I am a witness to the history in the making. The history in question is the ascendancy of Emeka Ihedioha as the governor of Imo State. If you did not realise from the outset that a new day has beckoned in Imo State with the emergence of Ihedioha as governor, I invite you to follow my diary of the new order in the state.
I started this chronology in March 2019. That was the month that Ihedioha emerged as governor. The prevailing mood in the state at that time triggered this narrative. Ecstasy had seized the better part of the people at that time. The outcome of the election heralded a new order. A certain emancipation had taken place. The people felt free. They felt freed from a certain stranglehold. They had been rescued from a long night of drudgery. The new order ushered in hope. It gave the people so much to look up to.
Ihedioha, practically speaking, rode to power on the wings of populism. The people chose him over and above his rivals.
The outcome of the contest was remarkable for more than one reason. It saw to the ouster of the behemoth that bestrode the state like a colossus for eight years. And for this alone, the people were elated. They were excited. The other reason was that the victory of Ihedioha at the polls catapulted his political rating to a higher height. In that contest, he was up in arms against known political heavyweights. Bookmakers had a hell of time trying to predict the outcome. It was not easy to settle for any candidate. The matter was, at best, left open-ended.
But while pundits were losing sleep over the way the elections would go, Ihedioha put on his thinking cap. While others played to the gallery, he went for the substance. He attuned himself to the wishes and aspirations of the people. He knew that that was what mattered. He needed to be even with those who hold the mandate. He simply struck the right chord, and the result was the victory song that the people had to sing. Essentially, his victory approximated to the quest of the mythical Prometheus who stole fire from the gods. In fact, by winning the 2019 governorship election in Imo state, Ihedioha stole fire from the gods. The consternation and disquiet which it inflicted in certain quarters is still very much with us. Those who could not match the speed and ravages of the man’s political machine are still bemused and bewildered by his uncommon triumph. But the governor has set sail, regardless of the hangups in certain quarters.
Since we are told, and we know it to be true, that to whom much is given, much is expected, the people, naturally, expected so much from the man they have given so much. Significantly, however, the governor has a well-oiled development agenda for the state. As a clear-headed patriot who has been representing his people at very high levels, Ihedioha knows the centrality of the people in governance. As a people who have been short-changed by their former leader, the people of Imo were, more than ever before, interested in the new order and the positive difference it would bring to bear on the state and its people.
It was for this reason that the first 100 days of Ihedioha became more than a passing event. The people looked forward to it. They were in a hurry to witness the benefits of the new order. But the Imo which Ihedioha inherited did not admit of such spontaneity. It called for measured steps. There was so much rot and decay that Ihedioha needed to cleanse the Augean stable before setting sail. He needed to restore order and due process in the affairs of the state. He needed to throw overboard the phenomenon of the rule of the thumb which was as good as a state policy under the previous order. Indeed, the Imo that Ihedioha inherited was a wasteland. He needed to make it fit for human habitation. That was one of his most immediate concerns.
But one thing must be noted. Ihedioha is a man of method. He is a systems person who believes that we need strong and efficient institutions in order to put governance on the right footing. Before him, the state was run like a fiefdom. There was no difference between public and private funds. The commonwealth of the people was brazenly appropriated and expropriated to serve the sole interest of the czar. The people had no say in the way they were governed. But Ihedioha has reversed all that. He has returned transparency and accountability to governance. Due process is now the order of the day. With the Treasury Single Account which the governor put in place, the day of looting and misappropriation of public treasury is gone for good in Imo state.
Having put in place a system that works, the governor is now focused on infrastructural development. Those who are familiar with Owerri will readily attest to the fact that the roads in the city are a death trap. The level of devastation gives the impression that the roads were blown up with dynamite and then allowed to decay. Most of the strategic roads are no longer passable.
However, it is gratifying to note that Ihedioha has picked up the bits and pieces of Owerri city roads. With the award of contracts for many of the failed roads, an ambitious road reconstruction is going on at moment. Imo is now a huge construction site. The glittering beauty of Owerri will return in a matter of months. But Owerri is not the sole beneficiary of the Ihedioha magical touch. Roads in Orlu, Okigwe, Oguta, Mbaise and other parts of the state are also being taken care of. Other infrastructural projects are also ongoing. Of particular interest is the methodic stride being made in the area of technical education. At moment, four technical colleges in Owerri, Mbaise, Orlu and Mbano are being rehabilitated and upgraded. When fully operational, the institutions will help to drive the technological development which the Ihedioha administration is aggressively pursuing.
In all, the first 100 days of the Ihedioha administration has been eventful. There has been a deliberate and measured approach to governance. Every step taken so far is well thought out. The overall objective is to ensure that the real needs of the people are met. If morning, as they say, shows the day, there is every cause to believe that the Ihedioha order in Imo state will usher in a renewed, revitalized and reinvigorated Imo. Indeed, if we look back to where we started from, we can safely say that the governor is getting it right. Like the man of method that he is, he is not putting his hands on every pie. He has a programme of action and he is delivering on them one after the other.
•Dr Obi is the Director General of the Ahiajoku Institute, Owerri.