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Why Ex-Governors Should Partner Incumbents

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A former governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim has given reason on why erstwhile chief executives of states should not be at loggerheads with the incumbents after leaving office.

Ohakim gave the reasons while speaking as the guest speaker at the 2024 synod of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Diocese of the Lake, Oguta in Imo State at the weekend.

Rather than conflicting with the incumbents, the former governor explained that the partnership will ensure continuity in governance of the state and better dividends of democracy to the people.

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Speaking on the theme: “The gains of successfull administrative transition and expectations of Ndi Imo in the 3R government,” Ohakim maintained that the synergy will ensure continuity and sustainability of government projects.

“Governor Achike Udenwa might not have turned the state into an Eldorado, but there can be no doubt that he cleared the ‘mess' of the military boys and laid a good foundation for democracy.

“My own administration, which took over from his, was expected to take it from there for the good of the state and its people and we set out doing just that, creating massive employment including 10,000 graduates who were absorbed into the state civil service and 30,000 non-graduates who were employed by the Imo Roads Maintenance Agency (IROMA) plus 5,000 teachers spread across the state.

“But we all know what happened. I was hounded out of office after my first term even after winning at the polls. At the risk of attracting some jibe even right here in this hall, I dare say that it was the hapless people of Imo state that bore the brunt of that perfidy, not Ikedi Ohakim,” he said.

The former governor gave the example of IROMA which was disbanded and the 30,000 employees thrown back into the labour market as well as the 10,000 graduate employees who were sacked without notice who were all from Imo state and made to suffer the “consequences of that mindless action.”

“Yes, the administration that followed mine did eight years but partly because of the crisis of transition from my administration to it, and partly because it was ran without records and due process, the one that came after it had nothing to start with.

“In the first place, there were no handover notes from the outgoing one, that of Governor Rochas Okorocha, to the incoming, that of Emeka Ihedioha.

“We all know what happened. On January 14, 2020, Ihedioha's administration was cut short just after about seven months and our state was confronted with even a bigger challenge over lack of institutional memory.

“The administration that took over, that of Senator Hope Uzodimma, had nothing to rely on because, again, there were no hand over notes, given the fact that Ihedioha did not even return to Owerri after the Supreme Court ruling in Abuja and as such, there was no hand-over note to Uzodimma.

“The situation became worse because for two consecutive transitions, there were no handover notes. Once again, out of patriotism, I was compelled to make myself handy but this time around, more tellingly because I had for more than two decades shared the same vision with Uzodimma, beginning from when he first ran for the office of governor with me as his running mate.

“I make bold to say that had Okorocha listened to me, he would have most probably avoided some of the mistakes he made and perhaps, we would not have been where we are today,” Ohakim noted.

The former governor expressed happiness that the incumbent governor, Uzodimma was different and listened to his counsel, adding that he supported the reelection bid to support the governor consolidate on his first tenure achievements.

Ohakim further asserted that lack of continuity in government would have deprived the state of such projects as the Oguta Wonder Lake project which he said was started by his administration.

“That project, which was designed to create over 2000 jobs, was discontinued after I left office and the huge fund in the project account misapplied. If that project had not been abandoned, what the Uzodimma administration is doing today with respect to the Urashi River Dredging and Free Trade Zone project would have been complementary and a continuation of the Wonder Lake project and today, the benefits would have been enormous especially as it would have cost the state less.

“Another example is the 150-killometer Imo Free Way road project which commenced in this community, running across 15 local government areas and ending in Okapala. It was designed to make Imo a one city state and precursor to the Imo Light Rail project. We had gone half way with it before I left office but the project was completely abandoned by my successor. An integral part of it was the Inner Ring Road involving five flyovers in Owerri and we started with two.

“We can go on and on but the good news is that Imolites are seeing a remedy to those setbacks that arose after the political missteps of 2011. Governor Uzodimma was quite on track in his first term with his 3R mantra but what is more note worthy is that he put in place a wider socio-economic framework within which to further pursue his shared prosperity vision in his second term.”


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