For most people in Imo State, there seems to be an honest effort to reconstruct the State and extricate her from the manacles of corruption and underdevelopment. Between 2011 and 2019, so much happened that no meaningful government in the state would want to close its eyes to the calamity. The calamity was earth shattering, to the point that almost all the governorship candidates in the state agreed that if the state must move forward, Okorocha’s successor must revisit certain policies of that era, and perhaps undo what he had done. Even if someone wanted to close just one eye to the atrocious catastrophe, his conscience would prick him.
The most horrible yet unresolved acts of corruption were perpetrated during that era. What could one say about the fact that throughout the eight years of the Okorocha administration, the JPROSS saga which had cost the former Deputy Governor, Jude Agbaso, his job, was not resolved? What could one say about the shabby concession of Adapalm Nigeria Ltd to Roche, the threadbare concession of Concorde Hotels, Imo Transport Company (ITC), which that government claimed yielded billions of Naira? What of the unbridled rush for acquisition of land by top officials of that administration? From Ogboko in Ideato South to communities in Owerri, the penchant for land grabbing by officials of that government was eye popping. If these gave you goose pimples, what would you say about the award of contracts during that administration and the appropriation of government property by top officials of that administration?
It is heartwarming realizing that Governor Uzodimma has shown enough zest to reconstruct the state. If the Governor had not shown such zest, we would have asked: “Are you the messiah or should we look for another?” But because we have seen the lame walk, we rest assured that God does not make mistakes and that he rules in the affairs of men.
It is believed that the Governor understands that reconstructing the state is not a tea-party. The Governor had during the stakeholders meeting on June 12, 2020 disclosed that he understands the ramifications of the job before him. He said: “I had no doubt that it was a herculean task… I was equally aware that I could be misunderstood initially, and worse still, that the opposition could catch in on it to blackmail and [want to] disparage me. But I was not daunted for one second…No one fights a cabal and expects it to raise its hand in surrender. That is unthinkable”.
But in the bid to ridicule the government, the naysayers are fighting in different ways. A new group of naysayers who claim membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have joined the opposition political parties in their effort to distract the government. Their anger is that the Governor has refused to drop the panels of inquiries set up by his predecessor, or disregard their reports. Disquieted by the magnitude of revelations emanating from the judicial panels of inquiry, the new naysayers attempt to resist the Governor’s resolve to do the right thing and reconstruct the Imo of our collective dreams, instead of building a private dynasty at the expense of the generality of the people. Shocked by these revelations, they feel disappointed that they are not being protected but persecuted.
The report of the IMSU Visitation Panel which revealed the rot in the university is another issue that angers the new naysayers. The Prof. Chinedu Nebo led IMSU Visitation Panel had in May submitted its report to the Governor, recommending sweeping changes in the institution. The report highlighted troubling issues such as falsified age claims, implementation of summary petitions, shortfalls in school fees collected from students, mismanagement of the bursary department, loss in Internally Generated Revenue, inexactitude over the number of students, over-bloated salaries of some workers and the need for forensic audit etc. In his commitment to reposition the education sector, the Governor promised to exhaust all extant rules to reposition the school, assuring that “It is either IMSU becomes a University or never”. The Governor’s determination to cleanse the education system rather upsets the naysayers because they fear that in doing so the atrocities committed in the guise of a so-called free education may come to light. Their phobia leads them into inciting the public against the government. But what they cannot tell the people is that they are fighting the government because the Governor insists that “government cannot be run as a family business or by a few people” as was the case.
Recently, some deathtraps constructed by the Okorocha administration were pulled down in keeping with experts’ advice. In a recent report, Duru Kizito and Obiaku Lancelot quoted Kelechi Opara who in 2017 noticed serious cracks on the tunnels, took photographs and warned road users against using them. They also reported the Commissioner for Works, Ralph Nwosu, saying that the technical drawings and designs of the tunnels were not made available by the Okorocha administration. This too does not go down well with the naysayers who think there is a deliberate attempt to get at Okorocha. They hatch plots to ridicule the government.
Nevertheless, there is a consensus among Imo people that the journey to reconstruct the state holds some promise. We think, therefore, that it is high time the government was supported to pursue its good agenda for the people. We recall that Imo State had been a victim of political conspiracy against a sitting Governor. We recall further that a group of conspirators led a deceptive campaign against the Ikedi Ohakim administration. The dredging of Nwaorie and Otamiri rivers were stopped because of the false claims of the conspirators whose modus operandi was feeding the public with lies and inciting them against the government. The Imo Interconnectivity Freeway connecting 19 local governments of the state, with two toll plazas, initiated by the Ikedi Ohakim administration, and similar projects, elude the state today, because of the mindless opposition withinhis party. Imo State also lost the opportunity of owning a refinery, courtesy of mindless naysaying.
Taken together, we see Governor Uzodimma’s emergence as another opportunity to reconstruct the state. It is thrilling to note that the journey to reconstruct and disentangle the state from the throttlehold of the oppressors of the people have begun. More thrilling is the fact that the Governor is “determined to do the right thing for the right reasons and for the benefit of the many”.
It is, therefore, important that we resist the temptation to always see government actions in bad light. We cannot continue to incite the public against the government just because we feel that government’s actions or policies hurt our ego. Government is elected to serve the people and not to pander to the whims and caprices of a privileged few. Parents allow their children go through medical surgery not because it is a sweet experience, but because it is lifesaving. The ongoing surgery in the state is aimed at giving us the Imo of our dreams and not to diminish anyone’s status.