UZODINMA, IMO ELDERS COUNCIL AND MATTERS ARISING

By Kennedy Eweama (08035529265)

A few days ago, Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, took a bold, and laudable step towards enthroning a culture of participatory government in the State, by the constitution of the Imo Elders Council under the Chairmanship of HRM, Eze (Dr) Cletus Ikechukwu Ilomuanya, CON, the Obi of Obinugwu, and Chancellor, Federal University, Birnin Kebbi.

The composition of the Imo Elders Council which has continued to attract remarkable commendations, and commentaries from the citizenry, could be regarded as an eloquent testimony that Governor Uzodinma is undoubtedly determined to keep to his words when he promised that, “I will bequeath Imo people, a government everybody shall be proud of, and I will also ensure that all, irrespective of political party affiliation, participate in the decision process of the government under my leadership.” Anybody who truly knows the governor can attest that he is not given to prevarication even before being elected as governor of Imo State.

Despite the fact that he inherited a crises ridden State infected with deliberately orchestrated frightening cases of insecurity, dwindling federal allocation and internally generated revenue (IGR), destructive criticism and unfounded propaganda by embittered opposition elements, as well as humongous debt profile incurred by previous administrations, notably Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s administration, Governor Uzodinma remained undaunted. Rather than capitulate or buckle to the huge set backs he met on ground, he courageously devised practical means to confront these challenges head-on as a Spartan would. With equanimity, maturity, undistracted focus, and sense of responsibility, he is obviously winning the anti – people forces against his administration.

Today, the governor has succeeded in hooking Imo back to the national grid, politically. Imo is also on the threshold of becoming the 4th largest oil producing State in Nigeria by the time the process of recovering  so many oil wells wrongly ceded to neighboring Rivers State is completed. The elastic successes of the governor within barely two years in office, is however, a story for another day.

When leadership is entrusted on somebody like Governor Uzodinma, who is in tune with the dynamics, and politics of power play in the Nigerian context, the led are better of for it. Imo is indeed lucky.

The composition of the Imo Elders Council is therefore, another pragmatic step taken by the governor to bring all leaders, and stakeholders closer to the government, and its activities as active participants and no longer as passive observers. The governor believes that governance is team work, and that once elections are over, party politics should take the back stage, while service delivery to the electorate becomes the primary focus, and responsibility of the government.

It is in this vein that the governor constituted an enlarged 123 members Elders Council to be part of his administration. The Council has in its fold, all past governors of the State, and their deputies, serving and former federal and State legislators, retired (but very active) jurists, legal practitioners and members of other professions, captains of industries, the clergy, political class, technocrats, and the academia.

The Council as composed, is broad based, and cuts across the different political divides in the State. No one can therefore, accuse the Council of having a partisan outlook. This is very commendable.

By this gesture, Governor Uzodinma has incontestably embraced Imo leaders, and afforded them the opportunity to contribute their quota to the governance of Imo State. This is purely democracy at work. He has also made himself accessible as well as demonstrated his willingness to accept any genuine input that will make Imo better.

As earlier pointed out, the unique thing about the Imo Elders Council, is its non partisan configuration. Its leadership equally took cognizance of the three geo-political zones structure of the State, namely, Orlu, Owerri and Okigwe.

The Chairman of the Council, HRM, Eze (Dr) Cletus Ikechukwu Ilomuanya is from Orlu zone, the Deputy Chairman, Prince Lemmy Akakem (Owerri zone), while the Secretary of the Council, Rt Hon Maxwell Duru is from Okigwe zone. This is the political tripod on which Imo stands.

Again, the Council is populated by distinguished, and eminent Imo leaders, who have excelled in their various fields of human endeavors. No member of the Council is a toddler in his or her chosen career, or field of endeavor.

In fact, what Governor Uzodinma assembled in the Council is a solid team Imo can boast of in socioeconomic, cultural, and political management. As an  administrator, the governor is mindful that Imo is in dire need of socioeconomic and political surgery, considering the quagmire Okorocha’s infamous administration pushed the State into.

Perhaps, it is to avoid an endless blame game, that the governor deemed it imperative to bring the leaders of the State on board. Imo belongs to the people, and not to anybody in particular, in the reasoning of the governor.

However, it is hoped that these wise men, and women meticulously chosen by the governor from among millions of Imolites, would sincerely accept the Governor’s clarion call, and hand of fellowship by putting their best in their service to the State. They ought to realize that they are serving the people, and not any political party. They should think Imo first, and above mundane, parochial or partisan interests.

The Council is not to be a forum for filibusters, but rather, an opportunity to pragmatically display one’s love for Imo, and her people by the members being dedicated to their duties. Putting into focus, the calibre and pedigree of members of the Council, Imo people nay Nigerians would appreciate robust and purpose driven deliberations, and decisions by the Council. In other words, there should be no room for filial, pedestrian or petty activities, such as unnecessary ego tripping or flexing of muscles by the members.

It should be noted that the membership of the Council is a position of trust. Imo people would certainly expect innovative ideas from the Council on the way forward for the State.

Very importantly, it is expected that no member  would shy away from selflessly participating in the Council’s activities. No excuses whatsoever or howsoever will sound plausible as justification for going AWOL  by any Council member. In fact, it shall be regarded as an act of sabotage to the State, and a subtle betrayal of Imo people’s trust reposed in such an erring member.

The composition of the Council which glaringly embraced Imo leaders of diverse political, religious, economic, and academic backgrounds, has afforded the State the rare opportunity to tap from Council members wealth of individual and collective experiences, aimed at repositioning Imo, and putting her on a solid footing. Respected members of the Council should equally avoid the temptation of exhibiting traits of fifth columnists within the Council. Their hard earned honour, and integrity built over the years should guide their actions at all times.

It is not a laudable virtue to be an armchair or pernicious critic of every government’s position, policy or action, while hiding under different facades. The opportunity has now been availed to leaders of various interest groups in Imo vide members of the Council, to boldly brain storm together, make inputs, and proffer far reaching suggestions on the best way forward for the State, rather than adorning the apparel of a destructive inquisitor.

While wishing the Council well as it soon settles down for official activities, it is germane to  immensely thank Governor Hope Uzodinma for his foresightedness in meticulously selecting people of tested and proven integrity as members of the Council. The choice of the Council’s leadership is also superb, and warrants a thumbs up to the governor.

By God’s grace, just as the fallen walls of Jerusalem, and Jericho were  rebuilt in the ancient days through God’s intervention, and grace, Imo shall similarly be Recovered, Rehabilitated, and Reconstructed in all facets to the glory of God.

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