Never in the history of Imo State has the euphoria of having a new governor been so overwhelming to the people like the coming of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha on May 29, 2019, precisely next week. The excitement is palpable on the streets. The victory of Ihedioha as the new governor-elect of Imo State has brought joy and jubilation among the people to a dimension that has never been felt before. People are shedding tears of joy, particularly, for the fact that Ihedioha is coming from Owerri zone and Mbaise in particular, hitherto, somehow marginalised in Imo State since this political dispensation began in 1999.
Imo people are like the biblical Israel that felt like dreaming and overjoyed when they were set free from captivity. The captive Israel couldn’t believe it really happened after they were set free from Babylon. The enslavement had appeared to be unending. When it finally came, to their chagrin, the people could not fathom it. That explained the excitement.
While the fore going captures the mood of the people at the moment, there is another small group that, unfortunately, is having a sickening fever. The outgoing Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu and their followers are in this group. This group is shedding real tears of disappointment and dashed hope. The loss of the governorship race by Uche Nwosu dealt a huge blow on Okorocha, his principal. It is like their world has collapsed. The thought of vacating the government house, which Okorocha had vowed never to hand over to no other person than Uche Nwosu, is disgusting and heart-rending.
Consequently, each day, as the inauguration day draws nearer, the Okorocha camp gets more frightened and uncertain about the future. Man proposes but God disposes, what else could be done in the circumstance? Nothing, indeed, but just to accept the fate. Those outside Ihediohas’s winning camp must accept their fate with equanimity as no condition is permanent.
The election that brought Ihedioha was, perhaps, the hottest and most keenly contested in the history of Imo State. At the root of the contest was the over vaulting ambition of the incumbent Governor Okorocha and his protégé, Uche Nwosu, who spared nothing to ensure they got victory. High wire intrigues and inducement were rife.
Consequently, there was palpable fear and apprehension among the people on account of the dogged grip of Okorocha on the entire state. The entire local government structure, for instance, was in his pocket. The same was the state house of assembly. Everything was set ready for the battle.
The ferocity with which Okorocha pushed and pursued the Uche Nwosu project to be his successor was frightening and unprecedented in Imo State. Posturing as his imperial majesty, whose word is law, Imo people were almost stymied to surrender as Uche Nwosu became bolder and began to speak with seeming authority. Backed by huge financial muscle, no fear was entertained, whatsoever, that the mission would not be accomplished. But all that came crashing like a pack of cards after INEC announced Ihedioha as the winner.
The thought of having another four years of Okorocha vide his puppet, Uche Nwosu, was harrowing. The people were wearied and tired of Okorocha’s governance style, which many say impoverished them and their businesses. Imo was turned into a virtual estate of the Governor. But all that is now history; Imo people have heaved a sigh of relief.
The inauguration fever was heightened following the setting up of a Transition Technical Committee (TTC) by Ihedioha on April 1, 2019, headed by Prof. Ernest Ebi as Chairman and former Minister of Aviation, Dr. Kema Chikwe as Vice chairman. Altogether, the committee is made up of 140 wise men and women comprising seasoned academics, captains of industry, business moguls, financial experts and distinguished members of the political class, the crux of their assignment was to develop a blueprint to serve as guide to the new administration based on the campaign promises of Ihedioha during the electioneering campaigns. With his “let us rebuild Imo slogan,” Ihedioha intends to use the blueprint to accomplish his vision for a new Imo.
Without wasting time, the TTC swung into action to carry out the onerous assignment. It set out by calling for memoranda from the Imo public with key focus on Education and Human Capital Development, Healthcare, Finance, Integrated Infrastructure, Good Governance, Projects and Contracts Review, Agriculture, Commerce and Industries Development, Wealth and Job Creation. Others are Youth Development and Empowerment, Tourism and Hospitality Development, Talent and Opportunities, Security, Owerri Master Plan and Diaspora Initiatives. The committee called on Imo citizens who have information, ideas and solutions on these cardinal issues to bring them forward.
“Members of the committee were carefully selected by the governor-elect and are made up of men and women of high integrity who are committed to the actualization of the task of rebuilding Imo State,” in a statement released by Chibuike Onyeukwu in Owerri.
According to the TTC, the governor-elect believes that by submitting their memoranda, the people are helping to shape the agenda of the new government and empowering themselves to be agents of good governance he promised.
Furthermore, on April 9, Ihedioha constituted another 287-member inauguration committee to drive the nitty-gritty of the actual swearing-in and hand-over ceremony on May 29. The occasion saw the crème of who is who in Imo State as the Rockview Hotel, venue of the event was jam packed with people. In attendance were two former governors of Imo State, Achike Udenwa (Onwa) and Ikedi Ohakim (Ochinanwata) and other dignitaries. The incumbent Governor, Rochas Okorocha was conspicuously absent.
The committee is chaired by the former Secretary to the State Government, Chris Okewulonu. The sub-committees include Budget, Media and Publicity, Protocol, Security, Entertainment, Logistics, Accommodation and Emergency Services. The others are Venue/Works, Interdenominational Service, Contact and Mobilisation, Inaugural Lecture and Welfare.
Since the constitution of the two committees, Owerri has been a beehive of activities, with each of the sub-committees working round the clock to meet their targets.
The constitution of the two committees, however, did not go down well with some people, who apparently, belonged to the Okorocha camp. The critics saw nothing good with the committees and their composition.
First, they were angered by the robust membership of the committees, which to them was superfluous. The decision of Ihedioha to involve a wide cross-section of the Imo polity, including even those in the opposition camp could not assuage the disgruntled critics. But what would they have said if Ihedioha had selected a handful of his friends and acolytes? That again would have attracted their venom.
The critics failed to appreciate the fact that members of the committee were working based on the goodwill of Ihedioha. They accepted to work without pay since Okorocha, the incumbent governor, failed to cooperate with Ihedioha.
There was no money to throw about. Members of the committees were satisfied with the fact that a new administration is coming to give Imo State a new lease of life. That is where the joy lies and people volunteered to work to usher in a new government.
Whatever may be the case, one thing is certain – on May 29, Ihedioha will be sworn-in as the new Executive Governor of Imo State and Owelle Rochas Okorocha will leave the state. Hurray!