July 18, 2019 witnessed a convergence of Imo State Stakeholders as convened by His Excellency, Governor Emeka Ihedioha. For some of us who were part of the Imo State Government from 2015, the outing was such a wonder to behold.
Firstly, but for the fact that some of us were privileged to be around the corridors of Government during the Governor Ikedi Ohakim’s administration, one would have wondered where this creme of Imo Business and Political Stalwarts that graced that event came from.
The Governor, in my estimation, won the admiration of the entire democratic and progressive minded Imo people by that outing. Governance, once again, has become a serious business. It is no longer fashionable for a Governor to face his people with some grandiose sense of superiority but rather, with some decorum and calm headed service disposition. Once again, the office of the Governor is represented by a Governor as a very critical office that shoulders the huge burden of delivering sound Governance to a people, carrying himself with the right mien.
It seemed more like the immediate past Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, struggled to show how brilliant he is by choosing to make public speeches without the aid of a properly prepared document or a teleprompter. The result of this being that for lack of proof reading, quite costly and unwarranted statements were credited to Governor Okorocha which most often than not exposed him as ill prepared or worse still not fit for the office of Governor.
It is noteworthy that the present Ihedioha/Gerald Irona-led administration is taking its time to critically examine policies and programmes on the table before launching out. It could be recalled that by this time in 2011, block works and humongous road works had speedily commenced in Imo State, but most of those block works built with Imo monies were unfortunately demolished up to three times within the life of the same administration.
Most of the roads were eventually abandoned to the torture of erosion. It is in this area I see a great paradigm shift from Governance for the gallery and governance for the true and sustainable prosperity of Imo State. No durable, sustainable and positive development of any institution can be achieved without taking out time first of all, to plan and consult the relevant experts in the given area before execution. This was the bane of the Governor Okorocha-led administration. The most worrisome being the Governor’s penchant for less educated, less exposed and less qualified Aides in the course of his service as Governor. It is unimaginable that some Commissioners were not graduates of any known tertiary institution. The result therefore was the Governor’s imagination that he was both Governor and lecturer. The result is astounding.
The current assemblage of Imo intellectuals and critical stakeholders is an indication that a new normal has come. No doubt however that the cost of Governance will be higher but the quality of service delivery to the State and the durability of its projects and programmes is ‘sure banker’. It is strongly argued that it is better for a government to do a road through Julius Berger at 200 million per kilometre with a ten years guarantee than to do a road that fails at the next rainy season at N60 million per kilometre.
The Speech of Governor Emeka Ihedioha at the 50 days in office Stakeholders’ meeting made several references to the misadventure of the Okorocha-led administration. This is right to do because Government is a continuum. There’s need for stock taking by the new Administration so as to properly position the State forward.
The institutions of the State suffered great neglect in the past eight years, the truth be told. The Ministries, Departments and Agencies existed merely in name and buildings. Government powers and functions were too centralized leaving the State more like an Estate. That is now in the past.
The emergence of a new driver on the seat of Imo State Government is for Imo State a new dawn. Much is expected of Governor Emeka Ihedioha given his credentials, especially in the area of reviving the comatose Imo Institutions. It is important also that the right examples of Governance at the State level is shown lest those coming afterwards do not see a Governor as the Administrator of his Empire.
The systemic repositioning of Imo State by this Administration is commendable and encouraging. It is clear that very shortly, commissioners will be introduced into the system. Imo people expect that round pegs will fit into round holes in the interest of Imo State. The office of a Commissioner should be a service post and not training post. Mediocrity for whatever reason can only be counterproductive if not immediately, then in the long run.
Finally, yes, no doubt, the rots of the previous administration are enormous especially in the area of absolute lack of due process and therefore lack of accountability, it is however very important that the current administration must invoke a lot of wisdom in reconciling our past with the urgent need for a focused, strategic minded and development driven Leadership of Imo State.
. Ibeh is the Member representing Obowo State Constituency in the Imo State House of Assembly.