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Imo: Chasing shadows

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Imo State

There is something untoward about the Hope Uzodinma administration in Imo State. The government is on a wild goose chase. It is obsessed with the past, and it is relentlessly pursuing this through a needless publicity stunt. Because it has made the past its forte, it is failing, rather woefully, to get a hold on the present.

This jejune predisposition amazes decent minds. How can a government which came to power through a predatory overreach continue to trample upon the prey it mindlessly hunted down? This obscene preoccupation smacks of sadism. As if this negative overhang is not bad enough, a good number of those who are supposed to help the governor to succeed are strutting about vaingloriously.

Like the Yahoos of Jonathan Swift’s creation, they are crude, brutish and obscenely coarse. Many of them have actually constituted themselves into architects of the governor’s imminent failure. In their coarseness, they court trouble with reckless abandon. They stoke the embers of controversy with sardonic delight. They revel in unmerited triumphalism. There is no conscious effort to get the governor to focus on governance. Rather, this breed of lieutenants are busy throwing jibes. All of this eventuate in negativity for the administration.

I had thought that an administration that came into existence in the strangest of ways would act otherwise. The expectation was that the administration would be humble and seek to connect with the people. But that is not the case. Its preoccupation borders more on shadow-boxing and witch hunting than anything else. The administration is fixated with and consumed by yesterday. The past is actually its whipping boy. It appears to be incapable of looking forward without crying wolf over yesterday.

I have watched this ignoble disposition of the administration with amusement. I am amused because those who are leading the governor astray do not seem to understand what public office is all about. The ultima ratio of every administration is governance. Government is expected to provide the greatest good for the greatest number. The howlers squirming around the governor like busy bees do not know this. They think that governance is a supremacy contest. They think it is the same thing as electioneering. They do not understand that governance should take the centre-stage once elections are won and lost.

In all of this, I pity the governor who is being led by overzealous aides into the wrong direction. The governor may not know this, but he will, in the fullness of time, appreciate the destructiveness inherent in the belligerent disposition of some of his misguided aides.

Observers have had to say that the acrobatics, which has become the hallmark of the administration, is aimed at gaining advantage over its adversaries, real or imagined. It is reasoned that the administration, having gate-crashed into office, must make maximum noise in order to be taken seriously. It has to divert attention from the manner in which it came into office. The overall objective is to force legitimacy and credibility on itself.

But I consider all of that an exercise in futility. The people cannot forget the strangeness that was foisted on them in a hurry. Its bizarreness will haunt them for a long time to come. There is, therefore, no need trying to obliterate that unpleasant memory. It will not work. It will take its full course and then find an unenviable place in history books. Jobbers of the present order cannot help the situation.

They can also not rewrite history as they are seeking to do. Their scheme, from what we have seen, is to discredit the seven-month administration of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha. But this indulgence is a double-edged sword. It must be wielded with caution. The danger of seeking to hurt a man who has done no wrong is already manifesting. The hoopla over the governor’s 100 days in office is already taking its toll on the administration. Those who prepared the speech for the governor went off the mark when they made the Ihedioha administration the focal point of the speech.

The speech was a jeremiad of sorts. The administration ensured that the past administration must take blame for whatever that was not in place. The speech gave the governor away as somebody who is being held hostage by jobbers and mischief-makers. Whoever put those words in the mouth of the governor in the name of speech-making did him a great disservice. The governor, if he was allowed to walk without intrusion, would have avoided the pit of darkness into which he was led.

My candid advice is this: When next the Uzodimma administration has cause to tell its story, it should endeavour to leave Ihedioha out of it. Seeking to make him the reason for the government’s disability will continue to keep the administration down.
Rather than the lamentation that we were treated to, the expectation was that the Uzodimma administration would build on the good foundation laid by Ihedioha, and, when necessary, initiate his own programmes. You gain nothing by struggling to make your predecessor look bad in the eyes of the public. It is much more futile and even self destructive when the public you are appealing to already know the man you are trying to make them see otherwise.

Ihedioha is known to have made Imo proud within the short period he was in office. He cleaned up the huge mess that he inherited and, in no time, brought sanity and order to bear on governance. If discretion and wisdom were applied, there would have been no need to discredit what was properly done by the past administration or lay claim to its achievements. For instance, what was the point talking about a pension scheme that was handled to the admiration and commendation of one and all in the state? What sense did it make to say that you restored water and electricity to the State Secretariat when everybody knows that it was done by the Ihedioha administration?

It rankles further to hear the new government in Owerri say that it met a sorry state of affairs in the state. Now, if we leave destructive politics apart, it becomes clear that the claim was made in bad faith. Everybody in Imo, including the traducers of Ihedioha, readily acknowledge the fact that his seven-month stay in office was glorious. Ihedioha was actually the one who met a sorry state. But he went to work without digging here and there for excuses. Within the period under reference, Ihedioha, through his well-articulated Rebuild Imo Initiative, brought Imo back to life.

He put in place systems and processes that promised to make Imo a reference point in public administration. But the unfortunate turn of events terminated his lofty vision rudely. The least we expect of the beneficiary of the order is to build on it. Telling the people that Ihedioha did not do well is an assault on their sense of decency. It is a sad reminder of the violation that the state was subjected to.

The new government in Imo must change its approach if it wants to succeed. It should stop scavenging for reasons to discredit a good man. As I said earlier, that will not work because even the blind can testify that Ihedioha brought a breath of fresh air into governance in Imo.


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