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Throughout last week, the Rescue Mission government set the state literally on fire-  a sad reminder of what happened in August 2017 when the popular ancient Ekeukwu Owerri Market was reduced to a rubble. Since that incident, thousands of Ndi-Imo have stories to tell about one devastation or the other  afflicting them.

Throughout last week, the Rescue Mission government set the state literally on fire-  a sad reminder of what happened in August 2017 when the popular ancient Ekeukwu Owerri Market was reduced to a rubble. Since that incident, thousands of Ndi-Imo have stories to tell about one devastation or the other  afflicting them.

Condemned by concerned citizens, I took up the matter in one of my August 2017 edition of the Nigeria Moment Newspaper with the title: Demolition of Ekeukwu Market: Okorocha's incubus, since then governor Okorocha has been at daggers drawn with traders who have refused to move into the Egbeada market venue of the Ekeukwu relocation. Not a deliberate rebellion but a resistance anchored on reason and good conscience. According to the traders, the Rescue Mission government has not done enough in terms of convenience and security. Even the rain that fell on Sunday 8th and Monday 9th April ravaged the market premises.
Without taking into consideration the agony and plight of traders, last week was agony and woe for traders and visitors to Owerri when the governor announced and deployed his ENTRACO officers and other security outfits – orthodox and unorthodox to effect the total ban on street and residential trading. Roads and streets involved are Douglas, Mbaise, School road, Ihugba, Chikwere, Christ Church, Lagos Streets, etc.
As usual, I did not want to be caught off guard. and so on Saturday 14th April I moved to see things for myself. Indeed the governor and his foot soldiers were going from Mbaise to Douglas ordering traders not to again use these places for trading. Stores were padlocked either by the traders or at the instance of the Rescue Mission. Traders at the popular Nworie. Industrial market were like in a siege, carting away their goods, property to avert the threat by the governor to demolish the market. Apart from the security agents walking majestically peace took flight. Imo state once again was at war with itself. Yesterday 16th April, the governor deployed his bulldozer to demolish all projections and shanties at Chikwere, Ihuagba, Christ Church, School road and other places.
People were confused how to go about their businesses, piece together their lives and property which are constantly, regularly under threat. What offence did Ndi-Imo commit to deserve this dehumanizing treatment governor Okorocha is meting out to them one year to end of his administration? If Okorocha is unable to use 7 years in government out-classing the other South-east states  and governors in his urban renewal programme, is it this remaining one year, a election year loaded with electioneering activities that he would perform miracle? The massive destructions ongoing on Wetheral road, and other places are pointer to the fact that there is more to it than urban renewal. The two heavy down pours when the rainy season has not started is a tip of the iceberg as the price of ill-planned construction or reconstruction. The entire State Capital and its environs were submerged.
If not further aggression on the Indigenous People of the State capital, why would the governor threaten landlords whose property, buildings fall within the restricted roads, streets with demolition of their buildings found to be used for trading beginning from 16th April?
Often and it is what is in vogue that  land owners erect stores in front of their buildings. Upstairs are erected with the ground floors as stores and warehouses. With or without Egbeada, there is no offence to rent out such stores for business. There is no law forbidding trading by tenants, as such remains the decision, jurisdiction of the landlords and within the ambits of the law.
Elsewhere   for instance in Anambra, Enugu, Abia, Ebonyi, Lagos States apart from designated points as main markets, there are road sides and street shops for retail outlets. Owerri as a state capital is not an exception. To threaten landlords in the state capital with goons and demolition is an aberration viewed as an aggression. We thought that our governor has learnt a lesson that his image is at its lowest ebb:  that he is about to leave Imo state worse than he met does not augur well historically. Slowly but surely he is either faced with two halls-Hall of Fame/or Hall of Infamy. To think that nobody is challenging and he is therefore unconquerable is a misconception or warped mentality.
I was a blind loyalist of Okorocha between 2011 and 2015. For defending Okorocha, I was castigated and attacked by those who knew Okorocha to the core. In supporting Okorocha, I did so, not for filthy lucre but absolutely confident that his emergence on popular mandate would move Imo State far ahead of states in the South-east geopolitical zone. Even at that, I changed from praising him to advising to leave worthy and lasting legacies. History is replete with leaders, rulers who saw power and money as an end itself, more honourable than honour. They pursued them with vengeance and malevolence and ended up manacling themselves in reprehensible action. The Rescue Mission government ought to be reminded of the victims of its deleterious and malicious policies and programmes. The destruction unleashed on the people since 2015 has no historical antecedent in Igbo land.
