By Maureen Onyekele
When Governor Emeka Ihedioha was campaigning to be elected into office, he had encapsulated his programmes and promises on a ‘Rebuild Imo Agenda’.
It was however, on assumption of office as the Interim Management Committee Chairman for Ihitte/Uboma Local Government Council that the full meaning and implication of that title dawned on me.
Not that I was oblivious of the general meltdown in governance that characterized public policy formulation and execution amongst the various tiers of government under the infamous past administration in the state. We all knew that the state was badly governed under that regime. The odium oozed from several angles.
From the wide scale looting of the public treasury to badly constructed roads and public buildings. This is just as our sense of decency was continually assaulted by the erection of public statues for every Tom, Dick and Harry. Others included the complete destruction of the civil service, the unilateral declaration of public holidays and several other misdemeanours that space and time will not permit here. In fact, it will be trite to say that the dignity of our people as the Heartland of the Igbo republican culture was shaken to its foundation. The overall implication of those locust years was a significant reduction in the standard of living of our people.
In spite of all these havoc, the necessity of Governor Ihedioha’s ‘Rebuild Imo Agenda’ became much clearer to me on assumption of office as the helmsman of my council, Ihitte/Uboma. Being a rural local government area, the meltdown was more severe. The details of the situation that assaulted my senses included a council headquarters that was over grown with weeds, thick bushes and teeming with insects and rodents.
This was in addition to a dilapidated and broken down infrastructure like electricity, broken roofs, ceilings, chairs, tables and equipment. This is just as most of the primary health centres and rural feeder roads were all in a comatose state. All these, in addition to irregular payment of staff emoluments. The circumstance was such that truancy and low morale was a natural condition of work for most of the staff.
The operational environment was such that most people simply forgot that they had a local government council that had a responsibility to provide crucial services and governance for the local areas. It was all these that fuelled my further appreciation and understanding of the ‘Rebuild Imo Agenda’. This philosophy of governance at once outlines the philosophical basis of what our public policy formulation and execution ought to be.
Three months down the line, what has Ihedioha done with his agenda? And what have we, at the local government council as his partners done in the effort to rebuild our state?
I know that opinions will be divided on the answer to these questions. In as much as I am not a member of the state executive council, most objective observers are quite aware that he has started well by putting in place a good governance structure for the entire state. Some of the characteristic evidence of such good governance structure is the recruitment of the best brains the state has or what some writers call Imo’s first eleven, to man strategic positions in the government. Others include the running of an open and accountable government that has taken off by calling on the past administration to account for the several billions that accrued to the state during their tenure. That to me, is what accountability, rule of law and democracy should be about. Those occupying positions of public trust should be called upon at an appropriate time to account for it. I am also aware that several projects have taken off in the state that are all geared towards enhancing the living standards of our people.
At the local government level, the provision of a good governance structure has enabled the councils in the state to regain its full autonomy under his able watch. We are now paying staff emoluments when due. Additionally, our councils have now been cleared of weeds, bushes, rodents and they are once again excellent centres of local government administration.
In my own council in particular, we have started a process of rebuilding our primary health centres, just as we have just concluded a free medicare programme in conjunction with the Nigerian Nursing Association of North America that enabled our people to have immediate access to quality health care.
We have also started a programme to rebuild most of the broken down infrastructures in the various communities. It is under this programme that we have started rebuilding electricity infrastructure of several communities that were either damaged or vandalised. It is our intention to ensure that all the various communities in our area enjoy functional electricity supply. This is just as we have completed arrangements for the construction of a modern stadium complex that will be accompanied by an indoor sports hall. The project is in line with Ihedioha’s advice on the development of sports in the local government areas. It is our firm belief that such a stadium when completed and put into use will not only provide an excellent facility for sporting activities but will equally offer opportunities for several budding talents that abound in our area to excel. We shall keep incorporating other programmes as our revenue improves so as to be an able partner to Governor Ihedioha in his determined bid to rebuild Imo State.
Even though three months is a very short time to assess the performance of a government that has a four-year tenure, it is however, enough time to assess the direction. In our case in Imo State, Governor Ihedioha’s stewardship has clearly changed the governance system to one that is headed in the direction of a good and high quality one.
- Onyekele is Chairman, Interim Management Committee, Ihitte/Uboma Local Government Council of Imo State.