The press in Imo state last two weeks celebrated their press week with too many activities that ushered in the main event on Friday 6th Dec. 2013 which witnessed the cream of the society. The executive governor Chief Rochas Okorocha, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, Senator Chris Anyanwu, Hon. Dr. Eddie Mbadiwe, and others were among the dignitaries that graced the occasion.
The main guest speaker was Dr. Casmir Anyanwu while myself (Prof Nathan Protus Uzorma) and Hon. Nike Oparandudu the Commissioner for internally generated revenue and pension affairs discussed the paper. However, I had on Monday 2nd of Dec delivered my paper on “The Press and the Society: The Case Study of Imo State”. Though before the lecture, the Governor had in his speech admonished the press to engage in investigative journalism and credited his achievements to those of us who have constructively criticized him. In his usual manner of massaging the emotion of the masses, he urged PDP to shut up because his achievements speak for him.
Gov. Okorocha swayed the emotion of the Imo masses while cheering them with his usual deceptive slogan of “My people, my people” the wise multitude re-echoed, “We are hungry, we are hungry.” It is hitherto obvious today that money is not in circulation in Imo State reason being that the true philosophy and proper application of “my people my people” which is driven by love is lacked. The erudite scholar Hon. Dr. Casmir Anyanwu upon mounting the rostrum brought the attention of Imo Journalist to many important national issues.
Dr. Casmir while speaking on the topic: “The Press As Watch Dog of The Society” emphasized on the need for the press to watch the Economy, politics, religious and other social issues that have affected the society in one way or the other. The aspect that caught my interest was when he urged the journalist to monitor both the Federal and states Governments on the area of budget implementation. He also spoke of the clearance of the former Deputy Governor Chief Jude Agbaso by EFCC as a thing that has shown how this present administration is free from corruption and much more.
At the end of the lecture, while discussing the paper as a watch dog, I brought the attention of Imo people to Gov. Okorocha’s 2013 budget tagged “The Rescue Budget 2” on page 9, paragraph 4; Gov. Rochas has this to say, “We rescue Okigwe city by breaking the jinx of non-development for decades by a programme of total transformation of the area through the dualization and construction of the relevant roads. Award of contract for construction of a five star Princes Hotel for which 40 percent of the contract sum has been paid would go a long way in providing quality hotel accommodation that is vital to the growth of the tourism industry…” I urge every Imo person to go to Okigwe and see if the so called Princes Hotel is like a place where such acclaimed huge sum of 40 percent has been invested. Oh another ABRACADABRA and magical JANTAMANTA?
The same day, time and venue and in the presence of Imo journalist, I referred them to page 11 paragraph 4 of the same Rescue Mission Budget Speech where Gov. Rochas has this to say, “We rescued the state from the shame of not building guest houses for late Barrister Sam Mbakwe, by building not only a befitting home for him but also building a befitting home for all former Governors like Chief Achike Udenwa, Evan Enwerem and Ikedi Ohakim, as provided for by the law of Imo State”.
The above can be verified from anywhere in the world that Gov. Okorocha lied to Imo people. I now challenge Chief Rochas to mention the community, street, or anywhere in Nigeria where such buildings are located; if I am faulted on this, I shall apologize to Imo people and at the same time apologize to my Governor Chief Rochas Okorocha.
In the same vein, on page 11 paragraphs 9 of the same budget Gov. Rochas Okorocha has this to say, “We rescue Imo State University from imminent collapse by increasing their subvention by over 200 percent. The University now receives a monthly subvention of N252 million as against N57 million monthly paid by the Ikedi Ohakim administration…” This is exactly the sound of a bitter cola which eventually tastes differently. It should be noted here that while IMSU was receiving N57 million during Chief Ohakim’s tenure, they did not lose any accreditation but the moment the subvention was increased, IMSU lost accreditation in many vital faculties like Law faculty and others. Gov. Okorocha should tell us why.
On page 13 paragraphs 6 of the same budget speech Chief Okorocha has this to say, “Our legacy projects like Imo Towers of 1000 Housing Units targeted at high network individuals and our citizens in the diaspora, the Ecumenical Center known as Amarachi and the Magnificent Towers known as “Akachi,” the five Star crystal Hotel, Ultra-modern Shopping Malls, multi-level car parks, the Ultra-modern Judiciary Headquarters, all designed to put Imo state in the Guinness Book of Records. At present 40 percent of the contract sum for these projects has been paid.” I shall only ask one question to Imo people, have we now entered into the Guinness Book of Records? The answer is that we are all now in the “Guinness Book of Shame” curtsey of our Governor Rochas Okorocha.
We were implored by Gov. Rochas to involve in investigative journalism, which in his words, “is one of the best forms of journalism…” Yes, I am of the view that if we put our best effort in this connection, many things will not go wrong the way they are now. Investigative reporting, where journalists invest time and effort to ferret out and expose wrongdoing, is for me the most celebrated form of watchdog journalism. For instance, in couple of editions from 2011 till date, The DailySun Newspaper in Nigeria has undertaken various detailed investigative journalism report on different critical issues such as Prostitution in various parts of the country, kidnapping, baby-factory, etc, (which going by the comprehensiveness of the investigations, it might have taken the eons of minutes, stress and finance before accomplishing them) .
This is plausible. Investigative journalists report on the phenomenology of event and issues, as well as on how laws and regulations are violated. They compare how organizations work against how they are supposed to work. They expose how and why individuals and institutions fail. They report when things go wrong, who is responsible, how the wrongdoing was done, and its consequences. As already said, essentially, this watch-dogging role is to provide information- To be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the public in monitoring what is happening in public life by reporting on daily events as they unfold. This watchdog role can take many forms depending on the nature of the medium concerned, as well as on the state of democracy and development in a particular society.
By Prof. Nathan Protus Uzorma