Adult Levy in Imo and Other Matters

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“We must complain. Yes, Complain, blunt Complaint, ceaseless agitation, unfailing exposure of dishonesty and wrong. This is the ancient erring way to liberty” WEB Du Bois.

I began with this quotation this week because I have been given a clear threat that I would not be alive when the incumbent Administration in Imo State, will be handing over to the successor in 2019.

According to the threat, I am one among those marked for elimination, since I cannot allow the “status quo to continue”. Whatever that means!

Well, before now, I had thought I was speaking to the Deaf, with the various pieces with which I had counseled those now managing Imo State Government Affairs. Leadership is all about the welfare, and the impact any given administration has on the people, and not what those at the driving seat think about or as it favours them and families.

A policy may be too good in paper to Government, but if it has a negative impact on the majority of the people, it must be stooped immediately because Governments are meant for the people and not the people for Government.

It is under this circumstance that I try to dissect the various policies of Governor Rochas Okorocha, as a writer, just as I did to other administrations before he arrived in 2011 till now.

Fortunately, we are in a democratic society where each regime is reviewed through elections every four years. And if it wins it returns. If it does not, it quits for the next person.

It therefore means that however you look at it, the masses are supreme over their leaders, because without the people there is no Government, and no President, Governor or Senator etc without the people.

And in a democracy, the Governor or President is given power in trust of the people who own it. Therefore, such people must be always scrutinized and be remanded that they are where they are because of the masses.

In order words, if you fell to remind the leaders of the Duties to the masses, they tend to relapse and think that the pecks of office is only for them and their families. And that is why it is said that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. It is a natural phenomenon.

Therefore, to check the excesses of the leaders is part of the job of the Fourth Estate of the Realm (Press). It is one of the assignments of the Press to put leaders on their toes so as to do more for the masses. And is usually for their own good and posterity. Even though sometimes Pressmen pay with their lives for advocating for this truism.

But, it is only Dictators that are afraid of free press, because of skeletons in their cupboards. But real Democrats cherish press scrutiny because it deepens democracy.

Therefore, I quoted Du Bois this morning because it was a cry of a man under intense oppression by draconian Governments, when the Blacks were calling for “Freedom” in America.

In Imo State, the situation is dicey. But I am shocked that those who ought to know are not aware or they know but pretend not to know.

In the recent past, I have not witnessed the amount of police posts mounted at every distance within the Owerri Municipal Town.

Every street in Owerri now is choked with police presence, an indication that those leading the State sense danger. And what is this danger, no one knows. But they know.

However, as Governor Okorocha approaches the evening of his eight years reign, the administration seems to be baring its fangs by embarking on bold policies that spins towards head on collision with the very masses who stuck out their necks out for Okorocha in 2011 and beyond.

As the Ogboko born politician cruises to the end of his tenure, the populace are beginning to feel the pains than the gains of the administration.

The masses are too confused and bemused that they don’t know who to run to for succor.

Already, the Governor has made it clear that he has retired and decimated the Imo Elites. In order words, the common people of the State do not even have people to speak for them any more now that they are facing danger of economic and social class extinction following the unpredictable situation of the common man in present day Imo State Socio-economic Environment.

I don not know if those working with the Governor brief him with real situation of things as it concerns the welfare of the people he is leading. If so, could Okorocha has been briefed, and yet is carrying-on with some of his policies that are nailing Imo people on the cross? I don’t think so.

Amidst the pains and lack in the State, the Government has even announced an imposition of Six Million Naira of Three Thousand Naira each, on every Adult, from all the Autonomous Communities in Imo State.

According to a Release made by the State Commissioner for Information, Prof Obiaraeri, the levy is not a tax, but what he called “Utu Imepe Obodo”. He laboured to explain the reason for this tax christened levy on all Adult Imo citizens.

Before I am mistaken about this “Adult Community Development Levy,” I want to state here that there is nothing wrong for a Government to tax its citizens for funds to develop the Areas. After all which other means can a Government raise funds except from taxes?

But the question is this; before the Imo State Government embarked on this project, has it taken a record (headcount) of all Adults in the Communities?

Has the State Government found if they Adults are up to Two Thousand (N2,000)?

And again, how many of our youths in the villages are employed? At the beginning of Okorocha’s regime he said he was going to create one Industry for each Autonomous Community in Imo State. The news was received with euphoria, even as the opposition said it was a ruse.

With only about six months (technically speaking) now left for Okorocha to leave office, none of any of those Industries can be sighted in any Autonomous Community in Imo State till date.

So, how can you tax Adults with no sources of income when Government has failed woefully to its own responsibilities, and yet ask the youths to make hay with no grasses?

In my village alone, nearly all the Graduates in the last four years have no source of income? All they do now is wait for burials where they go to dig graves and are presented with Drinks after which they get high and gyrate around the community.

I shudder and cry silently whenever I go home and see these able bodied youths, with Graduate certificates in their pockets wasting away their youthful energies on nothing.

It is not as if they don’t want to work, they are ready and always besieging my house with their resumes every weekend. But where is the job?

These are youths whose aged parents had emptied their savings on, hoping to rely on them when they get old. But today, their parents are aged, yet these children who are now Adults cannot afford to take care of themselves much more their parents.

Now, what has Imo Government done to encourage these youths to help themselves? Some of them who can afford it engage themselves in farming and other minial jobs.

After harvesting these crops they head to Owerri to sell the produce. But now they only arrive Owerri at the top of stampedes as Traders lock their shops taking to their heels at the pursuance of Government officials.

Every day there is chaos and mayhem in Owerri. You run out from wherever to hurry home and suddenly discover that there are no taxis as commuters stay stranded for hours.

To escape the furnace of poverty, some of these “Adults” whose shops have now been demolished in Owerri headed back home to their various villages to eke out a living at Akokwa, Urualla, Orji, Ihitte Uboma, Umuneke, Afo Oru etc, since the town can no longer accommodate them anymore.

To them, it is better to return to your root than die in town. So, they erect little shops again after few months of displacement from the State capital, Owerri to start life afresh.

But to their shock and chagrin, the shops are demolished in their village markets, yet again by Government Agents, who have now pursued them back to their ancestral villages.

So, where is the place of the Imo Adult that would cough out three thousand naira every month in the present situation we have all found ourselves in the State?

It is under this scenario that they said the Press should not advise our leaders. It is under this circumstance they said they have marked me for elimination.

“He that is secure is not safe” says Benjamin Franklin. My God liveth and so my enemies cannot determine my demise.