By Alozie Erugo
It is no longer news that Imo state, the Eastern Heartland is now a ghost of its old self, recent events from the attack by gunmen on the correctional facility in Owerri, (a short distance away from the Imo state government house) to last week’s renaming of the government house after the slain ESN commandant ‘Ikonso’ is evident of the fact that the once bubbly Eastern Heartland capital, Owerri has lost its peace.
A cursory look at Imo state, with all these development brings to the fore the need to put side-by-side, what was obtained in the state after Okorocha left the saddle of leadership.
Imolites are known to be fun loving and easy going, they want to go out and relax after a hard day’s job, but all that can no longer be obtained with the present state Chief Executive officer, Senator Hope Uzodinma presently hiding away in the Federal Capital city, Abuja.
Students of history will recall what it was like under Owelle Rochas Okorocha who in his vision for equality built the freedom square, where aggrieved persons could come and summon any highly placed individual in the state to answer to allegations leveled against them.
The Freedom Square was envisioned for the simple reason of achieving conflict resolution, especially for the down trodden, it was not surprising however to see a chief executive officer appear before the freedom square to answer to allegations made against him, when Okorocha was in office.
At the freedom square, it was easy to see the people ‘hold court’ and vent their anger on a matter as insignificant as a land matter, the presence of the square was a platform that gave the people a voice.
Though a lot of people saw the ‘Freedom Square’ as a huge joke, because they thought matters brought there will not get answers, but most people who witnessed events at the square could testify that most times complaints brought to the square were at least heard.
The socio-cultural mix under Owelle, was peaceful and convivial, except for some times when unpatriotic elements tried to rear their ugly heads, that cannot be said for the present Imo state, where insecurity has swept over the state and indigenes now sleep with one eye open.
Today in Owerri, activities of cult groups and splinter anti-peace associations has taken over, a situation that has taken its toll on the medium and small scale businesses scattered across the state.
Presently owners of small businesses are checking out, like the proverbial ‘Andrew’ because daily killings and maiming’s are going on unabated and security organizations are handicap as it is, the situation has further degenerated because the cooperation that the Police and other sister agencies used to enjoy from the people has been completely eroded, that was further evident in the last attacks on the Correctional facility in Owerri, when the State Security Service came out with a statement that information of an impending attack
was made available to Governor Uzodinma more that forty eight hours before the attack actually took place.
For many who may be reading this piece, the question may be asked, what was the benefit of molding world leaders with state funds and many other questions that vision sparked in the heart of the people, especially in a state where many considered to be in dire need of other infrastructure, but to those who captured the Owelle vision, they will be quick to point out that investment from countries that had their leaders molded in main town Owerri were already targeted at Imo state and foreign partners who were endeared by the gesture of Owelle were beginning to see Imo state as the ‘Next Best Thing” in terms of investment, but for the efforts of fifth columnists who cast bitter aspersions and threw mud at the project.
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