The mantra,”REBUILD IMO” was the cornerstone and embodiment of His Excellency, Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha’s core message to Imolites during the campaigns. He repeatedly stated and assured that local governments must be made to play its role as an engine of growth and development.
It is this message that struck a cord with the masses who voted overwhelmingly for him. The acceptance of Ihedioha’s message by Imo people showed their appreciation that indeed the state lies comatose and needs fresh oxygen to breath again. The voters accepted that there are needs for reform initiatives and strategic plans to revive and revamp local government administration in Imo State.
One thing must be made clear from the onset. Ihedioha campained and visited the 305 electoral wards in Imo state personally himself. It was a herculean tour which saw him repeatedly moving in and out of the 27 local governments on a good number of ocassions. The message to the rural folks was that of hope and optimism. He preached about enhanced service delivery in infrastructure and participation of local communities in their affairs.
The only policy that can jumpstart very quickly the economy of the rural population is the financial autonomy of the local governments. The local economy must come back to life again. There should be more kilometres of rural roads, increased access to health, electricity and clean water supply.
An unhampered/ unhindered “bottom-up” approach is the tonic that will check the increasing migration out of the localities. Without economic bouyancy at the communities, no top to bottom approach will make an impact. Issues of inadequate services at the local level are products of lack and absence of democratically elected local councils with full financial autonomy and powers.
We have seen the rape by the state government on funds coming into the local governments through so many ill thought-out joint venture programmes and policies. We have seen the State House of Assembly enact laws that emasculated and meddled in the political and economic independence of the local governments. This must stop quickly.
Local governments funds are like aphrodisiacs, which once injested or digested, the state government become hooked on it. Therefore, right from the very start, avoidance from interferance in funds belonging to local governments is advised. The State must hands off entirely.
If you look around you, you will be insulted by challenges facing our rural dwellers. This is very troubling as den of crime and iniquities continue to grow and thrive in our villages. It is becoming scary to sleep with your two eyes closed in our rural communities. Something must be done.
As a man who place premium on his promises. A man whose word is his bond, we look forward glowingly to the incoming administration of Rt Hon. Emeka Ihedioha to turn around the fortunes of the local governments in line with his mantra to REBUILD IMO.
Prince Eze Ugochukwu.