Frank talk

Owelle: Objective criticism can benefit Imo State by Chus Osuji

It is an acknowledged fact that in any community of people, no matter how good  their government, there cannot be meaningful development without peace. Because, according to Philip Osborn, a social crusader, “peace, stability and tranquility must be basic for democratic principles to apply. And unless there is discernable rule of law, development which is the principle expectation of the citizenry will be elusive. Then, the people would suffer.”

Another eminent scholar Humphrey Goodman in separate treaties has opined that Instability and Political Distortions could arise through crude politics, distrust, marginalization of the people, denial of their rights and privileges, gossips and tendency to disown, discredit and demoralize the leadership.

In fact, I was delighted to have read the statement credited to one of the eminent politicians in Imo State, one that does not make noise but who uses his military experience in his own style of politics, Rtd. Colonel Lambert Iheanacho. He was quoted to have said “Governor Okorocha means well for Imo people. Yet, he was able to put his view across regarding the Governor’s Agricultural policy. Yes, he had said it all without rocking the political boat. That is mature opinion.

I recall with still fresh when Achike Udenwa was the Governor of Imo State, many of his supporters often said, “he was the best thing that has happened to Imo State.” Those in opposition used to haul at him all types of abuses, describing him as the most unsuccessful Governor. I took on both sides in one of my articles which appeared in This Day Newspaper, arguing that both groups were playing immature politics because to say that Achike Udenwa was not achieving anything amounted to political hatred because even until now, his achievements still stare us in the face. And his style of politics and governance devoid of cantancorous propensity was appreciated by many.

On the other hand, I took a swipe on those who said that he was the best thing that happened to Imo State were being politically over zealous and sychophantic.

Recently, I had a very frank discussion with a notable member of today’s opposition. He is the type of an open minded intellectual who knows that there is a great difference between objective criticism and licentious criticism aimed not to correct but totally condemn.

He said that the reason for the seeming hostile opposition to Okorocha’s administration was the way he started his administration, just like a wounded elephant who entered the bush trying to destroy everything. For example, he mentioned his freezing the government accounts when he had not been sworn in; his cancellation of ten thousand jobs; his dissolution of Development Centres; his sacking of 27 elected Chairmen and their Councilors, his dissolution of Council of Traditional Rulers etc, showing no regard nor respect to the previous regime in addition to his maintaining election period hostile statements even after he has won the election.

In response, after carefully listening to his line of argument, I did not try to dispute his point of view. However, while not agreeing with his view point altogether, I acquiesced to the fact that there were some initial mistakes. For example, I told him of my article in which I had argued that the dissolution of LGAs was too hasty and that the Governor should have weighed the obvious political and future consequences of that hasty decision which in my opinions was a misplaced judgement. I reminded my colleague that the plank upon which Owelle ran his campaign and won was on “operation rescue mission.” Besides, the tumultuous euphoria which greeted his election was enough to drive even the most mature and experienced into some initial mistakes.

I tried to point out to my colleague that almost one and half years into Owelle’s Administration, there appears to be a lot of mudslinging from the opposition, particularly the PDP. He was very quick in being dismissive by blaming the heating of the polity on the APGA leadership whom he thought was detached from the Governance and was trying to be relevant by stirring up a wild allegation of PDP planning to invade Owerri with 200 luxury buses loaded with thugs on in “operation scatter Owerri.”

I have decided to recall that  in the light of the type of politicking that is going on in the State since the current Administration. Every alert political watcher will agree that even not the type of heating the polity which went on between Achike Udenwa and my highly respected Senator Ararume within the period of leading to the surprised emergence of Ikedi Ohakim could be compared with the type of over-heating the polity that is going on now in the State.

By the same token, after thirteen months of Owelle’s administration, he has shown evidence of one in a hurry. And if there are quite a number of mistakes, they are the result of that one being in a hurry to change his State. And of course, he has full four years to himself to correct his mistakes.

This brings this analysis to another aspect of seeming complaints which Owelle and his handlers must not forget to factor into their administration machinery. It is in Owelle’s inter-credit that people are complaining that he is taking too many things at a time. Is that not better than he is not doing anything at all. Even if he has bitten more than he can chew as many may allege or complain of, but he has enough time to swallow them and digest them for another round of policy initiatives.

In this vein, they tend to criticize of his style of leadership. According to one medical axiom, doctors will always differ in diagnosis, hence patients die. Afterall, having seen five civilian State Governors, it will be fool-hardy for anybody to expect the political styles of the five Governors to be identical or even similar.

For example, Chief Mbakwe was a conservative democrat with a vision to see that Igbo moved and recovered from the ruins of the civil war to attain rapid level of recovery, economic uplift and social rebirth, having lost a gruesome civil war. Thirty years after he ruled Imo State, his political and achievement imprints are still evident. For example Imo Concorde Hotel Owerri.

Chief Enwerem, although an experienced lawyer, was more ultra conservative than Mbakwe. And his party’s ideology had a lot of influence in his style, although his regime did not last. Yet he left something for which he must ever be remembered. For example Imo State University.

On his part, Achike Udenwa was social economist, quiet and to a large extent methodical as an accountant. He took his time to study the people and the political terrain for the first term. Within that first term, he was called all sorts of names. But within his second term, he exploded with tangible and verifiable achievements. He was lucky that he was not distracted by “crude” opposition or endless court cases. His foot prints today include State Secretariat and University Teaching Hospital Umunah.  Although he could be described as a political “dove”, few hawks around him nearly gave his regime a different image.

Ikedi Ohakim was even more methodological than Achike in the sense that he came in with a blue print for Imo in his hand. But he took two years for court cases and another two years planning for re-election. That is why he became incidentally garrulous and eventually talked himself into trouble and out of office pre-maturely. Yet, he still left something for which he will always be remembered. For example, he solved the intractable problem of returning schools to there original owners, changed the environmental sanitation of Imo State and built new Government House.

On the other hand, Owelle came without a blue print in his hand, but full of vision in his brain and ideas in his mind as to the type of Imo wanted as a Governor.

At this point, my discussing colleague took me aback when he furiously ask me to justify or explain that type of accusation from the Chairman of APGA asking rather too firmly, “where would PDP assemble 200 buses; where will the party recruits those thugs to fill the 200 buses with guns, cudgels and machetes; will that not be enough to make Owerri thrown into pandemonium?” To him, that allegation which linked top members of the party’s echelon was highly provocative and tantamount to expensive mudslinging.

There are two reasons why I have brought up this brief discussion with a colleague of like mind.

First to show how the level of hostility between PDP and APGA in the State and by implication the Government which include Imo House of Assembly.

Secondly to remind our readers Imo citizens at large that in Nigeria, there is nothing like objective criticisms from the opposition in anywhere in the country including at the federal level. But is that how it will be? Does that help governance?

To be continued.