The political landscape of Imo was greatly impacted in that landmark judgment of January 14, 2020 when the Supreme Court upturned the victory of Governor Emeka Ihedioha of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and affirmed the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Senator Hope Uzodimma as the winner of the Imo gubernatorial election. This came as a rude shock to many because Uzodimma had placed fourth in the election.
Since he assumed office next day Imo’s political and developmental fortune began to wear different images. It has cycled one year and the people are issuing their score cards from their different perspectives. Over all it does appear that the government is yet to understand what is expected of it that is drawing from the surveyed opinion of the people governed.
While government is claiming to have done so much this is not in tandem with the reality on ground as expressed by residents of the state. There appears to be a strong disconnect between the government and the people. On assumption of office Uzodimma anchored his performance model on his 3R’s representing Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Recovery. To what extent these key objectives have been realized is still anybody’s guess.
In his first broadcast message the government raised the expectations of the people with mouth watering promises. The governor was heard promising that obligations to the workers must be honoured on the 25th of every month. His promised economic blue print was thought to hold the magic wand that would transform the state.
We must not fail to note that immediately on assumption the global pandemic of Covid-19 hit the economic and political space creating a serious distraction among the various governments of the world. Imo government was not an exception. Covid-19 dominated the scene from March-July 2020. The government has continued to plead this as part of its major challenge in delivering on the expectations of the people.
The governor rolled into action buying vehicles first for the permanent secretaries, the judges, security operatives, his aides and top government functionaries, as well as vehicles for transporting civil servants to and fro work. This didn’t seem to go down well with Imo people happening at a time the government is not able to discharge its obligations to workers.
It does not speak good of the government that in its one year it was hunted by backlogs of unpaid arrears of workers’ salaries and pensions which the government has repeatedly claimed it has discharged fully. The height of it was the recent publications on pages of newspapers detailing lists of those paid.
The issue of paying emoluments occupied public discourse the entire year occasioning various protests. Up till this moment there are reports of many workers still crying to be paid. Imo economy is one anchored on the public sector and it took a nose dive as the spending from the civil servants got dried up. Productivity was also low as the ill motivated and hungry public servants lacked the drive to deliver their best.
The modest effort of the government on road infrastructure which is a critical need of the state failed to meet the target as the few realized roads fall far below standard, worse than the worst standard ever experienced in the state. It is disheartening that a new road could collapse within two months of its construction.
The state legislature which appropriately should act as a control against the executive sadly became an appendage of the executive with allegations of compromise, a situation that got them pocketed by the executive. For the greater part of the period they only engaged themselves fighting to have their entitlements paid.
It is not certain that any conscious effort was made to increase the revenue base of the state outside the normal taxation on the individuals. No fresh alternative funding sources through agriculture or industrialization was developed to grow the income of the state outside the usual monthly handout from Abuja.
There is nothing to mention about the health sector where doctors under the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) have been on strike for 3 months without a word coming from the government. It is a tale of woes everywhere you go.
Of a truth there is a big disconnect between the government and the governed as could be glimpsed from field report of expressed anguish and disillusionment of the Imo people on the street.
News Echo wishes to admonish the political actors to redress some of their actions and adopt a populist program to addresses the needs of the people. Governance should be about meeting the desires and aspirations of the people.