A former bank managing director, Mr. Nick Opara-Ndudu, has declared interest to contest the Imo State gubernatorial election in 2019.
Opara-Ndudu, who intends to contest on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) on Wednesday, in Owerri, Imo State, called for divine intervention “in the governance of our dear state” because of the prevailing, deplorable conditions.
He added that “with decrepit infrastructure across the state and in particular, in our rural areas, we must rise to the challenge of ensuring that government is held accountable for providing quality, durable roads; good hospitals, conducive environment for learning in our schools”.
Opara-Ndudu, who has first-hand experience in turn-around schemes and business restructuring, added that “the current razzmatazz of ‘urban renewal’ which has seen the Governor Rochas Okorocha’s administration expand a few roads within Owerri metropolis must yield to a more orderly, structured and professionally managed infrastructure provision framework for our people.”
Decrying the plight of Imolites, the ex-economic adviser to the state government noted that with “the scourge of unemployment taking its toll on our teeming population of young people, we must begin to address the challenge of providing jobs and sundry forms of productive engagements for our citizens as veritable instruments for preventing them from engaging in crimes and varied forms of negative behaviour.
“Our agricultural sector must be revamped and repositioned to unleash its latent capacity and create at least 200,000 jobs in a space of three years. In the same vein, we must rise to the challenge of providing a conducive environment for the industrial sector to create at least 50,000 jobs over a period of five years. The Imo economy and its people have a capacity to attain these goals and more, provided we have the right leadership”, he further stated.
On social welfare, Opara-Ndudu insisted that “with most of our pensioners continually being denied their benefits and rights as senior citizens, we must rise to the challenge of redeeming our collective humanity by ensuring that their entitlements are paid Otherwise, posterity and the judgment of history shall be unkind to us all.”
Reacting to the debt profile of Imo State, which is at an all-time high in excess of N100billion, Opara-Ndudu, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accountancy from the University of Nigeria (UNN), said there is “the urgent need of diversifying of our state’s economy and revenue base to cope with the challenges created by this needless and avoidable debt overhang.
Governing Imo State is not going to be a tea party and we must collectively seek a new development template driven by new approaches and alternative revenue sources. Continuing reliance on existing revenue streams would only spell doom for our future development efforts.
“With poverty ravaging our land and the Imo State government destroying markets and other traditional sources of productive engagement for our people, we must begin the process of addressing the damages done by evolving a poverty alleviation programme that would bring succour to our people and create opportunities for them to earn a decent living.
“With our traditional institutions thoroughly bastardised and rubbished, we must collectively rise to the challenge of restoring dignity and respectability to these institutions. We must accord our traditional rulers the respect they truly deserve as the custodians of our traditions and cultural values.
“With our health infrastructure in total decay, we must rise to the challenge of providing quality Medicare to our people and not resort to propaganda by claiming to have ‘built 27 general hospitals in the 27 local government areas of Imo State’ whereas what exists are 27 uncompleted buildings inhabited by rodents and none of which have provided Medicare to our people in the past five years that the propaganda was unleashed on Imo people.
“For Imo people, these are indeed trying times and we must collectively resolve to change the status quo. Addressing the above challenges require a new skills set and a shift in our leadership paradigm. Imo State is in dire need of a governor who has capacity to provide the consequential leadership to face these challenges and surmount them for our collective good. That governor must be mature, experienced, knowledgeable and accomplished in his field and above all God fearing and truly compassionate in his dealings with people.
“At a time like this, I have made the painstaking careful decision to offer myself for consideration by the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) as its standard bearer in the 2019 Governorship Election.
“Having worked in the banking sector for over two decades and rising to the position of a Deputy Managing Director after earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy from the University of Nigeria Nsukka (1983) and qualifying as a chartered Accountant (ICAN 1985), I believe I have the required experience of working in a structured environment and the disciplined approach to accomplishing tasks that come with such exposure and experience. These are qualities that would come handy in addressing the rapacious destruction of the Civil Service bureaucracy and non compliance with due process which have become the signature marks of Governor Rochas Okorocha’s administration.
“Beyond my private sector experience, I have also been privileged to serve as Chief Economic Adviser to Imo State Government as well as Honourable Commissioner across three ministries (Budget & Economic Planning; Works & Transport; Internal Resources (IGR) and Pension Matters) in Imo State during the first term of Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s administration.
“In the above positions, I garnered useful public sector experience and an understanding of the intricacies of public sector governance. Working with Governor Rochas Okorocha provided me with very useful learning points (even if bitter) on how not to run a government and the pitfalls in consistently avoiding the wise counsel of technocrats and professionals in the execution of government programmes. In the final analysis, the experience reinforced my belief in the primacy of planning, the indispensability of due process and procedures within the implementation framework.
“Finally, I am a Catholic Christian and an indigene of Emekuku, Owerri North Local Government of Imo State. I am married with four children.
“In a few weeks time, I intend to make a formal declaration in this regard at which time I intend to unveil a comprehensive blueprint that would form the compass for our collective navigation through the challenges that face us as a people. The blueprint has been evolved through a process of consensus building and consultations and I am certain it would be a welcome contribution to our search for a reawakening and repositioning of our dear state.
“I, therefore, seek your support and co-operation as we confront the demons of our politics and governance. Working together, and with determination, we shall force a change in our leadership paradigm by ensuring that this race becomes a contest of ideas. In the end, let’s all ensure that only transformative, productive and enduring ideas prevail. For those who boast that they would deploy trailer-loads of cash to subdue and further subjugate Imo people, your time is up; for there is no greater force than an idea whose time has come.
“I have spent the better part of the past six months building up a network of concerned Imo Citizens to confront the monster that is before us. As a former student Union leader and a veteran of such struggles, I am supremely confident that the will of Imo people (and not cash ) shall prevail in due time and season. And together, Imo shall rise again”, Opara-Ndudu enthused.