The war of words between Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano, is far from being over.
Just a day after Governor Obiano went into his arsenal and released deadly verbal punches on Okorocha, the Imo State chief executive officer on Thursday threw more fiery darts at Obiano.
At the root of Okorocha/Obiano feud is the former’s allegation that three governors from the South East zone are set to defect to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He had also accused Obiano of adding nothing to Anambra since he assumed office and further described him as “an element godfathers carried on their backs to the governorship seat.”
In a statement signed by Okorocha’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Sam Onwuemodo, in Owerri, the Imo State capital, the Imo State governor alleged that the two earlier statements issued by Obiano were not authored by him but a particular “XO” he (Obiano) fancies a lot.
Analysts say Okorocha was making a veiled reference to Hennessy XO, an exclusive French brandy that is aged for a minimum of ten years. A carton of Hennessy XO sells for about N700,000.
Okorocha further stated that Obiano engaged in frivolities when he talked about non-payment of salaries, stressing that a “valid governor should make valid statements.”
But Governor Obiano in response declared yesterday that he is, contrary to Okorocha’s claims, a “serious minded personality who is “so busy with issues of governance in Anambra State”.
He added: “I am giving the people of Anambra State qualitative service by providing abundant democratic dividends to Ndi Anambra and I have no spare time for unnecessary politically-motivated distractions.
“My top priority now is making life more meaningful to Ndi Anambra, not minding the current recession”.
Chief Obiano spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Strategic Communications and Legislative Matters, Prince Oliver Okpala.
Earlier defending allegations by Obiano, Okorocha stated that he had paid salaries and pensions in Imo State up to December 2016, and challenged Governor Obiano to publish his achievements and stop shying away from what was termed “people-oriented challenge”.
According to him, “Governor Obiano should publish his achievements in Anambra as governor for almost four years to show he is a leader because leadership does not exist in the vacuum. There must be basis for that claim.
“Talking frivolities is neither here nor there. Governor Okorocha, long before now, has paid his dues in this country and equally long before becoming governor.
“He is not among those elements godfathers carried on their backs to the governorship seat and they are just there void and not adding any colour to the whole thing”, Onwuemodo said.
Okorocha maintained that Anambra has remained the way Obiano met it while Imo boasts of eight-lane roads through his urban renewal programme; a remodeled Douglas House; two flyovers, three tunnels, 500 kilometres of urban roads, Imo International Convention Centre (IICC), and remodeling of all the premier schools in Owerri, the state capital.
Others are the building of new universities – Eastern Palm University, Ogboko, Aboh Mbaise/Ngor-Okpala University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Ihitte Uboma College of Education, Imo College of Advanced Studies, 800 kilometres of rural roads, 305 one-storey building schools in the 305 wards of the state, and 27 General Hospitals.
The governor said that he had upgraded the Sam Mbakwe Airport to an International Cargo Airport; free education programme in Imo which has raised school enrolment from 280,000 in 2011 to 800,000 in 2015, saying the state maintains the lead in Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) applications and admissions since 2012.
Further, Okorocha said that he has about 2,000 pro jects scattered across the state and is ready to showcase them in the “opportunity offered by Willie Obiano’s noise”.
Okorocha said he has never lived abroad and built his wealth and popularity through hard work and God’s grace in the country, adding that “it is an enviable record that a man of his status has not been associated with any corrupt practice in this country either by an individual or by a group.”
On Wednesday, Governor Obiano told Okorocha that he can’t escape from his questionable past.
Obiano regretted that Okorocha could describe him as “clueless” and queried what justification the Imo governor had to talk about ideals of governance.
He said: “He (Okorocha) talks of ideas when he cannot pay workers’ salaries and now tries to intimidate Imo retirees to forfeit 60 percent of the arrears of their sweat. Are those the kind of ideas we need at this critical time? Those are destructive ideas.
“Let it be emphasised that Governor Obiano has not only been paying and increasing workers’ emoluments, he has also introduced credible palliative measures to mitigate the suffering of Ndi Anambra from the current economic recession.
“But for Okorocha, instead of facing the serious task of assisting his people to come out of poverty, he specializes in erecting Christmas trees worth over N10 million during the Yuletide,” the statement stressed.