By Rich Odu
Expectations are very high among Imo people following Wednesday’s inauguration of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the sixth democratically elected governor of the State.
While some want the new governor to tackle headlong the high unemployment rate in the state, others who spoke to Christian Voice at the venue of the swearing-in called on the governor to rid Owerri, the capital city, of a perennial flood that stalls traffic whenever it rains.
“When it rains, motorists find it difficult to drive through the Okigwe Road Roundabout, down to Cherubim Junction on Wetheral Road”, a lady driving on the street said.
She blamed it on the shoddy job done on the widening of the road and blocking of the drains during the last administration’s urban renewal project.
James Oku said that he had not secured a good job since his graduation in agricultural service in 2012. He called for a massive job creation programme and empowerment programmes for youths. Others who spoke expected the new governor to restore due process, pay pensioners and return workers’ salaries to 100 percent as well as make public utilities functional.
Ihedioha took oath of office at 11am, a few minutes after his Deputy, Gerald Irona, was sworn in.
They were sworn in by the state Chief Judge, Justice Paschal Nnadi, in a densely crowded Dan Anyiam Stadium on Wetheral Road.
Wednesday’s swearing-in was a culmination of a four-day inauguration ceremony that began with a non-denominational church service at the Dan Anyiam Stadium last Sunday.
In his speech, Rt. Hon. Ihedioha admitted that his journey to the Douglas House had been “guided by divine favour and the endeavours of so many”, who sacrificed and prayed.
He invited all, including those who contested with him, to join in his “rebuild Imo” project, blaming the past government of All Progressives Congress (APC) for degrading, destroying, debasing and desecrating most of our institutions and values.
“The legislature, the Judiciary and the Civil service, all suffered grievous assault. Imo State House of Assembly was made redundant, court-orders were routinely disregarded and oftentimes, government appeared to act in breach of our constitution and laws,” the new governor said, adding that they would be held accountable even for their absolute lack of transparency and due process.
The governor, whose catch phrase during the campaign had always been “my word is my bond”, recalled his manifesto that touched on education, agriculture, health, job creation, public utilities, among others, and pledged his resolve to tackle them without delay.
Former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra, who was the guest of hour at a high profile lecture to mark the inauguration on Tuesday, advised Gov. Ihedioha not to fly in chartered jets, cut off spending on the office of the First Lady, not to turn Government House into a party and to listen to criticisms.
Born on March 24, 1965, Ihedioha had represented Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Constituency in the Federal House of Representatives between 2003 and 2015, and served as Deputy Speaker from 2011 to 2015.
He is a 1990 graduate of the University of Lagos in Food Science.
He is also a Knight of Christopher in the Anglican Church, and holds several chieftaincy titles. He is popularly called Omenkahuruanya.