A Season of Murmuring

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I am a close observer of the Rochas Okorocha Administration. I do so not because I voted for him at the elections, but because as a law abiding citizen of the State, it is my duty to watch with keen interest how Government policies and programmes affect my well being and the good people of Imo State.

I have twice on this column praised Governor Okorocha . See Imo Is Getting Better, But… and Time for Applause for Okorocha… But… In those write-ups, I hailed the Governor for some of the positive actions he took to improve infrastructure in the State. I commended the ongoing road constructions and renovation of dilapidated ones. I did so because those projects had direct impact on the lives of Imolites. I added ‘But’ in those articles because while I commended the governor, I still had some reservations on certain policies and programmes of his Administration. I will come to this later.

Because I have always aligned myself to the happiness of the people, I am delighted whenever Government responds positively to their needs. That is what democracy is all about. Democracy entails a Government being alive to its responsibilities.

As at the time I wrote those articles, the perception rating of the Governor was ok. Positive thinking Imolites were happy that the rescue pill of the Okorocha Administration has been effectively administered to heal the sorry condition of Imolites.

Tell me who will not be happy with the massive reconstructions and constructions going on across the nooks and crannies of the State.

As an unbiased social commentator, I will always give credit to those who merit it. It is politicians who are professional fault finders that will always put a comma to a straight sentence. And because I am not a politician, I will make my comments within the ambit of my journalism profession and the ethics that regulate it. Case closed!

I am impressed with the Administration’s attitude towards infrastructural development, and it will continue to earn my support if Okorocha continues ceaselessly in this direction.

Regrettably, it is unfortunate that the bad sides of the Government seem to be overshadowing its good sides. For now, things have gone awry for this Administration. It is a sad development to see our dear governor make some unnecessary mistakes. In my piece titled ‘Araraume’s Dangerous Moves And Okorocha’s SharpStunts published on this page a fortnight ago, I loathed this Administration for three things. They include Lack of respect for Rule of Law, flagrant disregard for Due Process and utterances that are ungubernatorial.

I was told by one of Okorocha’s political henchmen that he dislikes Due Process because it slows down his drive to implement policies. That if he (Okorocha) had entangled himself to the nuances of Due Process that grinds slowly, he would not have gone far to build new roads and rehabilitate old ones in the State.

While I could not make head or tail from this strange way of administration, I was thrown another bombshell- which is, the Governor is in charge of everything. They allege he handles everything himself- just anything about governance you can think of. When I queried my good friend and asked where on earth such a system of Administration is obtainable, he replied by saying that is the only way results can be achieved. Wonders shall never end, I murmured to myself.

While this style of governance is result oriented in the eyes of those who originated it, I concluded that this is the reason why it appears there is so much pressure on the Governor. And when a public officer operates under pressure or increase the workload on himself, his body mechanism is bound to act strangely. This could be the reason why some people now murmur that their dear Owelle whose words inspire confidence and reassurance, has suddenly changed and now talks tough. Some say he now makes ungubernatorial speeches.

It is alleged that the Civil Servants who booed him at the State Secretariat were annoyed with the way he spoke to them concerning the downsizing of the Public Service and plans to re post them to the hinterlands to work in his proposed Community Council Government, known as Fourth Tier of Government.

This leads me to some policies of the present Administration that has continued to generate uproar and sharp criticisms from a cross section of Imolites. The Fourth Tier Government is one of them. And I disagree with those who say that whatever policy the Governor unveils is for the good of the people.

I say so because no man knows it all- be you Aristotle, Eisenhower, Wole Soyinka, Barack Obama or Socrates. In otherwords, no man has monopoly of knowledge. And no man’s right is his might! And because great leaders in other democratic climes are conscious of this, they seek for counsel or make consultations before embarking on policies considered to be for the overall good of the people.

So, if Owelle conceived the idea of a Fourth Tier of Government without being told that it is alien to the Constitution of the land and runs against the grains of commonsense, if he expected Civil servants not to revolt against plans to downsize the State workforce without pre informing them on the need to do so, then his Government is not feeling the pulse of the people.

It sends a signal that a disconnect between this Government and the governed is gradually evolving. And this is dangerous. This was the genesis of the fall of most popular governments in the State and beyond. Former Governor Ikedi Ohakim was a victim. He wanted a Clean and Green environment as a basis to attract investors to the State, while Imolites murmured for industries and an open economy that will boost business and afford jobless youths jobs.

