Lagos — Former Military Administrator of Delta State and a strong member of the Imeobi (inner caucus) of the Imo State Council of Elders, Air Commodore Luke Ochulor (rtd) has debunked the speculation in some quarters that Imo State governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim shares money to the elders to stop them from criticizing his government.
Before now, there have been wide speculations that the council is made of elders who have been wooed to the governor's side to make them look the other way even when the governor erred.
But Ochulor, who spoke in an exclusive interview with Saturday Champion, declared that the speculation was not only false but also baseless as it was made by those he regarded as cheap blackmailers that will always want to destroy any institution they think didn't shelter them.
"Well, you see, it's not true. The problem with Nigeria and Nigerians is that unless they are involved in whatever is going on, they will do their best to run that thing down", said Ochulor, who also added, "I don't think there's any money to share. Imo State doesn't have money and to me, if they have been sharing money, I've not seen it because I've not been getting the money; I don't know where the money is being shared."
Ochulor compared the Imo Council of Elders to their Yoruba counterparts, saying that while those in Yoruba states are given cars by their state governments, apparently because of the fewness of their membership, it would not be possible for Imo State government to buy cars and distribute to members of the council of elders since the state lacks adequate funds to do that, especially because the membership is too large.
"Ours is not like our Yoruba brothers where their members are usually given cars, but you see, in their own case, their members are very few," he said. He added that "But our own case is different. We don't think Imo State government has the money to buy cars for anybody. If you are a member of the council of elders and you cannot buy a car, you go on foot. You see, government doesn't have to be father Christmas or a place where people will go and sit down and drink and eat only."
He said those spreading the rumour would probably, one day, realize that it is not enough to criticize a government but such criticism ought to be quite constructive and not done out of malice or sentiments.
"Where is the money to share?" asked the surprised former military administrator, who quickly added: "No. There is nothing like that, and even the number of membership of Imo Council of Elders is very large.
"And in the first place, how much can you give a member to make him say he has gotten money? Each member is fairly well to do in terms of existence but I don't see what money the government is going to share among them that will make them not correct him if they think the governor needs correction in any of his policies or actions."
Ochulor said being involved in Imo Council of Elders could be very inconveniencing but for the fact that the elders believed they must "assist the government of our state, that's why we are there."