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Updates to Ndi Imo in Diaspora: Rochas Meets, Greets, Ndi Imo in America:

Updates to Ndi Imo in Diaspora: Rochas Meets, Greets, Ndi Imo in America: Woos Them to Join Him to Develop Imo – a recap.

During his whirlwind US visit from Friday July 13 through Wednesday July 18, Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha (OON), The Executive governor of Imo State, made clear his appreciation of the Imo in Diaspora community as the cream of Imo Citizens, a very potent group of highly professional, technical and talented people, drained from our homeland due to no fault of their own. Owelle's entreaties to Ndi Imo at each of the three town hall meetings in three major regions of the US (including Newark, NJ - with attendees from the New York Tri-State Area, Houston, Texas, and Washington, DC/Greenbelt, Prince George’s County, MD - with attendees from Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania area), were very clear- it is time to join his administration, and to cease upon the various opportunities highlighted below to contribute to the development of the homeland into our dream state for this and future generations of Ndi Imo. He chided them to remember that what is good for their resident country is also good for their homeland where their umbilical cords lie. He categorically stated that the issue of kidnapping was under control as the government has implemented new policies to hold the principal and accessories fully accountable and that the new policy is yielding good results with the reduction of kidnapping to near zero in the last few weeks.

Owelle called upon Ndi Imo in Diaspora and all investors for partnership not handouts. He informed them that one of the best kept secrets among investors in Nigeria is that despite the risks, the return on investment takes a short timeline compared to the developed world - citing the wireless telecoms investors in Nigeria as good examples, because of great incentives, less regulation and huge Nigerian and ECOWAS markets.

Here are some of the areas and opportunities for the Imo Diaspora to get involved to support the state, either independently or in partnership with the state and local governments or the community governing councils.

First, there were questions by many on how the Diaspora can contribute to improve healthcare and allied health services. In particular, the effectiveness of the medical missions and the ability to provide steady and world-class healthcare services including provision of training, equipment, and diagnostic services, surgery and drugs availability. After examining the problems caused by corrupt government officials who siphon millions of Naira under the guise of providing accommodation, transport and security for medical missions that were not supposed to cost the state a kobo, Owelle declared a new initiative in form of partnership with the various Diaspora communities to establish medical centers to be staffed supplied and managed by them. Each medical center will double as a Health Resort so that instead of the yearly medical missions, professional health services experts and providers can come home at their convenience at any time of the year, render their services and return. The permanent staff to be recruited from the Diaspora will run the facilities and provide world class healthcare similar to what is obtainable in Diaspora resident communities. Government’s involvement will be in the construction of the medical facility and the removal of any administrative bottlenecks to enable its smooth takeoff. In addition, His Excellency will assist with the logistics of clearing all the materials and equipment donated to each hospital through his leadership in philanthropic organizations. So far, two Diaspora regional communities have signed up for the establishment of The Houston Medical Center and Guest Resort and the Washington Medical Center and Guest Resort in Imo. Dr. Ferdinand Alex Ibebuchi, Deputy DG Imo Foundation heads the Diaspora Medical Center Committee set up by his Excellency.

Second, an investment opportunity exists in the educational sector with the management of one or more of the state’s thousands of primary and secondary schools along the lines of the Charter School program obtainable in some states in the US. Ndi Imo in Diaspora, can either individually or as a group, apply to take over the management of a school or a couple of schools in Imo. In view of the provision of free compulsory education in both primary and secondary schools, with the payment of up to =N=40,000 and =N=50,000 respectively, for each primary and secondary school pupil by the government, the new administrators will manage the funds to attain the highest academic standards and help the pupils excel in all spheres of learning, improvement of performance in standardized test and physical education, staffing and management to make their school comparable to the best in the world.

Third, opportunities also exist in the development of the Chief Sam Mbakwe Cargo International Airport. His Excellency called on Ndi Imo in Diaspora to enter into private public partnerships with the State and Federal Governments to update the airport by constructing modern terminal buildings with robust baggage handling equipment, setting up of Duty free shops, building maintenance hangers to conduct complete aircraft maintenance services, establishing car rental facilities, and by constructing malls and a five star hotel around the airport vicinity.

