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Ihedioha’s first 100 days in office

By Luke Onyekakeyah
03 September 2019   |   3:56 am
In a short while from now, precisely September 6, 2019, governors from across the states of the federation would be marking what has, of recent, been known as “first 100 days in office.”

Imo State governor Emeka Ihedioha

In a short while from now, precisely September 6, 2019, governors from across the states of the federation would be marking what has, of recent, been known as “first 100 days in office.” The present administration was inaugurated on May 29, 2019. President Muhammadu Buhari, no doubt, will also be marking the magical “100 days.”

The occasion is used to showcase landmark achievements within the short period. This magical 100 days, in some states, seems to be given more attention than thereafter. For, if the strength, vigor and commitment of the first 100 days are sustained, many states would be transformed. Unfortunately, quite often, the tempo goes down and the drive is relaxed.

It needs to be pointed out, that there seems to be a misunderstanding of what the first 100 days is meant to serve. Whereas, agenda setting by way of declarations and enactment of laws meant to drive the administration is the purpose of the first 100 days, focus appears to have shifted to what people could see as achievement, as against the unseen strategic plans that should be made to drive governance, which, originally, is the purpose of the first 100 days.

The idea of first 100 days came from the United States of America under President Franklin Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, who was inaugurated on March 4, 1933. Roosevelt’s preoccupation wasn’t necessarily physical infrastructural development but on strategic ideas that could drive his government and change the ugly state of affairs caused by the Great Depression.

Consequently, over the period of his first 100 days, Roosevelt presented a series of initiatives to congress designed to counter the impacts of the Great Depression. He signaled his intention to move with unprecedented speed to tackle the problems confronting the nation in his inaugural speech. He declared: “I am prepared to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require.”

Thus, the specific priorities at the outset of his presidency were getting Americans back to work, protecting their savings and creating prosperity, providing relief for the sick and elderly, getting industry and agriculture back on their feet. In order to achieve these lofty goals, Roosevelt enacted 13 major laws in the first 100 days of his presidential term. Ever since then, the first 100 days has assumed a symbolic significance and the period is considered a benchmark to measure the early success of a successful administration.

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States warned that he should not be judged by his first 100 days. He said, “The first 100 days is going to be important, but it’s probably going to be the first thousand days that makes the difference.

Obama’s undertakings during his first 100 days included signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair pay Act of 2009; signing into law the expanded State Children’s Health Insurance Programme (S-CHIP); winning approval of a congressional budget resolution that put Congress on record as dedicated to dealing with major health issues; breaking from the Bush administration on a number of policy fronts, except for Iraq, which he followed through on Bush’s Iraq withdrawal of U.S. troops, etc. At the end of the first 100 days, 65 per cent of Americans approved of how Obama was doing and 29 per cent disapproved.

Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States was inaugurated on January 20, 2017 the day his first 100 days began. One of his major achievement made as part of his “100-day pledge” was the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Trump was unable to fulfill his major pledges in his first 100 days and had an approval rating of between 40 and 42 per cent, the “lowest for any first term president at this point in his tenure. Trump signed 24 executive orders in his first 100 days, said to be the most executive orders of any President since World War II.

The foregoing shows that the concept of first 100 days entails setting the direction of governance. It is meant to chart the way the administration is headed and not an end in itself. People should be able to know the direction the government is headed based on the declarations, laws, and executive bills signed during the first 100 days.

If a president or governor builds a bridge within the first 100 days and relaxes thereafter, it is meaningless. Instead, a single pronouncement made, a critical act signed into law, executive orders signed to drive governance are more meaningful than building a road or two and clinging unto them as major accomplishments. These are normal daily issues of governance.

Another thing I would like to point out is that though the idea of the first 100 days is presidential from origin, state governors have adopted it and appear to own it more than the president. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that so long as the right thing is done. Whatever would push the leadership into positive action is welcome.

In Imo State, like in other states, Governor Emeka Ihedioha, is gearing to mark his first 100 days in office by flaunting a number of interventions he has made since assuming office on May 29, 2019.

For me, the greatest achievement of Ihedioha within his first 100 days is his uncommon resolve and determination to recover all the “stolen” properties and misappropriated funds belonging to the Imo State Government under the leadership of his predecessor, Rochas Okorocha.

To achieve that, Ihedioha set up a number of high-powered panels to pursue the recovery agenda from different fronts. The declaration of citizen arrest against Okorocha by Ihedioha, for assaulting the chairman of the Imo State Movable Assets Recovery Committee, Jaspar Ndubuaku, is historic. It shows the government is not joking but means business. Ihedioha went further to sign six Executive bills, and reduced the over bloated ministries from 31 to 18. All these point to a government that stands for prudence and abhors wastage.

The introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) is remarkable as a means of plugging avenues for frittering away government financial resources. By this singular act, Imo State has become the third state in the federation after Lagos and Kaduna states that have adopted the TSA.

Through TSA, funds that would have been frittered away by fraudulent officials in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) would now be saved to serve more useful purpose. It is, therefore, not surprising that Ihedioha has reenacted a pension reform policy to ensure that henceforth, pensioners would not suffer again. The previous administration under Okorocha totally forgot pensioners and owed them their meagre pay over the eight years of his rule. Many died in abject poverty.

The health of Imo citizens has been neglected over the years. Ihedioha’s policy to align with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) through the State Health Insurance Scheme (SHIS) is a step in the right direction.

By signing into this policy, state government workers would be able to access healthcare services that were far removed from them. Government should be able to extend this service to the rest of the citizens that are not necessarily under government employment. To ensure that citizens access quality healthcare nearest to them, Ihedioha should take a critical look at the 27 abandoned general hospitals with a view to reevaluating and completing the critical ones.

Since the hospitals were sited indiscriminately without consideration of need, Ihedioha should review the projects with a view to completing the ones that are needed in local government councils that have no such healthcare facility. Those in councils with existing healthcare facility should be cancelled.

I didn’t see any strategic declaration on education in Imo State. The erstwhile governor initiated a free education policy that is people-oriented. Even though, it was not well-managed, the incumbent governor ought to make a statement on how he intends to make it better.

It is obvious that Ihedioha has tried to intervene in many problems facing Imo State. Like Obama, he inherited a state that was devastated and practically left forlorn. That being the case, he should be firm, forthright and open minded to correct the ravages that were inflicted on the state.

What matters is that one had a historical opportunity to preside over the affairs of the people and make their lives better. Leaving a positive legacy is important. Papering over issues to please political interests will boomerang. Ihedioha should concentrate on righting the wrongs done to Imo State without making noise.