Vehicular and human movement was grounded Monday in Owerri, the Imo State capital, when thousands of women from across the state embarked on a solidarity march to celebrate the 55 birthday anniversary of the state governor, Rochas Okorocha.
The gaily dressed women who displayed placards with various inscriptions such as, ‘we thank God for the gift of Owelle’, ‘Owelle is a gift to humanity’, ‘Imo women celebrate the people’s Governor’, ‘Hurray our icon is 55’, ‘Imo women celebrate a selfless icon’ and ‘join us celebrate the architect of the new Imo’, among others, marched through major streets in the capital, chanting solidarity songs.
The procession resulted in traffic gridlock especially along Wetheral, Okigwe and Mbaise road for several hours, while security agents and officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), battled to control vehicular movements.
Most prominent among the different women groups were the market women, beneficiaries of the state Free Education programme and female professionals from various disciplines who lauded the Imo governor for initiating projects and policies that have impacted positively on socio-economic status of women in the state.
Coordinator of the women and former Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Getrude Oduka, said the women decided to celebrate the governor for running a gender friendly administration that has improved the lot of women and children in the state.
According to her, the massive turnout of women for the procession was a confirmation that the women of the state are happy and grateful to the governor, adding that none of them were induced or coerced to attend.
She said, “we are here to celebrate a man that need to be celebrated, we are to celebrate an icon. For instance, he has given the entire children of Imo state an access to education, knowing full well that education is the key to life. To celebrate the architect of the new Imo, a man that has brought a lot of transformation to Imo State both in the areas of infrastructure and social development.
She continued that, “we are also celebrating a man that has the fear of God. So what Imo women are doing today is a triumphant entry into the birthday of the Governor”.
Receiving the women at the Government House, wife of the Governor, Nkechi Rochas Okorocha, commended the women for appreciating the efforts of the governor, adding that, the husband has always given priority to issues that affect women and children.
She also thanked them for wishing her husband well as he celebrates his 55 birthday anniversary, adding that the huge show of goodwill and solidarity by Imo women will certainly spur the governor to do more in his service to not only the women of the state but to the entire humanity.
In his speech, Governor Okorocha, who said he was overwhelmed by the outpour of love by the women of the state, pledged to continue strive to build a better society for the people of the state.
According to him, the occasion of his 55 birthday anniversary has given him the opportunity to reflect on God’s blessings, which he said propelled him to the height he is today.
He vowed to continue to alleviate the plight of the common people, especially women and children, through the provision of free education and other interventions, “I will continue with helping the less privileged, there is no slowing down. The free education programme of the Rochas Foundation has just been expanded to cover the whole Africa, where we are giving scholarship to five children each in fifty five African countries”.
On his journey so far, the governor stated firmly that, “in my 55 years on earth I have no regrets. I don’t regret any of my actions or decisions even though that people tend to misunderstand me sometimes. I am only grateful to God, there is nothing to regret in my 55 years on earth”.