Imo guber: Achonu unveils manifesto, explains why he’s in race to win
Written By Anthony Iwuoma
Posted By Town Crier News Nigeria
Published By Fitness Network Communications
The stage is obviously set for the epic gubernatorial contest in Imo State. One of the gladiators in the race is Senator Athan Nneji Achonu, fondly called Agu Otu Aka.
Indeed, like a lion, king of the jungle, Achonu has taken the shine off the other contenders. Even the incumbent governor Senator Hope Uzodinma, appeared dwarfed by Achonu’s high profile and being overwhelmed, he has been running from pillar to post seeking salvation where there is none outside the state’s borders.
The inescapable truth is that on November 11, Imo people will decide who rules them for the next four years and have vowed that no extraneous force or underhand dealings can stop their choice of a governor.
A major determinant of who that choice will be is the manifesto. The state has been knocked prostrate in the last few years of the All Progressives Congress, APC, administration. Therefore, the people have decided to ‘shine their eyes wellu wellu’ as they say in Nigeria so that affliction does not arise a second time.
Recently, Achonu, the Labour Party flag bearer, unveiled his manifesto wherein he wowed the people with his bold declaration: ‘Why I am running for governor.”
On November 11, 2023, Imo citizens would have the opportunity to elect a new governor to steer the affairs of the State for another constitutional term of four (4) years beginning January 15, 2024.
Against the background of the recent massacre of innocent citizens, kidnapping, and the wanton destruction of property in our dear state, the forthcoming election would provide Imolites an opportunity to reverse the current trajectory of inept and ineffective governance that has practically destroyed the hopes and aspirations of our people.
As widely acknowledged, the basic indices for measuring human development have largely been in retrogression.
Before the advent of the APC administration, Imo was a very peaceful and progressive state on the threshold of economic resurgence and prosperity. Unfortunately, we have witnessed in the recent past a descent into anarchy and lawlessness that has turned vast swathes of our homeland into abandoned spaces for criminality.
Today, Ndi Imo no longer visit their villages, and traditional ceremonies, such as burials and weddings, are now held outside the homeland. As a consequence, the economy of Imo State has totally collapsed, resulting in capital flight, disinvestment, and business failures; Our healthcare delivery system remains severely challenged and incapable of providing access to affordable care for our people; Centre of Excellence in Education, the state’s age-long reputation, as the citadel of scholarship and learning has been completely eroded with the state now in an unenviable position of having the least level of investment in education amongst the states in the South East and ranking 35th out of the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
This represents the worst performance in the history of the state and that of the entire South East.
Across the three (3) Senatorial Zones are decrepit rural and urban roads that symbolise the infrastructure deficit that the state has faced under the APC government; Youth unemployment has assumed a worrisome and unprecedented dimension with joblessness fuelling recourse to crime and drug addiction by vulnerable young people; and in virtually all conceivable sectors – Hospitality/Tourism, Food and Energy, Security, Industrialization, etc., the state has largely underperformed despite its endowments and potential.
Tackling the development challenges, arising from this parlous state of affairs requires a new type of leadership attuned to the realities of the people’s existence and capable of galvanizing them in a new direction.
The leadership that the people yearn for must be capable of restoring trust in government and building a consensus on the way forward. I dare say that confronting the myriad of challenges we now face requires honest, bold, and courageous leadership committed to the people’s welfare and overriding interests.
I have painstakingly reflected on the current challenges, facing our dear state and equally sought an understanding of what needs to be done to reverse the trajectory of inept leadership and governance that has befallen us as a people.
The Office of the Governor is one that comes with a lot of responsibilities. Principally, it is a role that seeks to pull the people together in the direction that would enable the collective pursuit of their welfare.
The position requires a consensus builder with an understanding of what needs to be done to provide effective governance in all spheres of the people’s life.
All through my life, I have been committed to the welfare and interest of those I have come across. In addition, over the past fifteen years, I have been in the vanguard of Aku Ruo Ulo philosophy and the industrialization of Imo State.
My commitment to the common good has never been in doubt and it is my utmost belief that given the opportunity and privilege to serve you as governor, I would be completely dedicated to the development of our dear state by creating sustainable pathways and enabling environment for the return of normalcy to the security situation in Imo State, thus paving the way for increased investment in Igbo land. This is what I intend to offer.
