THE PEOPLE OF IMO STATE: REASONS TO REELECT GOVERNOR IKEDI OHAKIM FOR A SECOND TERM
The problems faced by the people of Imo State are enormous. They include deteriorated infrastructure, decayed educational standards, increased dropout of students from secondary schools, moral loss, community conflicts, and the worst of all, massive poverty. The state lacks industries, health clinics, stable electricity and potable water. They are no one man’s problems, but of all the people of Imo State. They did not start today either. The problems of Imo people are as old as the state. As a result, nobody can solve all of them in three or four years no matter the type of magic the person might apply.
This paper reviews the concept of legacy leadership, explores the difference political parties make in Nigeria, and briefly examines the pros and cons of reelecting Governor Ohakim for a second term. The writer draws recommendations and conclusions from the review and analyses.
The Contributions of this Writer to Imo People
This writer is best known by his ongoing contributions in giving the people of Imo quality lifestyle. Through his California based nonprofit organization, Human Development and Leadership Institute (HDLI), with the mission of using education as the tool for fighting against bribery and corruption in Nigeria (see www.hdliworld.org) he has made numerous tangible contributions to Imo people. In a television interview with the Imo Broadcasting Service in March 2002, he called on the people of Imo State to be making their respective contributions in lifting the state out of the hole it has been in since its creation. He introduced the concept of Public Re-orientation Program to the administration of Governor Udenwa. In 2004, he donated (free of charge) a 40 foot container of over 2000 used books and 500 used personal computers to the administration of Udenwa. According to the Head of Service of Udenwa’s administration, Chief Frank Nwokoro, the 500 computer sets were worth 50 million naira. At the celebration and distribution of the donated computers Udenwa proclaimed, “Today marks another milestone in the achievement of my Administration. We have today … inspected 500 Computers recently acquired by my Government. I now authorize the distribution of the 500 Computers to Ministries and Departments for their use” (In an address Presented by His Excellency, Chief (Dr.) Achike Udenwa, the Executive Governor of Imo State on the Occasion of the Distribution of Laptop Computers and Inspection of 500 Computer Sets at the Office of the Head of Service on Monday 16th August, 2004).
Leadership with or without Legacy
In the world all over today, no one leader, a monarch, a president, or governor can take his or her people for granted any longer. Through social evolution, people have become free to not only know, but also to exercise, their rights. They could use their power of mass protest to oust any self serving leader. They also should cooperate with leaders who practice leadership with legacy. Example includes trails of solutions to existing problems and/or prevention of future social problems. When a governor identifies that a particular means of transportation is detrimental to the lives of the people, and finds a solution by replacing it with one that saves lives, that governor has demonstrated leadership with legacy. On the other hand, leadership without legacy describes a leader that has no sense of how to go about addressing the needs of, and/or solving the problems his or her people are facing. For the incumbent governor of Imo State, that has not been the case as most eyes have observed.
There is no doubt governing the people of Imo State could be daunting, but a true leader should be able to show some real issues or problems that he or she assessed and tackled down after 8 full years in office. Eight years should be sufficient for posterity to be upheld. A modern leader addresses issues or problems one at a time. For Imo State, one such problems could be modernization (a new look) of the state, which includes construction and maintenance of roads. Another could be renovation and expansion of elementary and secondary schools, modern transportation, or arresting the high dropout of students in elementary and secondary schools. Ironically, friends sometimes turn to adversaries when they feel their avenues for looting and embezzlement have been tightly sealed. However, the citizens of Imo State should not judge Ohakim by how much his adversaries dislike him.
As this writer has observed, the Imo people will agree that in only three years as governor, Ohakim’s administration has proved to be concerned by the many problems the people of Imo are facing. First and foremost, he has fired all self-imposed political godfathers, and caused many of them who thought Imo State and her resources belong to them to defect to other political parties. Serving godfathers can bury a state in a very deep hole forever. The people of Imo State should recognize this victory that Governor Ohakim won for them. At least, that percentage of the state’s budget or federal allocation that would have been used to settle godfathers will go into road constructions and maintenance or payment of salaries to teachers. No wonder also, the Imo Concord Hotels now looks cleaner and better managed as this author saw it in January 2011. Those godfathers and great grand godfathers are responsible for smearing the name of Ohakim and the negative propaganda that clouds his efforts and achievements. Some of his opponents planted in the minds of the citizens that he increased school fees for postsecondary institutions to 150,000 Naira, when indeed that is not true. Others painted him the negative picture that he has caused the state a lot of debts, when Ohakim’s long term capital projects are intelligently funded through issuance of bonds.
