“It is very easy to break down and destroy. The real heroes are those who make peace and build.” – Nelson Mandela’s Address at Kliptown, Soweto, South Africa, July 12, 2008
Leadership wisdom is the ability to understand how people, events, and situations affect the people’s life and vice versa, and the application of the corresponding deductions to making the appropriate decisions and taking the relevant actions in order to deliver the right outcome.
Although, I am not his petit fan but as a dignified and objective critic, Governor Hope Uzodimma’s tendency towards a physical and identifiable infrastructural State-building with notable inscriptions of achievement on physical projects both on-going and already completed as Imo governor is commendably high.
Indeed, I have profound respect for Governor Hope Uzodimma’s courage of facing headlong the age-long daunting infrastructural deficiencies of Imo State; especially road challenges with its corresponding drainage crises.
Some of the road infrastructural projects which he has done superbly that caught my fancy includes the Owerri-Orlu, Owerri-Amaraku-Okigwe, Owerri-Mbaise-Umuahia roads and a few others including the one in my Local Government Area of Isiala Mbano that took-off from the popular Orie Amaraku into Umunkwo and headed to Amauzari, undergoing strong and reasonable construction process; A road that has undergone several political contract disappointments in the past, even by its indigenes. Sincerely, Uzodimma, may earn the accolades and appellations synonymous to that of the legendary hero governor of blessed memory, Dee Sam Mbakwe: an old Imo star Governor, from 1979 to 1983. Uzodimma, has indeed, recorded an amazing transformational infrastructural uplift of Imo.
It is therefore no exaggeration that Imo infrastructure is coming back; even better, but where is the peace, Imo is hitherto known for? The return of the peace is of great essence!
However, the intent and spirit of this piece is to address the easy but yet-to-be tuned-on potentials of using Governor Uzodinma’s suprising giant but splendid infrastructural achievement as nexus for creating or achieving contemporary peacebuilding structure in the State of Imo.
It is certain that infrastructure is profoundly entwined with contemporary peacebuilding, and that we therefore need to develop novel theoretical angles to come to terms with the ubiquitous politics of infrastructure.
State-building is a process of constructing or reconstructing; structuring or restructuring the identity of a State, using political and socioeconomic powers to aim at the unification of the people within the state such that the State remains politically stable and viable in the long run.
Peacebuilding is an activity that aims to resolve injustice in non-violent ways and to transform the cultural, political, economic and structural conditions that generate destructive conflicts.
Peace-building and bridge-building are vital elements of State-building in an ideal democratic system. Ofcourse, peace revolves around the expensive concept of societal friendship, harmony and possibly the absence of hostility and violence.
It is of global standard that infrastructure plays a large role in the formation of modern political orders that heals even septic injuries and enthrone peace that reproduces manifest societies across all divides.
Ideologically, introducing this move towards deploying infrastructure as the ‘tip of the spear’ in peacebuilding is part of a broader return to infrastructure on the global development agenda and would definitely yield unprecedented and humongous dividends towards political stabilisation.
Also, the construction of effective and legitimate State institutions is one instrument for reaching peacebuilding. The dynamics of tripod concepts of infrastructure, peacebuilding and state-building; manifest in the stabilization of a society like ours.
It is a given that the central task of peacebuilding is to create positive peace, a “stable social equilibrium in which the surfacing of new disputes does not escalate into violence and war. “Sustainable peace is characterized by the absence of physical and structural violence, the elimination of discrimination, and self-sustainability.
According the United Nations (UN) document An Agenda for Peace: peacebuilding consists of a wide range of activities associated with capacity building, reconciliation, and societal transformation.
Usually, absence of peacebuilding elements such as equality and feelings of justice ordinarily breeds grievances. Therefore when a state is unable to provide essential public services to everyone, perceptions of inequality and injustice increases, leading to rising tensions and violence.
The 2018 United Nations-World Bank report ‘Pathways for Peace’ highlights how water infrastructure systems, for instance, can influence tensions related to the lack of water access: “Often, it is not the scarcity of water that leads to tensions, but the way in which it is governed and administered. Inefficient use and management of water, outdated infrastructure, and inappropriate legal, political, and economic frameworks all exacerbate tensions arising from the scarcity of water (Pedraza and Heinrich 2016).”
As the statement indicates, tensions do not necessarily arise from resource shortage, but from poor institutional frameworks that govern access to resources and its distribution.
Therefore, the equitable distribution of road network rehabilitations and construction of new ones and other amenities in the state by the governor would certainly be a huge leverage towards creating a sustainable Peace and State-building.
Peace has always been among humanity’s highest values. The most disadvantageous peace is better than the most justified war. There is never a good war or a bad peace. Peace, however, breeds concord, or harmony and tranquility.
Peace-building as a social contract is achieved when people have a strong two-way relationship with the state and other community groups, and they trust that decisions by the state are made fairly, even if they do not benefit from them directly.
Peacebuilding initiatives try to fix the core problems that underlie the conflict and change the patterns of interaction of the involved parties. They aim to move a given population from a condition of extreme vulnerability and dependency to one of self-sufficiency and well-being.
Bright C J. Okereke is the Managing Editor, Newspapers Echo Newspaper and writes from Owerri.