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By Ogu Bundu Nwadike

It’s no longer news that, at long last, the governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha, has declared a state of emergency on dilapidated physical infrastructure in Imo State.

 Initial focus is on roads and basic social amenities that are in terrible conditions.

Incidentally, soon after the declaration of the state of emergency on infrastructure, Rochas Okorocha, the controversial ex-governor, and his agents came out with a faux pas and shot themselves badly on the feet.

They shamed and disgraced Rochas by showing that he didn’t know the meaning of infrastructure.

While every sincere, sane and normal person in Imo State knows that there is gross paucity of physical infrastructure in Imo State, warranting the declaration of state of emergency, Rochas and Company feign ignorance and lack of knowledge and understanding of that. Yet, Rochas was governor for eight years!

Is it not preposterous that Rochas’ sense of infrastructure begins and ends with sand, cement, bricks and slabs, wood and zinc structures? Is it not perplexing that Rochas believed that roundabouts, squares and centres, fronts and falls, statues and images were infrastructure?

In 2011, at the highly regrettable advent of Rochas as Imo governor, his predecessor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, bequeathed him with heavy duty machinery and equipment that were procured for the maintenance of rural roads in the 27 LGAs of Imo State. The supervising agency was the Imo State Rural Road Maintenance Agency (IRROMA).

Chief Ohakim handed over to Rochas some machinery and equipment for the promotion of agricultural revolution. He gave Rochas some intra-city buses owned by the government and people of Imo State.

That’s not all. Chief Ohakim handed Rochas a State with the record as the cleanest State in Nigeria and by extension, Africa. He bequeathed to Rochas a sound civil service, local government system, 10,000 gazetted and remunerated jobs for Imo youths, high quality education, good quality hospitals and healthcare centres, public water supply.

Chief Ohakim initiated the construction of two flyover bridges in Orji and Amakohia but didn’t complete them.

What Rochas Okorocha was ignorant of and oblivious about was that what Chief Ikedi Ohakim handed over to him were physical infrastructure.

Indeed, Rochas confirmed that truly ignorance is a killer-disease. Ironically, ignorance destroyed him politically and turned him into an object or subject for carricature.

The same condition of ignorance caused Rochas to loot and convert IRROMA machinery and equipment to his private estate.

Ignorance led him to destroy the free flow of public water supply. Ignorance led him to begin a “free education” he knew nothing about, leading to the fallen standard of education in Imo State. Ignorance led Rochas to destroy the waste disposal and management system of which he looted and converted the machinery and equipment for that as handed over to him by Chief Ohakim.

Ignorance made Rochas to destroy the health sector, hospitals and healthcare centres, only to float the elephant projects that he called 27 General Hospitals, which he abandoned as uncompleted projects.

Ignorance made Rochas to convert to his own property the intra-city buses he received from Ohakim.

Ignorance caused Rochas to sack a democratically elected local government administration and set up a‘ohashierism’ Community Government Council (CGC).

Ignorance led Rochas to quash the employment of 10,000 youths into the civil service of Imo State and he never succeeded in employing anybody in real terms thereafter.

Ignorance made Rochas to neglect and abandon the roads in Imo State, particularly the rural roads for which the brand new IRROMA machinery and equipment were procured.

Ignorance caused Rochas to detest respect for rule of law and due process. If I continue to list what ignorance contributed to the failure of Rochas in Imo State, night will fall and day will dawn!

Governor Ihedioha, within his first 30 days in office has assessed the grossly dilapidated condition of Imo State and concluded that there is no ‘mekwatarism’ to the havoc caused by Rochas to deny Imo State and Imo people everything good.

He has decided to declare a state of emergency on infrastructure. That is the way to go. You don’t continue to pour water into a badly leaking jerry can. You discard it and get a new one that’s not leaking. That’s what Governor Ihedioha has done.

Rochas and Company criticized the decision very unfairly, describing it as state of emergency on stomach infrastructure.

I sized up the opinions of some reputable pundits and they feel that both on physical infrastructure and stomach infrastructure, Rochas failed himself and Imo people.

The pundits express support for the decision by Governor Ihedioha, urging him to add stomach infrastructure to physical infrastructure in the state of emergency.

They were of the view that in real terms, the primary purpose of government is the provision of good quality physical infrastructure and stomach infrastructure. They argue that on both types of infrastructure, Rochas was a failure.

It’s on that point of view by people of Imo State that I draw the curtain on this short essay.

.Nwadike is the Special Assistant on Research to the Governor of Imo State

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