By Henry Ekpe
Politics, they say, is a dangerous game. That of Imo State in the recent time has been elevated to another dimension.
Democratic rule returned to Imo State in 1999, like in other States. However, if you place Imo State alongside other States in the Southeast, you will discover that apart from Abia, which some part was carved out from Imo, Anambra, Enugu and Abia States are far and above Imo in the index of development within the period in question.
The reason is that while these other States play politics of inclusion, for the benefit of their States, that of Imo is centered on extreme personal ego as the Governors do battle with presumed enemies while their tenures lasted.
The politics played in Imo is that of the winner takes all which pitches the politicians against each other, leaving the State divided along the line of “We and them”,with the citizens looking helpless from actions of those they see as their leaders.
Since 1999 the current democracy berthed, Imo State has not seen the level of antagonistic politics as displayed now in the State.
When Chief Achike Udenwa was Governor from 1999 to 2007, Imo State seemed to be creating a foundation where other subsequent administrations that come will continue from.
Udenwa is a moderate and a quiet gentleman in nature. This reflected in his administration, as he was not vindictive, and spread happiness across the State with his unassuming mien which made citizens free around him.
He was a breath of fresh air after the Imo citizens went through the chilling years of Military Jack boot.
He improved on what he met on ground in an effort to make Imo embrace rapid development.
There were no structures to demolish, rather Udenwa constructed new ones and did his best, according to the fund available to the State then, and his capability.
His Excellency, Dr Ikedi Ohakim succeeded Udenwa, and maintained the peace in the State, by focusing on the Tourism sector, and turned Owerri the Imo Sate capital the cleanest Town in Nigeria for three consecutive times.
That administration made sure that which ever structure it constructed was world standard. It resolved to do best, the ones it took on, than take all at the same time and leave substandard structures strewn all over the State.
Politically, Udenwa and Ohakim at a point saw things differently, but Ohakim did not allow that to concern Imo people, by not targeting Udenwa and his policies frontally, or even his projects and legacies.
Both men maturely removed Imo people from whatever was their political misunderstanding.
Governor Rochas Okorocha took over from Ohakim in 2011.
The circumstances that brought in Okorocha was seen as a revolt by the masses, as he zoomed into office with euphoria and applause from Imo people.
This scenario made Okorocha become the long awaited “Messiah”, as he commenced populist policies, which quickly endeared him to the heart of Imo people.
At this point Imo people saw Ohakim and even those who worked in his Government as albatross of their imagined success.
But the celebration did not last, as Okorocha suddenly changed, and Imo masses began to feel the pangs of his administration.
Suddenly, the politics of “Do me, I do you” set in.
While Okorocha embarked on massive infrastructural development of the State, he in the other hand, simultaneously also descended on structures and projects left behind by his predecessors. As he built, he demolished.
It would have been a thing of reference today, had Okorocha in the process of developing Imo, resisted the urge to obliterate the legacies of his predecessors.
It is not in doubt that Okorocha made some structural marks in Owerri, but it would have been more heartwarming if he left his own achievements alongside what his predecessors left behind.
That would have been to the advantage of Imo State and its citizens.
Infact, many believed that Okorocha targeted Ohakim and in the process destroyed all Ohakim used Imo tax payers money to build.
The Medians along Amakohia, Akwakuma, and Egbu Roads were carted away and dumped at the Industrial Layout Owerri, along Onitsha Road, till date.
The FSP Park built by late Col Tanko Zubairu went done. Also demolished were the two Shopping Malls at Tetlow Road, and New Stadium,Owerri.
Before Okorocha left, he got the biggest fight within his own political party, All Progressive Congress, APC, as Senators Araraume and Hope Uzodinma faced him in a fierce battle.
As the war raged, Imo people and the State suffered, because those expected to steer the State to utopian height rather went for each other’s jugular.
The battle never ended, but lingered into the election year of the 2019 Imo Governorship election, which Hon Emeka Ihedioha of PDP won.
The roforofo did not stop, as Senators Ifeanyi Araraume, Hope Uzodinma and Chief Uche Nwosu nay Rochas Okorocha, took the matter from the Tribunal to Appeal Court and then Supreme Court.
All entreaties from well- meaning Imo Elders to Okorocha, Uzodinma, Nwosu and Araraume, to allow Ihedioha continue in office since he had already assumed the position of Governor, and spent Eight months, ended in deaf ears.
Then on Jan 14, 2020, Ihedioha was removed from office.
The next day, Araraume, Nwosu and Okorocha arrived Imo State to witness the swearing-in ceremony of Uzodinma as Governor.
Many heaved sigh of relief thinking that with these gladiators: Uzodinma, Okorocha, Nwosu and Araraume joining hands to push away Ihedioha, they can now live peacefully ever after from the political “Do me, I do you”
Unfortunately, whatever later split these men that Uzodinma had to even produce Chief Frank Ibezim as Okigwe zone Senator and stopped Araraume, his friend, is still yet to be deciphered by the public. But they Men know better.
That demolition of Araraume’s plan to return to the Senate for Okigwe people affected Okorocha too who teamed up with Araraume to fight Uzodinma in that venture.
Later, Uzodinma settled down as Governor of Imo State, and promised to continue from where Ihedioha stopped, as it was clear to all that Ihedioha knew where he was taking Imo State to, until the Supreme Court debacle.
Indeed, Governor Uzodinma, as the Chief Executive has the right to chose those of Ihedioha’s policies he would want to follow.
While he discarded the humongous road map infrastructural development Ihedioha commenced, Uzodinma adopted the Reports of the Investigative Committees his predecessor set before leaving office.
Since then,Okorocha has lost many prized Assets as affirmed by the reports.And this development rankles the former Governor.
And In his own style to develop Owerri, the Imo State capital, the Uzodinma administration rather than move into New Owerri that is begging for attention, has mauled down all the Round-abouts in Old Owerri built by the Okorocha administration , which Okorocha’s Government in the first place also demolished and reconstructed after he assumed office.
This brings us to question,if all these demolitions, reconstructions, and demolitions, by each Administration add anything to Imo Economy? When do we do away with “Do me, I do you” in Politics that retards IMO progress and keeps the State in motion without movement?
Why is that since 1999, Imo State is, till today constructing and reconstructing Douglas, Wethdral, Mbaise, Chukwuma Nwoha, MCC and Okigwe Roads?
While Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Anmabra States are busy developing their States, Imo is fixated on politics of “Do me I do you” which has virtually stunted the growth of Imo State.
The top Imo politicians are wasting much time on their ego wars, and in the process destroying the State.
Presently, Imo State is battling Insecurity which has collapsed Night Live in Owerri, and rendered businesses comatose.
The Governor has “Spoken in Tongue” alleging politics and politicians as those behind the problem. But nobody has been arrested yet.
Recently, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume was stopped from being Chairman of NNPC Board. It may sound as a political score to those who carried out that coup, but it has denied Imo State an opportunity that may never come again in this generation.
It is high time we jettisoned this politics of “Do me, I do you”.
Imo has suffered because of the personality clash and aggrandizement among their prominent sons and daughters fighting over Imo collective Patrimony. Imo is not only for the Big fishes. The masses actually own the State if they realise that. Enough is enough.