By Dr Ugoji Egbujo
The other day it was at the Imo house of assembly complex. There was a leaking roof. It had been allowed to leak. When the walls turned green and good for camera, the congregation for lamentation headed there. The speaker and the state legislators, the governor and his entourage, and cameras. The feast was Okorocha and the shabbiness of his works.
That leakage ought to have been fixed once the house was inaugurated. Since June, it’s been nearly daily deluge of rain. But nothing was done. Spectacles are needed. The governor who should be busy fixing roads and schools and helping farmers has had too much time for pettiness and drama. He ran to the site of a leaking roof with photo journalists and television crew. The members of house of assembly stood behind and nodded triumphantly like lizards that had fallen from a big tree.
Pictures don’t lie. While they stood there shedding crocodile tears for Imo state, the pictures showed that somebody had deliberately neglected the complex. They could blame Okorocha for a leaking roof which they could have fixed noiselessly in the last 6 weeks. But who would they blame for the grasses that had been allowed to grow wild and swamp that premises?
On his first day at work, the governor wept about state of the governor’s lodge. He sold pictures of dirty toilets to the public. When he handed the microphone to the permanent secretary in charge to corroborate that the lodge was inhabitable, the lady politely rebuked him by saying that whatever was lacking in the lodge could be fixed in a few days.
Imo is tired. Rochas Okorocha had run Imo like a private empire. Government business was done like bedroom matters. Everything happened without script and in the dark. Okorocha foisted his fantasies on the state. Due process was banished. Transparency was excommunicated. Members of his family became government. And his wishes government policies.
But he was energetic. He was industrious. He was only limited by selfishness, disregard for standards and processes, and perhaps delusions of grandeur. He opened Owerri up. He did so many roads. He could have done much more if he wasn’t shortsighted, if he had allowed due process and adhered to standards. Many of the roads were shoddily done. Many of the hospitals and buildings he constructed have not been furnished. There was this childishness in many things Okorocha tried to do. With that level flightiness he had to leave much for the new governor to furnish and maintain. But Okorocha wasn’t an indolent governor. Definitely not as indolent as the ones before him.
Ihedioha must find sobriety. Imo doesn’t need charlatanism.
Governor Ihedioha has a moral and constitutional duty to expose past misgovernment and recover stolen assets. But he must follow due process. Imo people are tired of fickleness and pettiness. If Okorocha and his family stole government vehicles, Ihedioha should publish the particulars of the missing vehicles. And request the police declare them missing and block renewals of licenses. Let the state Attorney General go through the courts to recover stolen assets. The ICPC exists to help him prosecute offenders. The EFCC already has a file on Okorocha’s government. Ihedioha should quietly gather evidence and see that offenders are prosecuted. But running around the streets with a makeshift task force is utter nonsense.
Imo is tired of iberiberism.
Imo is peaceful. But that relative tranquility must be protected. Thugs, no matter how they are dressed, are thugs. The use of thugs to recover alleged stolen assets is illegal and could fester political violence. Governor Ihedioha must understand the wide berth of his powers. But he must also understand its limits. Okorocha is generally a peaceful man. There are many other former governors whose families an incumbent governor would not dare attack on the streets. Ihedioha and his task force must not turn Imo to another Rivers.
I understand he may have to undo a couple of things. I have seen agents of the government knocking down the light hangers on some of the roads. I read the statement the state government released when Akachi tower was damaged. It said it understood the people wishing to do away with anything that reminded them of the past evil administration. If that is the governor’s mindset then he would have to close many roads and bury hundreds of houses. Rather than try to clean Okorocha’s foot prints with scarce government resources, Ihedioha should strive to leave lasting bold foot prints of his own.
Ihedioha has been around for about two months. He wants to bury evil legacies. But under his watch, Imo civil savants were still paid only 70% of their salaries.
Ihedioha should concentrate. Imo is not hungry for food and good governance, and not drama.