Posted by News Express | 10 May 2017 | 2,632 times
A lot of things have happened in Imo State in quick succession, and if you are not careful you would miss count of the events, because sometimes the narration gets twisted by the government of the day in the state. Anyway, if the state government has been described as the “unjust aggressor against its own people” by the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), you should not be shocked when the narration is twisted to save the dirty face of the government and its operators. It is not my word, mind you. I did not say the Governor or his government is dirty. Onwuasoanya, FCC Jones said so.
When the government is unable to twist the story, they end up intimidating people, as if some people are not mortals. But that is by the way. The point this time is that if you are not comfortable with what is going on in the state, there is only one strong and potent weapon to fight Uche Nwosu and Governor Rochas Okorocha, and ensure that the governor does not force Nwosu or any other person down our throat in 2019.
But let me refresh your memory. Recently, during a lecture on good governance and democracy in Owerri, the past chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Mr Sam Amadi, said that Governor Okorocha has “dis-empowered and subdued” Imo people. He was joined by the former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr Chidi Odinakalu, who said that Governor Okorocha was not the kind of leader Igbo people needed to move forward. And you know that before that comment, the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willy Obiano, had told Okorocha that he was not a good example of what a governor should be.
This was what Mr Amadi said: “In Imo State, for example, you see that the people are totally dis-empowered. They are not asking critical questions. They are subdued. Imo State has the largest number of civil society leaders in the country and helping other states to work. Why can’t they come home and organise themselves and bring accountability to Imo State?” He called for a new order in the state, where people with pedigree would hold sway, and not people with 419 background. “We want Imo politics to shift from what it used to be, before the causes of impunity, 419 leaders took over governance. We want a new order where people with pedigree, competence and accountable to govern the state”, he said.
Well, if you did not get the point Mr Amadi was making, what of Prof Odinkalu? For him, it was straight and simple: Igbo people, Imo people in particular, do not need his kind of leadership to move forward. “If we Igbo are to compete at the Nigeria level in a manner that makes our people rise up with dignity, then we can’t continue to have this type of level of governance. We got to say no to it.”
He noted: “The question is: How many people are satisfied with the state of Imo State. I remember when the last election was taking place and there were people who were prepared to kill for the governor; I mean the current governor: Where we are they today? Everybody is recounting. Pensioners are being forced to surrender their money, as a precondition for getting anything at all. Regular workers are being owed, and they are required to sign away a significant chunk of their salaries.
“All the so-called roads are undone and in tatters and, indeed, have become a danger to a lot of people. And insecurity has risen. The government does not appear to have the attention span of the serious responsibility of government. I am sure the government means very well, but sometimes we got to admit that people may be on the wrong job. And I think he is. I wish him very well, but the thing is that we cannot continue to keep the wrong people in the wrong job.
“I say here, Imo State, is the most educated state in the country, highly globalised and internationalised. It needs to begin to think of the kind of government of leadership and structure that will reflect the awareness structure of it demographics.”
Hope you got it now? But I must remind you that the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) had also passed a damning verdict on the governor of recent. They reminded us that the health system in the state had collapsed. More worrisome was the alarm they raised, that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS was on the rise in the state and that those living with the virus can no longer get their medication, as it used to be. They also raised more worrisome alarm: that the state government is not prepared to tackle the menace of meningitis, which they said was spreading to the south. As the doctors were raising the alarm in Imo State, Enugu State Government was carrying out sensitisation programmes to warn and equip its people on the menace of meningitis. It is needless, perhaps, to say that the NMA also said that the woman the governor chose as Commissioner for Health was a misfit, as her background and training does not equip her for the job. That is where we are now, in a state where everyone is at the risk of HIV/AIDS, a situation that had been addressed years before the coming of the ‘Rescue Mission’ Holocaust.
Well, did you not hear that COREN also raised a safety alarm over the constructions going in the state: that they are death-traps? But since the governor cannot accede to the request of COREN, by disclosing the engineers that designed and supervised the flyover, we are at liberty to choose not to make use of the flyover. And of course, I need add that seeing its failure with the 27 general hospitals, the state government has fretted away our common assets to agencies of the Federal Government, without getting the approval of the Imo State House of Assembly. That is, if we still have a house. By doing so the government wants to give us the impression that there is Federal Government presence in the state. But we cannot be deceived, because we know we are among the Buhari’s 5 per centers who, at best, should get the crumbs from the drum falling from the mouth of the 97 per centers.
I could go on and count. But the point is not in reeling these painful condemnations of a government that promised to be on rescue. Having seen the failure of the government, and having seen that the governor is prepared to force his stooge down our throat in 2019, the best we can do to help the situation is to properly equip ourselves with the potent weapon: that is, the permanent voters card (PVCs). Our priority now should not be who to vote for, or against. Our focus should be to take advantage of the window opened by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to get ourselves registered. We need to also encourage our friends to get registered. When we have the PVCs we can then talk of the voting pattern.
It is very painful that most people, even among political party members, who shout about the next election, do not even have their PVCs. And sometimes you would see that some who have the PVCs do not even vote. If Imo State of more than 4 million people could have voters’ card registration and collection to the tune of 4 million, the political leadership in the state would, at least, know that we mean business; that, in the final analysis, power belongs to the people. But when we talk and do nothing, we give them the precious window to rig themselves to power. Then, we would come back wailing. God forbid!
INEC has opened a window of choices for the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) that began on Thursday, April 27, 2017 across the 774 local government areas in the country. This means that the exercise opened at the 27 LGAs of Imo State, beginning from 9am to 3:30pm, Mondays to Fridays, except on public holidays. During this period of the CVR, you are allowed to transfer your polling unit from state to state and from local government or polling unit to another. For example, if you are an indigene of Imo State but registered in Lagos, please transfer your polling unit to the one in your village, so you could come back home and vote right here in Imo State. We need your vote. And if you are in Imo State and you think it is not convenient voting outside your home polling unit, please do the needful and ask INEC to transfer you quickly to the one in your community. We need your vote.
Of course, if you are among those who did not collect their PVCs before the 2015 general election, you have the ample opportunity to collect them now. Don’t wait till the time of election. Get them now and get yourself equipped, like a workman that need not be ashamed of his tools. Doing this is the best and sure way we can beat Nwosu or any other preferred candidate of the governor at the polls, and shame all who have made themselves enemies of the people.
•Collins Ughalaa writes from Owerri.
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