Imo rescue mission campaign, which truly gained roots in 2015 finally paid off with the success of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, candidate, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha in the March 09, 2019 governorship elections. While Ihedioha’s campaign organization, internal state PDP democracy, and Emeka’s towering candidacy played key roles, Governor Rochas Okorocha’s misplacement of priorities, arrogance of power, unparalleled mismanagement and brazen looting of state treasury, culminated in the collective resolve of Imo voters to jettison any association with him.
To those who care about Imo state, the facts are embarrassing. Few people can rationalize the systematic degeneration of the state. Where do we begin given the sordid nature of our public infrastructures and social utilities; the poverty, ignorance and disease devastating our people; mass unemployment, dysfunctional economic management; and the reduction of our rural dwellers to a lifestyle of hopelessness?
Where have good accountability, justice, equity and fair play gone? What happened to the educational system, healthcare, the spirit of scientific inquiry and technical progress, sustainable agricultural production and industrial advancement known to our people, gone? Why are people related to Governor Okorocha very rich and the rest of the population reduced to living a life of destitution? There are many more questions like these, and answers to them are difficult to find. Those who over-simplify the problems do not understand the complex nature and the herculean assignment confronting Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha as governor.
James Roseau subtly wrote, that it is only those who are not adequately equipped with the theoretical formula of understanding, appreciating and interpreting realities that are embarrassed by events. Legitimacy of any government does not nourish itself; it is not a perpetual motion machine. If a government is legitimate, it is so because it possesses certain verifiable facts. If it casts aside those facts that define its legitimacy, it redefines itself as newly illegitimate. The greatest tragedy of leadership anywhere in the world is the inability or outright refusal by that leadership to read the danger signals of its existence. This is the lesson of Governor Rochas Okorocha’s eight years in government.
How do we rekindle the dashed expectations and aspirations of our people?
Will it take the blood of mortals to come to terms with realities to go back to the rubrics with a view to chart a course forward? Do we continue in the orchestrated celebration of primordial decay and putrefaction? The task of rebuilding Imo transcends banquets, celebration parties, retinue of congratulatory delegations. Who really cares about a carnival at such a time Imo is at her lowest ebb, suffered the most humiliating dehumaniztion, with the overwhelming populace stampeded into premature graves due to poor healthcare system. Our times call for sober reflection, brainstorming sessions of the incoming governor’s Think tank, transition technical committees, representatives of civil society, and women on populist programme to leverage Imo state. In the wake of the exhalation of relief in our great state, it is pertinent that the new government strive to ensure that the masses begin to experience fundamental changes which positively affect their lives, as a tool for enshrining an enduring governance and lasting democracy.
The urgent task of state reconstruction lies in a process whereby all will have healthcare, decent shelter, affordable education, adequate material means, equity, justice and ennobled citizenry. In order to make concrete the testament of faith, few cardinal points based on considered priorities are imperative.
Health and Medical Services: Reform the states’s Healthcare Delivery System along the following lines:
i. Emphasis on preventive medicine;
ii. Re-establishment of community based medical clinics, maternity homes and dispensaries.
iii. Provision of free medical care for nursing mothers, children below the age of 15 years, and the aged and all categories of the disabled;
iv. Establishment of special schools and medical colleges for the training of all categories of health and medical workers as against the present practice whereby medical and pharmaceutical colleges exist as appendages to universities
Education: Re-structure education system based on a new policy of sustainable, practical, and qualitative education which will make it possible for the production of citizens whose education are in line with the social needs and functional expectations of a rapidly transforming society.
i. Free qualitative universal and compulsory education from primary school to senior secondary school certificate level should be pursued to the affordability of the state.
ii. De-emphasis of liberal-oriented secondary schools in favor of technical schools;
iii. Popularization of post-secondary polytechnic education in favor of the existing colleges of education;
iii. Paying special attention to special education for the disabled by providing facilities in primary, post-primary and post-secondary educational institutions for that purpose;
iv. Radically, de-emphasize ongoing commercialization of education by making education at all levels easily affordable for the poorest segments of society.
Social infrastructure development –Today, one area that has witnessed phenomenal growth is the use of diaspora professionals, their town unions and ethnic organizations which has metamorphosed into a strategic tool in the socio-infrastructural development of forgotten rural villages. Utilization of a pool bank of Imo professionals in diaspora in the area of technology transfer, and essentially sustenance of affordable housing programme through mortgage financing will not be out of place. Government intervention in real estate market, engaging diasporan experienced professionals for sourcing of funds and implementation of affordable rent to own housing scheme will not only reduce the burden of accommodation for civil servants, and the public, but will also reduce erection of structures on unplanned locations, consequent demolitions which often attract public outcry.
While long-term redemptive strategies are evolved, precise use of tentative measures to at least reduce the alarming screams of anguish, present socio-economic quagmire and mess should be the way forward. For the already bruised and battered Imo state to limp high, the past must wake up in the present, The program of action to hit the ground running must be devoid of all romantic pretensions, politics and idealistic delusions. It is only the mapping out of immediate relevant strategies and precise workable blue prints that will herald a new dawn.
Former Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, backed by hindsight of experience and track record of performance has demonstrated that politics is not an emergency national assignment, a game without rules, rather an art of the possible, of using the advantage of experience, education, foresight and vision for the fulfillment of contract with the Imo people. He has shown politics as the art of state power, but that such power must flow from the people, whose interests it ultimately serves, with intent to put the people where they truly belong.
To do otherwise will be shying away from responsibilities, and total observance of insincerity, and insensitivity to the yearning aspirations of Imo voters.