Imo people are excited over the impending visit of our President, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan (GCFR). He is not the first President to have visited Imo State, neither is this the first time he is visiting Imo State as a person. As Vice-President he had visited the State on not less than two occasions and as acting President, he was also here to canvass for votes. But this particular visit is especially exciting to a good majority of Imo people, because the President is not merely visiting for any personal or political program, he is coming on a kind of condolence visit. He is coming to mourn with Imo people over the alarming persecution they have been subjected to for the past three years. The President is certainly coming to tell us not to lose hope or cry too much for our freedom is near.
This is also the first time that a Nigerian President’s visit is being received with so much joy and excitement. In some quarters, this visit is being treated as if it is the visit of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem. In fact, the inspiration for writing this essay came from a senior friend of mine, who is in his late seventies. Pa Uchendu woke me very early this morning with a tone quite unlike that of a septuagenarian, and a suffering pensioner who the State government has denied his pension for the past eight months. The last time I spoke with Pa Uchendu, he showed every damning sign of someone resigned to fate and anxious to transit. He told me then that he did not see any reason to continue living. He made sure that all his children were educated to a good level; his first son is awaiting the defence of his Doctorate dissertation, while his youngest child finished his National Youth Service program in 2010, but none of them have got any good job anywhere. Pa Uchendu is diabetic and also suffering from cancer of the prostrate.
He has been able to sustain himself with rents from some of the properties he was able to acquire through very disciplined savings and his gratuity. During the previous administration, Pa Uchendu was always getting his pension as at and when due. But today, the present government in the State has demolished all the buildings through which he sustained himself and his jobless children and also maintain his health. This State government has also callously stopped paying him his pension. Last December, he sent shivers down my spines when he resignedly told me that we may not see again, that his health had degenerated so much and he wakes like a corpse every day. I donated the little money I had with me for his drugs and tried to inspire hope into him, I made him understand that all hope is not lost, that he will live longer, but I did not believe so, because was already down and almost out. The only thing that could have guaranteed the success of my prayers was money. Pa Uchendu needed money to get his drugs and he needs money to go to India, for a medical check-up which was long overdue.
Pa Uchendu’s story is the story of majority of Imo people and pensioners, but like Pa Uchendu, most of them are being re-awakened with the visit of the President. They are given hope that all leaders are not tricksters, they are encouraged to believe that good people could still be leaders. Pa Uchendu in his elated tone, told me that he will be stupid to expect any direct payment or financial benefit from the President, when he visits. But he begged me to come and drive him in my car to the stadium, that he wants to listen to a leader who speaks the truth. That he is tired of the lies and deceptions of our Governor. He told me that one of his sons is being able to make better returns from his barbing salon just because of the now steady power supply around his area. Pa Uchendu told me, that he will not be stupid to expect having a private audience with the President, that he doesn’t even expect to shake the President’s hands, but that he will want to kneel anywhere in the stadium and beseech God to keep this President alive for him, he told me that he will want to challenge God to grant this man success in his political aspirations. Pa Uchendu believes that the President’s visit will be a boost to the struggle of delivering our dear State from the shackles of callous mal-governance.
The President’s visit will also condole the ten thousand youths who were unlawfully and callously sacked from their jobs by this State government. The President is not coming to repeal that emperor’s decree sacking these youthful graduates, but his coming will provide the youths hope that a better Governor will take over from this man and restore their jobs to them. As a President who has also done so much in the area of job creation and poverty alleviation, these youths whom the government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha had no qualms about frustrating will be happy that a leader at a higher level who loves and appreciates them is in town. While they may not be offered automatic employments by the President, they will be encouraged that a man who has not retrenched anybody, but has provided over two million jobs for the youths through Federal Government appointments and policies is with them. Who knows, his intimidating presence may even inspire the State government to re-absorb some of them (laughs).
The President’s condolence will also be extended to the families and friends of the hundreds of Imo people who have died from road accidents, occasioned by the craze for obstreperous round-about constructions and the terrible state of our roads. This is a President who has constructed and intervened in the construction of several roads across the Federation, this is a President under whose watch the rate of road accidents across our Federal roads have rapidly reduced. The President will be telling those affected by these avoidable and State government induced deaths and incapacitations through accidents that hope is on the way for real rescue of Imo State. I know of a family whose potentials seem to have been blighted with the death of their bread winner at the notorious Imo State University junction.
The Imo State University junction has been converted to a death junction through the monstrous shrine being constructed by this government. I cannot argue with my superstitious friends who are telling me that the Governor and his men are sacrificing innocent souls to their occult groups and drinking the blood of the victims. While I do not agree with such superstitions, I do not have any doubt that the Governor should be held responsible for the deaths and incapacitations through the almost daily fatalities that take place at that junction. A responsible government should have sat down somewhere and decided on how best halt the rate of accidents in that area. But this government which seems to be in a haste to deceive has gone ahead to worsen the situation by constructing a needless monster of a round-about. The President will condole with the families and friends of the victims and possibly his goodluck will help to avert further accidents on that spot.
Imo people will also be informed through the President’s visit that most of the projects which this government appropriates to itself are being fully funded by the Federal Government. The President’s visit will provide an opportunity for Imo people to know that officials of this State government have been doing some funny things with our money. I am personally worried with the slow pace of work at Imo State University, where Federal Government agencies have released substantial funds for the completion of numerous edifices which are being constructed on that campus. The Federal Government had also released billions for ecological interventions across the State, yet most of us are being threatened by flood. When it rains some of us will not have any option, but to lodge in hotels around town.
The President will also be condoling with several contractors whom this government has frustrated through debts and arbitrary transfer of their jobs to those who some officials of the government are better disposed to. There are also some of these contractors who have died out of these frustrations, the President is coming to condole with the families of such victims. I know of a friend who has had to exile himself to Ghana because of the pressures from his creditors. He borrowed money from these creditors in order to finance a SUBEB project contracted to him by the State government, but the administration of Owelle Rochas Okorocha has refused to pay him and several other SUBEB contractors, most of them are being threatened with imprisonment by their creditors, while others who assessed their credit through less refined individuals and organisations are being threatened with the dreary verdict of some native gods and demons. While the President’s visit will not guarantee the payment of these contractors, they will be re-assured that a compassionate leader still exists and thinks of them. They will be encouraged to align with the good people of Imo State towards rescuing this dear State of ours from the pit of wickedness and deceit.
President Goodluck Jonathan is a President of the oppressed, he is a leader that thinks more of those who are at the receiving end of inefficient and wicked leadership, this orientation of his is the major reason why he is coming to Imo State. He will be condoling with our parents who have been deceived with the Greek gift of a free education, yet they are paying for things as free as a desk. At Ikenegbu Girls Secondary School, my friend told me the story of his younger sister who called him to demand for two thousand Naira as fee for the desk they were supplied in school.
Our President who has invested in education more than any of the Presidents in my lifetime will through his visit encourage Imolites to keep hope alive. His history as a lover of qualitative education and an investor in the education of our children will wipe tears off the faces of our long-suffering parents and children. President Jonathan is coming to Imo State with a message of “It is Well”.