Not many people seem to know from where the 100 Days in Office ritual that has crept into our political lexicon and consciousness came. Nigerians have held tenaciously to the 100 Days in Office idea so much that once a president or governor emerges the people set their eyes on the 100 Days in Office. But it seems many do not know that it was copied from the United States of America. Though the 100 Days in Office seems to have become part of the measuring stick in our polity, some people do not subscribe to it. For our part we think it is unfair to begin to judge or assess a student in his 100 days in school when he has six years to stay in school and eventually write his Common Entrance and Final Six examinations.
But, pray, what can we do when we have a performing Governor who is in a hurry to rebuild the state, a miracle working governor, a governor of possibilities, other than brace up for a good dance on his 100 Days in Office? Success, they say, is like pregnancy. You cannot hide it for a long time. The huge success of Governor Ihedioha in his 100 Days in Office is like pregnancy. It is in the open. Even the blind can see it. We cannot but join well-meaning Imo sons and daughters to, first of all, thank God for the gift of His Excellency Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as the Governor of Imo State at this onerous time, and for the courage and wisdom he bestowed on the Governor to face the mountainous challenges he inherited from the oppressors of the people upon his assumption of office on Wednesday, May 29, 2019.
Despite the rot that ravaged the state for eight long years, the Governor has been forward looking. He has been doing serious work in his commitment to rebuilding the state. If you recall that in the last eight years Imo State was like a vehicle that had knocked engine and that official stealing and corruption wrecked the ship of the state, you would appreciate the fact that by signing the Treasury Single Account (TSA) into law a few weeks after his ascendency into office, the Governor was stepping away from the era of rascality. Signing the TSA into law via the Executive Order 005 in July 2019, the Governor assured that the Executive Order became imperative for the rebuilding and survival of the state economy, because the previous government had operated over 250 accounts scattered across various banks in the state, and the TSA would address such unprecedented recklessness. The TSA, a system that pools all the government’s resources into a single account for better accountability, proscribes cash receipts in all government offices in the state.
The Governor did not only sign the TSA into law, he also signed into law the Imo State Public Procurement (Amendment) Law No. 27 of 2019, the Imo State Local Government Administration (Amendment) Law no. 28 of 2019, Imo State Electoral (Amendment) Law no. 29, of 2019, Imo State Universal Basic Education (Amendment) Law no. 30 of 2019, Imo State Sports Commission (Establishment) Law no. 31 of 2019, Imo State Power and Electrification Law no. 32 of 2019 and Imo State Markets Development Authority Law no 33 of 2019. Interestingly, the Imo State Power and Electrification Law no. 32 of 2019 has already given birth to the Imo State Power and Rural Electrification Agency (I-POREA) as part of the Governor’s strategic pathway towards rebuilding and sustaining the economy of the state.
Some people who are affected by the edifice mentality of the previous administration in the state may begin to wonder how the signing into law of those bills constitute an achievement. They have our sympathy, but we don’t hesitate to inform them that the foundation of a building is far more important than the building itself. The foundation of the building not only determines its durability, it also determines its size and capacity. The laws enacted so far by the Governor form the fulcrum, the foundation upon which both the government and the state would stand. Without these laws in place we would be repeating the rascality of the Okorocha era, where nothing worked because there were no enabling laws. For example, as important as the so-called free education policy was to the previous government there was no enabling law. This lacuna accounts for why the policy did not only fail but became a drainpipe.
The imperativeness of the new laws in the state was underscored by the Governor while signing into law the Imo State Facilities Management Law no 34 of 2019. He said: “The reason behind the Imo State Facilities Management Law was that on coming on board, the government found out that there [was] no particular agency or person that could account for government properties. Most [of the properties] were dilapidated. Many [of the properties] were lost. Many [of the properties] stolen. And there was nobody to ask [about the properties]. Hence, the need for this law to regulate the management of public facilities and make people take responsibility for government facilities in their custody”.
Determined to spread development across the 27 local government areas of the state, Governor Ihedioha is killing multiple birds with one stone at every turn. On September 6, he began the baptism of the state with infrastructures across the state. He flagged off the construction and rehabilitation of roads across the state as part of his plans towards addressing the sorry state of infrastructures in the state, totaling 16 roads in one day. The roads include: Nkume/Umuowa/Owerri Ebiri/Umuna/Orlu; Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Umuna; Mgbidi/Oguta Road; Douglas/Emmanuel College/Naze, Naze/Poly/Ihiagwa/Obinze Road, Control-Post/World Bank; Ahiara Junction/Okpala; IMSU/Bishop’s Court; Okigwe Town/St. Mary’s Catholic Church, MCC/Toronto Junction; Aba Branch/Ahiara Junction, Concord/Zuma/Port Harcourt, while the state government has begun discussion with the federal government for the federal roads including Owerri/ Orlu/ Akokwa Road.
The Governor also performed the flag-off of the reconstruction of the Dan Anyiam Stadium and the Grasshopper International Handball Stadium, Owerri. Not resting on his oars, he performed the ground breaking ceremonies of the Government Technical College, Okporo, Orlu; the Government Technical College, Owerri. These ground breaking ceremonies also signified the ground breaking ceremonies for the other two technical collages at Ahiara Mbaise and Osu in Isiala Mbano. Another cheery news is that the state government is not spending its money on the construction of the Government Technical College, Owerri, as Zenith Bank PLC is fully sponsoring the construction of the technical college in Owerri as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.
