|Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo state|
By Kenneth Uwadi
One thing that cannot be taken away from Fela Anikulapo’s music is its consistent defense of both the political and economic interest and aspiration of the working people. Fela`s songs lampoon the level of corruption and looting in public sectors. The infrastructural decay and chronic state of public social services like education, health among others are off-shoot of various anti-poor neoliberal capitalist policies of thieving government. In Confusion-Break-Bone (CBB), one of the mid-1980s hit series that also included the Beast-of-No-Nation (BONN) it became necessary for Fela to reply critiques who felt that his lyrics were over-laced with doomsday chants.“If something good I go sing about.Nothing good self to sing about”.
No doubt, 2020 and 2021 have been extremely eventful and unusual years in Nigeria and worldwide. The years witnessed the tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic which led to about 5-months lockdown in Nigeria during which hundreds of thousands starved. Many lost their jobs during these years, while several small businesses collapsed. This is aside many who lost lives and limbs, and also shops, to riots and arson following the EndSARS protest. These two years have been a trying time for the majority of Imolites, especially working people, youths and the poor. The COVID-19 pandemic cannot be an excuse for not moving Imo forward. COVID-19 is with us but many states are shining. Things are done well in so many states and the people are happy. The only reason Ndi-Imo called for change in 2019 was because everyone knew things were bad and that something urgently needed to be done to fix the state. In fact the terrible state of Imo was the centerpiece of the Uzodinma’s campaigns in 2019. What was required at that time, and even now, were emergency economic measures unapologetically pro-poor. For now Uzodinma has failed to do this.
Rather when Uzodinma got into power, his government working under the failed philosophy of the past administration embraced the same ruinous anti-poor, anti- people’s economic policies of the last capitalist thieving government. Despite promises of some reforms, the government has continued to implement the very same neo-liberal rotten policies of the past regime such as LGA Caretaker System, crippling of ISOPADEC, working without a properly constituted cabinet, crippling of ministries and parastatals, clannishness and ruling the state as a one man system despite that these were the same policies that enabled corruption and the condition of mass poverty in the midst of abundance in the first place. Today in Imo 60.2% are officially said to be without employment. Most significantly, about 40% of the people out of work have tertiary education while 20.2% were educated to secondary school level. Expectedly, the regime now totters on a shrunken social base as many who initially invested hope in it have started deserting it.
They have refused to give us democracy at the LGA levels. This is an issue that has continued to dog the Uzodinma’s 20 month administration .The failure of the administration to organize local government elections whereas neighboring states like Abia, Enugu and Rivers have all done theirs and kick started meaningful and result oriented local government administration. Today local government areas numbering 27 in all have not been run by a democratically elected Chairmen and Councilors as provided for in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but the ugly cat and mouse game by Uzodinma’s administration is that huge sums of money allocated to each Local Government Area running into billions of Naira by the Federal Government remains unaccounted for while no developmental project have been carried out in any community by the State and Local Government , the result, a comatose rural area begging to be attended to, but in all questions as it concerns non conducting of Local Government Elections in Imo State include, What has been done with these funds, what projects have been carried out by the government in our LGA’s so far? Our LGA’s remain voiceless due to lack of funding and operational equipment. They are poorly funded, lack good furniture and poor electricity supply. Go to some of the LGA's and you will see the grasses covering them. Buildings are so bad, some offices are leaking. What is happening in our LGA’s is what we call ‘Original Suffer Head’.
Today they have crippled ISOPADEC, the body set up as an intervention commission for the oil producing areas. The Commission is now in moribund condition. Salaries of workers in the commission have been slashed. Oil companies in Ohaji/Egbema LGA have refused to employ our people even though we have all the academic qualifications and required skills. If we protest, they are ready to use government apparatus to kill, rape, destroy and burn down our tattered houses and properties so as to maintain their profits. Yet they are employing non indigenes to work in our land. We say No to anti-poor, pro-rich policies in Imo. Save Us Oh God.
(Kenneth Uwadi lives in Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State and can be reached via 08037982714)