A rudderless government in Imo – Written by Arthur Nzeribe

One thing nobody can take away from Imo State is the fact that it boasts of quality democrats in the South-East geo-political zone. When one talks of professionals, intellectuals of repute, accomplished politicians, Imo State ranks high in supply of men and women in these cadres.

Happenings in the State today appear to suggest the dearth of quality human capital; otherwise, it may be concluded that they are choking under apparent intimidation.

With the coming on board of young democrats/politicians in the state, one had expected a better and vibrant Imo where older democrats like me will be proud of, but what appears to be going on is simply democratic apathy in the face of rudderless leadership, with its dire consequences to the wellbeing of the state.



It could be enough for some modern day leaders in Imo State to grumble about the governor’s predatory leadership style in their closets; but it is surely not acceptable for them to maintain cowardice silence in the open – they must speak up.  In the last one year or so, hardly will a day pass without Imo State featuring on national news for wrong reasons. Today, can the young democrats boost that Imo State is on the right track in terms of peace and stability? Who is speaking out on the danger of being led by a rudderless government in the state right now? These questions become apparent in view of the current near break down of law and order in the state, though not visible to the unwary masses.



Our modern day democrats may want to pretend as if nothing is wrong in the state in terms of governance, but it will amount to fairytale because Nigerians are beginning to ask questions about happenings in Imo. In view of the current flagrant disregard to constitutional provisions in Imo State, certain vital questions come to mind, hence the urgent need for democrats to speak up. In democracy, the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, serves as the only working document open to any president and the state governors. It must be upheld at any point in time no matter who is involved.

It is okay for the Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha to embark on road construction and expansion without design, due-diligence and settling of legal issues arising from the project; but it is certainly unpalatable for a sitting governor to flout the very constitution he swore to defend; particularly at this period the people of South-East are clamouring to have a shot at the presidency. Out of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, only Imo State has a fourth tier of government. In which Constitution was this aberration derived from? Again, what is the position of our modern day democrats on this shenanigan? Must it take the order of the Attorney General of the Federation for the 27 local government chairmen to be reinstated?


The answer to this question is of course, no. Must the response from Imo State to order of the Supreme Court for the immediate reinstatement of the 27 LGA Chairmen, be that “since federal government refused to reinstate suspended Justice Salami as allegedly ordered by the National Judicial Commission [NJC]; Imo State is at liberty not to obey court order”? How can the Imo State government equate administrative order to court order? Arising from these two instances, what can our new democrats say of the perception of governance in Imo State by Nigerians? At this point, what our young democrats must bear in mind is Franz Fanon’s quote that: “Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity”.

Perhaps it is pertinent to ask our new and young democrats like the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, how he is providing leadership in Imo State, as leadership baton has effectively fallen on his shoulder. The failure of our new democrats in the National Assembly to fashion out modalities for putting Imo State on the path of peace and stability is both worrying, and it could be viewed as a direct indictment of their ability to act as pathfinders in the state. In retrospect, Imo State in the last four years under Ikedi Ohakim, immediate past governor of the state, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyawu, Achike Udenwa, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, just to mention but few, as old democrats, witnessed relative peace and stability; but same cannot be said of the state today.

One begins to wonder if the young democrats in the entire South East zone, beyond Imo, have been overwhelmed by the expectation of leadership or are they still learning the ropes?  Apart from few exceptions, the general development has not been commendable. Every observer of activities in the National Assembly will admit a rare instance of the difference and that is in the leadership example of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu. He has distinguished himself creditably, has been an able leader in and outside the Senate. His speakership of the ECOWAS parliament is eloquent testimony of his prowess.



But I ask again, could the helplessness of our new democrats atconfronting the slide of Imo State into anarchy be attributed to lack of cohesion in its midst? Could it as well be that they do not have the interest of the state at heart individually and collectively?  Undoubtedly, Imo State will slump deeper into instability if democrats continue to behave as if nothing is amiss.

They must discover their mission and fulfill it. That is the mission of providing purposeful leadership. The unpalatable alternative is for them to betray this mission by remaining docile and apparently intimidated. This is a wake up call because the leadership of the PDP in the state must step forward and demonstrate real capacity to manage opposition.

The present structure of the party, digital in outlook and more sophisticated than previous analogue structure does not necessarily have to be dismantled even though there is the need for tinkering here and there.  The present leadership at the national and state levels must pluck up the courage to do that which it knows should be done. It must be known to all that the problem with the party in the state is the activities of friendly enemies within.  If they put their house in order, they will be in the right position to check the government’s excesses and also call the decline back into normal direction. We should not let Imo die while we watch in silence.

Nzeribe writes in from Oguta, Imo State.



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