THE good people of Imo State decided to change their leadership, rejecting Chief Ikedi Ohakim and his party, the PDP, at the 2011 elections.
They chose and gave their mandate for four years to Owelle Rochas Okorocha , who was preferred to others, for keeping a good record of philanthropy across the nation, and for belonging to the right party, the APGA. God rewarded philanthropy, confirming His word that those who lend to the poor and society lend to Him and that He is a good rewarder. Owelle Okorocha thus ascended the office amid great expectations from the people.
He must deliver on his numerous electoral promises, turn Imo around for good, never lie to the people and must not antagonise the Church in the State. Many who expected, and quite rightly too, that APGA should remain the key political party in the South East, became very happy that at last Imo would work together with Anambra State, the bed rock of APGA, to win more states of the South East for APGA, to make it the Igbo party.
If the ACN could metamorphose from an essentially Yoruba party to the APC,the opposition party of today, the future of Ndigbo can best be secured in one party and APGA remained the best choice after the unfortunate demise of the PPA.
These men hoped, therefore, that Governors Obi and Okorocha would work closely together beyond politics of their individual survival to that of lifting the banners of Igbo politics higher. Obi delivered on that score, and have just handed over to Obiano under APGA, while Okorocha is yet to do same, thereby posing a big challenge to both the people of Imo State and Okorocha himself.
Early last year, a twist in the affairs of Okorocha and his Deputy, Jude Agbaso, led to the unceremonious removal of the latter on grounds of financial impropriety. Agbaso is a direct relation to the APGA leader, and that caused a big fight as accusations and counter- accusations of betrayal filled the air waves, culminating in the departure of Okorocha from APGA to join the APC.
Later in the same year, the EFCC issued a letter and cleared Agbaso of any financial impropriety, providing what could be the platform for reconciliation in the best interest of APGA and Imo people. While the misunderstanding has helped Okorocha to start building a massive grass roots followership under APC, the difference still looms large in the minds of the people. The disagreeing parties must accept the facts that: First, Imo is a predominantly PDP state, with the party having ruled for 12 years.
Second, APGA was the opposition party till Okorocha came along in 2011, and things may turn against them come 2015. The continued festering of the quarrel has created a big challenge for the average Imo voter because there is something about APGA which will never be in APC, and that is the role of the late Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu. And finally, the PDP is not resting, and may pull the rug from the feet of the quarrelsome duo come 2015.
The question remains, where does the best interest of the Imo people lie in all these political permutations?
Owelle Okorocha is making good his electoral promises, and has characteristically plunged into gargantuan projects of massive investments in the State since he was sworn in as Governor in 2011.First, is his passion for making education available and affordable in the State.
He remains the first to ever introduce free education in this blessed State, where his predecessors told us that there was no money for free education; he started it and is pushing through. Imo teachers now get paid promptly which was never the case in the past.
He remains the best we have ever seen in the education sector. In fact, the challenge he has is that many people who are not from Imo State are trooping in to benefit from this good programme, and he needs just to block that leakage.
Second, is the massive improvement in provision of good roads network in the state, touching on almost every local government area. All major link roads between Owerri and the satellite towns around are under serious reconstruction and expansion.
This is one area that touches most communities and that is where his disappointment will come from. Those who neither want him to succeed, nor the communities to benefit, are masquerading as contractors and frustrating the programme through delays.
They start off with the work, build roads without adequate provision for drainage, thereby compounding the problems of flood control for erosion prone areas of the state. Roads without adequate water/flood gutters are the biggest night mare of communities in the leeward or valley side of any topography like my community in Uhualla Obibi-Ochasi, in Orlu. In the health sector, standard hospitals are under construction in all local government areas, and if well-equipped when completed, will constitute a good standard for health care delivery in our world.
Third, the scourge of kidnapping and robbery is relatively reduced, and people are beginning to move about freely once again without caring for the car following behind. These carry huge costs and only time will make it all fine. What any good leader needs is time, and whether Imolites will give him that time to complete the good work is the concern of this writer.
APGA is a more acceptable and marketable name than APC in Imo, and it is left for Owelle Okorocha to consider a reconciliation option with his former political partners and friends in APGA, or just push through on his own. He should remember that as Owelle Ndigbo, APGA is the place to be, and easier to sell, than APC. If Ndigbo could join other Nigerians after the killings during the war, all warring factions of APGA in Imo can still come together in the interest of Imo and Ndigbo, and this will provide a better stand with the FG to the advantage of Imo.
CLEMENT UDEGBE, a legal practitioner, wrote from Lagos.