It was an ovation galore in Imo State as the state governor, Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha, inaugurated the first ever Community Government Council otherwise known as the Fourth-Tier Government.
The governor also declared open the Traditional Parliament structured to give voice to the masses and promote cultural values of the Igbos.
Governor Okorocha in his speech maintained that time was up for the Igbos to stand up and re-introduce their culture which has been eroded by the western imperialism. He explained that the concept of the Community Government is to decentralize power and bring governance to the door-step of the rural dwellersto unlock the hidden potentials in the rural communities.
He said “it is regrettable we the Igbos depend largely on other tribes for food. This is because we the Igbos have forsaken agriculture. But today, I am glad that we are practically going back to agriculture for food security and economic development of our state.
This is what the Community Government stands for. Let me announce that we have perfected arrangement to establish a Songhai Farm in all the communities and that is why our brother who owns the Songhai Farm in Benin Republic is here today with us. We must definitely go back to agriculture because it remains the key to development.
The governor formally presented the 49-page Community Government Council Law that captured all the communities in the state and the operational framework of the Community Government recently passed by the State House of Assembly. According to the Law, the traditional ruler will serve as the Chairman of the Council while those formerly addressed as President General will serve as Secretary. The Community Liaison Officer, Woman Leader, Youth Leader will serve as members.
Already, some civil servants have been posted to the various communities to constitute the administrative wing of the Council. Governor Okorocha explained that under the law Communities can initiate projects according to their needs while government plays its part by providing funds to actualize those projects.
While urging the traditional rulers to embrace the challenges and make good use of the opportunity provided by the Community Government, Governor Okorocha reiterated that his administration remains committed to embark on programmes and policies that will impact positively on lives of the ordinary people. Speaking further on the traditional parliament, Governor Okorocha urged the traditional rulers to only make laws that will promote Igbo
tradition and cultural values.
“History is made today with the inauguration of the Traditional parliament. This parliament which has all the traditional rulers in Imo State as members will provide the window of opportunity for us to promote our culture. This is where laws related to marriage, kola-nut and other cultures that are common to the people will be made.
Today I empower you to begin to make such cultural laws that will make us not to forget our language because my worry is that if we do not act quickly now, we might be destroying the generation of Ndi-Imo yet unborn and that a day might come when there is no one speaking Igbo language. It is important we bequeath the legacy of our culture to our children unborn”, he said.
Governor Okorocha further challenged the traditional rulers to adopt Alternative Dispute Resolution [ADR] in settling conflicts in their various communities as part of measures geared towards promoting unity in the state. The governor who posited that Igbos remained the anchor-point that has sustained the unity of the nation, enjoined Igbos to come together and revived the spirit of oneness towards fighting their course in the contemporary Nigeria. In his speech, the Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Hon Benjamin Uwajumogu commended Governor Okorocha for his vision of establishing Community Government to fast-track development at the grassroots. He added that the concept will in no small measure place Imo above other states in terms of rural development and agricultural revolution in Nigeria The Commissioner for the newly created Community Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Prof Chima Iwuchukwu, described Community Government ‘Government of the people for the people and with the people’.
He pointed out that the community government will promote unity, entrepreneurship and the dwindling spirit of self- help in Igbo nation. Highlights of the occasion include the conferment of Governor Okorocha as Owelle Ndi-Igbo and Igbo Prime Minister by the traditional rulers.