“Imo State is not a very big state. The government can within available resources create the enabling environment for business to thrive and facilitate same through facilities, such as good rural roads, robust educational facilities, good primary healthcare and expansion in agribusiness. Hon. Ihedioha should run Imo State with the mindset of running a nation and open up the state to investments locally and from abroad. He should never allow himself to be distracted or for hubris to catch up with him. Let him use the pen we will soon give him to write his epitaph. Imo people are a very grateful people and will surely show gratitude to him if he rules well”.
“Emeka Ihedioha has been grilled through the mill of leadership”
Chief Pascal Emeka Egerue, an Associate member of the Chartered Insurance Institute, London and Fellow of both the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria and the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers is an insurance professional of repute who rose to be Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Afribank Insurance Brokers. A sort after resource person for the nation’s finance industry, Chief Egerue is author of many books including a book in insurance and the oil and gas sector in Nigeria. He is at present the President of Nsu Economic Council (NEC), an elite think tank Nsu intelligential both at home and in Diaspora. In this interview with newsmen, Egerue came out strongly against the negative activities of outgoing Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha against Nsu community in Ehime Mbano LGA, his expectations of incoming government of Hon. Emeka Ihedioha just as he decried the spate of abandoned projects in Nsu. Excepts
What is Nsu Economic Council (NEC) all about considering that NEC has become a reference point in most discussions in the socio-economic politics of Imo State?
Nsu is a significant clan in Ehime Mbano, Imo State and comprises of nine towns divided into four autonomous communities. NEC is the intellectual arm of Nsu Development Union, NDU. It is an association of educated Nsu elite, which runs professionally to articulate policies for the economic development of Nsu and to offer credible opinion on emerging issues at state and national level. Nsu Economic Council was established about three years ago and since then has recorded landmark successes in matters of security and protection of Nsu economic interest as well as youth empowerment. It operates through committees of crack professionals centred on the media, the law, projects and works and security. On top of our governance structure is our board of trustees, comprising very eminent Nsu men from the professions, the military and the academia.
How far have you gone in achieving your goals?
NEC was established with a well-articulated vision and mission statement, which was ratified by all the nine towns and ebulliently supported by the four traditional rulers in Nsu. Using our vision and mission as a framework, we have achieved significant milestones in the economic development of Nsu. First, we have achieved the vintage Nsu cohesion and unity, which was almost destroyed by the autonomous community system in the state. We have succeeded in uniting the Nsu intelligentsia across borders and evolved a very productive collaboration between Nsu in Nigeria and in the Diaspora. Standing on this, we embarked successfully in crafting efficient security architecture for the community. Though crime may not be totally eliminated but today, criminals think twice before venturing into Nsu. We at NEC also started constructive engagement with contractors behind the various abandoned government projects in Nsu. Before now, Nsu, as a clan, was used as a fraud conduit by contractors and politicians. People go and obtain contract to build one government thing or another in Nsu, get the mobilisation or full contract payment and misappropriate the money and run away. NEC said no to all this nonsense. We are at EFCC with some of them and whether they like it or not, they will come and execute the contract for which they were paid or mobilised. Most painful of this is that the roads, such as the one, traversing Ama Ogoke in Ihitte Uboma, through Umuezeala and Ezeoke Nsu to Okigwe, which was abandoned after turning the entire place to an ecological nightmare with houses and economic crops and trees valued at several millions of naira destroyed. NEC has also recorded successes in the area of youth empowerment. Just at the beginning of this year, we did a landmark seminar on youth empowerment where entrepreneurial gurus like Frank Nneji of ABC transport, Prof Gregory Ibe of Gregory University Uturu and several intellectual giants delivered their thoughts on pathways to youth empowerment.
Our major challenge remains pockets of drug-induced deviancy and the yahoo yahoo menace, which we are tackling through mentorships system. The firm handshake, which NEC has established with Diaspora Nsu sons and daughters, is at now delivering a modern Nsu International Hospital. In just three years, NEC has awakened the giant in Nsu and has shown the direction to follow economically, socially and politically. The just concluded peaceful election is a pointer to our resolve that politics can neither distract nor destroy our cohesion. This cohesion is now evident in everything we do from sundry social events to micro projects, such as building of toilet facility for the police post at Orieagu market, strategising on the unlocking of Nsu wealth through the activation of our urban status to things like drawing the attention of the government to the ecological challenges in and around Nsu. In all this, NEC considers good neighbourhood very key to our security and will strive to maintain harmonious, actively socially beneficial relationship with neighbouring communities. Together with them, we can do much more.
Why is Nsu at war with the Governor Rochas Okorocha’s administration?
