By Collins Ughalaa KSC
Few days ago the media was agog with stories of the Governor’s visit to Abuja, the federal capital territory. The Governor was on a working visit to address a number of critical State matters, both political and economic. Gladly, he came back home with sweet tidings.
We can therefore surmise that the Governor’s stay in Abuja was worth it. But the opposition led by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) would have none of it. They shout to high heavens, that the Governor was on a jamboree. The Imo PDP has the penchant not to see anything good in the government and the Governor. This is understandable, but it does not replace the fact on the ground, which is that the Governor was able to attract billions of Naira investment from his trip, and is bridging the President to Igbo soil.
We posit that no chief executive or captain of industry would achieve much for his company by sitting in his office all day long. In similar manner, with all the security, economic, developmental, infrastructural and political challenges facing the Southeast and Imo State in particular, no State Chief Executive worth his salt would sit at home and expect miracles. Manners no longer fall from heaven. Everyone has got to work out his salvation. To achieve so much for their people, governors of the Southeast should leave their comfort zone, move out and mix up. They have to be where the discussions are held. They have to meet people that matter and do all the needed lobbying. The Governors should learn to use their offices to open doors and break barriers for their people. Gone are the days when Governors sit back, lock themselves up, become local champions by complaining and blaming others for their woes. Abuja being the centre of power politics, the melting port of national and international politics in the country, any governor not seen around is not worth his onion.
It was not shocking, therefore, that Governor Hope Uzodimma braced the odds, went to Abuja, met with the President and other people that matter and brought home the trophy. The Governor upon arrival to the State said his official trip to Abuja was a huge success. “Imo will reap bountifully from World Bank programmes on rural roads, NEWMAP projects, ecological programmes, among others that dominated [the Governor’s] discussion[s] and activities while in Abuja”, said the Governor’s CPS and Media Aide, Oguwike Nwachuku. He further quoted the Governor to have said that he had to embark on the Abuja trip to “resolve some critical issues that were supposed to be handled in Abuja.” He mentioned such issues to uch issues to include the World Bank programmes on rural roads, the NEWMAP projects and other erosion control issues.
According to the Governor: “The Southeast has suffered a great deal of marginalization. The Southeast has been excluded in many things, the reason being that Nigeria is practising partisan democracy, and once you are with the ruling party, there are some advantages you will get outside those who are not in that party. This is no longer a secret”. He added: “The good news is that Imo has been able to attract additional support from Mr. President on management of some ecological problems in the State.”
Beyond these, the Governor also secured approval for President Muhammadu Buhari to visit Imo State on Thursday, September 9, 2021, to commission some significant projects put together by his administration. The projects include, but not limited to commissioning some landmark projects such as the Naze Junction/Federal Poly/Ihiagwa/FUTO/Obinze Road, totalling over 14km; the Balloon Technology for the control of erosion in the State capital.
Over the years, Owerri has been suffering from flooding. Apart from what the late Sam Mbakwe put in place when he was Governor of the old Imo State, no tangible effort had been made to address the perennial challenge of flooding until the coming of Governor Hope Uzodimma. Places like Chukwuma Nwoha, Dick Tiger, Ihechiwa, MCC Road and its environs, Akwakuma, World Bank, have suffered flooding. Unable to face the life threatening challenge, many residents and landlords abandoned their houses, outside the fact that many of them had lost valuable property. Some people had even drowned in the floodwater along IMSU Junction, Okigwe Road, etcetera.
Bothered by the development, therefore, Governor Hope Uzodimma took the bull by the horn by deploying technology to solving the problem. The outcome of that is the Balloon Technology, a tunnel measuring 2.45km lenght, 1.8m in diameter and between 0.9 and 11.5m in depth. The Balloon Technology has 94 manholes that has the capacity to take all the floodwater from Dick Tiger, Chukwuma Nwoha, Ihechiwa, Aladumma, Relief Market and Trans-Egbu, discharging into Otamiri River. On the other hand, the over 14km Naze/Junction/Federal Poly/Ihiagwa/FUTO/Obinze Road, abandoned for over 18 years, which will be commissioned by the President, is one of the busiest roads in the State. Successive governments in the State failed to fix the road, despite its strategic importance to the State.
No doubt, the President’s working visit to Imo State is the first of its kind in the Southeast since he became President in 2015. Don’t get it twisted. The President had been to Imo State on political campaign purposes but he had never visited the entire Southeast on working visit. Similarly, attempts to get the First Lady visit Imo State never worked. But here we are, waiting eagerly for the first working visit of the President to Igbo land.
During our radio programme on Tuesday, September 7, on MyRadio 101.1, we made the point that President Muhammadu Buhari will aside commissioning people oriented projects in the State hold a town hall meeting with Igbo leaders, including traditional rulers, political leaders, captains of industry, religious leaders, youths, activists, traders and artisans, etcetera. We made the point that the town hall meeting is a golden opportunity for Ndigbo to meet with Mr. President and talk things over. With all the complaints of marginalisation, insecurity, exclusion, etcetera, the town hall meeting is a rare opportunity to vent our frustrations before Mr. President.
We should not follow the PDP and throw away the baby with the bathwater. We should rather be looking for solutions to all our problems instead of taking actions to exacerbate them.