people has soured to the point they now respond with ‘our salary, our salary’, each time he calls out to them in his trademark manner. This was the man they liked to dance with on the street, to eat with at the bukkas…”.
Mr. Bello went further to allude, “I have always wondered what Imolites saw in Rochas in the first place? Was it his burly figure or the fact that he spoke Hausa, having lived in the North?” Like I had written in the early part of this rejoinder, Mr. Bello wrote a lot in the referenced piece and there is no point going the whole hog in responding to all the claims. Hence, the choice of only three, out of the claims Bello made for reactions.
Don’t forget, I had accused Bello of getting his information on Governor Okorocha and the government in Imo State from the wrong or prejudiced source. And he is not alone in such situation. And it is my duty now to fill the blank space believing that he has charity for truth.
And I put it this way and also stand to be contradicted. Imo State was created in 1976. Okorocha’s achievements in Imo so far, unarguably supercede all that the previous administrations in Imo State had recorded. Let anybody with contrary claim or view also write through Bello, then we can openly compare notes. To make the whole exercise snappy, let anybody with an opposing claim, forward comprehensive list of all the achievements of the previous governments in the state to you, Mr. Bello, from 1976 to 2011, while we forward the list of Okorocha’s verifiable achievements between 2011 and March 2016, for you to publish them side by side.
I am writing on behalf of Governor Rochas Okorocha and the Rescue Mission Government in the State. It takes a man with vision, passion and ideas to do all that Rochas has done in the state. It was, therefore, most uncharitable to associate such vibrant and dynamic intellectual and leader with the word ‘clown’. To deal with that issue too, I am also throwing the challenge open. That any Imo man or woman who feels or who is convinced that he is more intellectually endowed than Rochas Okorocha to also indicate through Emmanuel Bello’s column for public debate on any critical issue with Bello as the referee.
Those before Rochas sold all that Sam Mbakwe built when he was governor. It also took a Rochas to re-purchase some of them, including the Resin Paint in Mbaise, and the paper packaging industry at Owerri Ebe-Iri. Since 2011, Imo people have been enjoying free education. These elite said it was substandard. Imo people ignored them. And it may interest Mr. Bello to hear that in the 2016 JAMB applications for UTME, Imo State topped the list according to the Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde.
On the recent misunderstanding between the organised labour and the government in the state, which Bello made reference to, it was not a war situation that needed prisoners of war to be taken. The governor, driven by the sentiment to make the parastatals and agencies in the state that had remained unproductive for quite a long time productive, decided to suspend the workers in them for the sole aim of repositioning the establishments. The labour leaders said no, that, the affected personnel must remain whether the institutions function or not. They demanded 70 per cent of the total income of the state at the end of every month, and gave the government 30 per cent for capital expenditure, and equally said, they would take care of the suspended staff. It was on the ground of that, that the governor said he had agreed to labour’s demand, to allow peace reign. The 70:30 sharing formular is an innovation that has come to be known as the Imo formular. So, both Governor Okorocha and the labour leaders all meant well.
Governor Okorocha does not believe that leadership is a ‘push me, I push you thing’. That is why, no Politician has been harassed in the state since he became governor. The level of Political tolerance in the State has snowballed to a very large extent.
On what Imo people saw in Rochas Okorocha that made them to vote for him in 2011 and in 2015, they saw in him unbridled passion and undiluted zeal to work for the progress of the state and her people. And that is why today, you don’t hear “share the money” again in the Government House and elsewhere. Today, Owerri, the state capital is the fastest growing city in the country.
All my claims are subject to verification. We don’t tell lies in the Rescue Mission government and that is one factor going for the administration. And in case Mr. Bello does not know, Imo is today, in the hand of God and no longer in the hands of selfish godfathers with bloated tummies. And that is why all things are working together for the good of the state and her people with Rochas Okorocha on the driver’s seat. God bless you, Mr. Bello. And may your days be very long.
Sam Onwuemeodo is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Rochas Okorocha. 08037231332

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