The official residence and office of the Governor of Imo State is known as Government House, Owerri, or Douglas House.
In 2017, after six years in office, former governor Rochas Okorocha renamed it the People’s House. “By the change, I am declaring the Government House, as truly owned by people resident in the state, and not just the occupants. It is no longer Douglas House. It is now the People’s House,” Okorocha said.
However, angry Imolites have now changed the name from Douglas House to Dung House because of the deplorable state of the complex. It is in tatters, a painted sepulchre.
The reporter visited the seat of power recently and was overwhelmed by the unimaginable rot.
How the cookie crumbled
On assumption of office, Okorocha “rebuilt” the Douglas House. He declared that at last the state had a modern seat of power comparable to any in the country. For a while, the complex glittered but what is left now is a pathetic picture.
Whatever charm the complex had is gone. It is caused by a combination of factors that bother on insensitivity.
Arriving the complex, you will notice the overgrowth and weeds around the Governor’s Lodge. The leaking roofs, crumbling POP, the peeling paint, the damaged doors, the sparse furnishing inside, the broken steps, the damaged flooring, non-functional fountains and bookshelves bereft of books are some of the signs that all was not well there. Unserviceable vehicles littered the environment.
If you enter inside the Governor’s Lodge, you will weep. It is an empty house. Almost everything has been looted, including television sets, beds, chairs, chandeliers, plates and spoons.
A security personnel on duty at the lodge told the reporter: “Everything here is bad. Whenever the rains come, we will run to one corner of the building to hide because with the way rain pours in, it may collapse any moment. There are cracks everywhere; you can see for yourself. The building has no plan or design.
“Can you imagine that the there is no anteroom where the governor was living? If you cross the door, you are in the sitting room. They removed almost everything and replaced some of them with rubbish. For instance, the large television in the sitting room was removed and replaced with a very small one. If you look at the space there, it doesn’t fit.”
Some of the structures in poor condition are the bush bar, the exco room and offices. Some fences have fallen down. Interestingly, one of the stolen generators had been recovered when the reporter visited.
Chief Uche Njoku, founder of Imozurukwuo, said: “Without mincing word, the Imo Government House is an eye sore. It is not befitting for a governor at all. The way the place is, is the way Okorocha left it. Chief Emeka Ihedioha just came in and he is working hard to satisfy the public before doing anything for himself. He is devoting his energy to emergencies that affect the people daily. He has started working on some important roads such as Nekede, Toronto junction and Assumpta roundabout. He is concentrating on the immediate needs of the people. Given the scarce resources at his disposal, Ihedioha is making sacrifices for the people. I know that he will look at the Government House later and tidy up the place. The truth is that the place right now is not befitting for our governor to live in. Okorocha messed up everything. Poor quality materials were used to build the place and that why is it is falling apart.”
A government source hinted that Ihedioha would soon spruce up the seat of power. “There is no how Ihedioha will not attend to the place. He is just taking his time. The effort to rebuild Imo is not a small thing. The site for a new Government House has been converted to personal use by a former governor of the state,” he said.