REPLY TO SAM ONWUEMEODO
By, Kissinger Ikeokwu
On the 9th day of June, 2019, almost all the National dailies carried a report from Mr Sam Onwuemeodo the Chief Press Secretary to the former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha and now his presumed media aide, with the screaming headline “Ihedioha is yet to start governing”.
Quoting Mr Onwuemeodo in the said report read as follows “the new governor of Imo State, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, has not begun to govern the state as its Chief Executive, looking at his activities and utterances so far, but embarking on oversight functions as if he is still at the National Assembly where he was, uninterruptedly for 12 years. “He has also been busy setting up series of committees with at least three committees a day, and has never done any serious thing or taken any serious step or said any serious thing to show that he has actually taken the seat as the governor of the state. And he also seems not to have cared about asking questions”.
I have serious difficulty trying to identify who I should reply in this news report because while the words were credited to now Senator Rochas Okorocha, the diction and logic are vintage Onwuemeodo’s. There is no gainsaying therefore that the statement was probably made by Mr Onwuemeodo as a counter measure to the legion of inconsistent, contradictory, poor and incoherent policies, massively looting of funds being unearthed since the exit of his boss.
It is possible that people may forget or deliberately pretend to not know what good governance and sound leadership means after serving the worst and most inert administration Imo ever had under the Rochas Okorocha’s eight years as governor of Imo State. That Sam Onwuemeodo is assessing a government’s performance between 29th May, 2019 to 9th June, 2019, which is barely ten days shows how much being in government for eight years impacted on the entire Rochas’ Rescue Mission legionnaires.
Now permit me to remind Mr Onwuemodo of the the first ten days of the Rochas Okorocha’s governorship in 2011, in case he has forgotten. Today is the 15th day of June, 2019. His Excellency Rt. Hon, Emeka Ihedioha has demonstrated to be the opposite of Rochas Okorocha was by this time in 2011.
In Rochas we are talking about a governor that sacked almost two thousand Imo citizens without setting up a committee of inquiry in his first five days as governor in 2011. He dissolved and sacked thousand of Imo citizens without first appointing or consulting a Special Adviser or Attorney General. By words he declared the sack and disengagement of 27 Local Government Chairmen and 305 Councilors. He recklessly announced the sacked the 10,000 Jobs beneficiaries who were appointed into the Imo State civil service by his predecessor. He dissolved Parastatals, agencies and commissions on his first five days on the saddle.
Okorocha set up task forces led by miscreants and by this time in 2011. They invaded, attacked and ransacked homes of the former Deputy Governor, Chairman Council of Traditional Rulers, Commissioners, LGA Chairman and other beneficiaries of the Ohakim Administration. He dissolved the Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, reversed all appointments and promotions under his predecessor. He reversed all appointment of permanent secretaries, sacked Professor O. C. Nwebo then Acting Vice Chancellor Imo State University, appointed by his predecessor. Before he was sworn in, he caused all Imo State Government accounts to be shut against his predecessor before the handover date. He caused the State Accountant General to disappear.
He criminalized Chief Ikedi Ohakim by setting up a committee headed by the now retired Justice Anunihu to investigate all contracts under his administration. He stopped all payments to contractors for jobs and supplies executed under his predecessor. He began review of all Autonomous Communities created under his predecessor. He told Imo people how the previous government drank Crystal Champagne and boasted about not needing the huge security vote used by the predecessors in government. I have just taken time to recall these to Mr Onwuemeodo in case they have skipped his memory.
Now juxtapose 2011 with 2019 and what Hon. Ihedioha has been doing or done differently. First he has shown more maturity and composure. So far he has shown he is an administrator and a thorough bred public servant who respects institutions and due process. He has proven to be a team player as opposed to his predecessor who was a lose canon and always acted on impulse.
Rt. Hon. Ihedioha has refused he follow the sack, sack, sack, dissolve, dissolve, dissolve style of Onwuemeodo’s boss. Perhaps this is the reason he now feels that Ihedioha has not yet stated to govern. To Mr Onwuemeodo the real template for good governance is Okorocha’s style of sacks, dissolutions, with hunts, harassment and intimidation of people close to the outgoing government.
Governor Ihedioha has kept his nerves and shown that he is in control of his emotions. Beyond fifteen days after taking over, Governor Ihedioha has not sacked or witch-hunted the leadership of Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers as Okorocha did. He has not unilaterally and with impunity sacked the 27 Local Government and Councilors like Okorocha did in 2011 without recourse to due process. Governor Ihedioha has not woken up to sack those employed, promoted or posted under his predecessor. He has not recklessly announced the dissolution of all Commissions, agencies and parastatals. The Governor has been taking his time to attend to issues as they arise.
His prompt appointment of the secretary to the State Government and allowing him to look into all ministries, agencies and commissions proves he is an administrator and does not run a one-man-show like his predecessor. Committees are being set up to investigate, inquire and advise government on the appropriate actions to take on varying issues arising from the recklessness of the previous administration especially after the 11th March, 2019 election. All these marked a clear departure from the Okorocha style of executive rascality, recklessness and taking unilateral and hasty decisions.
To underscore the importance of having and Attorney General to advise government before critical decisions are taken, Governor Ihedioha took a special dispensation to appoint an Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice even before the 9th Imo House of Assembly was inaugurated. That action further demonstrates his avowed commitment to govern under the rule of law and respect for due process and all institutions of government. That is a true servant leader. Conversely in 2011, Rochas Okorocha sacked over 2,000 Imo Citizens without having an Attorney General appointed.
I have taken time to highlight just few of these events to show that Mr Onwueneodo may have been greatly impacted by the Rochas style of militancy and irritable style of leadership. It is clear that Mr Onwuemeodo having gotten use of Rochas’s style may be using same as standard or measure for good and quality leadership.
Governor Ihedioha has proven to be of better temperament. He holds the enviable record of being the first Imo Governor who has held political office and has learnt how to navigate the bureaucratic culture of governance to achieve results. He holds the record as the first Imo Governor who has tasted public service for a period spanning nearly two decades of consistent and unbroken period before he became governor. Using Rochas to compare Governor Ihedioha can therefore be described by the popular saying that “darkness and light has no comparison”.