Ralph Miliband was a key twentieth century political thinker. Ralph Miliband once said that the hottest place in hell will be reserved for those who sit on the fence in the face of great moral crisis. No one will want to go to the hottest place in hell, at least not me. As a citizen of Imo State, I am worried about the style and policies of the present Governor of Imo State. I will continue to speak out but when you write from the comfort of your home abroad, you write with all the fire in you without minding if you insult Babangida. You just write as the pen directs you. But when you live in Nigeria like me and you are writing within, you write carefully or you may have tough times. You can even be sent on exile like what happened to me for eight years when Governor Okorocha was in power. The Eze’s of your community can even banish you from the community to please a governor.
Today, Chief Emeka Ihedioha is the governor of Imo, though he won no election. The 2019 Imo State gubernatorial election may have been an instance of a coronation instead of an election. This is diametrically opposed to the basic building blocks and values of the democratic system of government. In defense of the country’s fragile democracy, I believe strongly that the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court will stand tall as they have in other cases in teasing out this evil machination of a corrupt few in Imo whose desires to win at all costs undermine the public interest. The people decide and legitimacy is confirmed through the ballot box. Legitimacy in a democracy is not a function of some powerful individual’s interest or instructions, but rather, it is a derivative function of the collective decision of the people. To believe or do otherwise, in a democracy, is an oxymoron that must be shunned. Ihedioha didn’t win the Imo guber election but that is left for the courts.
Honestly, I am at a loss at the fanfare exhibited by the governor of Imo state just to celebrate two months of pension payment. In all the Radio stations in Imo including newspapers, the governor celebrated two months pension payment. He even paid just 50% of each pensioner’s total monthly take home. He was on air just to buoy his ego and show his cluelessness. The irony of this madness is that our governor who should be covering his face in shame for five months of non-performance is the one dominating the pages of newspapers and going on air to celebrate payment of pension. As I write, Owerri the Imo State Capital still remains the dirtiest city in Nigeria despite the funfair and the millions of Naira expended under the infamous naira gulping monthly sanitation exercise led by former governor Ikedi Ohakim. I will not forget the expensive advertorials placed in both electronic and the print media on the state of Owerri, yet the place remains dirty. It is a notorious fact today that the sanitation state of Owerri is going from bad to worse. I therefore condemn the millions expended on the ‘Keep Owerri Clean’ project which has now become a conduit pipe for Ikedi Ohakim to siphon Imo State money with the tag of chairman of sanitation.
My friend John recently said “a governor who finds a pothole on a road, moves his cabinet there. They come with TV men, microphone and cameras. They take pictures and make speeches, shake their heads, curses Rochas Okorocha, abandon the road is clueless. A Governor who shouts ‘rebuild Imo’ and in 30 days that he became the number one citizen, begins to rebuild himself, rebuild his personal houses in Imo and Abuja is clueless. John also said “Ihedioha awards his first road contract. He calls a village meeting. Masquerades are made to attend. It’s the commissioning of the beginning of the building of a road project. Balloons are hoisted. He climbs into an old tractor brought by the contractor. He drives around. The women in asoebi dance. Men drum for them. He tells them he is rebuilding Imo then he jets away to USA four times in one month.” I am asking, is such a governor not clueless? We are getting wearied of inept leadership in Imo. We are getting tired of leaders at all levels in the state that cannot perform.
It is easily understandable why Ihedioha’s Imo has suddenly become the oil block of Nigerian columnists, social media commentators and writers today. Simply, there is so much free LGA and ISOPADEC money flying around. Same reason why Ihedioha feels safe and comfortable for five months now, running a government on the pages of newspapers. Equally, it is the same reason why he has recruited a hefty column of writers and columnists into his regime. It is the same reason why he has not allowed whatever are his works to speak for his regime but the ceaseless forgeries of the many writers he has recruited and the countless others he freely provides for with resources needed to lift Imo State from the doldrums .The fact that is constant in all the strange events that have made Imo the first port of call for cash-and-carry writers is that Emeka Ihedioha is clueless. He has shown us in five months that he knows nothing about leading a state like Imo and wants to hide behind the media. The only project moving at a fast pace in Imo is his personal house. That one was started quietly as my friend John said. And it’s galloping towards the sky. John did said ‘Ihedioha brings poles for solar light. He sows Isiagu for one idle diplomat. They assemble village women. They dance. And break kolanuts. And commission ‘a multimillion dollar street light project’. Is that one not cluelessness? Then he started building 27 stadia in the 27 LGA’s of the state. Hmmm! That one na Mr Clueless oh? Ala ajola njo n’ Imo.
Here we are, five months of this administration and we are seeing unleashing of attacks on petty traders, road side mechanics, other artisans and unemployed youths are now groaning under brutal attack on their means of livelihood. In the name of beatification at strategic places while the interior and inner roads are deplorable. Reminiscent of the inglorious era of military absolutism where culture of fear and intimidation is often imposed on the people, Emeka Ihedioha’s administration through the service of some gangs of thugs who masquerade as Government monitoring team has continued, under the guise of beautification and cleaning-up project, to use brute force to subject thousands of small traders and artisans at different areas of Owerri to all forms of harassment and physical assault.
To intensify the attack on the living condition of the suffering masses, the government introduced different extorting policies through levy, tax, fees etc. In Owerri, heavy taxes are imposed on houses, banks, hotels and shops in the name of Physical Planning and Infrastructural Development. Worse still, the government does not use its legitimate machinery to collect these fees. It rather employs the services of thugs who do not only intimidate people but also wreak havoc in the process. A sanitation fee is forcefully collected from people who dispose wastes themselves in the nearest bush but have never set their eyes on a government waste bin van. Yet, there has been nothing fundamental to show for the infrastructure levy collected from the masses. And I ask; has Imo entered one chance? May God save us from Mr. Clueless.
-Kenneth Uwadi writes from Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State, Nigeria and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org