Owerri, the capital of Imo state was yesterday grounded to a halt as the Governor of the state, Owelle Rochas Okorocha celebrated his 50th birthday.
Civil servants deserted their offices, schools and markets were closed and crowds transported from the twenty seven Local Government Areas of the state, as all roads led to the Heroes Square Owerri, the venue of the mother of all Birthdays inNigeria.
Preparations for the ones –in- a-life birthday began days ahead with vehicles conveying youths outside Imo state, into Owerri.
Top musicians, comedians, journalists, clergy and all manners of visitors outsideNigeria, stormed Owerri in their numbers, even as all the hotels in Owerri were fully booked by the state government, for the visitors.
Since the creation of Imo state in 1976, the people of the state were yet to witness this kind of stupendous birthday by any sitting Chief Executive of the state.
It was not yet clear how much that was sunk into the ceremony, but it was said to have ran into millions of Naira, as the event was a kingly affair, yet to be compared with any inNigeria.
The Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha used the birthday period to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of Rochas Foundation, his personal Non-Governmental Organization, NGO.
The Graduating students ofRochasFoundationCollegeinIbadan, and Owerri passed out at the occasion, after the Governor of Delta State Dr Emma Uduagha read their graduation letter to them.
Making his speech, the former Military President ofNigeria, General Ibrahim Babangida commended Okorocha’s contribution to the development of education inNigeria.
Mr. Morgan Shangarai, the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe also spoke at the occasion, praising Okorocha for his sacrifices in training young Nigerians.
After the day’s activities, the Governor, Owelle Okorocha declared theRochasFoundationCollegegraduation ceremony closed, promptly declaring his birthday ceremony open.
“I hereby declare my 50thbirthday open. I am fifty years today, and no more a small boy” Okorocha said.
Meanwhile, the state Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) Imo State Chapter has reacted over the elaborate birthday celebration. In a statement made available to Imo Trumpeta, the ALGON Secretary, Imo state Barr Enyinnaya Onuegbu said it is sad that Imo state was grounded today to celebrate a birthday which was also celebrated about 3 weeks ago in the USA, “it is more offensive that the anniversary of the governor’s private school is being passed off as a state function at government venue. I am worried that the traumatized Imo workforce haven accepted to wear uniform are now behaving zombielike as if being led in a concentration camp of hitter, but we would have paid better attention if the governor had any project to commission today even if it were to be the Assumpta and Government House/Okigwe road roundabout that have remained an eyesore for over 8th months now or even title up the patch of road from Government House, SSS gate to shell camp, or even told us truly how much Imo LGAs, have received since he became governor from federation allocation or who owns Roche group or why he had to breach financial regulations by claiming to pay 60% percent of a contract sum at mobilization and foundation stone stage of alleged five (5) star hotel in Okigwe. Imo state indigenes except for the compelled civil servants and post primary students in Owerri rightly scrummed the unnecessary gallery stunt which had mass transit buses acquired by Udenwa and Ohakim administrations rebranded to confuse Imolites and sooth egomaniacal nerves of Okorocha. Performing governors do not waste scarce state resources on worthless jamboree of birthday events like. This even if Imo state is the richest state inNigeria as Okorocha claim, is unjustifiable.
Those in attendance include Dr Rotimi Amaechi, Governor of Rivers State, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwoaso, Governor of Kano state, Dr Emmanuel Uduagha, Gov of Delta state, Alhaji Isa Yuguda, Gov of Bauchi, Ex Military President, Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Victor Umeh, APGA National Chairman, Senator Sylvester Anyanwu, Senator Osita Izunaso, Hon Kelechi Nwagwu, Chief Cosmos Maduba, and others.