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Monday, 5 March 2012

IMO: BUMPY ROAD AHEAD By Emmanuel Onwubiko

Twenty four hours after Chief Anayo Rochas Okorocha of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) was declared the winner of the April 2011 elections as the governor of Imo state by the Attahiru Jega-led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I did a piece to warn him (governor Rochas Okorocha) not to rejoice yet since the job ahead of him is arduous and needs total commitment and concentration.

The candidate of the then ruling People Democratic Party for the governorship poll in Imo state, Chief Ikedi Ohakim however gave Chief Okorocha a big legal battle seeking to overturn the victory won by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) but the titanic political litigation ended on Friday March 2nd 2012 when a five Justices Supreme Court panel headed by Justice Mahmud Mohammed gave a landmark verdict affirming Chief Okorocha as the validly elected governor of Imo State from 2011 to 2015.

The comprehensive import of the supreme court’s judgment is that the Imo state Chief executive can now fully concentrate on the onerous task of rebuilding the state that has suffered gravely from prolonged regime of bad governance, poor rural and urban underdevelopment, corruption, youth unemployment and other social crimes that have retarded the comprehensive transformation of that state to become economically vibrant and self sufficient. The governor should therefore be ready to engage in another battle against poverty.

I have also had reason to put pen to paper barely three months after chief Okorocha took oath of office to sound a note of warning about the chaotic situation of traffic and road infrastructure in Owerri, the capital of Imo State and I tasked the Imo state administration to take concrete steps to instill discipline among road users and to invest massively in rural and urban road infrastructure even as I also strongly canvassed the entrenchment of a sustainable maintenance culture among the Imo State work force and citizenry so that the state of the public infrastructure would remain evergreen and functional. Few months after making my observations, I visited Imo State with my team of development workers from our organization to see for ourselves the extent of work and activities in the area of public infrastructural reconstruction, restructuring and rehabilitation that are ongoing in Imo State and I can confidently state without fear of contradiction that we met Imo State in a commendable situation of comprehensive rural and urban roads’ reconstruction.

To confirm whether the road construction activities going on in Owerri were mere deception, we visited Arondizuogu and parts of Ahiazu-Mbaise and from the road construction work going on there, it is noteworthy to task the Imo State government to strive to maintain consistency and effectiveness in the delivery of world class rural and urban roads infrastructure that can stand the test of time and rapidly galvanize the rural and urban populace to further create wealth for themselves, their immediate community and Imo State in general.

There is no gainsaying that Imo State is in serious need of rapid rural and urban infrastructural renewal because for more than three decades that the state was constitutionally created, successive administrations have failed to concretely and pragmatically introduce durable rural and urban based infrastructural facilities that are capable of lifting the people to their better selves. This criminal neglect of mostly the rural communities by successive administrations, made it inevitable that prospective investors are not encouraged to inject their financial resources towards building viable manufacturing firms in large expanse of green land scattered all across the rural areas of Imo State so as to absorb the large army of unemployed young graduates of Imo State extraction.

Chief Okorocha’s victory at the Supreme Court is an opportunity for him and his cabinet to go back to the drawing board and work out people friendly avenues for shoring up the revenue generation capacity of the State and also implement good governance measures that would ensure transparent and accountable expenditure of public funds to fix the dilapidated but critical infrastructures in both the rural and urban communities equitably.
The Imo state administration should see the agricultural and tourism sectors as vital areas that enabling environments ought to be created to encourage the actualization of the active involvement of genuine prospective investors in a transparent process under the public/private partnership.

The Imo state administration needs to work hard and relentlessly to change the poverty profile of the state which is abysmal going by the latest statistics gathered scientifically by the highly reputable National Bureau of Statistics.    
Specifically, in the current Nigerian poverty profile of 2010 released recently by the National Bureau of Statistic, Imo state turned out with over 33.3 percent of her population suffering from grave food poverty, even as 50.5 percent of Imo state people are absolutely poor. In terms of relative poverty, a staggering 57.3 percent of Imo state residents are poor and in United States Dollar per day-based poverty rating about 50.7 percent of the residents cannot generate up to one dollar per day.

The document made available by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the application of dollar per day in the computation of poverty measure was achieved by adopting the World Bank 2002 of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) which placed on US$1 to be equivalent to N46.2.

From the foregoing, the Imo State administration must be aware by now that the road to effective, efficient and comprehensive rural and urban infrastructural transformation and reconstruction is very bumpy and demands every attention and transparent use of the scarce public funds.

The recent policy statement credited to Governor Okorocha that soon Imo State indigenes in the different educational institutions in the state will enjoy free but qualitative education is note worthy. The Imo state administration should also find a way of bringing rural electrification and upgrade available information technology infrastructure for the benefit of the thousands of young Imo State students to develop their human capacity and talents and become self reliant on graduation from school rather than go cap in hand begging for hand outs from politicians.

Bill Gates wrote in his book; “The Road Ahead”, that; “This is an exciting time in information Age. It is the very beginning…information technology will enhance our leisure time and enrich our culture by expanding the distribution of information”.
Governor Okorocha, please this is time for serious home work and not for political banalities or shenanigans.

*     Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of HUMAN Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria and            writes from www.huriwa.blogspot .com.               


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