The Imo State Governorship Candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, Sir Okey Ezeh has urged the people to roundly reject political thugs who masquerade as governorship candidates in the State. He added that the so-called political Goliaths have brought to the State a litany of unspeakable woes.

This is contained in a statement signed by Collins Opurozor, Director Media and Publicity, Okey Ezeh Campaign Organization and availed to this medium.

Ezeh stated this on Monday while speaking as a guest on the Heartland FM current affairs program, Issues of the Moment.

The renowned investment banker, who was Assistant Vice President in-charge of Sub-Saharan Africa in Citibank, insisted that the 2019 elections should not be about political parties but about candidates who have the pedigree, the blueprint, the competence and the credibility to deliver value.
His words, “The bane of Imo politics is that we are recycling old, wasted and tired people. They come in and say: ‘O, you know, I am the Goliath. I will be the one that can fight this fight.’ But if we are looking for fighters, we should go to the tipper garage and bring out the toughest, meanest thug and make him governor. 

“But it is not about that. It’s about the future of our people. I urge everyone to be circumspect this time. Don’t blindly follow party loyalty or affiliation. Follow your conscience and vote for the right person that will reposition Imo State.”

Ezeh went further to assure Imo people that when elected governor his administration shall confront the hydra-headed problem of youth unemployment through establishment of downstream agro industries to unleash the opportunities in the entire agricultural value chain. 

Specifically, he vowed to revamp the over four thousand hectares of oil palm in Ohaji with improved seedlings and equipment, and to put thousands of other hectares of land in Ngor Okpala under cultivation to farm cassava which will be used to manufacture ethanol and yam for pharmaceutical grade starch. He revealed that the demand for these products in the international market far outstrips their supply.
The accomplished technocrat also promised to bring back the Public Works Department and to redraw the educational curricula in the State with a view to making them socio-economically relevant.



Four decades of preoccupation with development in Imo State have yielded meagre returns. The economy of the state has been stagnating or regressing. Unemployment is widespread, health prospects are getting poorer, infrastructure has broken down, industries are comatose, agriculture remains crude, crime keeps escalating, and education has taken a nosedive.  The state occupies top positions in almost all indices of social misery.

The truth is not so much that development has failed in Imo State than that development has not really started. And the trouble with Imo is simply a failure of leadership. That is the only key that can unlock Imo’s potentials; that is a duty we owe ourselves as a people. 

Every cycle of electoral ritual throws up a leadership that would in the end further abbreviate the collective  aspirations of the people and abort their dreams. The time to break this cycle is certainly now.

It is distressing beyond words to chronicle Imo’s woes amid her enormous potentials. That two in every fifteen Imo women die of cancer every year, that nearly a million young persons, brimming with energy and talents, roam the streets jobless, and that Imo has joined the league of educationally less developed states are all stains on our collective conscience. They are symptomatic of a system that has gone completely dysfunctional. 

The present administration in the state – it seems clear to me – does not have even the faintest understanding of what development is all about. The administration seems absorbed by roofing streets, making images and building unusable worship centers through which the administration fleeces the treasury of the state. Beyond rabble rousing, the commitment of the Okorocha administration to Imo’s development remains more apparent than real. The confusion of agenda, the improbable strategies and the conflict between the latent and manifest functions of public policies by this administration are the logical outcome of a government that from the word go took state power as means of production, as means for primitive capital accumulation.

Development, in the parlance of Walter Rodney, implies increased skills and capacity, greater freedom, creativity, self-discipline, responsibility and material well-being. We have it on Rodney’s authority that a society develops economically as its members increase jointly their capacity for dealing with the environment. This capacity for dealing with the environment is dependent on the extent to which they understand the laws of nature (science), on the extent to which they put that understanding into practice by devising tools (technology), and on the manner in which work is organized (mode of social production ).

It is in view of this crisis of development that Okey Ezeh, a consummate entrepreneur, seasoned technocrat and the SDP Governorship Candidate in Imo State, has offered himself, using a comprehensive economic roadmap known as the Imo Marshal Plan (I-MAP), to salvage Imo State. It is testimony to the depth of Ezeh’s insight about development that the I-MAP underscores the primacy of the organic unity of all sectors of the state in the development enterprise. 