Clairvoyantly discovering that the Rescue Mission was under a spell and deviation from original concept, I devoted   between 2015 and now a reasonable chunk of the Discourse column issues to advise, enlighten the government to avert or reverse its suicidal mission on Ndi-Imo. For instance, the Discourse Column of the Nigeria Moment titled: Government in Imo: There is more to it than meets the eye 9-11 October 2015 stated among others. “Imo people are stranded. Many go to bed without food, good things of life. In the rain, all the roads are nightmarish. On daily basis, travelers are suffering in the hands of over-zealous loyalists of Okorocha. From one policy somersault (demolition of houses, premises, shanties of the down-trodden without compensation or alternative accommodation) to the failure of the government to optimally utilize the bailout funds to offset accumulated salaries of workers and pensioners and the latest in vogue- concessioning, a recipe to destroy the foundation of Imo State and the civil service completely, a people-friendly governor, populist and approachable in 2011 now unleashes deprivation and hunger. Traders are complaining of low patronage. Buyers lack minimum finance to buy. What then is at the root of hardship in the state? Both federation allocations for state and the 27 councils are not equitably utilized. In addition, the Discourse column of the Nigeria Moment 5-8 August 2016 with the title: Imolites: Time for sober reflection was apt. The edition contained inter alia, “Democracy is a concept, procedurally implementable: it does not thrive on cut and nail mentality or assumption. It does not succeed on a false or faulty foundation and absence of due process and the rule of law. Governor Okorocha rather thinks so. In tandem, he thinks that to succeed in democracy, the Judiciary and the legislature must be colonized, castigated, criminalized, demonized and should subordinate to the Executive. Even the Executive, the constituency of Governor Okorocha is totally subjugated or emasculated. Governor Okorocha is operating the Executive arm with the civil service as the engine room of the government to a standstill. It is an axiom and assertive  that there is no light at the end of the tunnel in terms of goodies from the state government policies. All the policies end up siphoning, drilling holes in the purses of individuals, Imo people. Whether keke business, taxi and bus business and other sectors of Imo economy, there is clear manifestation and manipulation of governor Okorocha as the major beneficiary of our common wealth. This time indeed is a difficult situation for millions of Imo people and therefore a moment for sober reflection”.
Similarly and disturbed by lack-lustre performances of governor Okorocha I decided to humanize my relationship with Okorocha. The Discourse of 14 July, 2017 contained a letter to Governor Okorocha on good governance. A resume of the publication states, “Democracy means good governance. Because democracy world over is people-oriented and in the case of Imo State. Imo-oriented, pre-supposes that the majority of Ndi-Imo must be seen to be benefitting. If elephant, grandiose projects as dotting and inundated with along major roads in the state as to make visitors spell-bound are indices of democracy, these projects, to millions of Imolites are inconsequential for they fell short of job and employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths. Again the new imposing structures have elevated reptiles and animals to a new status of residence. Democracy is not about building markets and shops or millionaires by donation. Democracy is rather creating opportunities, teaching the people to be independent, how to catch fish”.
When last year governor Okorocha was attacked and called all sorts of unprintable names, I rose to the occasion, calling on Governor Okorocha's Press Secretary, Chief Sam Onwuemeodo to respond to Fani Kayode's attack by defending the Rescue mission institution. The attacker, Fani Kayode went gutter by describing Governor Okorocha in despicable language.
In my viewpoint aired on the Network Service of Radio Nigeria Owerri 16 April titled: The Need to pursue selfless and developmental leadership for 2018, I state as follows” leadership is not about leading for not everybody that leads is a leader.  Leadership is all about galvanizing to get result profit or dividend for the overall development of both leaders and followers. Leadership is all about creating opportunities, equal level playing ground. Leadership is about commitment, compassion and continuity. Little wonder leadership is akin to a relay race with baton transferable.
Leadership is a collective responsibility. According to Andrew Carnegie 'No man will make a greater leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it'. Leadership is more of service and sacrifice, than satisfaction. Leadership is not family business but rather public service, public spirited. Leadership is not master/servant, superior/inferior, senior/junior, partnership relationship. Leadership is symbiotic, mutual and beneficial to greater number of people. A leader is a servant not a Lord. Leadership is supposed not to be dictatorial, building business and financial empires for itself. A leader must be humane, compassionate, patient and intuitively endowed to read the minds and pulses of his people. A leader does not act on impulse but react to public opinion through established feedback platforms. Leadership is by example, exemplary qualities of truth, transparency, credibility and honesty. True leaders do not subvert, muddle and vitiate the process that brought them into power”.
If our leaders lack these ingredients, it means there is no way the nation can move forward with these pseudo- leaders still dictating the pace.
In conclusion and as usual, I use this million dollar platform to advise my governor that this is the last opportunity to write his name in golden. First he should desist forthwith the escalation of sufferings Imolites are passing through, not as a result of economic down-turn or recession but failure to consult with people eminently qualified in the art of governance in Imo state. He should prove his critics such as Fani Kayode wrong that he is not under a spell, whether esoteric or satanic. Allowing traders to manage their lives and well-being is not a sign of cowardice but sacrifice.
Sydney O. Madukwem, Guest writer, Dile Emeohe Mbaoma Emii, Owerri North L/G 07069123994.

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