By Chidi Nkwopara, OWERRI
History has a way of repeating itself, good or bad and particularly in Imo State. During the administration of late Chief Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe, he introduced Sulo Bins, refuse compactor vehicles and other materials that enabled him to keep the state very clean.
Subsequent administrations after Chief Mbakwe largely failed to keep pace with his clean environment policy.
This situation persisted until Chief Ikedi Ohakim came on board with his purposeful and positive direction in the governorship of the state.
His innovative policy thrust that was anchored on the “New Face of Imo” philosophy, became the toast of the vast majority of the populace. Prominent among his programmes, was implemented under the Clean and Green Initiative, the Environmental Transformation Initiative and the Imo Rural Roads Maintenance Agency, IRROMA. All these became cardinal awareness issues among the citizenry.
This explained how Owerri, the state capital, became the cleanest state capital in Nigeria throughout the period Ohakim was governor. Owerri wore a respectable look for which the inhabitants were justifiably proud of.
This lofty history completely changed from 2011 to 2019 when Chief Rochas Okorocha held sway as governor. The refuse bins, compactor vehicles, trucks, earth moving graders and all other equipment disappeared.
The monthly clean-up exercise was largely jettisoned by the Okorocha administration. Avoidable filth and diseases multiplied everywhere in the state. To further compound the situation, the administration’s “urban renewal policy”, destroyed the solid drainage system built by Chief Mbakwe. This gave birth to the history of massive flooding in Owerri municipality.
Armed with these realities, Chief Emeka Ihedioha made “Rebuild Imo Policy” his mantra. This mantra not only became his gubernatorial campaign promise, but has, since taking the Oath of Office, commenced the redressing of what he called “the ugly situation we found ourselves in the past eight years”.
Chief Ihedioha has since re-engineered environmental cleanliness in the 27 local government areas of the state and appointed officials to oversee its full implementation.
What makes Ihedioha outstanding here is that he not only appreciated the degree of work done by Ohakim but also drafted him to be part of the environmental transformation programme. Ohakim had since, told whoever cared that he had no apologies for any one who expected him to reject the assignment for the good of Imo people.
In less than 60 days after accepting the responsibility thrust upon him by Governor Ihedioha, Chief Ohakim and his team have virtually completed the desilting of gutters and the underground drainage system in the old Owerri city and is currently facing the World Bank Housing Estate in New Owerri. The desilting of Lake Nwaebere, Trans-Egbu Water Basin and Mbano Street Basin, with swamp boogies is going on.
The wish for a clean environment in Imo State, came to pass with the reintroduction of the monthly environmental sanitation exercise by Governor Ihedioha.
Similarly, in a bid to check the effects of climate change, the governor also launched tree planting campaign and as at the time of going to press, over 5,000 trees have been successfully planted.
It is worth mentioning that Governor Ihedioha has since introduced a programme which seeks to collaborate with individuals and corporate bodies to develop the verges,green parks, roundabouts, car parks and tree planting. To this end, over 1,000 trees have been donated and received.
It must be said in clear terms that the introduction of “Go Green, Stay Clean Environment Policy” of Chief Ihedioha, in the first few days of the administration’s life, saw the evacuation of over 190 metric tonnes of solid waste.
The governor has also stopped the illegal dredging of Nworie and Otamiri Rivers and other streams across the state.
This, no doubt, is a commendable action taken by Chief Ihedioha to avert natural disasters that may sadly result from these human activities.
Currently and in conformity with his Rebuild Imo Policy, Governor Emeka Ihedioha has kept the people’s hope alive. To secure the state and it’s people, Ihedioha has launched the “Operation Iron Gate” and bought over 27 vehicles for use by the security agencies.
Just over the weekend, the governor unveiled the first phase of new waste bins, compactor vehicles, fire fighting vehicles and waste management equipment.
Speaking during the event, Ihedioha said that his administration remained very determined to rebuild the state from the deep ruin he inherited, adding that there was no reason why the state should remain the nation’s headquarters of filth, under his watch.
He commended the good work so far by the transformation committee and urged them to keep doing the good work.
On the procurement of fire fighting vehicles, the governor wondered how the state operated without fire engines, even as he expressed regret that the citizenry had in the past, lost goods worth millions to fire. He however, called for patience and understanding from the people.