By Ismaila Yahaya Kana
Last week, I closed with the hope that, should Jeff Uzor decide to run for the office of governor come 2019, the Imo people will do well to keep him in mind. Well, after very wide consultations, that decision has been reached and I come bearing good news; Jeff Uzor will run for the office of governor of Imo state! And, ahead of a formal declaration slatedfor next year, I will let Ndi Imo take a peek into hisplans for the future, his ideal Imo state.
Let’s face it, not much governing has gone down in Imo since Owelle Rochas Okorocha took over office and, nobody needs a soothsayer to reach the conclusion that the failure of Rochas was birthed by his inability to create a clear road map that will take into consideration the true yearnings and aspirations of the Imo people.Jeff Uzor is very much aware of this and to avoid the Rochas flop and return true governance to the highly satiated Imo society under the current government, a blueprint has been designed that will bring about accelerated development, reconnect the Imo people with their ambitions and set Imo state back on the path of progress. As the harbinger but of good tidings; my job here starting today, is to introduce Ndi Imo pick by pick, to their future as seen through the lens of Jeff Uzor.
Our first pick from Jeff’s blueprint is “Return Power to the People”. Democracy as described by Abe Lincoln is: the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Nobody who is familiar with the goings on in Imo will pretend that anything akin to democracy has existed in Imo state since Rochas came to office. If given the chance to govern the good people of Imo state, Jeff Uzor will reverse this trend, the people will regain their rightful place as his employers. No state decision will be taken without their input and to achieve this, in addition to collecting feedback from their representatives at the state house of Assembly and the traditional rulers, the government under Jeff will create hotlines and portals where Ndi Imo can express their opinion on ongoing projects, voice their dissatisfaction, register their grievances and also get updates in real time about how the issue(s) raised is/are being handled. For instance, if the administration intends to erect statues in the state, it will gazette the info, stating the site, the names of people to be sculptured and cost, then throw it open to the public. If they vote overwhelmingly in favour of the project, the government will proceed with it, but if they don’t, the project is cancelled. This will save Imo people the kind of national and international embarrassments that they’ve been made to stomach. In short, governance will cease to start and end with the governor as it is being witnessed under Rochas.
Also, Jeff’s government will conduct Local Government elections state-wide within one year to ensure the full participation of Imo people even at the grass root level. Under Jeff, the people will with the help of the legislature and the Judiciary,be protected from becoming victims of deceptive market practices by making available resources that will keep them informed while also assisting them to get justice in the court of law.
Our Second pick from the blueprint is“Pay Salaries and Pension on time” Labourers deserve their wages, so says God. The workers and retirees in Imo state definitely deserve their wages;they deserve to be paid their due in full and on time and, this can never be overemphasized. Jeff Uzor will without wasting time when sworn in, clear all salary backlogs with every available resources even if it means putting a temporary embargo on capital projects, before a more lasting and creative solution that will bring about financial stability is fashioned out. It is a known fact that the welfare of people is valued high and above any capital project and Jeff will ensure that Ndi Imo get all that’s theirs as at when due. One thingto note about Jeff is that, he is not waiting around until he becomes governor before his search for a lasting solution to the salary problem is initiated. Already, a state wide consultation is ongoing to ascertain the cause(s) of government’s inability to pay salaries. This will give him an insight into the problem and the opportunity to come in already prepared for the surgery that’ll remove thistumour from Ndi Imo once and for all.
However, some solutions do not require wide consultation. Unless Ndi Imo want to delude themselves, the current structure where even outrageous ministries like the newly created ministry of Happiness and couples’ fulfilment that do not add any value whatsoever to the people; and, over 100 Special Assistants, Senior Special Assistants and Special Advisers are serviced with the little funds that accrue to the state is not sustainable. Jeff hopes to run a small but resourceful government with only necessary ministries and political appointees. In addition to cutting down the number of ministries and appointees, Jeff Uzor will reform the civil service, and make it more efficient by redefining the roles, set objectives and scope of work of all technocrats. Advance biometric parameters will be deployed to weed out ghost workers; it will also be mandatory for all state employees to be paid through direct deposit so as to add another layer of hindrance and deter fraud. All these will drastically reduce the cost of governance and make more funds available that will be used to bring succour to the people.
Third on the Blueprint is “Prudent Resource Management”. This will be the crux of his administration. No investor, foreign or local will invest their money in a place where regulations are shoddy and public financial dealings are shrouded in criminal secrecy. Imo state cannot attract foreign investment with the way she’s currently being managed. The government of Rochas has demonstrated time and again that it cannot be trusted to take business decision that will give investors the confidence to bring their money into Imo state and this is where Jeff comes in. Jeff is an international businessman of repute who is known for accountability and transparency,virtues that he will surely bring into his dealings as governor.
Every money that comes into Imo: IGR, federal allocation, Aids and grants, security votes, Donation and loans etc. will be made public and that’s a promise he intends to keep! Under Jeff, the state will adopt Open Governance System to give the public unfettered access to every government initiative, budgeting process, policy thrust, projects etc. and make public through timely advertisement, over 85% of government contracts not protected by security regulations for bidding so as to give every registered contractor equal opportunity and the people of Imo value. Results of competitive bids, the winning bid, the awarded contract and amount must be advertised also. The remaining 15% will be awarded as set aside contracts. Under Jeff, there’ll be no room for White Elephant projects that’ll need decades to complete. Instead of 27 storey buildings as hospital, Jeff prefers to build cottage hospitals that will be completed, staffed and ready to go in less than a year.
Next week, I shall return with part 2 parts of Jeff’s Ideal Imo state.
Stay glued to this space.