“By his oath of office, a leader was supposed to have made a pact with his people to promote a moral and virtuous life” – St. Thomas Aquinas.
Those who have had to engage with political theories will readily agree that one of the unresolved disputations is the question of the interplay between morality and politics. Apostles of realpolitik (political realism), notably Niccolo Machiavelli, will have no scruples about moral restraints to the exercise of state power, and since the mantra is ‘the end justifies the means’, their attitude, in Machiavellian parlance, is to ‘be good if possible and be bad if necessary’.
For them, the statesman should as a matter of fact part company with conventional morality and treat politics as entirely different sphere of life insulated from moral considerations and defined only by interest and power. There is nothing whatsoever as a supreme principle of morality, or what Immanuel Kant would refer to as The Categorical Imperative. An act is right simply because an interest is met and power gained, even when thousands may lie dead on the battlefields and other thousands sacked from their habitats; even when flesh is starved and souls broken!
This was ostensibly the worldview that animated the political vision of Imo’s decadent former ruler, Chief Rochas Okorocha, who fiddled while the state burnt. However, I do have an unyielding belief that what is morally wrong can never be politically right.
While mass deprivation, social misery, dearth of basic amenities and collapse of healthcare reigned, Imo had a leader who would appropriate N700 million to construct just a tower, an emblem of alien occultism and symbol of Imo’s betrothal to the dark world.
Imo had a leader who would spend N800 million on Christmas trees, even when most of the citizens could neither clothe nor feed at Christmas. Imo had a leader under whose watch the state had the worst road infrastructure in the entire Southern Nigeria, yet over N8 billion was squandered on concrete pillars, overhead iron poles and roundabouts.
Imo had a leader who became busier than bees molding the dead and the living and inviting heads of states for celebrations while the poor widow in Umuayika, Ngor Okpala could not afford to drink clean water, the poor farmer in Amaimo, Ikeduru could not afford fertilizer dust, the palm wine tapper in Obowo could not have any access road to take his wine to the marketplace, and the pregnant woman in Arondizuogu, Ideato North had no access to maternity care.
Away from the infrastructural dung pit and agricultural pig sty which Okorocha created and sustained in Imo, there was further a more putrid educational miasma.
Not just that the only state university in Imo embarked upon the longest strike since the citadel of learning was established, the key courses in the university all lost accreditation by the National Universities Commission. Over five thousand teachers were summarily dismissed in a day. Classroom blocks that were built through counterpart funding from UBE were claimed by Okorocha. Salaries of teachers were slashed by 40%. An embargo was placed on the employment and promotion of teachers.
The performance of Imo students in external examinations dropped to an all-time lowest. Free education was touted, yet students paid outrageous sundry fees and levies. The provision of chalks, whiteboard markers and all whatnot became the task of the pupils.
To accentuate the immorality that defiled the Okorocha Administration, young boys and girls who had the temerity to defy moral decorum and unabashedly engaged in illicit sex on live television in the name of Big Brother Naija were given red carpet reception by Okorocha and millions of Naira given to them. This speaks volumes of Okorocha’s vision for Imo State. This drives home the point that Owerri under Okorocha was designated as the fastest-growing prostitution capital in Africa by the United Nations’ Human Development Index (Report 2018).
In contradistinction to the above narrative, there is now a Governor in Imo who deeply understands that it is a moral responsibility resting on the shoulders of a leader to deploy social affluence to tackle social affliction. Governor Emeka Ihedioha, through words and deeds, has demonstrated an abiding faith in refined values, and sees state power as the most potent tool in ameliorating agonies, healing broken hearts and extending prosperity to every doorstep in Imo State.
Every institution reveals itself in whom and what it upholds and honours. A few days ago, Stephany Chizobam Ugboaja and Favour Alozie, two extremely bright Imo secondary school leavers who both scored ‘A1’ in the 2019 WASSCE, were awarded full academic scholarships to study in any university of their choice by Ihedioha. In honouring these stellar teenagers, the Ihedioha Administration has incentivised diligence and set in motion a regime of excellence, so that our classrooms will once become aglow with the drive for learning.
Sectorally, Imo has evidently got high measures of moral rejuvenation. Allocations to the local government areas now go to them in full, the House of Assembly now has unfettered powers to legislate for common good, the finances no longer end up in private pockets as Imo now has a functional Board of Internal Revenues, Treasury Single Account and Tenders Board.
We can all say, in the words of the Scriptures, that old things have passed away in Imo, and, behold, all things have become new!
“Every institution reveals itself in whom and what it upholds and honours. A few days ago, Stephany Chizobam Ugboaja and Favour Alozie, two extremely bright Imo secondary school leavers who both scored ‘A1’ in the 2019 WASSCE, were awarded full academic scholarships to study in any university of their choice by Ihedioha. In honouring these stellar teenagers, the Ihedioha Administration has incentivised diligence and set in motion a regime of excellence, so that our classrooms will once become aglow with the drive for learning”