Mr.Ethelbert Okere serves as the Media Aide to the immediate past Governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim.
In this exclusive interview with IMO STATE BLOG, Mr.Okere addresses some of the negative stories that have been peddled in the media concerning Chief Ohakim.
We recently learnt Chief Ohakim’s was invited by Security Operatives over a false SMS messages broadcast which speculated that Gov.Rochas Okorocha was arrested in London. It was reported that the messages were traced to the Ohakim residence on Mary Slessor, Abuja. Is this true?
He was never invited. We don’t know the source of that article. They (APGA) organized and cooked up the story. And it is not logical for someone of his status to stoop down to do such. By the way, he does not live on Mary Slessor.
According to a publication in 24reports , and I quote:
“Two secret documents belonging to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC], dated August 23rd 2010 with subject “Intelligence Report: Chief Ikedi Godson Ohakim, Governor Imo State, and the other dated July 2nd 2010 with subject “Intelligence Report: conspiracy, diversion of public funds and money laundering against governor Ohakim of Imo State” which was recently made available to 247ureports.com through sources close to the anti-graft agency reveals that the former governor of Imo State, Mr. Ikedi Ohakim may have committed financial crimes against the treasury of Imo State that is more damning than was publicly known.
What is your response to that publication?
It is fictitious . The EFCC is so efficient today that it is impossible for any government official to walk freely with such a case on his head. 9 months after he left office, he hasn’t been summoned. All the Governors who had problems have been summoned. All these things are fictitious.
In the first place, the total income in Imo during the time Chief Ohakim was Governor was not up to 59 billion.
You see, they cannot publish such things in Nigeria because they have no proof. No editor will agree to publish this but they can get away with such stories because they are on the internet.
One story that has refused to go away is the reported incident of a Reverend Father who was flogged by Chief Ikedi Ohakim while he was Governor……
(Cuts in) I can assure you, Chief Ohakim has reconciled with the Reverend Father . Even before the election. We have it on authority that he was not flogged. It was only that Politicians ceased that opportunity to score political points. If you read my most recent article – Supreme Court, Okorocha and the “Backdoor theory”, you will note that I challenged the Catholic Community to come out and prove their case.
Is there any reason why the Reverend Father cannot come forward to set the record straight himself?
There is a hierarchy and Reverend Father Okorie cannot speak on it publicly. It would have to go through the Archbishop. Unfortunately, Archbishop Obinna is sympathetic to APGA so he cannot come out and say so.
Social crusader, Ikenna Samuelson also said he was flogged by Chief Ikedi Ohakim in the Government House. Are you disputing his claims as well?
Just like the case of Rev.Father Okorie, Ikenna Samuelson was never flogged. I was one of the closest aides to Ikedi and I met Samuelson for the first time 2 months ago. If I, as the Governor’s Media person did not know about him, how will the Governor who is not a journalist know of him? Ikenna was never flogged.
If Chief Ikedi Ohakim is completely different from what has been protrayed in the Media, do you feel his immediate cabinet contributed to creating the negative image that led to his downfall?
He did not have a downfall. No system is error proof and no administration can be error proof. Like every other system there are problems. On balance, I will rate our performance at 70%. We were so distracted that we didn’t have the opportunity to reconcile with the people who felt bad. He had the best team of technocrats who were assembled to work with him.
Where did things go wrong?
The problem was that the opposition was constantly feeding negative stories to the press. Opposition had all the time to write on the blog (IMO STATE BLOG.com ) and other websites. My sister, when Ohakim was sworn in, we had 25 court cases. By the time they were over, we started campaigning for the election. We didn’t have time to intimate the media with things. Our opposition had all the time to put out things. I can assure that all those things you read never happened.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, the PDP structure in the state had maintained a solid hold. How was APGA able to dismantle the PDP machinery at the 2011 gubernatorial elections?
APGA had no membership. There was a conspiracy to stop Ohakim. We won the election, they said it was inclusive. They cancelled in 3 Local governments to hold a supplementary election…. Ohakim dreamt big for Imo but the Politicians never allowed the people to dream along with him. We had ideas. We planned projects that will create jobs…….
Does Chief Ikedi Ohakim have any regrets with the way things played out?
Ofcourse there is no action without regrets. Looking back , I’m sure there are some things you will regret. Whether or not we go back to the Government House, Chief Ohakim will have an opportunity to correct the mistakes he made and say to the Imo people ” To err is human”.
The two lower courts reaffirmed the mandate of the incumbent Governor, Rochas Okorocha. In a few days, the Supreme Court will deliver a final judgement on this case. What are your expectations?
We are expecting justice. We have confidence in the judiciary because our case is carved in iron.
Thank you for your time, Mr. Okere.
Thank you very much Joi.