Imo State is presently passing a stage that will shake the State to its very foundation. And after this raging storm, the State will never be the same again. Either it ends up becoming a reference point for other States to emulate, or it ends up reduced to the cleaners.
But what is certain is that by the time the Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha is done with his latest innovations and plans on where he wants to place the State before he vacates office finally in 2019, something must give.
One thing certain is that every administration is never the same. Therefore it is hardly acceptable to see each administration from the same point of view, but rather each must be tailored to touch the lives of its citizens, because the major assignment of every Government is to change the lives of the citizens for the better.
In Imo State, there has been four known civilian administrations. They include that of Chief Sam Mbakwe, Senator Evan Enwerem, Chief Achike Udenwa and Chief Ikedi Ohakim, and when Owelle Rochas Okorocha leaves in 2019, it would be five civilian regimes in the State.
Chief Sam Mbakwe’s regime has no comparism with any. It laid the foundation of the entire old Imo State comprising of present Abia and some parts of Ebonyi States of today.
In the area of infrastructure, the roads Mbakwe built 0ver thirty years ago still stand strong today. The former administrations after him have even found it difficult to maintain or sustain any of the numerous factories he erected.
Chief Evan Enwerem could not leave any structure to point at because the regime left as fast as it came into office due to military coup.
Chief Achike Udenwa’s Government performed at the capacity of the funds within its coffers then. However, he made sure that whatever he left behind had value for the fund put into it by the State.
Under Udenwa, Imo State had relative peace, and there was enough on the table for the masses, as nobody slept with empty stomach.
When Ohakim came, he raised the ante by being more scholastic and urbane than Udenwa, and therefore introduced policies that most Imo people saw as being too elitist, even though germane to the State’s development.
Ohakim brought sanity into the State capital by introducing some sanitary conditions that made Owerri the cleanest State capital throughout his four years in office. The regime was organized and focused.
Whatever that regime handled, be it road projects or House structures, it left the best in terms of long span and class.
It pursued all its policies backed with enabling laws and legislations, through which it carried out some structural policy changes like the ban on Okada which was replaced by Keke.
From 2011 till date, Imo State has been with the administration of Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
Immediately it came into office, the regime did not mince words in telling Imo people that in its quest to push the State to quick and rapid development, the Government would have nothing to do with due process or the rule of law, which will delay the good intensions of the administration for Imo people.
Till date, that administration has lived to its promise not to delay its fast movement with due process that is a bottle neck to administrators.
Without sounding immodest, Imo people within Okorocha’s first one year in office realized what he meant by not given to due process, as Owerri the State capital became a construction site. Jobs that would have waited for snail-speed Tender Boards spruted every nook and cranny of the State capital.
Gate constructions, road projects, fumigations, buildings etc were on-going everywhere. It was a new beginning and everybody queued along with the latest revolution that was setting Imo State to the utopia height.
Within a short time, Imo people began to compare Okorocha with Mbakwe, as Udenwa, Ohakim and Enwerem were confined to history, because any mention of them among the citizens only attracted the sticks.
In that euphoria, Imo people were watching bemused when the Okorocha administration shifted from adding to the already existing Imo projects, to demolition. Rather than raise fresh structures on virgin lands, the administration relishes in demolishing already existing structures built by former regimes.
Within a short time, the Medians dividing roads in Amakohia road were pulled out and ordinary concrete blocks were put in their places. Old Ministry of Works and Water Board were bulldozed and reduced to rubbles. Ama JK Park was demolished, the FSP Building that gulped Imo State Government Billions of Naira equivalent when it was built by Tanko Zubairu regime was mauled down. And too many other monumental structures of the State were uprooted.
And these destructions were on when the same administration was blaming the non-payment of full salaries and pension on paucity of funds.
The same administration would build a fence, foot Bridges, roads etc and come back to destroy them, and yet raise them back again, thereby wasting stupendous State funds one project.
Remember I told you earlier that no administration is the same. In the midst of all these constructions, reconstructions and destructions, the Okorocha administration still kept to its promise to give Imo citizens free education, which previous administrations could not do. How he is doing it, nobody knows. But Imo State operates free education. Parents whose children are in Government schools attest to this, but with the caveat of whether quality or qualitative education.
