“Rescue Mission”, two powerful words coined together purely for propaganda purposes. However, in order to achieve the propaganda objective of Imo Rescue Mission, another propaganda that Imo needed Rescue had to be sold to the people of Imo State.
Normally, the need for a Rescue Mission arises when there are objectively verifiable physical emergency situations. But Imo people were not in any known physical emergency situation during the electioneering campaigns of 2010/2011. Therefore a physical emergency situation needed to be created or concocted in the minds of the people through lies and propaganda. These psychological emergency situations were created by the demonization of the previous administration of Ohakim with such fabricated stories as the Reverend Eustace Saga. Ohakim was so demonized by the false accusation that he physically abused a man of God, that at a time the entire Imo people actually felt that they needed Rescue from the demonic Ohakim. The fact that Ohakim had never been in the same enclosure with Reverend Father Eustace meant absolutely nothing to the purveyors of these heinous lies and propaganda. As a result, a state of physic panic was created in some of the people because it is an abomination for the Christian Igbo people of Imo State, who are over 50% Catholics to contemplate or even conceptualize a seating Governor striking a known man of the cloth – a messenger of God.
This very propaganda, coupled with similar acts of demonization of the person of Ohakim did convince a segment of Imo population that indeed Imo needed to be rescue from Ohakim’s Government.
For the past three weeks to a month, Imo communities from two very important Imo Local Government Areas were confronted with real life and actual physical Rescue Emergency situation, but the vaunted Imo Rescue Mission of Governor Rochas Okorocha was found to be missing in Action (MIA).
Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta Local Governments have been mirred in real life natural emergency situation occasioned by the 2012 floods across most of the country, over thirty communities in the two local governments have been devastated by these floods. Entire farm lands, homes submerged in floods, and personal properties lost within a period of less than 24 hours.
In Egbema, a great number of Imo citizens lost their homes, their livelihoods, and they are currently quarantined in make-shift camp without clean drinking water and toilet facilities. Yet the leader of Rescue Mission government of Imo State, His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha has not shown any Scintilla of concern to the plight of theses Imolites, let alone engage in any discernable rescue operation to relieve the sufferings of the Egbema flood victims. The head of Imo Rescue Mission government was engrossed in the planning and execution of his 50th Birthday celebrations and therefore could not be bothered with such mundane things as Rescue operation for indigenes of his State, in a natural emergency situation.
They say “talk is cheap”, and “the taste of the pudding is in the eating”. Rescue Mission was sold to Imo people through propaganda, but now that the people of Imo are faced with a true emergency situation that demands immediate Rescue Mission operation, the people of Ohaji/Egbema, and Oguta local governments are collectively asking “where is our state” Rescue Mission Government?.
A few months ago, there was an orchestrated publicity stunt whereby Government House press cameramen captured the Governor, his deputy and high ranking members of the administration pushing a tipper that had stalled on orlu road, in Owerri, which is not too far from the Government House. The picture capturing this laughable attempt of cheap propaganda was posted on the World Wide Web through Imo State blog. The purpose of the orchestrated rescue propaganda could only be to advance the rescue credential of the Imo State Rescue Mission Government.
The mettle of Governance is measured by real situations and not by stunts staged to advance Governance credentials.
Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State is elected under the banner of APGA. He did not engage in any deceitful propaganda to become the Governor of Anambra State. As Governor, once he was made aware of the extent of the devastation of the floods in parts of his state, he quickly organized his staff and led them on a site inspection to assess the situation for proper Rescue operation. Governor Obi was pictured in most of the national dailies walking along with his staffs, in west high flood waters. Anambra State flood victims started to receive needed Rescue and relief before the Federal Government wadded in with its emergency monetary relief announced by Mr. President.
The action of Governor Peter Obi is the real Rescue Mission. Staging a pubic relation photo opportunity on Orlu road by pushing a stalled tipper is not rescue Mission but simply a virtual propaganda to advance a non-existing Rescue mission credentials.
On Friday October 19, 2012, Chief Okedi Ohakim, the Former Governor of Imo State returned to Imo and right from the Sam Mbakwe Airport, he proceeded straight to the Egbema communities ravaged by the floods. He brought with him needed relief materials to be distributed to the people of Egbema communities.
A young nursing mother in the crowd said to Chief Ohakim, “we have survived the worst of 2012 floods, but the problem now is surviving the make-shift camps we currently reside. The sanitary conditions are nothing to write home about.
Toilet facilities are non-existent and we all have to go into the neighbouring bushes to do our business. Clean drinking water is very scarce because most of the local manufacturers of clean water sachets have been taxed into extinction. Pure water is now bought at the camp’s black market for a very exorbitant price.”
This raises the question, “where is Imo Rescue Mission Government”.
The next day, on Saturday, October 20th 2012, the Honourable Minister Prof. Onwuliri, who lost her husband on or about June, in the Dana Plane crash, and who is traditionally still in mourning went to Oguta Local Government with Chief Ikedi Ohakim to visit the victims of the flood in Oguta communities. Prof. Viola Onwuliri took time off from mourning to visit people of these communities and shared in their plight, and also to bring succor to the victims of the flood through the relieve effort organized by the former Governor and herself.
It is pertinent to note here that Prof. Viola Onwuliri was the running mate of Chief Ikedi Ohakim in the last Imo Gubernatorial elections. Together both practicalized the concept of Rescue Mission in a real emergency situation and the communities in Ohaji/Egbema, and Oguta Local Governments affected by these floods will forever bear testimony to that fact, while Imo Rescue Mission continues to live on internet or virtual propaganda.
President Goodluck Jonathan,, took a very decisive step to Rescue the victims of floods across the country. The President made time to go to several communities in multiple states across the country ravaged by the floods. After inspection and assessment, the President and his staff grouped the various states affected by the flood in Grades. Grade A, was given N500m, and Grade B, N400m. Imo State was given B Grade and N400m was given to the victims of Imo State flood.
Once the monetary amount for the Rescue of the victims of the flood was announced, jostling for committee membership amongst the members of the executive Arm, and the legislative Arm has become rife. Before the announcement of monetary Rescue fund for victims of the floods, there was no jostling for committee membership.
Nigeria has been known for constituting committee to address serious emergency situations but committees have seldom been effective in addressing the issues for which they were formed. Rather members of these committees view their membership as another avenue to feather their private and personal nest. As a result of this negative national phenomenon, the new PDP under President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformational approach to governance, changed things around by releasing the monetary Relief/Rescue fund to the affected states for onward release to the affect victims of the flood. It is therefore incumbent on the Imo Government to promptly release the money to the affected victims. The affected communities are capable of forming committees within themselves and ensuring that the proceeds of the Rescue/Relief fund is effectively utilized. The Imo government may establish criteria based on need and losses just as the Federal Government established a criteria upon which she apportioned Grade level for each affected state. If and when the Imo Rescue Mission Government wakes up to release its own monetary relief/Rescue fund, she can then form committee for the execution of her own Rescue/Relief operation. However, to avoid the scandal usually part of this type of undertaking, the N400m released by the Federal Government must be applied for what it is meant for, by forwarding it straight to the affected communities instead of a committee or two formed in the capital city of Owerri.
The events of the devastating floods in Ohaji/Egbema, and Oguta Local Government have finally split upon the belly of beast. Rescue Mission Government of Imo State has been exposed by these events purely as a virtual propaganda machine incapable of addressing a real Rescue situation in Imo State.
Imo must be better, but for this not to remain just a propaganda slogan, we must all ensure that Imo is returned, back to the hands of God.
DR. KELECHI OKPALAEKE