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IHEDIOHA sets agenda for a new dawn in Imo State


… Imolites in hopeful anticipation
Story by Alfred

Of all the hardships a person had to face, none is more punishing than the simple act of waiting and the idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting” Said Khaled Hosseini, in his title ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’
It became a completely new dawn for Imolites as Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha was sworn in as the sixth executive governor of Imo State on the 29th of May, 2019 by the Chief Judge of the state, Paschal Nnadi before a huge crowd at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri by 11:0O am. He was sworn in, four minutes after his Deputy, Gerald Irona, took his oath of office and allegiance.
Taking a cue from Albert Camus, in his title ‘The Plague’ and Zamyatin, there is always this intense emotion during those years of hard separation, time had never gone quickly enough for their liking and they were wanting to speed its flight, now that they were in sight of the town they would have liked to slow it down and hold each moment in suspense, once the breaks went on and the train was entering the station. For the sensation, confused perhaps, but none the less poignant for that, of all those days and weeks and months of life lost in their agony made them vaguely feel they were entitled to some compensation; this present hour of joy should run at half the speed of those long hours of waiting. It is said there are flowers that bloom only once in a hundred years. Why should there not be some that bloom once in a thousand, in ten thousand years? Perhaps we never know about them simply because this “once in a thousand years” has come today.”
In any case, everyone in Imo seem hopeful in excitement, though there is still that fear of the unknown and all three tightly braided together, will always create a fourth emotion that is impossible to define. But just as Robin Hobb would say “Anticipating pain was like enduring it twice. Why not anticipate pleasure instead?” Hence I implore all Imolites to hope for the best.
Meanwhile, Chief Emeka in his inauguration speech opined that, stepping on toes is necessary to do the right thing, adding that his team will run a focused administration aimed at addressing the disturbing issues affecting the people of the state. Furthermore, Ihedioha declared that Okorocha has destroyed the state while promising new dawn for people of Imo. “The outgoing administration degraded and destroyed most of our institutions and values. The legislature, the judiciary and the civil service, all suffered grievous assaults, with the House of Assembly made redundant and court orders routinely disregarded. But Imo State will, as always, endure. Imo will revive and prosper again. We urge you to be courageous in this conviction, for we are not captives of fear. We will not waste a day getting to work to renew the Imo promise of our founding fathers. Therefore, we will take appropriate measures to restore faith and confidence in government. I stand ready to personally interface and facilitate with any person or company willing to establish business in Imo. Together, we shall achieve the Imo of our dreams. Imo shall rise again” he concluded
He further, solicited the cooperation of all stakeholders in the rebuilding process, pointing out that appropriate steps would be taken so as to restore faith and confidence in government.
In a related report, the Imo state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the outgone governor, Rochas Okorocha, of leaving the state with a liability of N300 billion. According to Imo PDP, Okorocha incurred over N100 billion debt and abandoned projects worth more than N200 billion across the state. The Imo state PDP publicity secretary, Damian Opara, was reacting to the claim by Okorocha that he was leaving over N42 billion for the incoming administration of Emeka Ihedioha. According to Opara Okorocha’s claim was unverifiable, baseless and a bad precedent for the Imo government.
In a bid to challenge the authority over the alleged ongoing conspiracy to arrest and try him, Rochas Okorocha, the outgone Governor of Imo State, has issued a stern warning to the new administration of Imo State not to “fight him politically”. He made this assertion before handing over to Emeka Ihedioha as new Governor of Imo State.
Continuing, he said, “As I walk out of this government house, let no one fight me and I will not fight anybody. When you remove this seal of governance off my face, you will see the real Rochas. The real Rochas is still asleep, if not bigger than the governor, so let no one fight me and I will not fight anybody. Why I say so is there seems to be a gang up and conspiracy to hold me down politically but I don’t think they can hold me down politically because what God has ordained must surely come to pass. I will leave you for good and I will wish you well,”
In a statement issued in Owerri by the special Adviser on Media to the governor, Steve Osuji, just 24 hours after swearing, the governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha has ordered financial institutions not to honour any withdrawal instruction by cheques or transfers written in the name of the state government saying “no financial mandates, ISPOs or any form of financial instruction should be treated.”
The governor ordered that outstanding financial instruction already addressed to the banks in the name of the state government should be suspended. The paper reads, “Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State has directed that all financial institutions that have relationship with the Imo State Government should not honour any withdrawal instruction by cheques, transfers or in any form.
