One premium lesson adulthood teaches is that in life there is the divine order of things and there is also the world order made and manipulated by man. For those like me who believe in the inevitability of divinity in the determination of mortality, the ways of men are inexorably a function of the hand of God Almighty. It is neither a coincidence that the sun rises from the east nor was it a scientific discovery that led the three wise men from the east to the magical manger in Bethlehem. In the same vein, recent events in the eastern heartland of Nigeria cannot be explained solely as the whiff of man’s wisdom.
The emergence of Emeka Ihedioha as the next governor of Imo come May 29, 2019 cannot be anything but divine. This is not by any means an attempt to downplay the place of hard work and political sagacity in the victory of the green cap man in the March 9 governorship election. I speak of a more sublime side of the matter – the unassailable fact that Ihedioha is a man of destiny whose time has come. But what do I mean by ‘time’ here?
In 2015 when he contested the governorship of the state then as deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, some of us thought that was his moment. Everything seemed to be working well for victory until Goodluck Jonathan lost the presidential poll of March 2015. By the time the governorship contest held days later President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the centre had altered the calculations so much that the PDP which had won overwhelming majority of national assembly seats in the previous election had been sufficiently weakened in both resolve and resilience to deliver its candidate for Douglas House. The rest, like they say, is history. Rochas was returned. And Imo sank lower and lower into the abyss such that almost four years down the line, it is the vacuous and meaningless iberiberism ideology that has been promoted into policy of state in one of Nigeria’s federating unit with some of the most sophisticated citizens. What an irony! While I believe that the ruins Mr. Okorocha dug Imo into will require a commissioned study of what leadership and governance is not about, suffice to say that the state has never had it so bad since its creation in 1976.
But then came the long kind arms of the omnipotent divine who looked from far above having heard the loud wailings and mute groaning of Imolites under the heavy hand of the iberiberist emperor and intervened on March 9 to stop the sufferings of his people. And from the many that postured as the called HE chose and anointed Emeka Ihedioha to lead his people from the locust years of pillage and plunder into the greener pasture of restoration and prosperity. Thus when the governor-elect in his victory speech says “this election is as epochal as its outcome is momentous,” he speaks to the touch of destiny which defines his mandate. It shows a man who is not only conscious of and can correctly interpret the signs of the times but is imbued with the empathy and courage to appreciate the interconnectedness of his divine calling with the yearnings and aspirations of those he has been called to serve. But will Ihedioha serve the people of Imo state truly? Will he be different from the rest of the political class? Will he deliver good governance and leave positive imprints in the sands of time? These are very valid questions but I must first of all raise a word of caution by saying that while Ihedioha has turned out to be the man of the moment for Imo, the expectation should not be of a stewardship without occasional bumps. That would be cloaking him with the garb of a saint and we know there are no saints on this earthly plane. I am however confident that the questions raised above would be answered in the affirmative. And this is why: In the about two decades of his involvement in politics and leadership, Emeka Ihedioha has come to be identified with three solid character traits – Capacity, Competence and Consistency. Given the muddy mix of Nigeria’s political waters, I dare add a fourth one: integrity. For someone like me who has worked closely with him, I am not able to circumscribe my experiences and thoughts to the limited space of this article in order to exhaust the details of the salient and enviable character traits laid out above. But one thing I can say without any fear of contradiction is that for him to have straddled and swaddled through the landmines of Nigeria’s politics for two decades without as much as a blemish to his name and brand is an eloquent testimony to the character and personality of Emeka Ihedioha. Though an influential member of the political class of this country, his brand of politics is anchored on forthrightness and integrity of purpose, both of which are rare attributes he would be bringing to bear on the governance of Imo state.
And he is already acting it. Refer again to his victory speech: “We shall run an open, transparent and accountable government with due process as its hallmark. I believe strongly that those in positions of authority must render account of their stewardship to the people. The era of brazenness in Imo State is gone.” What is important for me however is that Imo people should be strongly encouraged to take Ihedioha seriously on his pledge to “run an all-inclusive government and not a government of exclusion.” Hear him further: Ours will be a government that will promote the unity of the state, rather than accentuate the fissures that have characterized our relationship with each other in recent times. Our priority will be the reclaiming of the dignity of our people. We shall no longer be the laughing stock of Nigeria as only positive, productive and progressive stories will be told of the new Imo. Imo has always been known for the right things, with a huge reservoir of human capital waiting to be exploited for the great leap forward.
It is my duty and responsibility to ensure that we remain brothers and sisters with a common destiny. I am certain that with all hands-on deck, we shall achieve the Imo of our dreams.
“The elections are over. What remains is the fulfillment of the promises we made to our people. We entered into a social contract with you with our manifesto and we shall remain faithful to our obligations in that contract. This contract seeks to substantially improve the welfare, security, property rights, economic and social advancement of our people. We shall find creative ways of funding our ambitious infrastructural projects and give Imo the quality education, healthcare and general good governance that you desire.”
But are politicians not known to be huge in rhetoric but shrunken in deliverables? Again this is another very valid question. And the onus is on Emeka Ihedioha to walk his talk and prove to all who has reposed such huge faith in him that he will be the governor that all Ndi-lmo and the rest of Nigeria will be proud of by the time the jury is out. I am super confident that he can do just that. I wish this great man of destiny a happy 54th birthday anniversary. God bless Imo State. God bless the federal republic of Nigeria.
–––Epia, journalist and development practitioner, writes from Abuja