Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha has supported the recent call by a Human Rights Advocacy group, Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP,to probe the cost of Statues of President Jacoc Zuma of South Africa and Mrs. Ellen Johnsn Sirleaf of Liberia.
SERAP had accused Okorocha of blowing N1 billion naria of public funds for the statues.
A statement by Sam Onwuemedo, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor reads:
“We have read in the media the report credited to a Human Right Advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) stating that it had submitted petitions to certain agencies demanding for the probe of Governor Rochas Okorocha over the statues of Presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia.
“SERAP also said that the statues “might cost N1billion” and added that the statues might have been funded with public funds. They also talked about the governor’s inability to pay teachers’ salaries and Pensioners’ entitlements.
“First, we want to solemnly subscribe to SERAP’s call for probe. We welcome the Call. Our only concern is that SERAP contradicted itself by also passing Judegements. It would have stopped at the Call for probe to show they meant well. But they went ahead to pass Judgements and thereby Jeopardizing what should have been their Innocent Call for probe.
“It is our considered opinion that SERAP should have waited for the outcome of the probe they called for and then make their stand known to the public based on the results of the expected probes. That should have been the way to go.
“SERAP also said that the statues might have cost N1billion. Then, how would SERAP address the issue of cost again if at the end of the probes the amount is either far higher or far below what they quoted?.
“Again, what if at the end of the probes, it is discovered that the statues were not funded from government’s purse, when SERAP had already talked about “Apparent misuse of public resources”?
“Right from the outset, we had given indications on the purpose of the coming of these great leaders and who invited them. We had that Correspondences. And if SERAP had meant to do a good Job, they would have resolved the issue of invitations and their contents, to ascertain whether they came on the invitation of the government or the Rochas Foundation College of Africa. The language of SERAP obviously would not have been the same if they had taken that step.
“SERAP would have also helped the public by quoting any known law or ordinance barring the governor from receiving or hosting the visiting leaders not minding who invited them or which body invited them.
“Our concern too is that people deliberately tell unfounded lies. A week ago, all the newspapers had reports on states owing salaries and the chairman of the Imo State branch of NLC, Comrade Austin Chilakpa said the “State government is upto date in the payment of workers’ salary” (see Nation newspaper, Sunday November 5, 2017, pg13). In other words, the state does not owe workers including teachers. On the issue of Pension, the government cleared all the arrears in December 2016 and has begun to pay monthly. These pieces of information have been there in public domain.
“We want to appeal to SERAP that next time when they Call for probe on issues they should wait for the outcome of the exercise before drawing conclusions on the same issues to show they have not already made up their minds on the matters in question. That is the only way their claims can earn currency in terms of credibility.
“Finally, we have for the umpteenth time claimed that the achievements of Governor Rochas Okorocha so far have exceeded the achievements of all those who had governed the state before him put together. And we have challenged anybody with contrary claim to indicate or come formed. We are yet to see one. And that is where we are” the statement stated