The 2019 election has come and gone with all its imperfections but to Imo people the outcome of the March 9 governorship election will remain with them for a very long time. There is no doubt that the titanic gubernatorial election in the state was keenly contested by Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ifeanyi Araraume of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Ikedi Ohakim of Accord Party (AP), Uche Nwosu of the Action Alliance (AA), Humphrey Anumudu of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Okey Eze of SDP and Tony Nwaulu of UPP.
At the end of the exercise, Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP emerged victorious and all is now history. But it is worth noting that during the campaigns for the gubernatorial race, what featured most was the need to respect the Imo charter of equity which in theory allows the governorship seat to be rotated among the three senatorial districts in Imo State namely, Orlu, Owerri and Okigwe.
Interestingly, most Imo people including people from Orlu zone believe that Orlu zone has had its fair share of power since the return to constitutional democracy in Nigeria in 1999 having produced Governor Achike Udenwa (1999-2007) and Governor Rochas Anayo Okorocha (2011-2019). Okigwe zone through Governor Ikedi Ohakim governed the state from (2007-2011). But before 1999, Governor Sam Mbakwe from Okigwe zone ruled Imo state from 1979 to 1983 when the military struck and changed the entire narrative.
Also during the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida transition programme, Evan Enwerem from Owerri zone ruled Imo state for some time before the entire transition exercise was bungled. With the emergence of Ihedioha as the governor-elect, the equity principle must have been satisfied now that Owerri zone has a four-year mandate to govern the state after Okorocha’s eight years in power.
For Ihedioha, the job of governing Imo will not be so difficult. He has already mapped out a blue-print during the campaigns. He knows the problems of the people of the state and he has promised to tackle them with his strategic plans which he unveiled during the campaigns. There is no point repeating them here because the Imo people are already aware of them and they have taken notice of them. The governor-elect has rightly observed that the victory is for all Imo people. In fact, it is a pan-Imo endorsement for the governor-elect.
When he is sworn in on May 29, 2019, he should run an inclusive and transparent government that will carry all Imo people along in spite of political differences. According to Ihedioha, “I’ll put Imo back to life. We shall get Imo working again. We shall reintroduce, in our state, a deliberate administration, and by the grace of God, get back to the basics and revive our cultural heritage to give meaning to life. We shall revive our ethical system and reinvigorate our infrastructure. I can assure you that Imo people made the right choice and we‘ll prove it in the coming months.”
The governor has made so many promises to the people of the state during his campaigns; he should just strive to fulfill them now that the people have given him the mandate to do those things. Since government is a continuum, it is better for him to complete the ongoing projects of the Rochas Okorocha administration and add his own. It would be better if the governor-elect will pay much attention to rural development where most of the Imo people reside.
It is public knowledge that every government that has come up in the state since 1999 has concentrated much attention on Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe with scant attention paid to the rural areas. This lopsidedness in development has not augured well with the overall development of the state. It is sad that most local government workers, including the chairmen relocate to Owerri after each day’s work. That ugly narrative must change now.
The headquarters of the 27 local governments in Imo state should be given a facelift. They should be made the centres of development. Most rural roads in each local government headquarters must be tarred. The local government headquarters should not be regarded only as centres for the payment of monthly salaries alone and holding of political meetings. It is good that the governor-elect moved around these centres during his campaigns and saw the problems.
It is, therefore, hoped that with his vast experience in governance and politics, the head of the incoming administration must give the rural dwellers a sense of belonging. They have been neglected for too long. Attention should be paid to education in the state. Since the creation of the state, education is its highest industry. Unfortunately, the quality of education offered in Imo has deteriorated over time. There is urgent need to revamp education at all levels in the state.
The state of most primary and secondary schools in the state is very appalling. In fact, most of these schools depend on what their alumni give them for survival. It is expected that the story must change now that we have a brand new administration. The quality of higher education in the state should be enhanced. The new government will first revamp the primary and secondary education. If the administration gets it right at the basic level, it will surely get the tertiary level right.
There is need also to industrialize the state. Imo job seekers should not be going to Lagos, Abuja and other big cities in search of elusive jobs. Government’s plan to create jobs can only be meaningfully done if the government industrializes the state. Agriculture remains one of the best ways to industrialize the state. But without adequate supply of electricity, it will be pretty difficult to industrialize any state in the country. Undoubtedly, the governor-elect has lofty dreams for the people of the state, he should work and translate them to reality. It is one thing to make promises; it is another thing to fulfill them. Let the governor-elect learn from the mistakes of his predecessors and move Imo to the expected heights. To whom much is given, much is also expected.
Since Ihedioha has promised to give Imo people an inclusive and transparent government that will give meaning to life for Imo people, let him just do that by ensuring that civil servants are paid their salaries at the end of each month and pensioners are paid as well. He should not disappoint the Imo people. The government must ensure the security of lives and the welfare of the people, the primary reason government exists in the first place.