Lawyer and security expert, Ody Ajike, has said that Imo State governor-elect, Emeka Ihedioha is not carrying out political vendetta against Governor Okorocha by declaring his intention to recover Imo properties allegedly acquired by the outgoing governor.
What’s your reaction on the just concluded polls?
We must understand that democratic election is a process, starting from nomination of candidates to the actual voting at the polls and finally through the tribunals. Democratic elections are meant to be peaceful, free, fair and credible. Can we input all these characteristics on the last general election? Substantially, the governorship elections were credible, free, fair and peaceful in Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi, Delta and several other states. We cannot say the same for Rivers and Bayelsa states where we witnessed militarised violence, ballot snatching, vote manipulations and malpractices. It is imperative to note that peaceful elections do not mean credible, free and fair elections but overall we need to improve our standards for general election in Nigeria. The inconclusive elections in seven states are signs that our electoral process is still very poor, and the unpreparedness of the electoral umpire.
Why was Imo one of the flashpoint states?
Imo State was classified as a flashpoint and state of interest for several reasons amongst which are: Governor Rochas Okorocha had destroyed political credibility, which propelled the emergence of intense political struggle. Imo people were determined to take back government for their own benefits. The outgoing has allegedly violated the integrity of the states resources, elevated crony leadership to an irresponsible level, and enforced the dilapidation of physical infrastructure in the state. That is the local reality statewide and these prompted the classification of Imo as a flashpoint because he was ready to do anything to impose his son in-law as a governor. Imo people were determined to resist the imposition, which they had shown through increased political socialisation. Imo however, is a very peaceful state populated by very peaceful and law abiding citizens who knew that they can only channel their anger through the ballot. This they confirmed on March 9.
Political analysts didn’t reckon with Emeka Ihedioha, what led to his victory?
Only people who were listening to the manipulated information operations of the Governor Okorocha’s government believed that Emeka Ihedioha was not a factor. Emeka Ihedioha has been to all the wards and local government areas at least 20 times before the elections. He met the people in their homes, showed them dignity and gave them a plan of how he will rebuild the state. We need to understand the level of misery Okorocha forced down on the people. Okorocha practically and technically destroyed the state for eight years. Only Ihedioha brought hope, and exposed an integrated developmental agenda for a new Imo and the people bought into his programme and voted him massively across state. No other candidate campaigned in the state the way Ihedioha did. Others like Governor Okorocha were intent on merely buying votes, which Imo people were never interested in after eight years of devastating leadership by the governor.
Governor Okorocha’s aides say Ihedioha lacks the capacity to govern Imo. What’s your view on this?
The first capacity that I know in Ihedioha is the fear of God. He indeed is a firm believer and ardent Christian. Furthermore, he has organisational ability and you can see how he organised the PDP for eight years doing opposition politics in the state. His agenda for Imo as a God fearing leader is good governance, job and egalitarian wealth creation, integrated infrastructure development and prosperity for the people. His humanitarian credibility is at the maximum, coupled with focused leadership. Can Governor Okorocha’s aides point to these qualities concerning their own? We all know the answer is no.
A new Imo has emerged by Ihedioha’s victory as governor-elect. A renewal of the social infrastructure services in education and health care will be very prominent. Ihedioha indeed has the capacity except the Okorocha aides are considering his capacity to reform, recover and rebuild the state based on how they have destroyed it. Then, be reassured Ihedioha will perform 100 times better. Furthermore, in terms of capacity, Ihedioha is bringing an entirely new strategy in security management to the state. He intends to contend with the remote drivers of insecurity like poverty, hunger, unemployment and lack of social safety nets. His strategy will depend on social economic tools to transform lives, implement integrated development schemes, reform the civil service, reform education and make it accessible to all and drive economic growth across board.
Ihedioha was reported to have vowed to recover Imo properties that are allegedly with Okorocha. Is the governor – elect on political vendetta?
He is not on vendetta. By the way, to recover property of the state acquired illegally is that vendetta? Okorocha’s camp is crying because of what they did in the state. As reported in the Sunday Sun edition of March 17, yes, the governor elect, vowed to recover Imo properties in the hands of Okorocha. According to the story, Governor Okorocha converted government assets and assets of Imo people to his personal use. However, these recoveries will not in any way take the time of the governor-elect. Ihedioha is known for running knowledge intensive leadership style, so he will get land economists and professionals to handle the most improper and illegal monumental asset and real property conversion in the history of West Africa.
The incoming administration will look into the distortion of Owerri capital territory master plan drawn up in 1977 after creation of Imo State in 1976. Areas of concern include the proposed new Government House in new Owerri, which allegedly had been reallocated to the relatives and cronies of members of the outgoing government of Okorocha. Others include the illegal revocation of Nekede mechanic village, Owerri modern market at Somachi Egbu, Orji mechanic village, government quarters in Shell camp, as well as the illegal and forceful acquisition of open space in civic center layout.