Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, who was on Monday, March 11, 2019, declared Imo State governor-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is evidently prepared for the high political office. This reality became profoundly instructive at a world press conference that Ihedioha held at his New Owerri home, tagged “Dawn of a New Era.”
The efficient manner in which he prioritised his initial agenda for Imo largely shows his readiness to accomplish his mantra to rehabilitate Imo. More significantly, Ihedioha explored the opportunity to provide insights into the shape, dimension and the trajectory of his administration in the next four years.
His plan, according to him, is to run an essentially responsible, responsive, open, transparent and accountable regime that is fundamentally woven around due process and rule of law. His ideas are to enthrone a raptly listening government that provokes well-based considerations, perspectives, ideas and vision desirable for concrete, veritable and functional actions towards ensuring the attainment of “Imo of our dream.” He captured his plans more crisply in his speech at the press conference: “I believe strongly that those in positions of authority must render account of their stewardship to the people. The era of brazenness in Imo State is gone.”
Ihedioha gave assurance of an all-inclusive government that would promote the unity of the state, rather than accentuate the fissures that have characterised our relationship with each other in recent times. Ihedioha’s guiding principle and mission are pungent and largely penetrating. According to him, it is to navigate a fresh path and, in so doing, rebuild Imo so as to liberate the people of the state.
“My vision for Imo is to transform it into one of the top three most developed state economies in Nigeria by year 2025 and ranked within Africa’s top 10 economies by the year 2015,” he stated.
He added that his priority would also be to reclaim the dignity of the people of Imo such that the state shall no longer be the laughing stock of Nigeria.
These preliminary insights provided by Ihedioha on how he plans to rebuild Imo are, therefore, understandable, cheering and pacifying. Just like Barack Obama, former United States President, who instituted structural bailout plans shortly after he was elected in 2010 as a linchpin policy strategy to fix the US from the ruins of his predecessor, George W. Bush, Ihedioha’s administrative trajectory, according to the governor-elect, has aptly been designed to correct the gaps, mistakes and delinquencies that underscored the outgoing Governor Rochas Okorocha government.
For instance, under Okorocha’s watch, rule of law and due process have always been breached with impunity. Court pronouncements are disrespected shamelessly. It is on record and easily verifiable that Okorocha has never implemented any court decision that is given against the state and his office. This development has, on a number of occasions, created somewhat constitutional crisis in the state, adversely impacting on the judicial arm of government by lowering its status and putting this important branch of government in disrepute.
Besides, Okorocha’s fiscal regime, contracts administration and management of the entire government business are bereft of due process, transparency, openness and accountability. His government has mostly been run on ad hoc basis. Mismanagement of public funds, policy inconsistencies and disarticulated budgetary framework have been the intense and prevailing pattern of his administration, leading to worryingly low level of infrastructural development and social service delivery. The result is that the once-flourishing and potentially successful state has been driven considerably and regrettably to a decline.
These unfortunate realities make Ihedioha’s unfolding principle of rebuilding Imo through good governance, rule of law and due process a cheering development. At the press briefing, Ihedioha identified some of the ills bedevilling Okorocha’s eight-year administration. These, according to him, include sustained brigandage, lack of direction, ad hoc approach to governance and lack of due process. These veracities have made Ihedioha’s planned redemptive work in the state largely compelling, striking and incontrovertible. To kick-start the rebuilding process, Ihedioha intends to set up a transition team with clear terms of reference, with a mandate of liaising with the outgoing government to collate and collect information on the state of affairs.
Moreover, Ihedioha perceptibly anchors his rebuilding agenda on the social contract paradigm promoted by John Locke, Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, which essentially requires the state to enhance public welfare, ensure protection of citizens’ rights and the enactment of the General Will of the people. Ihedioha buttresses this, noting that his administration will be primarily drawn on the contract and bond he entered with the people during his campaigns as contained in his well-articulated manifestoes. Ihedioha enunciates: “We entered into a social contract with the people with our manifesto and we shall remain faithful to our obligations in that contract.”
Essentially, the bond between Ihedioha and the people, as contained in his manifesto, revolves around the following critical sectors: Public welfare, security, property rights, economic and social advancement of the people, infrastructural projects, quality education, fiscal discipline, healthcare development, good governance, rule of law and human capital growth. Principally, how he handles these sectors in the next four years would constitute a major index to appraise his administration
•Dr. Uganwa writes from Owerri, Imo State capital.