ABUJA—Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, has said there will be no compensation for those whose buildings were affected in the ongoing road construction in Owerri, the state capital, saying no reasonable building was affected in the demolition exercise.
This came as he drummed support for the proposed bill by President Muhammadu Buhari for sweeping financial powers to tackle the ongoing economic problem in the country, insisting that there was no better time for such powers than now.
Okorocha, who spoke to journalists, yesterday, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, shortly, after returning from his two-week vacation, said contrary to claims from some citizens of the state that many houses and shops were demolished as a result of the road construction, only shanties were affected in the demolition exercise.
Relocation of traders
But he said he has made adequate arrangements for the relocation of the traders, artisans and others affected to a newly constructed market.
“No, there is nothing about compensation really. If you come there, you will see what we have done. These are shanties. And when we remove the shanties, we will relocate them to a proper market where they will stay. I don’t think there’s demolition in Imo State. What we are doing is urban renewal, ‘’ he said.
He added:”I don’t know about demolition, what I’m trying to do is that I promised them that Imo must be better and I’m making Imo better.
“By simple law, we have a set back with the road. So, if I go by the setback, there will be none of those houses left. What I have just cleaned up were the shanties along the road.
“We are just coming back from America. We also went to Europe. We do go to other developed countries of the world and we see developments we like. Why can’t we replicate them?
“We are not animals.I assured them that Imo must be better and I’m here on a rescue mission to make Imo better and it is getting better.
“And so, what we are doing now is that we are doing an eight-lane road on all the streets of Owerri. And that will make it to begin to look attractive for investors.
Living in shanties
“We can’t be living in shanties. We have made adequate arrangements to relocate the people-the mechanics, the market people and the rest. We have made adequate arrangements, so it’s not that we are doing this thing without arrangements.”
When asked what he intends to do for those in residential houses, the governor responded: ‘“There are no residential houses unfortunately. We are trying to make sure that no houses are removed, but shanties and these small lock-up shops on the fences. I think they will like it later, they will appreciate it.”
The governor used the occasion to refute claims that he was in the foreign land for medical treatment, explaining that he had taken the vacation following the birth of his grandson in far away United States of America.
“Well, I was just coming from the United States of America, I went to see my grandson. I have just been blessed with another grandson, making a total of four grandchildren.”
“No, I have never been sick at all, I have never been sick. I am always healthy.I am not in a hurry to go (laughs). I am very health and I have never been to any hospital. I am fine and strong.I don’t know where the rumour comes from but it is nothing to write home about, “he said.
“I have never been to hospital, I’m fine, I’m healthy and as you can see, I’m more relaxed than ever.”
But he added that he would not blame them for such rumour, giving that they were not used to seeing him travel out.
Hear him: “I did two weeks plus, I know, they are not used to me going out. They are not used to me travelling and they saw this quiet silence, I don’t blame them. But everything is okay and I’m back again to resume work.”
The Governor explained that the two-day work-free day he granted works in the state was to help them go back to agriculture, as according to him, the workers were not productive in the civil service on Thursdays and Fridays.
“It has to work because under the present economic situation we find ourselves, I think the best thing to do is putting more emphasis on agriculture.
“I am asking the civil servants to just give me three days, just three three days is enough to carry out activities of the state. That they should take the two days and go to back to agriculture to help themselves.
‘“We have launched Community Government Council to enable them farm. We have done many agricultural programmes, and they have to be around to do it because those Thursdays and Fridays, they use them for burial.
‘’They use those two days for burial activities anyway. And you hardly see them in the office, so why don’t you give me three quality days, that’s enough for me and then use the two days for farming? Then use the Saturday for naming ceremonies and other things. We have to go that way if Nigeria has to grow.”
Speaking on the reported proposed bill by the president to get sweeping financial powers to tackle economy, Okorocha said: “There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, we have to declare a state of economic emergency right now in Nigeria and all hands must be on deck to fix the economy of this country. For some of us and I think for all Nigerians who travel out, we know that we need to stand up and avoid sentiment and face the issue.
His message to Imo people: “My message to the Imo people is that they are my great people, I love them . I’m coming back to continue the good work. The very vocal few must not constitute the opinion of the majority of the people of Imo State.”