In Abia State, Abians wanted infrastructural development, while Governor Orji Uzor kalu focused on injecting funds into Enyimba Football Club of Aba to develop soccer. While thousands of Abians trooped to the Aba Sports Stadium with their football loving Governor to exhibit their passion for football, they murmured for three square meals on their table and renovation of access road which they never got.

The above illustrations depict a picture where Government disregards the murmuring or needs of the people. An all knowing Government easily runs into fractured relationship with the people. A Government that thinks for the people all the time without opening a window of ventilation to perceive the peoples yearnings easily run into murky waters.

For now, this is Okorocha’s Government dilemma. It is ignoring the murmuring of the people. When the people murmur it provides an opportunity for politicians in opposition to make mince meat of the Government. Such politicians nourish such murmurs with rumours which in turn germinate to discontent on the part of the citizenry. The end result is total resentment to Government policies and total disconnect between the Government and the governed.

This is why a Government’s perception of the feelings of the people is significant. It is important at all times. It places such Government in a vintage position to appraise and re appraise its policies and ascertain where it is performing and areas it is faltering. I wonder why Okorocha did away with the congregation of stakeholders where ideas and policies of Government are cross fertilized for optimum delivery and results.

This is partly the reason why the Community Council Government is not sinking into the medulla oblongata of Imolites. For those in Government who originated the idea, it will bring government closer to the people. But in the court of public opinion, it is perceived as a gateway to commotion and crisis in the hinterlands that will place Traditional rulers and the President Generals of communities on a war path.

Now Civil servants have joined the fray, vowing to defy directives to go to their communities to serve in the proposed Government. Their assumption is that the Community Council Government will be scrapped by a new Administration after Owelles. If Government had consulted workers before this time on the issue, the booing show would not have taken place. Our dear Owelle would have rescued himself from that shameful embarrassment from workers.

While civil servants, the sacked 10,000 Jobs beneficiaries murmur, Owerri indigenes are also murmuring. Amawom community are murmuring, wondering why their land at Area k, World Bank Housing Estate, wants to be forcefully taken away from them without compensation and consultation. They allege that the land is in court and wonder why a matter that is in the temple of justice will be disregarded by an elected Government. I felt the pain of owners of the land, moreso when one takes into consideration the dehumanising conditions Owerri indigenes live in.

I was told that some of them live in Face Me-I – Face You structures and in some cases, close to Suck Away Pits. This is sad and calls for concern. They claimed to have explained their plight to the Government, yet the latter disregarded their concerns and rolled out the bull dozers to clear the landmass for the construction of a hotel.

Last week, the land owners went berserk and decided to defend what belongs to them. They went to the site, hired canopies for women, men and children who came out in their numbers to keep vigil on the land as they await or anticipate Government’s response.

I had written on this column that Owerri people are paying a heavy price for urbanization. (See The Pains of Urbanization). They are been punished for giving out their lands to develop Owerri into a capital city. And when such punishment is elevated to an art, the people are bound to resist or react.

I was also informed that most of the lands that harbour assets of the Imo State Government were forcefully taken away from the people of Owere Nchi Ise without adequate compensation, yet the people have remained peaceful and resisted the urge to behave like militants or cause havoc in the State.

It will be counter productive if their demands are treated with kid gloves. And I want to remind the authorities that no one toys with Owerri people. Former Governor of Imo State, Late Navy Commander Amadi Ikwechegh will attest to the resilience and dexterity of Owerri people when he had a brawl with them. The same goes for former Governor Achike Udenwa, who was forced to dump his nominee for Owerri municipal Council Mayor when the fellow was rejected by the people.

Owerri people are sophisticated and dynamic, having successfully erased the stigma of Ata Ugba nnwu Mii accorded to them by non indigenes. They hold commanding positions in various fields of human endeavour and have contributed in no small measure to the development of the State and the nation. Therefore they deserve better living conditions and the right to posses their possessions. It is imperative that the State Government dialogue with them on this land feud and work out an amicable solution to the dispute.

They must not be punished for hosting the capital of Imo State; they must not suffer in their homeland simply because they gave out their lands for the development of the State capital. They must not murmur.