With Focus On:
RESTORING CONFIDENCE IN GOVERNMENT
CAPACITY AND DUE PROCESS
Barely days after the swearing-in of the brand new Governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha, CON, as Governor of Imo State, a lot has happened in the processes of administration in the State. While many states are waiting for a hundred days to establish impact, following the Roosevelt model for success, Imo State is blessed to have a visionary leader who works by minutes and hours.
One of the challenges I envisaged before the rescue of Imo by Emeka Ihedioha was the herculean task of revamping the psyche of Ndi Imo from the ugly experiences they endured in the past 8 years. But apparently, with the right medicine man, no illness is impossible to cure. Positive steps have been taken, and sways are visible which have restored confidence to the people. The streets alone echo an unprecedented approval rating. Focus Group results equally demonstrate that confidence in the new Governor keeps rising.
In spite of my profound belief in Ihedioha’s competence for the job, I had thought that any credible reform would take the best part of two years to restore harmony. Yet, Governor Emeka Ihedioha and his Deputy Gerald Irona, have shown great courage, focus and commitment to duty since take off. Results are already visible. Steps taken so far show a decisive government determined to transform the fortunes of its people. In the past 23 days, the Governor has confirmed that Imo in the next four years will not only wear a new look but will also attain its true potentials in terms of infrastructure, quality education, health, human capital development, sports, women and youth empowerment, social welfare among other sectors.
ON SPORTS DEVELOPMENT:
29 days down the road, Governor Ihedioha has set in motion plans to refurbish the Dan Anyiam Stadium and the Grasshoppers Handball Arena also at the Dan Anyiam Complex. As part of his strategy to return Heartland FC back to their original play ground, the Governor has persuaded the State Executive Council to approve the restoration of functionality to the main football pitch and as well for the training pitch. This is to ensure the main pitch is reserved exclusively for competitions while the training pitch would be used as professionalism demands, by Imo’s young talents who have long not been able to train at home due to lack of a proper facility.
Also, the tartan tracks would be overhauled both at the main Dan Anyiam Complex and the Grasshoppers Handball pitch. Attention will be given to the dilapidated seats and a state-of-the-art scoreboard installed. The vision is to ensure readiness of the sports complex in time for the beginning of the New NFL season expected in August. It would be recalled that the Nigerian Football Federation has banned Heartland from using the Stadium for their home matches due to the level of dilapidation at the facility. This made the team to be playing their away matches at Okigwe. The abeyance of the stadium already causes a huge economic loss to the State, not to mention the embarrassment it inflicts on its citizens.
Returning the Club to Owerri the State Capital will in no small measure boost the economic and recreational activities in the city and truly reveal the State’s tourism potentials to the world. Allied businesses would be revitalized, and sport-lovers from all over Imo would gain better access to their enthusiastic players at the very heart of the State.
ON ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE:
Everyone is aware of the disaster that Imo State roads have become, thanks to four years of haphazardly drawn projects, dubiously implemented ones, and no maintenance culture under the immediate past APC government of the state. One of the key issues that Governor has activated on this area is to put into place modalities to check flooding in Owerri. It is a known fact that the level of flooding along Okigwe road, Chukwuma Nwoha/Federal Housing and other areas in city poses daunting challenges not just to human life and motorists but to the buildings and businesses located in the widespread affected areas.
As at today, the Governor has commissioned a Task force on Infrastructure with a duty of assessing the flooding situation in Owerri the State Capital and suggesting permanent solutions to it. In addition to this, critical roads in the State capital will receive major attention with the aim of opening the city and making it conducive for investors. In his Inauguration Address, the Governor emphasized on the disturbing conditions of some major roads in Owerri. Evidently, he is determined to meet each such problematic roads with a well thought-out solution.
Specifically, the Governor mentioned the Nekede/Ihiagwa road, a road leading to two major institutions in the State, Federal Polytechnic Nekede and Federal University of Technology, Owerri, which has endured neglect for several years. The Governor has assured Imo people that the Nekede/Ihiagwa Road will be among the many roads that will receive immediate attention.
In addition to the ongoing emergency rehabilitation work on the Owerri/Umuahia road, the Governor has stressed that the Owerri/Umuahia road and Okigwe roads will similarly receive attention to ease the flow of traffic in these very important roads.
It is pertinent to note that the emergence maintenance work ongoing at the Azaraegbelu/Heartland FM axis of Owerri/Umuahia road, the construction of the Protea Hotels, Concord Avenue Road, a 4 kilometer (on both sides) dual carriage road done by the NDDC are manifest take off achievements of the Emeka Ihedioha led government of Imo State.