The economy of Imo State currently lacks coherence; it is pervasively disarticulated. Every coherent economy possesses sectoral reciprocity and complementarity, or what liberal economists describe as ‘backward and forward linkages’. Innovations in the industrial sector must give impetus to agricultural productivity, and the knowledge produced in the educational sector must be relevant in the labour market.

In establishing education-business partnership framework, the I-MAP intends to address the hydra-headed problem of youth unemployment and unemployability by making skills acquisition part of the school system. Every child would be made to choose three different skills from a wide range of skills at junior secondary school. They would specialize in just one at senior secondary, so that by the time they are leaving school they would have garnered proficiency in it and be issued a Trade Diploma which guarantees them access to soft loan to start up a vocation should the child choose not to continue with tertiary education. With improved pedagogical facilities, well motivated workforce and proper implementation this initiative can raise an army of young entrepreneurs who will be nationally and globally competitive in so many sectors.

The agricultural policy of the I-MAP will create wealth and expand job opportunities by intervening and facilitating job and wealth creation through the entire agricultural value chain. Seed multiplication farms – livestock and fish breeding centers – will be established under Public-Private Partnership to facilitate access to high-yielding, disease-resistant inputs. Thousands of hectares of land will be put under cultivation which will be allotted to young school leavers trained as ‘agripreneurs’. Urban agriculture would be an integral part of this policy to train  service providers. An Imo Agro-Investment Promotion Agency shall be established by law, and the state will partner with organizations like the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing Model for Agricultural Financing (NIRSAL) to make credit available to farmers.

There shall be an industrial cluster in each of the three senatorial districts of the state, along with an Imo Technology Village to fabricate artifacts and spearhead technological innovations in the South East. Investments will be made in associated infrastructure requisite for industrial development, like security, housing, power and roads. 
Imo is just a step away from the promised land. Vote Okey Ezeh to make Imo a great place for all. Vote SDP!

By Collins Opurozor
Given the gargantuan scale of Imo’s dysfunction, the people ought to be having an urgent, indeed fundamental, debate about the very direction of their much-troubled state. It is worrisome, however, that far too many of us are content to indulge once again in the same retrogressive pattern of politicking that has been the bane of the state. 

Some old elements that occasioned the ruination of the land are today singing to the people a redemption song, while some others are hurriedly reproducing themselves in their even more gluttonous godsons and goddaughters so as to further the abortion of the people’s collective aspiration for a prosperous state. The toxicity of Imo’s political space overflows into the adjacent spaces and poisons every stratum of the society. The public sphere –  that arena for other interactions as distinct from the state and its apparatus – therefore is evidently in the throes of this venomous contamination and so it mirrors and reinforces the catastrophic devaluation of moral currency and even more deleterious fall in intellectual discourse. 

Not very many seem perturbed that despite its prodigious endowments by nature, Imo reliably inhabits the most shameful positions in all indices of prosperity in Nigeria.

Even when some political discussions are heard, they are always puerile and certainly never about the real issues. If it is not one man boasting to have “attracted” to the state one demeaning project or another while in previous exalted positions, something that in saner climes should make someone sober, contrite and apologetic, it is another inept creature bragging deafeningly that for the fact that he was elected when he was below the age of fifty, nobody above that age will be elected this time.
To be clear,  for a state like Imo that should be in a hurry to escape from the backwardness wrought by years of ruinous misrule, these perfidious discussions are a millstone instead of a milestone.

A more perplexing phenomenon is the adulation of renowned treasury looters in the state by the same victims of their impunity. These vendors of impunity now have sobriquets like “the commander of youth empowerment”. Indeed, we can recall the words of George Orwell, that political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. But, as a people, if we must fulfill the expectations of our statehood, we must, just like the blind seer in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, declare that the truth alone should sustain us.

Imo today ostensibly parades the highest number of governorship candidates in the country. That most of them are doing so from an avowed opposition standpoint is fit testimony to the failure of the extant order and indicative of the overriding necessity for change.

In hushed tones, however, Imo people query the whereabouts of these candidates in the seven years of massive plunder, degradation and pillage of the land by the man they now promise to put behind bars. Not a single voice was heard. Opposition politics was abandoned like a bad habit. Civil society groups were neglected, and the poor, vulnerable and defenceless masses had their hearts broken by a maximum ruler who best fits into the description of a Medieval despot and his henchmen.