Political Parties and the People
The people of Nigeria should not be fooled—parties do not make a difference. It is the people. People make up parties. As a result, whether a candidate is in PDP, ACN, APGA, or what have you, it does not make a difference (in Nigeria). All parties are basically the same as they all consist of people of Nigeria with similar mindsets. This is absolutely important to draw the attention of voters as many candidates who defected from PDP to other parties are now singing that PDP has ruled Nigeria forever, and should not continue to do so. What difference does it make that a candidate that served under PDP in the past, or was one of the founding members of PDP and contributed to the old face of PDP, but he or she is now looking for every opportunity for another chance to rule, run for, and/or win an office in another party? Most of the people who are running for offices under other parties are likely going to defect to PDP after the elections. They switched parties not because of differences in philosophy, ideology, or principles, but because most candidates are desperate and want to win or die.
Analyses for Whether or Not to Re-elect Ohakim for a Second Term:
Among all the people clamoring for the governorship of Imo State, Ohakim is not only the most qualified, he is also the only one experienced and ready for the work of governor. It would be a big, big mistake if the people of Imo State would choose another person from another political party at this time to lead them, as suggested by Dr. Acho Orabuchi in his Owerri Zone: Don’t Rock the Vote! (www.compassnewspaper.com/inddex.php?option=com content&view=article&id=26, 3/21/2011). The evil you know is always better than the one that you do not know. Imo State has a long history of abandonment, and needs somebody who understands the complication of her problems to lead the people as governor. Somebody within has an advantage over an outsider in understanding those complicated problems. As an insider, Ohakim already has a road map for solving some of the problems of the state, as he has so far demonstrated. A new leader at these midterm elections will use at least the first four years to settle his or her costs of the election. He or she will need time and money to settle their godfathers and supporters. Is it not true that the grass is never greener on other side? No doubts, it will be cheaper and easier for Imo people in their efforts towards development by continuing to work with the incumbent governor, and as a member of the ruling party, he will continue to draw federal attention to the needs of the people of the state.
Ohakim has already started some short and long term projects. Examples include the Oguta Tourism, construction and expansion of network of roads, employment center, elimination of ghost worker syndrome, replacement of two-wheeled bikes (okada) with three-wheeled ones, severance of relations with, and total elimination of the politics of godfatherism, fulfillment of the election of local government chairpersons, instead of the use of hand- picked administrators. Imo state capital now looks clean. The one negative argument this author has heard is that the State is currently debt-ridden under Ohakim. People forget that good soup costs money. The convincing argument is that the balance sheet of the state should reflect that the debts are used for the capital projects or investments, including but are not limited to, network of roads, drainage system, Oguta Lake Tourism project, to name but just a few examples. Another one by a student of Evans Enwerem University was that the governor increased tuition to 150,000 Naira, an amount her parents cannot afford. This author was able to convince the student that Ohakim did not do so, and would not be able to do so without the approval of the state house of assembly. In addition, increasing school fees when needed and to provide better and quality education should be preferred over free inferior education.
The people will enjoy the continuity of the vision of the incumbent governor if reelected. There will be no learning curve for the governor. A new governor could be great, angelic, and adorable, but he or she remains an Imo son or daughter possessing similar characteristics as the sitting governor. A lot of time will be wasted in trying to grasp with the societal complication of the state. Who says that the new person would be any better and a greater leader than Ohakim or his predecessors? The people will need a lot of time in learning to relate to a new governor and his or her implementation plans for lifting up the people’s lifestyle. As stated above, such a new person would want to recover all his or her election expenses in their first four years in office. Imo people should not allow themselves to behave like the impatient dog that dropped the fat bone she had in her mouth for an illusory one she saw in the water (the shadow of the bone in her mouth).
This writer recommends that the people of Imo State should reelect Governor Ikedi Ohakim for a second term. Comparing him to the previous governors of the state since after Sam Mbakwe, Ohakim has accomplished a lot for Imo State people more than his predecessors. Imo State has a lot of problems and issues, most of which were made worse by the past governors because they were trying to appease their political goduncles, godaunties, and godfathers. An objective analysis reveals that Imo people should appreciate Ohakim’s accomplishments so far and return him en mass come April 2011.
The people of Imo State should vote in multitudes to return Governor Ohakim for a second term. Although, Ohakim may not appear to be 100 percent corruption free, and his opponents may not like him for blocking them from looting Imo resources, he truly has a plan for Imo people. From what he has accomplished within his first three years as the governor of Imo State, he has proved himself to have an understanding of the several problems the good people of Imo State are facing. He has saved several lives that would have been lost through the crazy okada transportation within the city of Owerri. He has painted Owerri the picture of a modern city. He has erected functional traffic lights at the needed intersections in the city of Owerri. There are several road constructions going on in and around Owerri, thereby creating employment in that area. The Oguta tourism project will soon be a reality under the aegis of Ohakim as the governor of Imo people. For all these reasons narrated here, the people of Imo State should reelect Governor Ikedi Ohakim for a second term as their governor.
About the Author:
Dr. Johnny A. Mez (Agwumezie) teaches accounting as an adjunct faculty at the University of San Francisco, and provides tax services and real estate consulting. Dr. Mez has over 14 years of experience in fiscal management and program development for solving social problems. His interests include rural socio-economic development; organization and development of small and medium-size businesses; job skills development; and community integration, collaboration and conflict resolution. Email: [email protected]