Emeka Ihedioha no doubt substantiates the rhetoric of the teeming sections of society who called on him to run for the Office of Governor of Imo State. He is already bringing the requisite capacity into governance. There is no gainsaying that the Man Imo has elected at this time is a man with the proverbial “Long leg” and has without wasting time dispatched his capacity into action by ensuring that the story of Imo changes for good with requisite alacrity.
RESTORING DUE PROCESS CONFIDENCE IN GOVERNMENT:
This is one area the New Government has scored a Hat-trick. Ihedioha took over Imo when the State was at its lowest ebb. All the major institutions in Imo State were practically dead. Beyond Infrastructural decadence, the spirit of the State was essentially lackluster. There was no order, there was no law. Propaganda was the order of the period and governance became very impressionistic and capricious. People were no longer concerned about the core issues of governance but were concerned about what the Governor was saying coupled with his innumerable flippant actions.
That was why Iberiberism infiltrated the entire system and the Value and Dignity in governance became a worn-out. Also, many of the sham projects executed by the past Government never passed through the proper processes of the law. They were either executed by unknown contractors or in most cases through unknown processes. In innumerable cases while the Governor was on inspection of projects, at any point one asked a permanent secretary how the particular project was executed, the answer would only leave you heartbroken as evidence emerged of the level of decay Imolites experienced in the past four years.
While Governor Ihedioha was on inspection during World Environment Day, he expressed dismay by the level of decay at the 4th inland bridge built by the Rochas Okorocha government. Upon inquiries on how the project was executed the new Governor was informed that the project was directly executed by Okorocha’s Government House. When asked about the Contractors or construction company that did the job, the Governor was disappointed to hear that no one, not even the Principal Secretary at the Government House could explain how the road project was implemented.
This is just one of Okorocha’s many faux projects.
Similarly, while the Governor went on inspection at the failed Orji Flyover built by the same Rochas Okorocha government and commissioned by the Vice President Prof. Osinbajo just a week before Okorocha’s departure, he was briefed that no one at the Ministry of Works, including the Permanent Secretary, is aware of the processes that led to the construction of the failed bridge.
WHAT HAS CHANGED?
What has changed in Imo State at the moment is that the present Imo is an Imo of due process where the Governor takes every proposal to the State Executive Council, not just to seek for their approval but also to seek for their ideas. The various permanent secretaries unlike before have begun to appreciate their duties in the state’s civil service. Also important to note is that the new Governor has instructed that all civil servants be paid their full salaries unlike before when their salaries were reduced to 40 percent or 60 percent for some few ‘lucky’ ones. These are no mean feats as the Governor must be applauded for keeping to his words of due process, transparency and order.
One thing Governor Ihedioha has done in this area is that he has restored the confidence of the people that Imo is one. For Emeka Ihedioha, it does not matter where you come from but your capacity to deliver on the given assignment. To those who felt the Governor was going to make all his appointments from his Mbaise Clan, they have so far swallowed their vomits as Ihedioha’s promise of running an all-inclusive Government was never a campaign promise but a reality.
The Governor has assembled men and women of note from various walks of life and who equitably cut across the age range who are capable, to deliver on the job. One of the most strategic appointments was the appointment of a Procurement Officer, Pascal Egwim.
Mr Equim holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management and a post graduate professional Diploma (MCIPS) and a Fellowship (FCIPS) from the premier Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply Management, UK. He was the Regional Logistics Manager for Shell Petroleum Development Company in Africa and has held several senior Leadership positions in Logistics, Contracting, Procurement and Supply Chain Management in Shell Petroleum Group both locally in Nigeria and overseas in the Netherlands.
For the Special Adviser on Security, Governor Ihedioha has chosen Raymond Nkemdirim, a former Director of Operations of the Department of State Security Services DSS. Who can be better suited for the tough task of ensuring a state where Okorocha and his minions have allowed crime to fester, than a security intelligence administrator who served in Nigeria’s intelligence service for 35 years and retired as Director of Operations. At the end of his service, he was retained on contract as Special Assistant to then head of Nigeria’s primary domestic intelligence agency, considering his proven track record and capacity in his field.
These situations were not in place before as appointments were given without any consideration to merit.
There is no doubt that Ihedioha has come prepared, bringing onboard patriotism, a wide-range of connection with people and institutions that truly matter across Nigeria and around the world, useful experience, proven capacity and most importantly, men and women with genuine integrity, decency and passion to serve.
As the Imo situation changes for good, there is no doubt that Imo is moving forward. And this journey has clearly just begun.
Aic Akwarandu is the Special Assistant to the Governor of Imo State on New Media.