It is therefore absurd when these candidates pride themselves on their limitless compassion for the people, even when they lazied around while Imo burnt. Of a truth, one big factor that permitted the disaster-in-progress which is what the incumbent administration has become is the desertion of political activism by our stellar citizens and political leaders most of whom now feign to embody our common grief because they have a political aspiration.

The primary duty of a political party is to articulate the various inarticulate desires of the people and present them as programs which they push through for implementation by means of, first, lobbying the government in power, second, mobilising for civil disobedience, and third, winning election. When viewed from this prism, it becomes incontrovertible that most of these latter-day messiahs who now want to recover and rebuild Imo but never gave a hoot about defending the masses  all through these years of rot are also as culpable as the perpetrator-in-chief.

The political docility of the Imo elite after the 2015 elections was so much that at a point one of the major political parties literally shut down. Save for the presence of Okey Ezeh in the system, who not only elected to shoulder the financial burden of most civil society and political groups but also constructively engaged the government in the interest of the masses, the Imo story would have been worse. In short, at some point Okey Ezeh became a metaphor for a humanistic alternative to the ongoing tragedy often called governance in Imo State.

What are now the real issues in Imo State? What does Okey Ezeh represent? Why does he command overwhelming following across the state?

Politically, Imo people yearn for a stable and steadfast leader who has a clearcut political ideology, sense of purpose and direction and a habit of rigour. By every standard, the people have seen that in Okey Ezeh, who all his life has readily given up personal comfort for his political vision. He has been consistent both in beliefs and actions and has infused his politics with a spirit of collegiality and comradeship.

Again, Imo people crave for a humane and morally astute leader who won’t be dancing shaku-shaku and erecting statues while the people perish as a result of non-payment of salaries and pensions, or even as a result of the destruction of their sources of livelihood. It is in Okey Ezeh that such a leader can be found.

Economically, Imo people sorely desire an experienced, credible, knowledgeable and competent technocrat who has proven his mettle in value creation – a leader who knows what to do to address the nagging question of deprivation, resource curse, underdevelopment and unemployment in the state. Yet, it is Okey Ezeh that meets this desire.

His personal accomplishments as a multinational banker and investment pundit, and his dedication to reformed politics as well as comprehensive blueprint for the rebirth of Imo State, are a tribute to the values he upholds and emblematic of what to expect of him if vested with state authority.
In his words: “Imo has a large army of young people who cannot creatively engage their energies. In our state, there are well over a million youths who roam the streets without anything to do, without any means of sustenance. No society has ever survived with the most productive segment of its population left unemployed, because it means that crime rate will be very high. An entire generation is being wasted in Imo State,” he lamented.
He added that: “Our strength lies in agriculture, and we must get it right. A few weeks ago, I was doing some research and discovered that in 1954, when we had the regions, what the Eastern Region earned from the export of palm oil alone in that year was fifty-four million pounds. If you multiply it by the current exchange rate, there is no state in the South East that has had that kind of money before. And that was for just one year. Again, remember the palm trees of the time were the natural-growing ones, not the high-yielding, improved species of today that now yield ten times more.”  

“From palm oil we can produce animal feeds. The husk that is brought out from oil palm can be used to manufacture animal feeds. Industrial lubricants can also be obtained from oil palm. From filtered palm oil we can also get biodiesel. Glycerin, which is useful for the manufacture of soaps, also can be obtained from palm oil. Even fatty acids come from palm oil which can be used for the production of margarine. These are activities that can create a million direct employments if little investments are made in them. 

“We have arable farmland that is rich enough to produce yam in export quantities. We can pulverize our yam to transform it to pharmaceutical grade starch, which is in great demand in the international market for the manufacture of drugs, tablets. This will create employment opportunities for our people. Just a kilogram of pharmaceutical grade starch costs thirty dollars and the process of producing it, which is just to reduce the yam to powder form, is a very simple one.

“In terms of human capital, we have some of the best brains in the world. It was an Imo son that designed an app that Google purchased at the rate of one billion dollars. It means Imo is never short of talents. But what we lack is visionary, transformational and knowledgeable leadership that can use these talents and material endowments to create prosperity for our people. That is what leadership is all about and that is why I have offered myself to serve Imo people,” he said.

The fierce urgency of now, to borrow the words of Martin Luther King Jr., is to bring Imo back to the path of prosperity, and that is the vision, mission and aspiration of Okey Ezeh. We have a great opportunity to make Imo work again. Imo Rebirth is Now!




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