Fourth, Owelle reminded the diaspora that any one of them is capable of becoming the Governor of our State. To enable them participate directly in his government, Owelle propounded the expansion of the Community Governing Council or the 4th tier government to include a representative of Ndi Imo in Diaspora from each community to be known as the International Liaison Officer (ILO). The ILO will represent the members of the Diaspora from the community in shaping the policies for the community development in the set-up of palm plantations, cottage industries for manufacturing and for food processing, road construction network, and maintenance, implementation of the free education scheme and crime fighting. This will afford the members of the diaspora a legal basis to be direct participants in the affairs of their community contrary to what obtains now. Though the Nigerian Diaspora has no voting rights, with this new representation, you are bound to be heard in your community!! More details could be obtained from His Royal Majesty, Eze Sam Ohiri - Eze Imo Gburugburu, while an amendment of the Community Government/fourth tier Government law would be presented to the State House of Assembly.

Fifth, Owelle also called upon the Diaspora to set up farms and agro allied industries in their communities and promised to facilitate the acquisition of up to 500 hectares of land in any community for agricultural purposes.

Sixth, get ready to acquire your choice property at a fraction of the real price in the Diaspora Village, near Concord Hotel in New Owerri, which His Excellency has promised to construct for Ndi Imo in Diaspora. The Hon. Commissioner for Housing & Urban Development, Dr. Prince Charles Onuoha will soon release the guidelines for this program. Watch out!

The above are a few opportunities out of many others for Ndi Imo in Diaspora to support and participate in this administration. However, every Imo citizen, whether resident at home or in the diaspora is free to commence any legitimate business in Imo state. Think about this, when you enter your supermarket or the 99 cents store in your neighborhood, the challenge for you is how to produce one or some of the items on the shelf in your homeland for export and eventual display among the products in your supermarket or the 99 Cents store.

Who among Ndi Imo in Diaspora is ready, able and willing to rise up to our Governor’s challenges? Alas, excuses abound, and it is easier for some to criticize this administration for being out of touch with the needs of the people! For those who need more convincing about His Excellency’s commitment to his rescue mission in Imo, it is a fact that the current administration is clearly the best we have had of recent, that genuinely has the BEST interest of Ndi Imo gburu gburu at heart. The man leading this administration deserves our collective support, and there is so much the diaspora can do to help him succeed. A si na eji nwa okuko ujo ama nwa ge-emeru emeru!!

A lot has been said about Owelle Rochas. Love or hate him – and no leader is perfect, nor, will ever be able to please everyone, Rochas is a great visionary, with one of the brightest minds of this era! How did I arrive at this opinion? When you listen to him discuss and analyze issues or strategize on how to tackle the legion problems confronting our state, be it, insecurity, unemployment, corruption, poor healthcare access, education, local government administration, etc., you will be left in awe as to how sharp and sound his mind works as both his dedicated team and him draw from their combined life time of political, philanthropic and business experiences to figure out the best solution that fits the matter at hand. When you get close to Rochas, you will be left with no other feeling except that his heart is so full of kindness and compassion for ALL, especially for the less privileged, whose causes he has championed for most of his adult life through his philanthropic works with his own foundation and his rare leadership position in the Red Cross. He is the only man I know with his beloved wife, Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha, our First Lady, who provides for 6000 poor children as parents and refuses to stop adopting more!

Since Rochas became our number one citizen, his administration has remained resolute in the fight against corruption, the deadliest disease ravaging our people - second to none, including cancer and even violent crimes but together. This man, and his dedicated team, has implemented policies aimed at plugging the loopholes used to syphon public funds from our state treasury with the refreshing result of billions of Naira savings which is used to fund the improvements in the educational sector and other developments in our state.

As an exemplary leader and teacher, Rochas inspires many including yours truly by his spoken words and actions, his steadfastness to his faith and his great values.

As an over achiever, Rochas is impatient to transform our state into an international center for commerce, freedom, and excellence where every resident is assured of a good quality of life. If you begin to appreciate Rochas' mindset, his great vision and innovative governance, and the speed of the tremendous progress his administration has made with developing our state barely one year in office, you are inclined to believe in his strong will to achieve every goal he has set for himself. Let me reiterate a call I have made either speaking with some of you privately and in the public fora: Ndi Imo in Diaspora need to rally round Rochas' administration now for our sake and the sake of our children! There is no better time to stand up for the good of our state than now!!

Finally, Congratulations to Owelle Rochas on his bestowment of prestigious awards and gifts during his visit, to which he reciprocated in kind. Among the citations he received were those from Rutgers University, City of Newark, Congress Woman Sheila Jackson, State of Maryland, and two public charities - the Humanity for Africa and Generation Rochas.

Barrister F. Nnanyerugo Ononaji
SA Diaspora to the Executive Governor of Imo State

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