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Ehirim: The Technocrat who wants to be Soludo of Imo
He holds a doctorate degree from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa; young, restless, angry and with huge grudge about how wrong things have gone in his home state, Imo. That may be an attempt at describing Tobechukwu Justice Ehirim, popularly known as TJ Ehirim, the intellectual and erudite don pressing to occupy the Imo State seat of power in the next election.
Ehirim had nurtured the desire more than three decades ago, which had to take on a new life and fresh desire due to the turn of events in the which he feels stultified development. He is disturbed by how bad the affairs of his lovely state have turned.
To him, the abstinence of men of quality has foisted on the state, poor thinkers and non-performers and he feels there is no better way to express his misgivings over the abhorrent state of things in the state than to throw his hat into the ring so as to implement the blueprint he has nursed for so long. He has therefore taken it as a major project, a mission driven by a passion that makes him swear like the Mandelas, Mbekis and Malemas of South Africa- no retreat, no surrender.
It was at the last edition of the Annual Igbo Heritage Lecture series, in Johannesburg, South Africa, that he unfolded his plan and regaled his audience in detail how he would devote all his time and resources to rid Imo State of the current bad government
“The Imo State of the Mbakwes cannot claim to be the heartland of Ndigbo and display such shameful and lacklustre performance in the choices of who governs them. My people must be emancipated, let the best of us lead the rest of us. Allowing the worst of us to lead the rest of us, is to deny ourselves modern freedoms, genuine growth and top quality development (not 419); a fatal error that requires marshal intervention and urgent remedy or we suffer the adverse consequences. The present governor of the state is not only grossly inadequate, he is insufficiently prepared for the job he got from the backyard and he must go,” he fumed.
The youthful administrator and technocrat with the above words, seemed to have served quit notice to present occupiers of the office; further vowing that he was ready as his warrior ancestors, to go the whole hug and ensure the change.
Waxing both historical and philosophical, he opined that his grandfather must have seen tomorrow when he named nwanagankpa, (the child that solves the hard tasks), which has since been upgraded to a chieftaincy title of nwanagankpa n’ Amazano, by his community of Umudim-Akuure, Umuele-Amazano, Umuaka of Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State. He therefore sees his quest as an ancestral command which would not be above his efforts to achieve.
“I have served Governor Hope (Uzodimma) a quit notice and he understands the seriousness that I attached to the notice. It is nothing personal. My state is in the state of emergency and all that is required is speed and urgency and I’m glad that the youths, the churches, the communities the civil society and the sons and daughters of the soil, home and abroad are unanimous in this new thinking that our destiny must only be resided in the hands of the best of us and not in the worst of us.
“I shall be the voice speaking for the millions who are disillusioned by the dismal performances of Uzodimma. It’s all about principle of nemo dat quod non habet, which simply means, you can’t give what you don’t have. Hope Uzodimma is an accidental leader, almost a disaster, who has shown that he is incapable of the high quality leadership that my state yearns”, he insisted.
Of grave concern to Ehirim is the wanton killings in Imo State which blame he on the doorstep of the governor, saying it was the consequence of entrusting people without leadership capacity with power, adding, “No leader worth his salt will supervise the systematic elimination of his fellow men and women, especially the youths and students, who are the critical workforce he requires to compete in the fourth industrial revolution, the way Uzodimma did. We can’t make a governor of men who have no conscience, who are affidavitely educated and whose pasts are not only tainted but riddled with the exact traits that our parents, teachers and Clergies warned us to avoid.
“Who does not know the occupation of our governor before his magical ascendancy into the red chambers and the catapult into the Douglas House? When people in power are those who went to kindergarten institutions, holding short term certificates and with little or no sources of reference are allowed entrance into the arena that is the preserve of the honorables and the celebrated, this is the result you get. It is this shame and hopelessness that I have come to erase and replace with the real hope. It is time to give the Imo situation the Anambra treatment.
“What we have is like a cancer eating deep into the state. The level of decay that I see in my state today cannot be viewed as ordinary. Hopelessness which has filled the air and the obstinacy of the man at the helm can be likened to that of pharaoh and how God used him to give His people freedom.
“Uzodimma is not an easy nut to crack, given the huge amount of wealth he has amassed to himself and the federal might. But I am the David, the only man in Imo State that can bring down the Goliath. He comes with a combination of incumbency power and the federal might but I come with the might of the people and the promise of God. I am the next Governor of Imo State. I have come to liberate my people and the political heavyweights in the state agree with that contention.
“I will be mobilising the greatest civil movement in history and raise a tsunami against the evil enterprise in Imo State. Because of me, the oppressed, the downtrodden and through the power of the Almighty, the courts, the riggers and even the presidency will yield to the will of the people.”
Ehirim who likens himself to former US President, Barack Obama and Chukwuma Charles Soludo, insists that the best in the society, rather than the dregs must occupy the political space and give sound leadership, adding that collaboration between him and Soludo would produce Igbo emancipation in values and development.
