By Ogu Bundu Nwadike
Everyone reading this essay may have grown up hearing about the parabolic mythical first 100 days in office.
From the records of history, the 32nd President of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt, performed the naming ceremony for the ‘First 100 Days about 87 years ago, exactly July 24, 1933. Thereafter, ‘First 100 Days’ has remained recurrent from generation to generation as a reference to the success and achievements of a new leadership, particularly in political offices. Some people are superstitiously convinced that real performance quotient of a government and governance administration in its first 13 odd weeks.
Ordinarily, people ask: ‘What’s in a name?’ I’ve recently heard: ‘What’s in First 100 Days? It’s like asking: ‘What’s the big deal about a name?’ and ‘what’s the big deal about First 100 Days?’ Those questions can only thrive in the realm of rhetorical.
There’s something in a name. In fact, there’s a very big deal about a name. At least, by name, humanity is able to know what’s what and who’s who. Ditto, there’s everything about ‘First 100 Days.’ In fact, there’s a very big deal in ‘The First 100 Days!’ If it weren’t so, there would be nothing like names and First 100 Days!
On May 29, 2019, power changed hands in Nigeria as a new government was ushered in that day. The president and governors were inaugurated. From that day, the countdown to the parabolic mythical First 100 Days began.
In Imo, Emeka Ihedioha, the winner of the gubernatorial election was sworn-in and inaugurated that May 29. From that day, the countdown to his first 100 days in office also began.
Today, as I write this short essay, its day number 86. On September 5, 2019, it’ll be exactly first 100 days in office of Gov. Ihedioha and his RebuildImo administration. Phew! How time flies!
As already hinted, there’s a very strong connection between first 100 days in office and performance. Hence, the event of the first 100 days in office of Gov. Ihedioha is a crucial and critical stock-taking exercise, which manifest as a succinct statement of his stewardship thus far.
As a prelude and harbinger to the big day, some people, pundits, observers, analysts and commentators have been throwing in testers about the first 100 days in office of Gov Ihedioha.
That’s very good and very much allowed! This is a democracy. Freedom of speech is a major pillar of democracy. It shows that Imo people are in tune with the actions, activities and progress of the new governor and his new government.
For me, not only just because I am involved, but also because I am a privileged, enlightened Imolite, I am entitled to freely air my views on the performance profile of our governor. And my summary is that the governor has performed excellently well within his first 100 days in office.
For my fellow enlightened Imolites, most of the achievements are visible to the eyes that are wired to look beyond the surface level and see the deep level. That’s why pundits are convinced that the achievements have been systematic and systemic in nature, features and delivery.
That is why the greatest assessable achievements are the human capital that will perform the rebuilding of the state. That is the projects capital that will result from the work of the human capital.
That’s is why the painstaking efforts by the governor to assemble tested and proven heads and hands to serve as the rebuilders of the state has been counted by some people with the right discernment as a very major achievement.
I have severally explained it as the parabolic doing the first things first. The preparation determines the application. And attitude determines the altitude. In farming, the farmer clears the land of bush, rakes together and burns the bush, waits for the first rain, tills the farm, before making the ridges and planting the seedlings.
Right from the beginning, Gov. Ihedioha set up a Transition Technical Committee, TTC, which worked and provided the guiding template and framework for the rebuilding of Imo State. The TTC comprised some of the best intellectuals, technocrats and professionals. The TTC was very thorough in providing the compass by which the new administration will be navigated.
I am privileged to know that the governor and his administration have decided to religiously abide by the step by step guide of the recommendation by the TTC. The governor didn’t and hasn’t seen any reason to criss-cross or jump any step or stage of the modules provided by the TTC.
Of course, many eyes were on the lookout for projects. There were advices for the governor to start working. But as an apostle of rule of law and due process, Gov. Ihedioha insisted on doing first things first. Nothing stopped him from starting work to please people and receive their applauses and commendations.
However, Gov. Ihedioha chose not to play to the gallery to earn cheap claps and cheers. He said he preferred that the high quality of his works, programmes and projects will speak, clap and cheer him at the appointed time.
Yet, the need to do first things first doesn’t imply that the governor relaxed, folded his arms and did nothing. Of course, the TTC is not oblivious of the mythical ‘First 100 Days.’ So, it set out projects that must necessarily be accomplished within the first 100 days in office.
The first thing was that the governor must staff his administration with people with tested and proven competence in the various available political offices. That was accomplished almost fully within the first 70 days with the inauguration of state commissioners for various ministries.
Earlier, the Secretary to the Government of Imo State, Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Chief of Protocol, Chief Press Secretary, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants and Special Assistants etc had been appointed. And all of them are the parabolic round pegs in round holes! That’s the foundation of all other achievements.
