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Ihedioha at 57: The unfinished business in Imo

Ihedioha at 57: The unfinished business in Imo

Chukwuemeka Nkemakolam Ihedioha (better known as Emeka Ihedioha) is a household name in Nigeria and the immediate past executive governor of Imo State denied his victory in the 2019 governorship election by a Supreme Court judgment.

He is 57 years old today. In the illustrious life he lives as a consummate administrator, political activist and philanthropist, Omenkeahuruanya (he who does something visible and tangible) as he is fondly called, is an iconic builder of minds and personalities, who within seven months of being the governor, transformed Imo State through words and deeds in the interest of the masses.

By his reckoning, the best way to make a place for oneself in a changing world is for human beings to live for the benefit of others. And true to type, he has spent his life entirely for the benefit of others.

Born March 24, 1965, at Mbutu in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area in Imo State, South-East Nigeria, he attended Town School Mbutu in Aboh Mbaise but completed the same at SDA Primary School Abule Oja, Yaba in 1976.

He had his secondary education at St. Ephraim’s Secondary School, Owerri-nta in present-day Abia State and thereafter 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 holds an executive certificate in financial management from Stanford University, and a leadership certificate from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, respectively. .

Before his election as Imo State governor in 2019, Ihedioha served as speaker and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. He was removed as the governor of Imo State on January 14, 2020, by the Supreme Court judgment that declared the APC candidate Hope Uzodinma (who came fourth in the 2019 gubernatorial election) as the winner of the election.

A holder of the National Honour as Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), the former governor is a staunch member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and represented the Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency of Imo State from 2003 to 2015.

His career in public service began in 1992, when he was appointed press officer to the then Senate president, Iyorchia Ayu. A year later he was appointed 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 director of publicity of the newly formed People’s Democratic Movement, the purveyor of the PDP in 1998.

With the return to democracy in 1999, Ihedioha was made special assistant to the presidential adviser on utilities in July 1999, special assistant on media and publicity to the president of the Senate in November 1999, and special assistant on political matters to the vice president in September 2001, respectively.

He contested and won a seat in the House of Representative as a member representing Aboh-Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency of Imo State in 2003. He was the chairman of the House Committee on Marine Transportation ( 2003 to 2011), deputy speaker from 2011 to 2015 during this period, he served as the speaker of the House of Representatives after Tambuwal’s swearing-in as the governor of Sokoto State.

His brief stay as governor of Imo was very remarkable as he showed capacity to turn the fortune of the state around.

In the words of renowned banker, Pascal Dozie, “Ihedioha did so well that we had hope of a new Imo under His Excellency.”

Unlike what is currently going on in Imo State, within his seven months in office, Ihedioha’s administration was able to restore effective budget presentation, reduce cost of governance, embarked on extensive road rehabilitation projects, deployed technology as an enabler for effective service delivery and carried out broad reforms in the state civil service.

The revitalisation of the local governments for optimal performance, rehabilitation of schools, promotion of investment and industrialisation of the state and training of thousands of Imo citizens on many fields of endeavours were also part of his achievements.

Read also: Buhari approves deployment of more security operatives to Imo

The achievements also include, commencement of verification process to ensure payment of pension arrears, revitalisation of technical education through the reconstruction and re-equipping of three major technical schools in the state, gave full scholarship awards to Imo-born best students in WAEC examination, signed into law the Treasury Single Account (TSA) to ensure financial discipline and ended the months-long strike action by doctors in the state.

Others include, flag-off of N13.5 billion 380km rural roads in collaboration with RAMP, payment of 100 percent monthly salary and when due to civil servants, control of massive flooding of Owerri that has ravaged the state for the past eight years and inaugurated the electoral body to conduct LGA elections.

Others are, flag-off of N8 billion erosion control project in Ideato North LGA, created over 3000 jobs through the #GoGreenStayClean environment blueprint, award of contract to revitalise the Water Board to provide public water, commencement of massive road construction across the state, accountability and transparency in governance as well as granting full Local Government Autonomy and statutory allocations.

Perhaps most importantly, unlike the high level of insecurity in the state today, Ihedioha restored sanity and due process in the governance of Imo State.

Little wonder that after being forced out of office in January 2020, majority of the people of the state still refer to him as their state governor with optimism that he would be re-elected in 2023 to complete what he started.

And at 57 he remains a realist with prodigious energy. As a panacea for positive transformation of self and society, he insisted on the need for well-rounded development that comprises the following: total education, the maximal use of one’s intellectual capabilities and physical endowment, volunteerism, self employment, as well as the cultivation of a personal resolve to solve problems.

As this native Mbaise man adds another year to his age today, the legacy he so faithfully espouse and lives by ought to be a lesson for many Nigerians of means. His lesson is this: In the face of corruption, insecurity, avarice, tribalism, religious bigotry and underdevelopment, genuine leadership emerges when one steps out of the anonymity and apathy of one’s closet to advance the cause of his immediate environment through uncommon sacrifice.