ONWUASOANYA FCC JONES
Africans play politics with more emotions than rationality. They hardly think beyond tribe, rhetoric and religious ties. That is why violence is closely associated with our elections most times. It is not rare to smell blood in polling stations instead of ink and matchets flying around instead of papers. The irony is that those who fall victim to this violence are usually those who have benefited the least and stand to benefit the least from these politicians.
It is because of our emotional style of politics that people would sometimes ignore candidates who hold the best promises for them and vote for candidates from their own side of the town, or the candidate who spews the most hateful and divisive lies against others. We see those who talk with bitterness as good candidates while those who talk with confidence are seen as arrogant.
As at May 2011, Imo State was an abandoned State wriggling from the worst form of misgovernance and corruption. Imo citizens were described by their own governor with the most insulting phrases, people who dared to speak up against misgovernance were bundled to the government house, stripped to their panties and lashed with koboko. People’s means of livelihood were destroyed without the slightest thought given to the families they have to feed, Government House was unacessible even to serving Commissioners and senior aides of the government, the rich became richer and contracts were only awarded to top politicians and big companies. Youths were only considered good enough for thuggery and other dirty political jobs. Only youths whose parents were big or those recommended from Abuja or by some big men within the system were considered for appointments. Free education was an anathema. In fact, the sitting governor then, publicly stated that ‘Free education was impossible’. All PDP members and leaders at that time dismissed Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s promise of free education as fraudulent political promise, which was unattainable.
Eight years after 2011, will Imo people ever forget how much the State has changed? Will Imo people ever forget that there was not a single road tunnel anywhere in Imo State, and today, we have about four of them? Will Imo people forget that no parent have paid school fees for their children in Imo public schools for the past eight years? Will Imo people forget that a number of youths from poor backgrounds have been given opportunities in government? Will Imo people forget that Imo now has two flyovers? Will Imo people forget that anyone could come out to say anything against the governor and still walk around free? Will Imo people forget that Government House became the People’s House in practice, even before its name was changed to that? Will Imo people forget that on a single day, the governor brought 305 youths and gave each of them One Million Naira to start up a business or improve the businesses they were already doing? Will Imo people forget that over 10,000 rural women were given 100,000 Naira each to invest in their petty trades? Will Imo people forget that more than 500 new classroom blocks were built in less than eight years? Will Imo people forget that our women were given opportunities in government without been molested? Will Imo people forget that kidnappers were sent scampering away from Imo State due to the government’s deliberate investments in security and safety programs? Will Imo people forget the freedom and prosperity they enjoyed? Will Imo people forget how narrow the Douglas, Weatherall, Okigwe and Orlu roads were? Will they forget how much of a village Owerri was? Will they forget the huge opportunities that came from the opening up of Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe?
Imo people may get emotional at a time, but they are intelligent and conscious. They may be deceived for a while, but they are not gullible. They know the truth. The truth of Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s transformational strides in Imo is entrenched in their hearts and cannot be erased, no matter the deliberate efforts made to do so. Imo people will never forget!