By Kenneth Uwadi
According to Albert Einstein ‘the world is a dangerous place, not only because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing’ Another philosopher, William Blake said “When I tell the truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those that do.” The first term of four years of Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State will soon come to an end. In preparation for this, a gubernatorial election is to be held, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on November 11th 2023. Various candidates in political parties, including major bourgeois political parties ( PDP, APGA, Labour etc.) are already jostling to succeed Uzodinma. No doubt, in about four years, the government of Uzodinma had carried out some projects. Unfortunately, and in spite of the ample opportunities available to it, the government is ending up as a disappointment to millions of the working people, youth and the poor of the state by not conducting a local government election in 4 years.
Using Sole Administrators in Imo state for four years has not just underscored the inherently inept nature of the Uzodinma’s government but has also shown the inability of neo-colonial capitalism to resolve the national question and even the socio-economic issue facing Nigeria. This again shows the failure of the Labor Movement in Imo State on the historical responsibility as the most organized platform of the oppressed, to lead the struggle to end the siege imposed on the state by a ruinous capitalist political class. A series of mass actions through coordinated mass protests, rallies, public mass sensitization , capped with days of strike to demand immediate end to Sole Administration in our LGA’s would have definitely cut across the base of deadly forces and their renegade big business backers in the state. But No, we have a lame duck labour union in Imo.
I place emphasis on the labour movement not because other oppressed strata people do not or cannot play a progressive role, but because I recognize the fact that the working class, as a social class, represents the most organized class among the oppressed, which can play the leading role in a movement for building of a better society. Despite the grandstanding of the Uzodinma’s government, the state of the LGA’s in Imo has worsen. Imo LGA’s are now lame as a result of gross underfunding, misuse and abuse of the councils by the ruling class, and massive looting of the council funds. The political and big business class in Imo continue to live parasitically on the wealth of our LGA’s , while the working people continue to live in poverty. This subsequently leads to a desperate struggle for survival among the people of the LGA.
A visit to Ohaji/Egbema in Imo State will confirm that lack of basic amenities has made the area a ghost environment. Portable drinking water in ruins, roads are now very bad, our schools (primary and secondary) are now in deplorable and dilapidated condition. No NEPA light in the area . The question now is: where are the 13 percent oil derivation monies? Why do we not have NEPA lights in the Imo Oil producing areas for some years? This is in spite of the fact that Imo witnessed the longest run of oil money in this regime. In other words, the state has amassed very huge oil and gas revenues, much more than any period since the history of Imo State. What is happening in the Imo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (ISOPADEC) and the 27 LGA of Imo State under the Uzodinma’s government readily comes to mind as one of the several examples of colossal looting of the Imo treasury.
A huge con game is taking place in the 27 LGA of Imo state. The quantity and quality of life for the vast majority of Imo people in the graaroot of the state vis-à-vis the basic means of living have drastically plummeted. This, it must be stressed, is due to the unprecedented looting of local government funds and looting of the 13 percent oil monies of the Imo Oil producing areas. Where are the local roads, health care centres, modern schools and markets for the various LGA’s in the state? Where are the projects to speed up development in the grass root of the state? Where are the billions of naira for Imo LGA’s? They exist on paper.
In the past, LGA funds in Imo State was used to develop certain vital social services in the grass root like education, health care and key investments on infrastructures like water, electricity, roads, industries, etc, all which severally and collectively positively impacted on the living standard of the ordinary working masses in the grassroot areas .In sharp contrast, the current Uzodinma’s government, acting under the dictates and or in concert with imperialism has completely jettisoned the idea of government using local government funds and resources to better the lots of the local councils Instead, it has adopted a whole scale capitalist, neo-liberal strategy of looting of council funds. In effect, a permanent bazaar society has crystallised with the thieving cabals in the Imo corridors of power looting the resources and wealth of Imo councils leaving the overwhelming majority in the LGA’s to provide houses, water, electricity, education, health care, etc, on their own, of course, strictly in accordance to the size of their pockets which is the only vocabulary understood and acceptable in the market jungle. Today, over 70% of Imolites at the grassroot areas are living below the poverty line. Not having elected council government in Imo state for four years is a big failure of the governor Hope Uzodinma’s administration. Who will save Imo? Time shall tell.
Kenneth Uwadi lives in Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State, Nigeria and can be reached via 08037982714 .