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OPINION

Rebuilding Imo: Policy, Politics And Procedure

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In my quest to represent Orlu State constituency in Imo State Assembly, I attended the 5th International Conference on Legislative and Law reforms which held at Washington College of Law of American University, Washington DC, in April 2018, As the only Nigerian who attended the conference, I deliberately took a front row seat in order to not miss any point. In this vantage position, the presentation of Judy Schneider, a specialist on congress at the Congressional Research Service U.S.A, and an adjunct scholar at the Brookings Institution Center for Public Policy Education captivated me. An enduring take away from Ms. Schneider’s session was her submission that effective legislation and effective governance sums up to the delicate balance of the triple constraints of Policy, Politics and Procedure.

Schneider’s submission, which was borne out of decades of research and involvement in government though apparently simplified, is quite profound, if we critically analyze the key words of the meaning of Good Governance.  Good Governance entails sound public sector management (efficiency, effectiveness and economy), accountability, exchange and free flow of information (transparency), and a legal framework for development (justice, respect for human rights and liberties). (WorldBank).

Good Governance has been quite elusive in Nigeria generally. So much focus is largely on the Federal Government whereas there are greater challenges in the state and local government level where executive and

legislative responsibilities are critical. Achieving this local level good governance, require commitment and synergy of actions of critical stakeholders including politicians and professionals. However, a lot of technocrats and professionals shy away from engaging in the political process. One major reason adduced by these people is the fact that there is lack of synergy between the modus operandi of professionals in politics and that of professional politicians. This therefore implies that one critical success factor for any state government is the capacity to attract the right mix of human resources at the local level. This gap often results to poor governance and poor leadership.

Imo state seem to be amongst the states where poor governance reigned supreme in recent past. A peep into the recent history of Imo state reveals a state that has become the subject of widespread attention not necessarily for lofty reasons, but for the general collapse of institutional processes, explicitly manifested by poor leadership and poor governance. Government appointees lack the necessary experience, competence, training and proven accomplishments required to occupy such exalted positions, thereby resulting to such adverse effects as multiple litigations, massive domestic debts, poor rating in sub-national competiveness rankings, poor investor confidence, arbitrary conception and execution of economically unviable and economically unsustainable, self-adulating projects that do not address the major anxieties of the people.

In the time honoured words of John Kenneth Galbraith, “All of the great leaders have had one characteristics in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership. It is evident that the disposition and wherewithal to address the major anxiety of Imo people as well as the  knowledge, skill and competence necessary for the intricate balancing of the triple constraints of Policy, Politics and procedure required to achieve good governance as espoused by Ms. Schneider was non-existent in the recent past government of Imo state.

It is in the light of these that Imo people and indeed the country at large heralded with a high sense of elation and enthusiasm, the candidacy and subsequent election of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha CON, KSc as the 6th civilian governor of Imo State.

Ihedioha’s campaign and governance theme – Rebuild Imo -is as catchy, as topical as it is relevant and in tandem with the major anxieties of Imo people.

Ihedioha’s Rebuild Imo mantra traverses not just the physicals, not just the tangibles but rebuilding the balkanized psyche of Imo citizens also. Consistent with addressing the major anxieties of Imo people, some of the focus areas of the government are Human Capital Development, facilitating a clean and vegetation friendly environment, enshrinement of due process, observance of rule of law, and integrated infrastructure development.

The actions of this government in the first 25 days in office are quite incisive. Judging by the  quality and diversity of government appointments; the quick interventions in the rehabilitation of critical roads; the facilitation of waste management in some locations; the confrontation of lingering institutional disputes; the reversal from the subsisting underpayment of workers salary to payment of 100% salary and the commitment to pay pensioners, one is not in doubt that the government is conscious, conscientious and deliberate.

There has been some pockets of criticisms especially of some of the appointments. Divergent viewpoints are normal and a welcome development in government. However, those who understand the imperatives of deliberative democracy and negotiated democracy as critical success factors of rebuilding a collapsed sub-nationality understand the necessity for inclusiveness and diversity. In rebuilding a collapsed sub-nationality, greater interest of the generality of the people takes precedence over individual interests.

Rebuilding a collapsed sub-nationality requires the inclusion of people from diverse socio cultural, religious, educational, entrepreneurial and technological background.

Imo state is in dire need of fast tracked development. Development requires longevity of government, strong leadership, deliberate strategy, strong institutions, infrastructure gap reduction, Foreign Direct Investment and Local Direct Investment. Not all these would be feasible without the right people. It is a natural law of attraction that to attract the right people and investors, you must have the right leader.

The great German philosopher, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe wrote, “A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.” That this current government is able to attract the caliber of people (indigenes and non-indigenes) to serve in campaign council committees, transition committees, inauguration committees, Interim Management Committees and State Executive Council some of whom are on pro-bono basis is a testament to the greatness of the leadership.

As the architect of this greatness, as the leader and catalyst for the convergence of this diversity of resources, Emeka Ihedioha has explicitly manifested an uncommon capacity to balance the triple constraints of Policy, Politics and Procedure.

 

– Okeke, wrote  from Owerri

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