One road project for which the Governor will forever be remembered is the World Bank and the French Development Bank (AFD) sponsored Rural Access Mobility Programme (RAMP). This ambitious road project worth over N13bn is over 380 kilometers stretch of rural roads spread across the 27 local government areas. Apart from easing transportation in the rural communities, RAMP will also open up the rural communities for economic boom. Launching the programme in August 2019 at Onuimo, Isu and Mbaitoli LGAs of the state, the Governor Ihedioha noted that his administration would partner development agencies for the progress of the state.
Disclosing why he quickly approved the swift payment of the counterpart fund to activate the project upon his assumption of office, whereas his predecessor could not do it in eight years, the Governor said: “As soon we assumed office, the RAMP project attracted our attention, and so came under review. Our task teams and committees analyzed the program and its processes, and being satisfied with its objectives, immediately ratified it, then provided the necessary approvals and directives therein including updating payments of counterpart funds. As a State, and indeed as a person, we are particularly grateful to the two (2) institutions that have made today possible – The World Bank and the AFD (the French Development Bank). As a policy of state, we will continue, as a matter of fact, to intensify our engagements with the development partners and multilateral institutions, in order to leverage on their pedigree”, while assuring that the project would boost Agriculture and socio-economic development in the state and reduce rural-urban migration.
Even the worst critic of the Governor cannot afford closing his eyes on the Governor’s concerted efforts at addressing the numerous ecological challenges in the state. You would think that the state government did not receive ecological funds from the federal government for a period of years, as evidenced by the plethora of erosion sites in the state. Governor Ihedioha as a miracle working governor took the bull by the horns and began aggressive work towards addressing the challenges in order to reclaim the environment. It was for this purpose that the Governor flagged-off the Nine Billion Nine Hundred and Eighty-One Million Seven Hundred and Sixty-Five Thousand Five Hundred and Fourteen Naira Fourteen Kobo (₦9,981,765,514.14) Ezemazu Urualla Gully Erosion Control Project at Urualla in Ideato North Local Government Area of the state in July 2019, the biggest of all the erosion control works the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) is doing in the country.
The Governor while flagging off the programme said: “What we commissioned today is a project worth 9.8 billion Naira but we only had to pay half a billion to have access to it. This is so because we know how to properly engage the services of agencies like NEWMAP for the development of our state. The site has no doubt discouraged economic activities between Orsu and Ideato North Local Government Councils as it links to a major market in Orsu LGA, Ekeututu Market… We are in a hurry to redevelop Imo State and we will stop at nothing to restore the glory days of the state. Records available to us suggest that huge amount of money was mapped out by the previous administration to remedy the menace of erosion in Ideato North and other places, sadly but unsurprisingly, the projects were not carried out and the funds were not accounted for, leaving the residents at the mercy of flooding for the past five years.
“It is the priority of the government to safeguard the lives and properties of Imolites. Erosion poses a threat to both. Hence when NEWMAP called on the state government for partnership, I directed that half a billion Naira counterpart funding be paid to the agency whose track records are known to us”.
Commissioning the erosion control scheme at Ideato North Civic Center, the miracle working Governor decried the infrastructural decay and financial recklessness of the past administration in the state. He assured that his administration was prepared for governance and is in a hurry to redevelop the state…” He added: “We came here to keep to our words that Imo will be on one page. I said there will be no north, there will be no south. Imo will be a one-stop-shop. What is important to us is to improve the quality of lives of our people irrespective of where you came from.”
Beyond physical infrastructure, Governor Ihedioha has been walking his talk in the face of daunting challenges and needless distractions. Realizing that no genuine development can take place in the absence of a strong economy, the Governor put in place workable structures for economic rebirth in the state. Apart from the massive road constructions, the Governor has launched the Imo Growth and Strategic Development Agenda plan (G-SDP). This is a two stage development plan benchmarked on a 5 year Economic Blueprint. When successfully implemented, the G-SDP has the potential of not only creating economic turnaround but an era of economic boom for the people. With emphasis on human capital development, Agriculture and Food Security, Infrastructure Development, Industrialization and Job Creation as well as Security and the Environment, the G-SDP is a reliable and effective strategic rapid economic growth and development plan.
The state government is also working tirelessly to restore peace and security in the state as peace and security are strategic to the development of the state and the people. For example, in the oil producing areas of Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta Local Government Areas with about 50 autonomous communities, and Onuimo Local Government, the state government is leaving no stone unturned towards ensuring that the people live in peace and security. Representing the Governor, the Deputy Governor, His Excellency Rt. Hon Gerald Irona on July 25, 2019, visited the people of Agwa in Oguta Local Government Area in company of the Commissioner of Police, CP Rabiu Ladodo, and other stakeholders as part of the peace building strategy. During the visit, the Deputy Governor made a tour of the communities that were ravaged by crisis and advised the community leaders to “desist from arming youth of the state”, stressing that part of the problem in the area was that “some of the youths armed by some of the leaders have become uncontrollable.”
He said: “I am aware that some of the youths causing trouble here were armed by some of the leaders. One of the dangers in arming any youth to do your bidding is that at some point he would become too strong for you to control and he would be doing his own bidding. I want to advise our leaders to stop arming the youths, because if you allow your son to slap an elderly person, time would come when he would slap you because you had taught him to slap an elderly person and nothing would happen”.
He reiterated the commitment of the state government to the peace and security of the state, saying: “The state government under His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha will ensure that [the state] is safe for the people and conducive for business and government investment. We shall take over this Police Station [in Agwa] and complete it and put security here so that the people and whatever investment we make here shall be safe.”