Imo State is one state where anyone who passes by would definitely ask questions. I am interested in one major question and that is: who is at the helm of affairs here? As simple as the question seems, it is indeed overloaded. I want to say, one would want to know the person or persons who are responsible for the developments or non-developments in the state. Should I say that I have asked the question, times without number; even though I think I know the answer.
Before I continue, let me quickly remind any interested person of the statement made by the African American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. that if one is a street sweeper, one should sweep the street so well, so that everybody would know that there was a street sweeper (paraphrased). In other words, one needs to make a mark in the sands of time in his place. I am saying in essence, that it is not easy for anyone to go through Imo State without asking who the governor is. This is basically because of the obvious transformations that the state has experienced so far.
I am not going to spend time to enumerate the elements contained within the metamorphoses of Imo State, especially, Owerri, the capital territory, but let me indicate, like the typical Owerri man would say, that one knows the ripe and “due to harvest” cob of corn by mere sight; one does not have to touch nor open the cob.
The spectacle of the Convention Center, the openings within and the belt lines (roads), which double wraps Owerri, the decorative “round-abouts,” fences and gates etc, are interesting developments. In fact, there have been a lot of changes in the physical structure of Owerri. Now that I have made this observation; I also want to say that I am partially aware of the other aspects. If one walks out by the time schools get off, for the day; one would see children file out of school. They look neat and somehow, happy; they have been provided with books and other amenities and given decent wears by the government and their parents have been employed with a minimum wage, at a shoulder, slightly higher than their peers in other states; I mean the minimum wage in Imo is about two thousand Naira more than the average. These are impressive.
Since this is the case in Imo, the people’s verdict as the election draws near should be predictable. But only on Wednesday, January 7, 2015, the All Progressive Grand Alliance governorship candidate, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho launched his campaign and I discerned a major issue in his speech. I watched part of that but it was clear to me that he wanted the people of Imo State and the entire Nigerians to revisit the polity. I am not partisan but I agree with him. I therefore want to bent backwards and ask for definitions of all that we are told and all that are paraded before us. Everyone knows that not all that glitter is gold, so for this reason, we ask to be told, in clear terms, what and how things are.
Let me get to the much orchestrated free education, at all levels, in Imo state. How can anyone define it? My idea of free education is in general terms, a qualitative formal learning system that is all inclusive and sustainable (forgive me if I fail to meet your standard); it is just an operational definition. From this premise, is there actually free education in Imo State? I was in Owerri and I asked questions. I got mixed reactions to this particular issue. While some believe there is, because, to them, for the first time, they are getting to “enjoy” some form of nonpayment of tuition and other fees for their children; for others, there is no free education. Reason is that an act of political benevolence does not translate into a government policy. For instance, if there is a policy of free education, where is the report of the process; let’s say, in terms of statistics?
How many Imo children are there in the primary, junior and senior secondary schools and in the tertiary institutions? Let me not even go too far, how many schools are there in Imo State? There is a secondary school in front of my family compound in my home in Imo (by the way, I was born an Imo indigene), and it has been a pathetic sight for some time now. Right now, I am thinking of mobilizing my people and former students for an intervention. So, I suppose, are very many others. Do these schools fall within the global consideration of facilities for free education? If free education is for children to attend school without payment of tuition fees, and also without facilities to learn with, then we need a redefinition of that.
So far about that, let me go to healthcare. I asked questions on how health centres have been developed for the people at the local government areas and I am still waiting for a report that will indicate that adequate hospitals and other healthcare facilities have been provided. I have a lot of terms to beam on the wall for “proper definitions,” so forgive me if I appear somehow hasty.
By far the most interesting areas where there is a need for definitions will be in the development of human beings; infrastructure and other public facilities. First I see an establishment labeled “School of Professional Studies” and I wonder what that could be and who benefit from it. I also learnt of a controversy on the proper location or relocation of Imo State University and or the establishment of more Universities in the State. I do not have any concrete information on Secondary School development, both in terms of quality and quantity but from what I see of the school in my community, things are not in proper shape.
Then I hear jobs created by the previous government (though more or less a monumental act of deceit) were abrogated and new ones promised, are still in the pipeline. The government of the incumbent Okorocha claims to have constructed roads, public houses, school buildings, gates, parks and gardens and “roundabouts.” It also insinuated that all these have contributed in the upgrade of the entire shape of the state.
Why I consider all these interesting is because we need to have a proper definition of the terms; for instance, what a “constructed road” is, and what an opening for movement is. Why I say this is because, even the colonial administrators built what they referred to as roads but we know those were mere channels opened for a little ease of movement. What a school should be; what an employment ought to be etc. moreover, since the breakdown of the original water project of Governor Sam Mbakwe, there has not been any other effort to centralize water distribution system.
Now, the new campaign promises are moving towards youth empowerment, industrialization and job creation. Please, it would help, if these issues are properly defined. This measure will help to eliminate doubts on the part of the electorate.