In about one week or so from now, most states of the federation will be welcoming their newly elected governors in the saddle. They will be taking over from outgoing governors who have either served out their tenure or lost reelection. Imo, the Eastern Heartland, is one such state.
In Imo, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, will be taking over from His Excellency, Anayo Rochas Okorocha, who is completing his second term as the governor of the state.The journey to May 29 across the land has been tedious and challenging.
The situation is not different in Imo. Here, Okorocha, the outgoing governor, for eight years, bestrode the state’s political landscape like a colossus. Even though he rode to power through popular acclaim in his first tenure, Okorocha was soon to erect a wall of impregnability around himself. He did not court the friendship or support of the godfathers. Rather. He distanced them from his administration. He said he did not need their cooperation or comradeship. He saw them as a burdensome lot who must be shown the exit door. It was with this disposition that the man operated. He simply alienated the political fathers and heavy weights of the state. In their place, he recruited neophytes and greenhorns to join him in the governance of the state.
This gave rise to a new breed of political class who have no sense of direction. Their political world view started and ended with Okorocha.
It was in this choking atmosphere that the 2019 elections held. The election was a four-horse race because there were four strong contenders in the race, namely, Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ifeanyi Ararume of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Hope Uzodimma of the All Progressives Congress ( APC) and Uche Nwosu of the Action Alliance (AA).
Each of the contenders was a political heavyweight in his own right except Uche Nwosu. The only thing the young man had going for him was his marital liaison with Governor Okorocha. In fact,
Okorocha was a major factor in the election because he wanted an unknown fellow called Uche Nwosu to succeed him. The only qualification the petite boy had was that he is Okorocha’s son-in-law. He had no background of any sort, whether educational, social or political to commend him. On this score, candidate Nwosu was a bad product. The people of Imo state shunned him and his candidature.
The other candidates, namely, Uzodimma and Ararume, had their own baggage. The people of Imo were suspicious of their candidature. Not many gave them a chance.
Perhaps the only contender who stood out was Emeka Ihedioha. An accomplished lawmaker who spent 12 years in the House of Representatives, Ihedioha had a load of experience behind him. In the 12 years that Ihedioha spent in the House, he was never associated with any scandal. Instead, he grew from strength to strength. From the floor member that he was, Ihedioha rose to become Chief Whip and later Deputy Speaker. His ascension to the position of Deputy Speaker was tortuous. He and his colleague, Aminu Tambuwal, who became Speaker defied the party order for good reasons to emerge as principal officers. For the four years that they were on the hot seat, land mines were laid for them. But they did not stumble. They were able to withstand the pressure and the plots.
Now, Ihedioha has branched into a different field. He has worked hard to get to where he is today. Four years ago, he tried to upstage the incumbent, Rochas Okorocha. But it did not work. But he was not discouraged. He continued the push. Then in the last election, he was squared up with heavyweights of sorts. But what he had going for him was not just experience. He also had integrity. In the final analysis, he was able to triumph because he was found worthy in many ramifications by the people of Imo state.
The task before him now is how to reposition Imo state for optimal performance in governmental affairs. Under the present order, Imo sank below average. A state known all over the country as having abundant human resources was, for eight years, reduced to a fiefdom. Authority flowed from only one source. He became the be all and end all in the state. Technocrats and professionals were rendered redundant. The Civil Service went comatose. Civil Servants were reduced to street sweepers and hewers of wood.
Arbitrariness was the order of the day. There was no system in place to drive government business. Everything was done in an ad hoc manner and by rule of the thumb. The result of all this was that Imo merely ambled along in search of an anchor.
Ihedioha is that much needed anchor. He may well be the man the people have been waiting for. This being the case, all eyes will be on him as he prepares to take over the mantle of leadership. In him, the people of Imo state have found a new lever. They look up to him for upliftment. For a state that has remained largely stagnant for years, Imo is in dire need of rescue.
The collapsed education sector needs to be revived. The Adapalm Farm Settlement which is a major revenue earner needs to come back to life. Under the Rochas regime, the farm settlement was either privatised or leased out. The deal was shrouded in secrecy. The new order under Ihedioha must look into the deal and return to the people of Imo what belongs to them.
Another child of controversy begging for rescue is the Eastern Palm University. This university was built by Imo state government under the guise that Imo State University Owerri was being relocated. Then for reasons that did not make sense to anyone, Okorocha abandoned the idea of relocation and converted the university to a private one. The question in the lips of many today is: who owns Eastern Palm University? The Ihedioha administration must resolve this puzzle. It is an urgent task that must be undertaken to restore public confidence in that citadel of learning.
There are, in fact, a number of grey areas that need attention. Ihedioha must stay focused and shun the corroding influence of power on those that wield it.
The convivial atmosphere which has been pervading in the state since the emergence of Ihedioha as governor-elect must be made to translate into happiness for the people of the state. But the people, certainly, do not need happiness of the Okorocha variety. They want the happiness that works the greater good of the people.
Over to you, Ihedioha. The people are eagerly waiting for the new order represented by you and the team you will choose to work with.