Until a fortnight ago when I visited critical parts of Imo State, I had always believed that, my state, Abia, was the worst in the country in terms of evaluative development. I never knew that, comparatively speaking, God’s Own State was a paradise even in its acute underdevelopment.
The biggest challenge confronting the liberative governor of Imo State, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha (CON), is how to rebuild the state from the decomposing relics of underdevelopment of the immediate-past governor, Senator Rochas Anayo Okorocha.
Issuing from the foregoing, the next matter the youthful and zestful governor will grapple with is meeting multifarious expectations of him in his emancipative leadership of the state.
The redemption is complicated by the humongous ruination of the state by his erratic predecessor. Ihedioha cannot afford to derail because his landslide emergence as governor was a divine mandate with a conspectus of diverse publics looking forward to his re-engineering and repositioning of the state.
Education in Imo is now in a shambles. This is a state that used to be one of the three leading states in Nigeria in public examinations, particularly the West African School Certificate Examination. The narrative changed the moment Rochas mounted the saddle as the performance threshold nosedived to the third tier of competitive scholastic assessment profile. It is so bad that the degeneracy level makes the 548 schools in the state have only eight qualified mathematics teachers! With this kind of paucity in just one core (compulsory) subject area, how would cerebral quintessence evolve?
The rot is not exclusive to the educational sector. In a holistic pattern, the entire social infrastructures in the state have collapsed and are merely waiting for a messianic intervention to get them bubbling again. At this point, I begin to wonder what would have happened if the in-law stooge of Rochacha had tragically won the election. Of course, the situation of amenities in the state is so bad that there is no public circulation of potable water anywhere—both in rural and urban areas, The poor infrastructural ecology is even worsened by the forceful acquisition of land by the past government that has culminated in 150 judgments against the state at the last count!
Who could have imagined that any sane governor would rascally and thoughtlessly convert the premises of the state’s radio station to private usage? That is the sad story in Imo where Rochas quit Imo Broadcasting Corporation and deployed the premises to the accommodation of Rochas Okorocha Foundation School! It is amazing that all these were happening and the indigenes kept quiet like hostages! Imolites’ docility and gross indifference to the poverty of governance in Imo in the past eight years is utterly embarrassing and scandalous. When I arrived in Owerri, it was a bumpy and tortuous journey from the airport to Concorde Hotel where I had wanted to lodge, I saw workers using buckets to carry water upstairs through the staircase! Immediately, I moved to the next hotel near it where I had my bed and bedding.
Is it not benumbing that in the past eight years, the state secretariat has not had public electricity supply. Each ministry or private individuals use small generators popularly called “I Better Pass My Neighbour” to offer their services. If the secretariat is like this, one can only imagine how other public
feedback I got last Monday, I was so livid that I had to travel to Owerri pronto to see things for myself. At the end of my four-day visit, I was embarrassed and scandalized by what I saw and heard.
I unequivocally assert that Rochas was in no way misperceived and demonized. The perception was an incontrovertible reflection of his weirdness and affirmatively not demonized. In fact, what I was hoodwinked about his aloof government was a microcosm of his incompetency and uncompleted projects mania like a possessed bloke. Indeed, taking his two immediate predecessors, Achike Udenwa and Ikeddy Ohakim, into reckoning, Rochas pales into disastrous insignificance, comparatively.
I never believed any governor could be as bad as vicious Theodore Ahamefule Orji of Abia State of yore—the only former governor who recklessly stopped President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) from campaigning in Umuahia township stadium shortly before the 2015 presidential election and also desecrated royalty by dealing with the traditional ruler who defiantly gave PMB a chieftaincy title during the aborted electioneering. Even journalists who covered Buhari’s campaign were endlessly harassed while those who reported APC activities in Abia were brutalized by sadist Ochendo.
Going by Okorocha’s boyishness, political harlotry (needless serial defections) and other utopian democratic antecedents, I can reasonably affirm that he is one of the vanishing Igbo political stalwarts whose charlatanistic pedigree, utter disregard for people’s feelings and nonchalance to credible governance underscored South East retrogression and neglect by the APC central government because of the region’s unflinchingly inexplicable loyalty to the thievish and dubious PDP of yesteryear!
On arrival at Owerri, I went to the Federal Medical Centre where I saw not less than 2000 outpatients waiting for attention. One of the tragedies of Rochas was the curious attempt by him to build ill-conceived 27 uncompleted general hospitals across the state all of which are not functional hence the swamping of the FMC. Three efficient and effective government hospitals in the senatorial headquarters and a few well-stocked clinics in the remote areas would have touched copious lives.
The cab driver took me to sites where people’s structures were callously and indiscriminately demolished by Rochas for purported urban renewal. The irony, according to the victims some of whom I interacted with, is that nothing had been done with space from previous structural demolitions. Yet, Rochas went ahead like a bull in a china shop destroying more and more properties amid executive arrogance and stubbornness arising from absolute power satiety.
I stopped over at the Ministry of Justice and some courts in Owerri. They were like graveyards as there was no activity due to unpaid salaries and infrastructural deficiency. The dismay, I was authoritatively informed, is that Rochas did not care a hoot about the yearlong unprecedented degeneracy! I was also in Okigwe where no project had been inaugurated in the past five years.
I equally went to Orlu: the roads that were accessible before the misadventure of unstable Rochas have all become craters—almost impassable even for pedestrians! Rochas must have realized by now that constructing all manner of fluky bridges without any iron, elitist parks, spaces and erection of monuments and comical signposts are of no benefit to most people.
Virtually all the Owerri municipal roads like Wetheral, Bank, Douglas, Egbu, Okigwe, Orlu had been taken over by heaps of refuse until the arrival of Ihedioha. The few existing good roads are the ones built by De Sam Mbakwe and military administrators and a few already rehabilitated by Ihedioha (Ome Nke Ahuru Anya Ndi Igbo) with work on-going in several parts of the state and more to come.
More shocking revelations next week.