The next immediate achievement was the inauguration of the quintessential Interim Management Committees for the 27 Local Government Areas of the State.
The inauguration of over a dozen committees and commissions that are engendering effective and efficient delivery of good government and good governance so far is a very crucial and critical milestone achievement. With them things are happening positively here and there in Imo state within the first 100 days in office.
On a more concise note, however, some of the achievements of the RebuildImo administration of Gov. Ihedioha have been articulated and catalogued as follows:
1 Road Rehabilitation:
The process for the rehabilitation of 16 major roads in the three zones in the state- Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe- have commenced significantly. The roads have been mapped out while the bidding process has almost been concluded for the award letter to be issued. The flag-off has been slated for the 4th of September. The roads include: Nekede- Ihiagwa- Douglas –Poly Junction; MCC-Uratta-Tronto Junction; Control Post (Asumpta) – Ibari Ogwa (PH); IMSUTH Road; Nkume- Umuowa-Orlu; Okigwe Roundabout- St Mary (Okpara Road); Ahiara Junction- Okpala Junction; Aba Branch- Ahuara Junction; Mgbidi-Oguta Road; Ogwogharanya-Avutu-Umunachi Roundabout; Control Post- Umuguma Road Junction.
Filling of grave potholes in Owerri Municipal such as Nazi-Nekede junction; Assumpta, Port Harcourt Road, Wetheral Road, Emmanuel College junction, etc. have been undertaken.
- Floods and Erosion Control:
The N9.9 billion World Bank assisted Ezemazu Urualla gully erosion control project in Ideato North has been flagged-off. The counterpart fund of N500 million is already paid within the 100 days by the Imo State Government to the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) an agency of the World Bank.
Desilting of Owerri Municipal towards galvanizing the blocked drainage system has been carried out substantially. This has assisted in reducing the rate of floods in the state capital.
The government also organised relevant stakeholders’ summits that involved engineers, town planners, architects, environmentalists, surveyors, landscapers, and others towards developing a roadmap desirable to deal with floods and erosion menace in Owerri and the state.
3 Rehabilitation of Imo State Water Scheme:
The Owerri Regional Water Scheme, (Otamiri Head Works) water has been restored after eight years. As a result, water has started running in some parts of Owerri.
4 Enthronement of Fiscal Discipline, Accountability and Due Process:
Treasury Single Account (TSA) regime was launched by the government within the first 100 days in office. The objectives include: Safeguarding of public funds through blockage of financial leakages, promotion of accountability, due process and transparency, fusion of all government accounts into one, thereby preventing revenue loss. Prior to the introduction of TSA, government, specifically the last administration operated 250 accounts many of which were in pseudo names. TSA has automatically reduced the 250 accounts into one.
Bureau of Public Procurement and Intelligence (BPPI) which was made moribund by the past administration and therefore nonexistent in the state in the past eight years has been revitalized towards ensuring that due process and transparency are enthroned in all government procurement processes in the state.
Rehabilitation of Dan Anyiam and Grasshopper Stadia:
The bidding process has been duly carried out and the contract awarded to three companies namely: Reform Group WA Ltd; Monimichelle Ltd and Benchmark Ltd. When completed Dan Anyiam Stadium will be one of the FIFA-approved stadia in the country and therefore will be used for international matches.
- Salvaging the Education Sector:
The process to rehabilitate and upgrade the technical and vocational colleges in the state has started and concretized. This is based on the government’s agenda and vision of making technical education the fulcrum of youth entrepreneurship and wealth creation in the state. A Task Force has been set up to efficiently accomplish the revitalization process. Procurement process has accordingly commenced in earnest.
The government has also launched the process of renovating 305 classroom blocs in the state. At least one class room bloc to be improved in each of the wards in the state to re-establish the lost glory of the education sector in the state.
- Pension Scheme:
Concrete steps have been taken to verify the pensioners so as to standardise their records to enable government commence the payment of pension on monthly basis. Records show that the last time the pensioners received their monthly pension in the state was in 2015.
8 Reinforcement of Imo Security Architecture:
Government launched a joint security operations in the state code-named ‘Operation Iron-gate’ involving all security operatives – Police, Army, Civil Defence, Federal Road Safety, Prisons, Immigration Service and so on – towards ensuring enhanced security of lives and property of Imo people and to provide conducive environment for business investments to thrive.
The government provided facilities and logistics such as vehicles for the effective take off of the “Operations Iron-gate”.
The government also drafted an Executive Bill that seeks the establishment of Security Trust Fund.
