It was not for nothing that literary legend, William Shakespeare, had, while stressing on the import of taking the right action at the right time, noted, “ There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries”.
In fact, Imo State, the famed Eastern Heartland, in a way, fits into this expression. Since the onset of the current civilian dispensation in 1999, the state is yet to find its footing in delivering people-oriented governance.
Perhaps, the governors who had presided over the affairs of the state at various times, may have sincerely given their best while in office. But these, certainly, have not been good enough in taking the state to the next level. The result is that Imo, created 42 years ago and endowed with enormous human and material resources, has not fared as expected.
But with the race for 2019 gradually gathering heat, opportunity comes once again for the state to pick its broken pieces and embark on self-rediscovery. Interestingly, some names are already being thrown up among those angling to take over from Okorocha. These include the son-in-law and Chief of Staff to the governor, Uche Nwosu, Deputy Governor, Eze Madumere, the Speaker, Acho Ihim, erstwhile Senator, Ifeanyi Araraume. They are all from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
From the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, leads the pack. He had aspired for the position in 2015 but lost to Okorocha, who was then seeking a second term.
In All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), two aspirants – transportation manager, Frank Nneji, seasoned banker and management consultant, Okey Ezeh, are the most prominent. Both look good for the office. And they have goodwill.
But, governance is not an engagement that is actualised merely on account of goodwill. It involves strategic thinking and philosophical conviction nurtured overtime, given the enormity of the task ahead.
Put in other words, governance, especially in a state like Imo needs someone with the zeal and drive to turn around the tide of events. This is why the search for such candidate should, as a matter of priority and urgency, shift from a generation of analogue leadership to one with digital orientation and frame of mind to work with the people and deliver service.
The job at hand in Imo, requires a candidate or aspirant that has the benefit of experience in human resource management, exposure to macro-economic and finance, aside falling into the paradigm shift in governance age that is currently under 50 in some parts of the world. Most of those that had governed the state in the present dispensation and some aspiring to do so in 2019, are clearly outside this bracket in global leadership qualities.
This is where Okey Ezeh, has advantage over the other aspirants and appears the man to beat for the job. He is not a new face to the people. In 2015 when he had announced his noble objective for the post, his message resonated with the people, especially the youth and women populations, seen as the largest voter-segment.
Ezeh is driven by the passion to serve, above other considerations. Recall that in a recent interview with a Lagos newspaper, he had explained the reason behind his desire to be Imo governor. “I have been prepared for what I am aspiring to be all my life. Over the years, I have had hands-on experience in the business of management of men and resources at a corporate level and with global best practices”. That desire has not faded.
Add that to the running agreement on rotation of key offices in the country across major political divides. By that logic, Ezeh, has good points, coming from Owerri senatorial district that has not had a shot at Imo Government House since 1999.
Orlu (Imo West) Senatorial District, where Okorocha comes from had had Achike Udenwa (1999 – 2007). Okigwe (Imo North), had taken a shot through Ikedi Ohakim (2007 – 2011). But Owerri (Imo East), had not had a feel of the office.
To rational minds, that may be a fair argument for Ezeh. But he is not essentially banking on that. He, in fact, sees himself as an aspirant running not strictly to better only his senatorial district but to ensure the good of the entire residents and indigenes of Imo.
His thinking on what governance should be, says it all. In his words, “We need to create a new paradigm shift where we have people that are adequately prepared for leadership, who are talented, who are skilled, who are otherwise comfortable in their professions and come into politics, not because it’s an opportunity for them to make money but because they also want to make a mark in public life”.
Aspiring on the platform of APGA, also counts for Ezeh. Of the three major political parties in the state, APGA is the only one without internal strife, so far. As Ezeh rightly noted, the party is a national organisation. But its soul and sentiments, are more with voters in the South East.
According to the ex-banker, it will be most uncharitable for anybody, to see APGA as just a political platform where one can come and win election. “No! APGA goes beyond that. The party is enshrined in the souls of Igbo men and women. Make no mistake; APGA is a national party, it’s beyond Igbo land but what we are saying is that every party must have its catchment area as it were. APGA is seen as a religion in the South East because people see it as the closest approximation to their ideals and dreams”, he enthused.
Ezeh has laid his cards on the table for the Imo electorate, stating his vision and mission. It is expected that the people will reciprocate his gesture, by giving him the mandate to steer the affairs of the state from 2019.
Ogbuehi writes from Owerri