Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has sacked the heads of the Interim Management Committees (IMC) and 305 Councillors in the 27 local government areas in the state, barely two years and four months after he appointed them.
Mixed reactions from members of the public, who feel that the non- elected officials had overstayed in office and should not have been allowed to hold sway for more than six months, have trailed the governor’s action.
Some expressed the opinion that Uzodimma ought to have conducted local government elections instead of leaving the appointees in charge of the local government areas for more than two years.
It would be recalled that the governor appointed the IMC chairmen in March, 2020, two months after his emergence as governor of the state in January, 2020.
The immediate past IMC chairmen are Barr. Emma Njoku (Aboh Mbaise), Larry Obinna Chikwe (Ahiazu Mbaise), Francis Onyeberechi (Ezinihitte Mbaise), Chidi Okechukwu (Ehime Mbano), Olemgbe Chike (Ihitte Uboma), C. C ihejirike (Obowo) and Nkechi Mbaonu (Okigwe).
Others are Charles Mathew Ijezie (Onuimo), Chika Okoroike (Isiala Mbano), Gloria Mbadigwe (Ideato North), Mayor Obinna Nweke (Ngor Okpalla), Ambrose Nkwodinma (Owerri Municipal), Chukwuma Ikeaka (Ideato South) and Enyioha okechukwu (Owerri West), Frank Onyejiaka (Nkwerre), Kenneth Uka (Isu), Emeka Iheanacho (Njaba), Cosmos Iwuagwu (Nwangele), Ifeoma Ndupu (Orlu), Uchenna Osigwe (Orsu), Nyerere Ogbonna (Oru East), Emma Mazi (Oguta), Amadioha Marcel (Ohaji/Egbema), Willie Okoliegwo (Oru West), John Eke (Mbaitoli), Engr. Lams ibeh (Owerri North) and Tony lwuamadi (Ikeduru).
Imo residents had initially looked forward to the appointments with some expectations. They had waited to see the calibre of people that Uzodimma would appoint as councilors and chairman of the IMCs. Some political analysts in the state alleged that he picked mostly his loyalists to chair the committees in the various local government areas of the state.
Others held that he toed same line with his predecessors by rewarding his foot soldiers who worked hard towards his emergence as governor of Imo. Apart from that, it was also echoed in some quarters that with the appointments, what he simply did was to reward core APC stalwarts in the state.
Just as the saying saying goes, whatsoever that has a beginning has an end. The appointments were terminated on Thursday, July 22, 2022 after a meeting with the IMC chairmen at Government House, Owerri.
Governor Uzodimma thanked them for the services they rendered in their different local government areas and loyalty since their appointment about two and half years ago. But it was not fair that throughout their stay in in the LGAs, the governor never visited or toured the 27 LGAs to find out if the appointees delivered as expected.
Due to security challenges, Njaba, Orsu, Orlu, Oru East and Oru West Local government headquarters have been deserted by their staff for safety.
Some of the sacked IMC Chairmen lived in Owerri, the state capital whereas they ought to have been domiciled in the headquarters of each of the LGAs.
Sadly the local government areas, which used to be beehives of activities, are now shadows of their old selves. When will they come alive again? What about the monthly allocations from the Federal Government?
The Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs under the supervision of Hon. Rubby Emele had ensured that local government areas in the state received their statutory entitlements, but they were not monitored. It is not known if the funds were reasonably utilized or not.
Even as Uzodimma has promised to hold local government elections any moment from now and to appoint sole administrators, who will oversee the election in August, 2022, it is worrisome that local government areas that are known for governance at the grassroots are no longer as functional and useful to the rural people as they used to be. As a result, the people certainly do not feel the impact of the government’s actions.
•Uhuegbu is a journalist based in Owerri, Imo State