“It was on the crest of the same philosophy of the best must step forward and lead, wherever they are that the son of the poor Kenyan father emerged from obscurity to become the leader of the free world. It was with the same thinking that ndi-Anambra were able to dismantle the mafia network to produce the governor they deserve. We will be replicating the same in my state. Obama rose to become a doctor of law, it was not his money that made him the President, it was his quality. Soludo rose to the height of his profession.
It was not his money that made him the Governor-elect in the presence of a very fierce opposition, it was his quality. It was through the same thinking that Thabo Mbeki emerged from exile to become the wonder-working president of South Africa. I have also reached the pinnacle of my chosen career in Health and Public Service. There are lots of similarities between myself and those men. It is only fair that I be given an opportunity to serve my people,” he submitted.
On his pedigree, he said, “Everywhere I go and everything I’ve touched has turned gold. I graduated the best pupil in Umuele primary school in Umuele-Amazano and repeated the feat at St Augustine Grammar school, Nkwerre, a special model school set aside then, for the gifted children, before proceeding to University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to study pharmacy, where I also graduated with distinction. I served at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) Owerri, where I left as the best graduating intern and later, State Specialist Hospital, Ekiti, where I also came out tops.
“I’m not the only one. Excellence actually runs in my family. My father, Chief Livinus Uzoma Ehirim, was a pioneer staff of the Nigerian Customs, who later fought the Nigeria Civil war on the Biafra side. My mother, lolo Adaeze Ehirim, knew that her son would one day become the leader of people. At birth, my grandfather saw the uniqueness in me and named me nwanagamkpa (the child that is destined to solve problems and resolve challenges. This is the background that influenced my past and is pushing my future. It is a tradition that hates slavery and detests the sight of people in anguish.
“In fact, I can say that my ambition to become the Governor started 32 years ago, when the Ozoigbondu, Chief Arthur Eze visited my school and the honour to decorate him with garlands fell on my little self as the brightest. Chief Arthur Eze, who lowered his frame almost to a breaking point, to facilitate the performance of the job my school gave me, told us how the future was ours to take and that the sacrifices they were making then was to prepare us to become future Governors and Presidents. I retired that day with the conviction that I was going to become a governor. Another prophesy came from a classmate back in 1991, George Ashiegbu, who later became a pastor, that I was going to become a Governor some day. Ashiegbu now leads Dunamis church in Ghana.
Indeed, spiced with a lot of philanthropic activities, his pedigree of excellence, diligence and ability to break new grounds, couple with his grip with the grassroots, may have been responsible for the huge fellowship he seems to be commanding presently, particularly amongst the youths.
“I arrived South Africa in 2003, at a time that going to school was not fashionable for our people. I was told that there is no place for people like me here, which I quickly rejected. I instantly chose the road less travelled and I assured them that I was going to break the glass ceiling. After initial difficulties, I was able to pay and write the qualifying exams that opened the doors and windows for the journey that later ensued. The South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) was swift in confirming my South African Bachelor of Pharmacy, followed by the admission into the prestigious South African Pharmacy Council (SAPC). In 2008, I topped it with a Supply Management Qualifications from the South African Development Institute and later an MBA from the world class institution, the Millark Business School in Johannesburg before crowning it with a Doctor of Philosophy.”
Narrating further, he said he later found himself in another huge medical facility, the Helen Joseph Hospital, where he held various top management positions, including the Pharmacy Manager; Coordinator, Mid-Term Strategic Plan Committee. It was here also, that he was again noticed by the Provincial Government, where he became a member, Department Special Task Force on Quality Pharmacycare and Reduction in Waiting Time for Patients at Gauteng Public Health Facility.
Other positions he held were, Operations and Warehouse Manager/Chief Pharmacist, Gauteng Medical Supplies Depot; Director, Procurement Authority, Gauteng Provincial Medical Supplies; Member, USAID/SCMS Re-engineering; Manager, Pharmaceutical Services, Gauteng Department of Health and many others.
“What is important in all these positions is the fact the South Africans didn’t have a problem handing the keys to their life into the hands of a foreigner. It didn’t matter to them that I am a Nigerian. All that mattered was my quality.”
He added: “In my first one week in office, I will declare a state of emergency on Imo State to atone for the lives of our people that were wasted, to satisfy the desperation and the ambition of one man and offer prayers for the repose of their souls. My Government will also seek compensation to the families of those who died the deaths they shouldn’t die.
“I will also declare state of emergency in health, education, hunger and basic infrastructures, like roads. These are what every responsible government should give to the governed as a matter of human right and without expecting a thank you. No human being should be allowed to suffer the pains and the indignity of the lack of basic necessities of life and that I will pursue.
“In addition, I promise to replicate what I did in the health sector in South Africa in Imo State. I will revolutionise the health sector and bring Primary Health Care to the doorsteps of every person living in Imo State at no cost to them.
“The message of the campaign, let the best of us lead the rest of us is now fast spreading across the Imo and beyond like a wild fire and the people, especially the youths are prepared to take their state back. I am the next governor. I’m the only person that has sufficient capacity to dare this lion and snatch the baton off him. I am the only person he is afraid of because he sees Ihedioha and Okorocha as people he can beat even in a sleep. Another Soludo is coming to Imo.”