Far from it, we are not at war with Rochas or any other person. Rochas was our darling friend when he came to Nsu to promise us he was going to build and make the Imo Tiles located in Nsu better than Mbakwe conceived it. We believed him. He was our friend when he appointed our son, as a commissioner towards the tail end of his regime but we found out that all these were ruse to hoodwink and blindfold us in order to execute his intention of converting to private property, the humongous assets at Imo Tiles Industry located at Nsu. All this came to light when in a brazen act of bravado, an armada of trucks guided by heavily armed men came to Nsu, overawed us and carted away in broad daylight from Imo Tiles Industry site equipment, including high calibre Rolls Royce engine power generating sets worth billions of naira. He conquered, raped us and left us reeling in pains over those assets, which we as Nsu people have protected for over 20 years and now stolen. It was like losing a loved one to kidnappers. The afterthought explanation we got from his government was that those machines were obsolete and that government was going to replace them with new one. The government even went to a ridiculous extent of hiring some white casual labourers to come to the site to pose for a few days, as the Italian counterparts to the government on the new industry, which Rochas said would be better than what Mbakwe conceived. We were duped because all these have proven to be lies. Even recently, an auctioneer emerged from the blues, clutching papers purporting same to be issued to him by the state government, authorising him to auction whatever equipment was left at the site. Nsu people said no to this impunity. We are not at war with any person. All we are saying is, if Rochas couldn’t do anything for Nsu in his eight years of administration, he should not also destroy us. He should leave Imo Tiles located in Nsu alone and be prepared to account to the incoming government, all that was evacuated from that site.
Were you aware that the government appointed an auctioneer for the equipment at the site?
We got to know this because the said appointed auctioneer approached our Ezes in his process of taking possession. Our Ezes have explained to him that nothing can be done on that site until the incoming government takes over on May 29. The entire Nsu clan has met and taken a position that no pin will leave that site under any guise. The incoming government has also been put on alert. We warn the auctioneer in his own interest to stay away until the incoming government decides the new direction for that industry. Come to think of it, how can you even auction that industry without engaging the Nsu clan on the remedy for 20 years distortion, which siting that industry has caused the clan, including the spectre of illegal mining of clay going on at the raw material site and devastating the clan. We don’t expect any person to be this mindless to come to the clan as an auctioneer to rub insult to our injury.
What does Nsu want under the circumstance?
Nsu wants peace to reign and economic development to be fertilised. It is only equitable and a matter of good conscience that after distorting the life of Nsu with this Imo Tiles factory abandoned over twenty years ago together with numerous other abandoned projects, the least we expect from the incoming government of Hon. Emeka Ihedioha is to restore, complete and commission that industry in its present location at Nsu. Thereafter, the government can choose to retain, commercialise, privatise or sell. That’s the best compensation we can get for the social upheaval we have been exposed to in Nsu. The Imo Tiles Industry in Nsu will be an instant win for the incoming government and they shouldn’t miss out on it. The raw material close to the site is in limitless abundance. The demand for tiles in Nigeria is in an all-tim4e high position and is not about to abate. The project is bankable hence the government doesn’t need to go far to get funds to start and complete the industry. Governor Mbakwe of blessed memory pointed the way to productive governance through electrification and industrialisation. We still remember him fondly. I doubt if any governor, who does not follow Mbakwe footpath will be so remembered.
Why is Nsu replete with abandoned projects?
I am confused myself as to why this is so. There are over 10 abandoned projects in Nsu, which, if completed, will turn Nsu to an Eldorado. Corruption is a culprit here but a greater blame goes to us Nsu people for tolerating this nonsense over the years. We don’t think this will happen again going forward. We will not only demand that government contracts located in Nsu be fully appropriated for but executed to specification by a qualified contractor. If you don’t want to give us anything, fine but don’t come and distort our lives with promises that keep our hopes high and energise our energy for self-development when you know you will not keep to your promise. We are hopeful that the incoming government of Chief Ihedioha will be different and will deliver on their promises.
What is the situation with NEC’s petition to EFCC as regards the abandoned Ama Ogoke/Nsu/Okigwe?
I will rather not comment on it but suffice it to say that our lawyers are working very hard on alternate options if EFCC does not come up with a statement soonest. We are hopeful that the contractor will personally resolve this logjam by moving back to site. What we want is the road and nothing more.
What does Nsu expect from Ihedioha?
We at Nsu Economic Council, cognizant of the fact that Hon. Emeka Ihedioha has been grilled through the mill of leadership up to his time as Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, expects him to do far better than the previous governments from Udenwa to Rochas Okorocha. Ihedioha has this mien about him, which shows that he will be a listening governor. Part of the problems of the government of Rochas Okorocha is his unrestrained pugnaciousness. Imo State is not a very big state. The government can within available resources create the enabling environment for business to thrive and facilitate same through facilities, such as good rural roads, robust educational facilities, good primary healthcare and expansion in agribusiness. Hon. Ihedioha should run Imo State with the mindset of running a nation and open up the state to investments locally and from abroad. He should never allow himself to be distracted or for hubris to catch up with him. Let him use the pen we will soon give him to write his epitaph. Imo people are a very grateful people and will surely show gratitude to him if he rules well.
For a better society