- Reinstatement of workers’ full salaries:
The government has restored workers full salaries. Hitherto, Imo workers were paid far below the agreed wage in spite of the N26 billion bailout funds the federal government provided to the past administration headed by Owelle Rochas Okorocha to cater for the shortfalls in the payment of workers’ salaries.
- National Health Insurance Scheme:
Imo state government has within 100 days in office met basic conditions for Imo workers to access National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). The necessary MoU between the state government and the relevant workers unions has been signed towards opening NHIS windows for the Imo people.
- Resolution of Nekede Zoological Garden Crisis:
Within the first 100 days in office, the new government has been able to resolve the lingering animosity involving the indigenes of Nekede and the government over the alleged misuse of the land designated for the zoological garden. The unfortunate development resulted in the clamp down on the zoo by the indigenes thereby rendering it obsolete. Now that the dispute has been resolved, Gov. Ihedioha has expressed his commitment towards ensuring that the place rejuvenates to remain a destination for tourists.
- Renovation of Government Buildings:
The following public buildings, which were met in very bad shape, have either been revamped or undergoing renovation. They include: Ahiajoku Conference Centre; Odenigbo Centre, Government House, Governor’s Lodge, Deputy Governor’s Lodge, Sam Mbakwe Exco Chambers, and various other.
- Judicial Commission of Enquiry into Land Matters; and Judicial Commission of Enquiry on Contract Awards:
Inundated by complaints, petitions and agitations by individuals, communities and even federal institutions over allegations of land hijack and usurpation and wide-ranging contract awards, the government has within the first 100 days set up a Judicial Commission of Enquiry to look into lands and land related matters and contracts towards ensuring that justice is brought to bear in the two areas.
- Restoration of Sanity in Local Administration:
Relying on rule of law, the new government was able to put in place in less than 40 days, interim management committee in each of the 27 local councils in the state as a stop-gap measure to end the illegitimate executive and legislative councils installed by the past administration in the local councils.
Establishment of Joint Accounts Committee between the State and Local Government Councils, which was nonexistent in the past eight years. The result is that the local council allocations are released to them in full.
Gov. Ihedioha’s government has also commenced the process of instituting democratic government at the grassroots level by reconstituting and inaugurating the State Independent Electoral Commission (ISIEC) and mandated it to ensure the conduct of local government elections within six months of its inauguration. In comparative terms, it took the past administration over seven years to consider the imperative need of instituting democratic government at local council level.
- Executive Orders:
Government drafted and ratified five crucial executive orders designed to reinforce the rebuild vision of the new government.
- Executive Bills:
Government kept the House of Assembly busy by introducing a record 5 executive bills in less than 60 days in office.
- Imo Stakeholders Summit:
Government organised a broad-spectrum, all-inclusive Imo Stakeholders Summit on the state of Imo affairs at Ahiajioku, Imo Trade and Investment Centre in the first 50 days of the inauguration of the new government.
- Assets Recovery Taskforce:
Government set up Assets Recovery Committee to recover all the government property carted away by the past administration.
- Bureau of Statistics (BIS):
Government reactivated the Imo State Bureau of Statistics.
- Board of Internal Revenue (BIR):
Government inaugurated the new administration of the Board of Internal Revenue (BIR).
As was hinted earlier, the accomplishments and achievements’ profile of the Ihedioha administration within its first 100 days in office is enormous, though mostly critical basic foundation in nature. Planning was quintessential. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Every solid house starts with and stands on a deep and solid foundation. That’s the very best of accomplishments and achievements of the Ihedioha administration.
What has been laid down so far within the first 100 days in office is a solid foundation. And nobody could rightly undermine that as not being accomplishments and achievements. They are very great achievements for a young administration that has the will to provide good Government and good governance in Imo State till May 29, 2027 by the grace of God.
A lot has been accomplished and achieved by way of putting in place the desirable kickstarters. What’s next in the roadmap is the takeoff of the physical projects. That’s expected to be characterised by a zoom zoom experience devoid of cut and sew, trial and error. That’s possible because the governor and his administration have successfully done the first things first.
The administration has successfully marked tracks and lanes, raised the hurdles, set the marks, now set to go. And since preparation and attitude determine altitude, as already established in this short essay, the expectation is that the next phases will be projects delivery galore.
The beauty of the painstaking preparations for the task ahead in Gov. Ihedioha’s vision and mission of rebuiding Imo State is located in the fact that everything that will henceforth be done by the administration will be predetermined, standard, durable, and long lasting.
That would serve as a sharp difference from the ugly experiences in the State since 2011 when the former Rochas Okorocha was governor.
I will draw the curtains at this juncture, believing that I have provided some insight into some of the major, but salient accomplishments and achievements of the RebuildImo administration led by Gov. Emeka Ihedioha. Imo must be rebuilt! Thank you all.