By ROY IWUALA
Interestingly, the first Chinua Achebe International Conference held on May 23 this year, at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka is still too fresh not to be recollected. The theme of the Conference was, “Chinua Achebe and the Convolutions of Immortality.
” At the said conference, the former governor of Imo State, Dr IkediOhakim delivered a lecture captioned, “The Igbo and the Leadership question – The Achebe Example,” in which he posed two strikingly beautiful questions. First, he asked, “why are we not engaging with our first eleven?” The second question was, “should we continue to fly birds with clipped wings and still hope to be competitive?”
In a similar development, Senator Hope Uzodinma addressed a dazzling array of officers and leaders of Imo PDP on August 16at the State Secretariat on Okigwe Road. In his message of “Good Hope,” Senator Uzodinma declared that the next governor of Imo State must be “a driver with driving licence.” The hopeful Senator concluded that the era of “a driver with learner’s permit or provisional licence” is over.
Methinks that the questions raised by Dr Ohakim and the satirical answer offered by Senator Uzodinma were actually and emphatically pointing to the quest for professionalism in governance, which is expected to address the leadership question in our polity.
Unarguably, increased professionalism in governance changes the polity radically. This is why a political leader that makes good use of professionals will be able to deal with the problems in governance with considerable expertise. Certainly, it is the only way that one’s performance can exude confidence and excellence. In this way, the political leader can deliver public good, which is the goal of governance.
Acceptably, professionalism is the antithesis to amateurism. Indeed, amateurism is not what the society needs in this fast developing world of the 21st century. If I am permitted to take a cue from Senator Uzodinma, a learner driver is an amateur.
Most learner drivers do not leave the motor vehicles the way they found them. Most times, such motor vehicles, which are badly mishandled, fall into disrepair. Thus, more often than not, we see that a learner driver is won’t to cause hiccups when driving a motor vehicle.
However, a learner driver is used as a political satire on Imo politics. If I actually understood Senator Uzodinma’s satirical declamation very well, a learner driver translates into a learner governor. Well, that may actually explain why a learner governor is known for being clearly inconsistent and inconsiderable. No wonder, the learner status in general is, at best, crude or amateurish.
Significantly, this amateurism is exemplified in the ramshackle way in which the affairs of Imo State are handled. With due respect, His Excellency is given to a kind of learning from terrible mistakes and unpleasant experiences that have disillusionedNdi Imo. Do you ever wonder why most of his projects and programmes are executed in a haphazard fashion, and often abandoned abruptly?
Have you tried to discover the underlying cause of His Excellency’s mean streak of indiscriminate demolitionsstate-wide? It is in consideration of the details inherent in these and other issues that I was spurred to adopt this question: “Okorocha: Still learning how to be governor?”
The first attempt by His Excellency to justify his bad policies and actions was when he said, “I am here for a mission, and the mission shall come to pass. Don’t see me as a conventional Governor, but a radical Governor. That is why I don’t observe protocol.” Similarly, he reiterated that, “In Rescue Mission, there is no protocol.” Also, he was reported to have boasted that his words and actions are laws. He may be saying the obvious since he made the Imo State House of Assembly to be his footstool.
Revealingly, these profound statements of His Excellency in rare moments of frankness exposed his problems of learning how to be governor. Without mincing words, such public utterances do not bode well for the high office of a governor or servant leader. And, this is part of what has raised the issue of a learner governor. In this vein, how can one comprehend this lack of protocol that metamorphosed into lack of due process of the law or a kind of recklessness?
I want to believe that the sheer awfulness of learning how to be governor may have influenced His Excellency’s overpowering personality, mountain of unfulfilled promisesand barrel of wry smiles. Others include the incurable addiction to doublespeak, and the inclination to dance to the gallery.
In addition, there were accusations bothering on intrigues, deceits, vendetta, and cruelty being exhibited in his rescue imbroglio. Given these sordid issues, Ndi Imo have found it difficult to hide their disappointment following the way everything is going so disastrously wrong in the State.
Sadly, Ndi Imo have been put in a spin for the past six years, having suffered many hardships from playing the political version of “spin the bottle.”
Without prejudice, I wonder if there is “onye Imo” that has not been badly affected by the direct consequences of having a governor who savours highly emotive issues (rather than rational thought) with obvious relish. Let’s take a trip down the memory lane as we ponder over the systematic impoverishment of Ndi Imo by a learner. The following questions will suffice to illustrate the point.
Where are the beneficiaries of 10,000 jobs, 30,000 local government temporary workers, Community Speakers, CGC members, 25,000 Imo Youths Must Work beneficiaries, street sweepers, Imo Security Network, Imo Civil Guard and countless others that were tossed around like poker chips on the bargaining table?
Have we given a hoot to the government workers in Adapalm, ITC, Imo Concorde hotel, Imo hotel, Imo Water Corporation, Avutu Poultry Farm, etc that the government abandoned to their fates? How about the downsizing of the ministries and the rightsizing of the parastatals, which further reduced the lean workforce of the government drastically? The learner governor’s mistreatment of government workers can only be likened to the manner in which a learner driver mishandles a motor vehicle.
The worst case scenario in Imo State is the “nkudankuda,” or rampant demolition without any iota of compensation. Since, we couldn’t give a damn, the learner governor goes ahead to mess us up. Apart from destroying our education with the politics of free education, and the health sector with the phantom health at our doorsteps, now,
His Excellency has set off to destroy our only factories and industries, which are the various Eke, Orie, Afor, and Nkwo markets that have cultural, social, economic, and political considerations forNdi Imo. It must be overemphasised that markets are the greatest means of livelihood for Ndigbo in general, and therefore, should not be a theatre of learning how to be governor.
Where lies the rescue mission? Here, I want to gloss over the government’s warning signal to the landlords and property owners in the World Bank, Imo and Federal Housing Estates, Owerri. The government wants them to cough out some millions of Naira for revalidation of their Certificates of Occupancy and annual development fees or in the alternative face the consequence of having their buildings demolished.
I am glad that demolition has become a fearful weapon or threat for compelling Ndi Imo into doing the government’s bidding. This is an issue for another time because this dangerous trend will trickle down to the other estates in the other parts of Owerri. And, it is a ploy to learn or grab because the learner Governor still thinks that he has not learnt or grabbed enough.
In view of the latest in the spate of “nkudankuda,” it was reported that the learner governor swore with his index finger by picking saliva from his tongue and raising it to high heavens to make such frantic gesticulations as “mmechaaNdi Imo ihe, ha gaamaonye m wu.
” This reminds me of the Igbo adage, which says, “Onyekporonnagiugwo, enweghikeihugin’anya.” Instructively, this is a lesson on the importance of identifying who one’s real enemies are, and who one’s true friends are. From the lesson, we can see how Ndi Imo in 2011 and 2015 crucified their true friends, and chose to celebrate their common enemy of today.
By this strange twist of fate, NdiImo found what they actually looked for – an omen of disaster.
Presently, Ndi Imo are weeping and mourning with pangs of hunger and regret. Given the woebegone expression on their faces, who will listen and assuage their cries of outrage?
Is it the Imo State House of Assembly, a tortuous assembly of tortured minds? I mean our assembly of Hooray Henries whose only opportunities to sit, are for them to dwell endlessly on how they can’t legislate against their bad luck. Having gone the whole hog, does any one need to be told that His Excellency is still learning to be governor? Happy birthday, our learner governor, our learner governor at 55 that caused a splash of birthday funfair, which made Ndi Imo gaze hungrily at the display of countless sizeable cakes. Odiegwuoooo.