Imo: Challenges before the Integrated Infrastructure Committee

Posted by News Express | 19 April 2019 | 1,603 times

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The Integrated Infrastructure sub-committee of the Technical Transition Committee (TTC) is rated a critical committee, given the sensitivity of its assignment and general expectation. This committee is headed by the Emekuku-Owerri-born shipping and oil & gas magnet, Capt Emmanuel Iheanacho. The committee has an array of notable and distinguished Imo citizens as members. 

After the inaugural ceremony – which officially fired up the TTC to carry out its load of assignments – by the Imo State Governor-elect, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, two weeks ago, members have practically swung into action to, among other things, develop a practical, achievable blueprint that will essentially aid the incoming administration to undertake right and people-oriented actions needed to reclaim and rebuild Imo. 

Recall that Ihedioha, former deputy Speaker, House of Representatives and the 2019 Imo governor-elect had, during the campaigns, promised to re-build the conspicuously destroyed and devastated Imo. He envisioned and designed strategic, workable programmes and policies as enunciated in his manifesto to, ultimately, drive the Re-Build mantra to reality.

It is equally common knowledge that the out-going administration of Gov Rochas Okorocha embarked on several infrastructural projects, especially building construction, without proper planning and mission.  The Rescue Mission, as branded by Okorocha, built short-link-adjourning roads, especially in Owerri municipality, apparently to remodel the capital city.

Unfortunately, most of these road projects – having undergone public scrutiny and professional evaluation – are widely condemned as China Roads given their perceived low standard and obvious poor quality. The out-going government is also ridiculed and confronted with allegations of massive land-grabbing and criminal conversion government property to personal assets, which allegedly benefited the governor's family members and top government functionaries.

Also through a controversial and ill-thought-out Urban Renewal policy, Okorocha wantonly destroyed several property owned by perceived political opponents. A referenced case is a particular building situated on Orlu Road, Owerri, belonging to Iheanacho. Okorocha had, about two years ago, demolished the perimeter fencing and dug a gulley that inhibited Iheanacho from accessing his residence. The destruction of the property ignited a fierce legal battle that is still pending before an Owerri High Court.

The ugly scenario occasioned by the ill-prioritized programmes and policies of the exiting government vis-a-vis the urgency for a speedy infrastructural revival by the incoming administration is seriously throwing up enormous task before the Iheanacho-led Integrated Infrastructure Committee. But the task remains surmountable, given the background and experience of the committee members as well as their overtly expressed desire to selflessly contribute towards the Imo Rebuild project.

It is expected that critical information and the infrastructural status of Imo State before and after the lifetime of Okorocha's Rescue Mission must be diligently sourced and established. This suggests that land allocations, sales and conversion of government-owned landed property, as well as other critical government infrastructure shall be objectively reviewed to ascertain gratification, uses and purposefulness.

Some of the infrastructure may include the New Market, Orji Mechanic Village, Nekede Mechanic Village, IBC Orji, Eke Ukwu Owerre, New Government House Layout and Orlu Road Secretariat. The committee, given its terms of reference, is expected to patriotically make strong and objective recommendations on the foregoing public infrastructure and others deemed significant to the government for the clear purpose of securing a sound footing for the incoming administration.

The Infrastructure Committee is equally expected to prioritise initial projects for the incoming government on strict consideration of the variables of need, cost, social and economic importance. Though the incoming administration may not be adjudged on the basis of100 days in office, apparently given the transitory challenges, it is culturally imperative to anchor governance on need assessment, prioritisation and equitable distribution of projects. This will surely lay a solid foundation for purposeful governance capable of driving meaningful development at all spheres, as well as entrench good governance. It will also elicit a favourable public perception and acceptance.

While giving some accolades to Okorocha for his concerted efforts to remodel the state capital, especially the willpower in opening up several adjourning roads to connect Old and New Owerri, the standard of those jobs should be reviewed for the purpose of appropriating remedial works that will inject durability to the roads. If not, it will translate to a monumental disaster and colossal waste of resources should the road projects be forsaken to collapse randomly in the nearest future.

The rural roads, which never received the attention of the exiting government, should be revisited to give a new lease of life to the rural dwellers. The committee may also review the 15-kilometre road project the outgoing government claimed to have completed during its first term in office. That is to say that a blue-print on how to revamp the rural communities and provide the basic and essential amenities should be considered a priority by the Integrated Infrastructure Committee. The Imo rural development blueprint, as may be developed, should be served to the incoming local government administration as an operational guide to enforce the contributory quota of the 27 LGAs in the rebuilding project.

Given the above scenario, the Iheanacho-led committee should via overt or discreet methods seek credible information and the services of project and development consultants to articulate a workable and holistic infrastructural revival and upgrade that will help the incoming administration initiate sustainable, cost-effective and people-oriented projects upon its swearing-in on May 29.

The infrastructural committee should also evolve a communication model that will re-unite the incoming government and the people. This requires the services of a Communication Development expert. The essence is to close the gap created by the inability of the outgoing government to first communicate, dialogue and agree with the people before embarking on some projects that clearly lack usefulness. It is on record that given the communication lacuna that existed between the exiting government and the governed, Imo State seems to have lost scarce but huge resources on projects substantially lacking direct impact on the lives of the people.

The blueprint expected to be delivered by this committee and its subsequent implementation will offer an insight into the preparedness and patriotism of Ihedioha and his team within a short period.


Source: News Express

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