By Sam I. Amaku, (Veteran Journalist)
Perhaps, the good people of Imo State will now begin to experience a new dawn in the Governor Rochas Okorocha’s APC led administration. This is evident because the governor began the new year, 2017 with a surprise package of the floating of what was called ” Imo airline “.
According to the Christian Voice Newspaper publication of Sunday, January 29 — February 4, 2017, Governor Okorocha, had explained while launching the new airline that its aim was to “increase the state’s internally generated revenue (IGR)”. The second reason was to “generate employment opportunities for the youths”. The Governor was further quoted, as saying that his “dream and sincere desire” had been “to position Imo State on-the fast lane of development, prosperity and growth”.
Congratulations, Mr. Governor! However, one would want to point out here that the Governor’s” desire” had also been the long expectation of the people of Imo State hence his election in the first place. In addition, could the launching of an airline reasonably be considered a priority investment now for the people of Imo State? This question becomes necessary because most of the roads that span across Imo State have been in very bad shapes for quite some- time now. They also pose a great problem for easy movement of agricultural products. There is no doubt, that majority of ‘ the people travel more by road than through the airways. Unfortunately, too the federal government did not take Imo State into consideration in its newly re-designed railway construction lines.’ No doubt, the roads in Imo State are today among the death traps everywhere. Pipe borne drinking water is almost a thing of the past now in most parts of Imo State. Thus the people are left at the mercy of PURE WATER producers some of which are unhygenically produced. It is disheartening that the multi-million naira regional water project put in place by the former Mbakwe’s administration has deliberately been abandoned to decay by successive governments in Imo State. Yet that scheme as well as the Rural Electricity supply then served many villages in the past. Today, only those who can afford to sink bore holes in their premises are drinking pipe borne water in Imo State. Why should people not be sick after all?
Much as Governor Okorocha has started on a new slate this beginning of the New Year, it is important also to remind him that there is hunger in the land. The Governor’s assertion therefore that “Imo State is not affected in the much talked about recession in the country”, was an understatement. We do not require the services of a soothsayer to know this. One would rightly think that the Governor’s apparatus for measuring the true feelings of the people he governs must have failed him in this particular case. It is most astonishing that Governor Okorocha does not realize that most- families in Imo State he governs today hardly afford one square meal a day as a result of the on-going crunchy economic recession under Buhari’s administration. What we are saying, is that the people are dying. Things are no longer the same. Who says all is well when an average old woman in the village can no longer afford to buy kerosene for her lantern as well as ordinary palm oil to cook her food? Who says all is well when you now spend almost N1,000 to purchase 15- 18 cups of garri that hardly make for a meal in a sizeable family?
God knows that what the people are going through now was not the same during the past President Jonathan’s administration when a liter of kerosene sold for only N50 while fuel was N95 per liter. In the entire history of Nigeria, nobody had ever bought a small bottle of palm oil at N900 or a liter, of kerosene at N500 as is now the case in Buhari’s APC led government. Comparatively, cost of living was generally very considerably low and manageable when ex-President Jonathan was ruling Nigeria.
Therefore, the only solution to our present national predicament is for governments at all levels to embark on people-oriented ventures that would boost our-internally generated revenue base and provide job opportunities, for our youths.
Governor Okorocha should therefore, think of how to revive those our former establishments that are now extinct. They include the popular ADA PALM Industry which gave jobs to many of our people and supplied enough of our red oil needs as well as for exportation. The well known AVUTU POULTRY Farm, the Owerri shoe Industry and a host of others are seriously yawning for re-activation instead of the “white elephant” projects against which the people have been raising their eye brows course, at a time like this when people are suffering from hunger and abject poverty, the need to re-activate the Imo River Basin agricultural activities and encourage the farmers cannot be over emphasized.
According to the Christian Voice Editorial comment on the Imo airline, Governor Okorocha still needs to throw more LIGHT on the circumstances surrounding the emergence of this Imo airline “for the sake of transparency”.
Finally, it will be an irony indeed if Imo State has so much money to float an airline business at a time like this BUT consistently refused to pay-its civil servants their due salaries as well as settle the aged pensioners as at when due. The people are watching. Let the whole exercise not be a mere “whited sepulcher”.