Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha-led Imo state Government last week took its rebuild mantra to a stimulating dimension. It embarked on a three-day hands-on retreat for the political appointees. It was a veritable initiative designed to redefine governance trajectory in Imo and to adequately and genuinely equip the implementers of the rebuild vision on how best to pursue and accomplish the new administration’s much-flaunted onerous task of Imo revamp.
The retreat, evidently the first of its kind in the state, took the members of the Expanded State Executive Council to the intriguingly serene Oguta Crystal Hotel. The Hotel sits arrogantly on an expansive table land and cascades bountiful natural surroundings. This makes it the choicest location in the state for a serious and arduous exercise of charting a fresh curve for Imo renaissance
Oguta, the country home of Imo State deputy governor, Engineer Gerald Irona is about 40 kilometers from Owerri, the state capital. It is the oil anchorage of the state as well as one of the major tourist destinations of Imo edified by the sprawling lake that surrounds the town’s beautiful but idyllic landscape. As we approached Oguta that bright Wednesday morning from Owerri for the commencement of the retreat, the peaceful environment mingled with the twinkling vegetation that abounds to etch an instant impression of the appropriateness of the place for the brainstorming programme of this magnitude.
Ihedioha subsequently flagged off the retreat at about midday. He captured the kernel of the event crisply thus: “We have put this retreat together for us to guarantee that we are on the same page and in pursuit of one vision and to be imbued with the right kit necessary to evolve and implement an effective roadmap on Imo rebuild by reclaiming all the sectors of Imo development from the ruins of the past”.
Noting the disgraceful and shocking state he met, on assumption of duty, Imo infrastructure, health and education institutions, civil service system, power sector and so on, he consequently gave the political appointees a marching order to be prepared to work to urgently change the curve or be shipped out. “I will be hard on you to ensure that the campaign promises are delivered and Imo is rebuilt. I appointed you to offer service thereby adding value to the government when you fail to do so you will be shown the way out”, he stated. He added the swift determination of his administration towards changing the Imo disgusting story
Former Governors of Imo and Cross River, Ikedi Ohakim and Lyiel Imoke attended the 3-day retreat and constituted the cream of the resource persons. Other resource persons included; the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Pascal Nnadi, former Minister of Transport and Commerce and Industry, Dr. Kema Chikwe and Dr Charles Ugwu; former Director-General of Debt Management Office, Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, Dr. Chris Asoluka, Hon. Cyril Maduabum, a former member of the House of Representatives and Professor Ndem Ayara of the University of Calabar.
Ohakim who observed that Ihedioha administration has great vision for the state urged the participants to buy comprehensively into the agenda as an inspiring gizmo to latch on to fast-forward Imo development. Imoke, on the other hand brought his tall experience in governance to bear at the retreat. He assisted significantly in modulating the retreat by providing desirable guide and tenor. He advised the government and the participants to be reform minded as a critical route towards accomplishing the vision and needed change for the state.
Charles Ugwu who labeled Imo as a failed state on account of past eight years of misrule provided a recipe for Imo rebuild. According to him, the political appointees must work amicably as a team with a single purpose based on the administration vision. He advised government to provide gas-based power and set up efficient road management system to administer the roads.
Abraham Nwankwo who noted that dismal Internally Generated Revenue base is part of the state’s development albatross regretted that Imo is ranked 29th out of 36 on the nation’s 2018 IGR chart in spite of its fifth position on the Gross Domestic Products table. Stating that with such remarkable GDP rate Imo is supposed to be one of the highest revenue generating states in the country, he urged Ihedioha and his team to boost Imo IGR through optimal use of human capital and knowledge-based innovations. He listed the reasons for the poor IGR in the state in the past eight years to include: Lack of transparency and accountability, disarticulation of strategy and inappropriate technology
He expressed optimism that with the concrete steps taken by Ihedioha to plug revenue leakages including the introduction of Treasury Single Accounts (TSA) and enhancement of ease of doing business the IGR base of the state would appreciate considerably. Nwankwo is right. Since May 2019 Ihedioha took over the reins of the state the IGR has increased by over 350 percent, from a paltry N245m to over N800m a month.
The retreat organized in the most prudent and cost-effective fashion nonetheless spawned huge results. The political appointees genuinely bought into the vision of the administration which intends to remake Imo to be one of the three most developed state economies in Nigeria by 2025. To consolidate and to be steadfast and accountable to the buy-in, the appointees were collapsed into nine clusters based on the sectors they were assigned. Each cluster met during the technical session to design its mission and mapped out four-point strategic agenda consistent with the larger vision. The members of each cluster resolved to be meeting regularly to strengthen and implement the strategies and to evaluate and measure the results for enhanced realization of the vision.
•Dr. Austin Uganwa, Senior Special Assistant to Imo Government on Documentation wrote from Owerri