In what appears a veiled attempt to exonerate his administration from allegations on the relocation of the Eke Ukwu Owerri market, former Imo State Governor, Ikedi Ohakim has set the records straight saying at no time he wanted to remove the market.
His government had been accused of lacking the political will to execute the relocation.
The Rochas Okorocha administration had in September last year raised down the market in line with its urban renewal programme.
But according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Collins Ughalla, Ohakim said at no time did it contemplate relocating the market, rather it was in pursuit of the urban renewal programme of the government, how to ease traffic and sanitize Douglas road which were discussed at the State Executive Council meeting and a committee set up to consult with stakeholders and make recommendations to the government.
He said “ In its report, the committee came up with two recommendations: one, outright relocation of the market, with a caveat that in the course of consultation with stakeholders, the traditional ruler, late Eze Njemanze, advised against the relocation because of the historical, cultural and traditional significance of the market to the people of Owerri Nchi Ise.
“The second recommendation was to modernize the market without destroying these values which the people are very sentimental about
“As a listening government that was sensitive to the feelings of the people and believed strongly in consulting widely, knowing that the welfare, happiness and public support should be critical in shaping policies, the Ohakim government settled for the second option
According to the statement “To achieve the option of modernizing the market, government through Exco decision that was documented, directed the committee to visit Tejuosho Market in Lagos State to see first -hand what a remodelled Ekeukwu Owerri Market would look like on completion”
“When the final report was submitted, the State Executive Council considered it and approved that a firm of architects be enlisted to come up with design for the execution of the project. This was the stage before the change of government and the details were contained in the handover notes” the statement stated
The former Governor said it is preposterous and divisive for anyone to allude that an administration that banned okada operations (though introduced keke simultaneously) and embarked on urban renewal that led to clearing of shanties, lacked the political will to execute a project.
It said it was not “deficient in courage but was sensitive in the face of viable options that would not hurt or bring economic hardship on the citizens, thus making the welfare and happiness of the people the centerpiece of government’s policies and programmes
It said never contemplated the relocation of the market neither did it find itself in a situation where court orders were disobeyed in the course of executing any government programme.
“Any allusion to the contrary amounts to a misrepresentation of facts as it concerns the then government’s position on the Ekeukwu Owerri Market issue, and those spreading the false rumour should better get their facts right” the statement stated