By Marcus Iheanyi
WORDS making the round is that Governor Rochas Okorocha is shocked that the people of Imo State are unhappy that he is planning to foist his son-in-law on the state as his successor come May 2019. For the governor who believes he has done his best to serve his people well, all he is expecting from them is gratitude and nothing less. But only a man with the mind-set of Owelle Okorocha will be shocked that the people want nothing more to do with his style of governance, especially not through a puppet or proxy after he failed to deliver on the improved welfare he promised Imo people before he was elected.
A sore point for the people of Imo State is the way and manner government under Okorocha has handled road construction in the state and the issue of compensation to owners of damaged property. The Okorocha years made road development an ecological issue causing damage in the affected areas and worse still, damage to private property and the necessary compensation that should follow has not been properly administered; thus, making such matters subject of nebulous speculations and road construction a near unwelcome development feature for most communities.
For instance, did road construction not become a thing to dread in Orji/Okigwe road, Orlu road, Egbu road, Mbaise road and Egbeada road? When the old owners of the Egbeada market who had market stalls, demanded a proper documentation of the owners/occupants of stalls at the market prior to demolition and reconstruction, did all entreaties to the governor not fall on deaf ears for alleged private interests in the allocation of the proposed reconstructed stalls? When the people bemoaned their plight, including the Ekeukwu market catastrophe, did the governor not aggravate it by deliberately abandoning the evacuation of refuse on Douglas Road, and to rub in the insult, the spokesperson of government was on radio boasting thus: “Government deliberately abandoned the refuse along Douglas Road, Owerri to get back at Owerri people who have been battling the State Government over the relocation of the market.” Was the same puppet/proxy that the Owelle is planning to foist on Imo people not one of the chief executors in all these miseries that befell the people of Imo State?
The hope which surrounded the euphoria with which Imo people mandated Owelle Okorocha to improve their welfare and provide them with an ambiance that should enable them enhance their capabilities have been dashed. From hope, the welfare of Imo people have declined into chronic cumulative regression. Instead of the promises of better pay and improved welfare, Okorocha delivered delayed and diminished wages and turned pensions, from a dignified retirement for long and diligent service to one’s state into a curse where deserving retirees are subjected to the indignity of negotiating to collect fractions of benefits that others had previously taken for granted. The Imo people do not owe Okorocha or his proxies an extended followership. They are well in their rights from the benefit of experience to reject and denounce any attempts to extend the miseries they currently endure. Imo people, therefore, have the right to the hope of an audacious new beginning in May 2019 and willing to make new bold plans to reach for greater development heights and the top of their potentials.
An audacious hope for a new beginning in May 2019, distant from any proxy links, tied to the apron strings of the outgoing governor will ensure that the complete subordination of Local Governments will recede into the past, from the current practices where the Constitution is defied and local government elections were not conducted for seven years. It will be a complete departure from executive recklessness which purported to have monarchical powers to sack the head of the judicial arm in Imo State without reference to the constitutional and other statutory positions which are clearly laid out. It will bring an end to the indignity of lack of full-time employment for Imo youths. It will end the agony over how Imo State will overcome its water supply issues which the current government has only paid lip-service to. It will indeed usher in a renewed hope that the extortionist levies and taxes currently administered by the state will wear a human face and there will be value for money for what will be paid.
After the sub-optimal delivery of the outgoing government in Imo State, the people do not want to remain in perpetuated anguish bemoaning the lengthy list of failed promises and embarking on another journey of deceit through a proxy. They want renewed hope, however audacious. They want a fresh start that will surely make the Okorocha years bygone years. This is why the people now wish to look beyond the Okorocha compound for new aspirants.
The people of Imo State want to encourage people with new but workable vision who are forthright and with a track record of diligence and honesty that can be tracked, like Sir Stanley Amuchie. I was very excited to find that such a credible man will be one of the possible choices for Governor of Imo State for the 2019 race. I recall his exceptional brilliance years ago in the University of Benin which earned him a First Class degree. Over the years, he has carried on that diligence and excellence into the financial sector, where he has risen to the top echelon of management. I have also observed over the years similar endeavours on his part in philanthropy in the Church and town unions and social causes at grassroots level.
That is the type of clean break the people of Imo State will be hoping to make in 2019, having people with private sector values and orientation in service delivery to assume leadership positions. Let the failed promises, dashed hopes be a thing of the past so that Imo people can expand their possibilities in a new horizon. Such revival of hope cannot occur with those who have a track record embedded in the outgoing government. The people of Imo State must look beyond these tainted hands who have demonstrated by their performance that their best is not good enough for Imo people and therefore look up to others with renewed hope and promise like Sir Stanley Amuchie .