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Sunday, 8 May 2016

Imo: The Glory Is Gone


                                                 BY COS UKWUOMA         
Where are the voices in Imo                                                                                                     Where are the elders?                                                                                               
Where are the acclaimed leaders?                                                                                                     
Where are those politicians who wanted to be governor? Have they all lost their voices? Have they not heard the cry of the people they desired to govern?  Where are our distinguished professionals, fiery clergies and honoured role models?   Are there no people to tell this governor the truth?

How can a state so blessed with a good crop of intellectuals and an array of professionals who have distinguished themselves in their chosen fields be run like this? How can a state blessed with immense resources be prostrate as it is today?  How can our people watch helplessly as our common patrimony is run aground in a conspiratorial sabotage? How should our people be so disorganized and destabilized, unable to forge a common front to save the future of our dear state?  
 It is strange and disheartening to see Imo State become so parlous, a place where inconceivable aberrations thrive. Is it true that we have been bewitched? And if so, can’t this spell be removed and destroyed?

Rather than remaining a serious business, governance has become a circus show, an egocentric machismo and mesmeric tool whence ooze deceptive speeches, lyrics, action and all forms of pseudos meant to play on the psyche and intelligence of the people, that often make them forget their sorrows and pitiable lot and wait for a better tomorrow their leaders know may never come, given their conscious efforts in the contrary to ensure an ever willing population of malleable adults.

Since Owelle Rochas Okorocha came on board as governor, the people of Imo State have seen an unconventional approach to governance where the rule of law is not respected and in fact, disdained, the principle of separation of power operates just by name and is almost extinct, the economy is mindlessly stifled and strangulated with Okorocha, family and cronies alleged to be benefitting, shutting out every other citizen and resident in an annoying pretentious manner, thereby leaving the populace hungry, poor, hopeless, despondent and seemingly helpless. Oh God, where are you?

Never in the history of Imo has the State fallen into a cesspit of deceit, monumental fraud, rudderless governance, impunity, sabotaging and fleecing of our commonwealth as it is today and only God knows what shall befall us tomorrow.

For the first time in our dear state, workers were heartlessly owed several months of arrears of salary and daily, live under threats, the pensioners- men and women- whose toil of yesteryears led to the development of our state are owed their pensions for no just cause and daily we continue to hear of their heartbreaking deaths. The economy is now fast retrogressing or better put, comatose. Massive hunger and frustration now ravage the populace, as poverty now stares the people in the face. Except for security of lives and property where one could give the governor kudos. Lately, we have heard of mindless unconventional deductions from salary, up to 30% of take-home.

Virtually, if not all the sectors of the state economy has crumbled. Investments have taken flight, the judiciary has been muscled, and the health sector is in a mess as hospitals have become mere consulting clinics where you are lucky to find any. The needless 27 general hospitals in the local government areas which have gulped scarce state funds seem to have been abandoned. Primary and secondary health-care delivery systems have completely crumbled under this government. If not for the Federal Medical Centre Owerri, tertiary health-care delivery would have been completely absent. Last year, with the exception of the administrative staff, all medical professionals in the state-run Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH) were on strike for many months.

Owerri, known for its cleanness, has been taken over by refuse and in fact, stinks. Other major towns are also under the threat of epidemic. The entire citizens and residents of the state have no source of potable water for close to five years now, as the state water corporation was disbanded as soon as this government came on board.

The much-trumpeted free education is a farce, just a mere rhetoric and has left our educational system with much to regret. Businesses have collapsed as our businessmen lament daily over frightening cash squeeze and unfriendly business climate. Contractors are owed for jobs done and in some cases, government has brazenly denied responsibility, even when they have obtained court judgments in their favour. Some of them who borrowed monies from the banks to finance government projects have either lost their money this way or have died of heart-attack while some may be presently suffering from serious ailments. Generally, this has led to a collapse of cherished family value system. How on earth did we get to this?

The local governments, the closest tier of government to the people have crumbled as the governor has refused to allow them run democratically for obvious reasons. The ministries and government agencies ceased to exist for about eight months of Okorocha’s 2nd term, as their functions as stipulated by the law were transferred to illegal special committees and task force groups constituted by the governor. What an absurdity!

The army of unemployed youths in the State keeps increasing at an alarming rate, leading to rapid rise in social vices.  Immorality now seems to have its tap root in Imo State and this may continue to rise since government is insincere with its youth development and empowerment programmes.

Governance, as a matter of fact, has regrettably been so cheapened and trivialized that hardly does anybody presently take our political actors and their words serious. It becomes ridiculous when rulers and pretenders to leadership begin to organize retreats for their officials outside the shores of Nigeria in the face of obvious excruciating mass poverty, deprivation and glaring fiscal crisis in government.
Alas, the Imo State House of Assembly which one hoped would check these anomalies seems to have been compromised as it has become a toy in the hands of the executive which is said to so easily manipulate it as it pleases. The contradiction that the people’s representatives are alleged to have now become the governor’s errand boys and girls who often scramble for crumbs from the master’s table is alarming, as they, for about eight months completely dumped their constitutional roles to run the daily businesses of the local government councils as chairmen of management committees of the councils. This is a rape of democracy and is most regrettable.

The civil servants are crying, the youths are despondent, the ordinary citizens are groaning under yoke of mindless misrule. The three virtues of prudence, transparency and accountability seem have gone on sabbatical in the government of today. Never in the history of our dear state has governance been so debased. In fact, Imo has lost her glory and is now a big jungle.

Just like a people cast with spell, none is speaking against this elevated form of irresponsible and deceitful leadership. Ours is a state blessed with abundant human resources, it is therefore stunning that vocal people are keeping quiet as their state burns, leaving big scars on our image as a people.
Now is the time for the people of the state to say No to Rochas rudderless leadership in a civilized, lawful manner. Now is the ripe time to adopt Active Resistance as a means of rejecting Rochas’ style of governance.

Invariably, the time has come for the people of Imo State to begin the search for its future leaders.  And the only way this can succeed is for the people to retire self-serving leaders and political actors who have aided the vehicle of misrule by keeping quiet over this style of leadership that has impoverished the people.

There is a need for the people of Imo State to ignore those leaders who have held the state hostage. To be able to do this, Ndi-Imo need to deeply reflect on their present predicament and resist further economic and political emasculation of their future through wishy-washy style of governance. Indeed, they must be retired from the political scene immediately and be replaced with a new dispensation of vibrant political class.

This is the time for the people of the State to rise up and say No to extreme greed, selfishness and nepotism, and begin to look out for new breed of leaders who have prepared themselves for leadership and ready to serve the people. 

A state where there are a good number of intellectuals, men and women of proven integrity should have credible leaders to govern them at all times. Never again shall mediocrities and deceitful persons who crave for the governorship seat of this state be allowed to come near the corridors of power, irrespective of party inclinations or zoning considerations. 

Questions, questions, questions begging for answers. Yet none is responding and we chuckle like a conquered people, suggesting that we are either timid, docile or that we have unconsciously submitted to some scientific mesmerism. Here is the path to redeeming the state from the present rot.
Yes, it is now that Imo people can choose their leaders ahead of the circus show called politics, campaigns and elections. The system must be made to sieve the chaff from the grains. Prudence and sanity must be restored in the political leadership of our state. The people must rise up and fight for the future of their state. The time for this is now! We are watching with keen interest to know who is who.
God and man help us!

PHOTO: NNAMDI COS-UKWUOMA                                                    


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