“No financial mandates, ISPOs or any form of financial instruction should be treated.
“All outstanding financial instructions already with banks and financial institutions should be put on hold.
“This directive covers, but not limited to, all the accounts of Ministries, Departments, Parastatals, Local Government councils, quasi-government agencies and all revenue generating organs of government.
“Banks and non-bank financial institutions are to take note and ensure compliance, as the state government will not be responsible for any disbursement effected contrary to this directive.
“This directive will remain in force until otherwise advised.
“Heads of government agencies, departments, parastatals, permanent secretaries and relevant officers will be held responsible for any breach.
“This directive takes effect immediately.”
“Imo shall rise again,” the governor said.
In what could be described as a sarcastic, ironical, cynical, biting caustic, sardonic, and, sharp reaction, Chief Press Secretary to Okorocha, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, said he was not surprised, insisting that the ex-governor left shoes too big to fit into. He listed Okorocha’s achievements to include free education, security and urban renewal saying “Owerri is the fastest growing city in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In 2011, no one could move out of their houses after 7.00 p.m., but today, Imo is secure and businesses are thriving. We raised the bar and the shoes are just quite big,” he said.
Born on 24 March 1965 at at MbutuAboh Mbaise Local Government Area in Imo State, South-East Nigeria, Rt. Hon Chief Sir Emeka Ihedioha attended Town School Mbutu in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, and completed same at SDA Primary School Abule Oja, Yaba Lagos in 1976. He had his secondary education at St. Ephraim’s Secondary School, Owerrinta in present day Abia State. He then proceeded to the University of Lagos, Akoka-Yaba, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science (B.SC) degree in Food Science and Technology, in 1988. He equally took an executive certificate course in financial management from the Stanford University, and a leadership certificate course from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
In 1992, Ihedioha was appointed press officer to the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Iyorchia Ayu. A year later he was appointed as chief press secretary to the Deputy Senate President. Following military incursion in the polity in November 1993, Ihedioha returned to his communications practice as Chief Executive Officer of First Page Communications. He became the Director of Publicity of the newly formed People’s Democratic Movement, the purveyor of the ruling People Democratic Party in 1998.
He was named as special assistant to the Presidential Adviser on Utilities in July 1999, as special assistant of media and publicity to the President of Senate in November 1999, and as special assistant on political matters to the Vice President in September 2001. He won a seat into the House of Representative as a member representing Aboh-Mbasie-Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency of Imo State in 2003.
He was the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives of the federal Republic of Nigeria from 2011 to 2015. During this period, he also served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives after Tambuwal’s defection to the APC and choice to stand down. He is a Commander of the Order of the Niger and holds the title CON. On 9 March 2019, Ihedioha contested for the gubernatorial seat for Imo-State under the political platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). On 11 March 2019, Ihedioha was declared the Governor-elect by the Independent Electoral Commission sitting in Imo-State after he defeated his closest rival, Uche Nwosu (son-in-law of the incumbent governor, His Excellency Ethelbert Rochas Okorocha) who ran under the Action Alliance Party (AA), with a total of 273,404 votes.
Between 2003 and 2007, he served as Chairman, House committee on Marine Transport. Ihedioha is credited with the passage of two key legislations which allowed for increased participation of Nigerians in that sector of the economy. These laws are:
• The International Convention for the Safety at Sea (Ratification and Enforcement) Act 2004
• The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (Ratification and Enforcement) Act 2005
• The United Nations Convention on Carriage of Goods by Sea (Ratification and Enforcement) Act 2005
• The International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for the Compensation of Oil Pollution Damage 1979 as amended (Ratification and Enforcement )Act 2006
• The International Convention on the Civil Liabilities for Oil Pollution Damage (Ratification and Enforcement) Act 2006.
He re-contested and won back his seat in 2007, and served as Chairman House committee on Cooperation an Integration in Africa and was later elected chief whip of the House, a position he held till the expiration of that term.
Ihedioha is a Knight of the order of St. Christopher of the Anglican Communion. He was conferred with Diocesan Merit Award by the Diocese of Mbaise, Anglican Communion and is a recipient of several chieftaincy titles.
A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Shipping, he was awarded the Most Outstanding Maritime Legislator by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria; Distinguished Service Award from the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations and recently as One of Nigeria 50 Most Outstanding Legislators (1999–2009). Outside politics, Ihedioha’s business interests span through real estate development, industrialized farming, hospitality and petroleum sectors. He is married to Lady Ebere Ihedioha and has four children.