But recently, as the Okorocha administration approaches the last curve of its turn to its final destination within the next 18 months, the Governor is making bold steps to change the face of Imo State economy before he bows out. I think he is done with the area of infrastructure, but now faces the State’s economy to give it a final shape.
Okorocha has since last month been taking very tough decisions that no other Governor in the State had ever dared, be it civilian or military.
And it takes the guts of an out-going Governor, who would seek for no votes from the masses again to do what he is presently doing. Bravo to the Okorocha!.
However, it is only a leader that sees where he is driving his people to. In other words, Okorocha has his target and says he means well for the entire five million Imo citizens. He said he should be given the benefit of doubt and only be judged or compared to his predecessors when he must have gone.
That is the truth. You can only judge a leader with others when he or she is gone, so that you can compare.
Therefore, the situation as it is now in Imo deserves nothing but the total corporation of the populace, for Okorocha to finish what he has started, and then we can all compare in the end. In the first place, there is nothing anyone can do about it, since the administration has made it clear that it does not believe in due process. Therefore, whether you agree or not, what happened in Ekeukwu Owerri where the combined forces of the military over-ran the market despite court order from in the judiciary will persist. Therefore, the masses must fall into line and watch, until the re-engineering of Imo State is over by Okorocha.
If what it needs is no-due process for Imo to develop to the dreams of our present Governor, let it be. What should matter is that Imo is better than it was in 2011. This will roll the State into fast development as whoever succeeds Okorocha can take the State further to other directions.
In the next coming months, over one hundred and Nine Markets in the State would be pulled down and replaced with new ones. This was from the mouth of the Governor’s Aide on market relocations Ichie Best Mbanaso.
Already, Amaraku, Mgbidi and Ekeukwu Markets have gone down. Many ask, why these markets that are not in the capital city and why now that things are too hard? The Answer is that Government thinks for you and you cannot see far than your Leader.
One of the major policies of the Imo Government now is the introduction of Taxis to phase-out notorious Keke transportation into the hinterlands. A lot of people have raised alarm over this matter and what it holds for the State economy and crime increase.
But Ohakim regime phased out Okada from Owerri and heavens did not fall.
It only took a little while for all the Okada riders to own Keke and that was the end of the matter.
However, what the Okorocha Government should be worried about is what happens to all those who depend on Keke for their day to day operations. Are there enough Taxis to ply the roads? And are there roads for Taxis to ply?
This brings me to the issue of roads in the State capital. Unfortunately, the Government could not be patient enough to complete some of the roads it started before introducing the taxis. For six years now, all the roads in Owerri have been under construction. And yet none has seen completion.
Technically speaking, there is no single road functioning in Owerri presently. Apart from Whethral and Okigwe Roads. The major roads where the citizens go home to settle down after every day runnings are bad and impassable. And these are the roads the supposed Taxis ought to ply to drop and carry passengers.
That is why we suggest that sometimes Government should listen to those they call critics, and stop threatening them. This is because criticism is necessary for every Government to learn from its mistakes and improve.
Since Imo Government knew it was phasing out Keke, it behoves that the roads must be ready first for the numerous taxis that will ply the State capital, Owerri. You don’t put the cat before the Horse.
The issue of what happens to the Keke Drivers that may not be opportuned to win the ballot for taxis is another serious matter. So, how do such people eke out a living? Those who would have fallen back to the Ekeukwu market as a final option have nowhere to go as even spaces for stores have skyrocketed in the State capital due to a deluge of former Ekeukwu Traders looking for where to begin a fresh.
Remember that there are people who depend on importation of Keke for survival. What of Keke mechanics and spare part sellers? What happens to those who feed their families on Keke Union duties? All these are gone, without anything as replacement?
Did we remember the food vendors, and “Joints” that service keke operators?
Unfortunately, both the market demolitions and relocations with Keke phase-out are happening simultaneously in the State capital, and these are not only the existing jobs available in the State, but those one can easily engage on if you can raise the capital to fund them. Therefore, Keke is the only self-employed job waiting for our unemployed teeming graduate youths, since there are no jobs jobs or factory factory factory to employ them.
But for now in Imo, we all are waiting for the morning after.