Our Solemn Pledge
As your Governor, I Senator Athan Nneji Achonu, and my Deputy Governor, Hon. Tony Nwulu, shall be committed to:
I. Securing Imo State where the citizens would be free to live in and conduct their private businesses without let or hindrance in the pursuit of their individual or collective prosperity;
II. Improving access to reliable power supply, as a backbone for our industrial development and better living standards for our people through investments in the power sector and collaboration/partnership with private sector investors. To this end, and given the importance of power, as an enabler of development, my administration shall declare an emergency in the power sector in Imo sector State;
III. Prioritising human capital development through the evolution of an educational system that emphasises S.T.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Vocational Education, Information Communications and Technology (ICT) and compliance with 21st-century teaching and learning standards;
IV. Implementing full local government autonomy upon assumption of office.
V. Evolving a healthcare system built on a foundation of quality of primary health care that ensures access to our citizens;
VI. Aggressively invest in the agricultural sector with initiatives aimed at achieving food security and the productive engagement of our citizens;
VII. Encouraging Trade and commerce within Imo State and with other parts of the country through rehabilitation and rebuilding programme to modernise our markets and in the process provide a more conducive environment for trading activities;
VIII. Implementing reforms in the justice sector that would enhance access to the justice sector that would enhance access to justice for our citizens, and speedy trial of cases before the courts;
IX. Ensuring women and youth participation and inclusivity in governance and improving access to finance for small-scale enterprises, individuals, and, in particular, People Living With Disabilities (PLWD) through collaboration with financial institutions, such as Bank of Industry (B.O.I), Central Bank Of Nigeria (C.B.N), Afrexim Bank Development Bank Of Nigeria(D.B.N), etc.;
X. Assiduously working towards transforming Owerri into a world-class events and conference hub, to harness its excellent hospitality environment;
XI. Working towards taking full advantage of the exceptional skills and knowledge base of our people wherever they may be (including the Diaspora) in the service of their homeland;
XII. Working towards enhancing the ease of doing business to ensure that Imo becomes a haven for business and investors in alignment with my ‘Aku ruo ulo’ initiative;
XIII. Leveraging the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to bring all-round development to our state and its citizens.
Perhaps, the greatest challenge facing Imo State today is the breakdown of the internal security architecture, leading to widespread incidents of criminality in significant swathes of the state’s geography. As a result, many local government areas have been abandoned for criminal gangs and non-state actors.
No visible progress or achievement can be recorded in any sector if insecurity is not holistically addressed.
Our incoming administration would address this challenge through the following initiatives:
1. Imo Security Summit: A secure environment can only be achieved if there is cooperation and commitment of all stakeholders to the security of the state. There is a need for extensive stakeholder engagement in identifying security threats and proffering solutions. The Achonu administration would, as a matter of priority, convene a stakeholders’ Summit, involving all interest groups and actors in its effort to usher in an era of shared responsibility for the internal security of the state; strengthen law enforcement:
2. Enhance the capacity of law enforcement agencies in the state, such as the Nigeria Police, Civil Defence and the military formations (Army, Navy, etc.) to combat security challenges by providing resources to support and complement their activities and enhance inter-agency cooperation and collaboration;
3. Community Engagement & Partnership: The setting up of, and proper resourcing of vigilante groups in the communities and the central coordination of their activities to achieve statewide coverage;
4. Strengthen Border Security: Setting up strategic security posts at local government borders and state boundaries;
Postscript: Indeed, the crucial 2023 governorship election in Imo State is an opportunity for the state to choose between survival and extinction. Right now, the Eastern Heartland has almost become a wasteland and needs a very strong, determined, and focused leadership to pull it back from the brink.
There is no denying the fact that the state has fallen into extreme hard times because of the misrule foisted on her by strangers. Therefore, Imolites must rise up in unison and say no more bloodshed, ineptitude, and subjugation of our children’s destinies in Igbo land to the vagaries of the son of the bondwoman because of political expediency.
The Bible tells the story of how David dared Goliath because there was a cause. If Goliath did not go down, the Israelites would remain in perpetual slavery to the uncircumcised Philistines.
Today, in Imo, there is a Goliath, manifesting in leadership deficit, crass ineptitude, capital flight, infrastructural decay, deceit, wanton destruction of lives and property, and a general feeling of crippling fear, and uneasiness.
Achonu is the David, who has come for the ‘cause’ of liberating Imo and Igbo land. He already has his sling ready but needs the stones in the people’s votes to bring down this Goliath.
Nobody should be unduly worried about the genuine fears over rigging. Neither President Bola Tinubu nor Prof Yakubu Mahmood and his men at INEC would want to be caught in the muddle again too soon, considering the putrid odour of the presidential election that is yet to blow past. So, Imolites, rejoice, Achonu your liberator is here. It’s “Athanable’.