Since the advent of this republic in 1999, Imo has had to grapple with political tensions and attendant fears instigated by political gladiators or, non state actors.
But, never in the last twenty years have the state and the people witnessed the kind of tension, apprehension and warlike situation it is experiencing presently.
Within the political space the major gladiators in the state have been at each other’s throat in the past few years. Since it took over power Gov Hope Uzodinma government have been having a running battle with Senator Rochas Okorocha and Senator Ifeanyi Araraume camps. The camp of his immediate predecessor has also been having fisticuff with the administration now and then.
The supremacy battles amongst these camps have on several occasions created tension and fear among the citizenry and even outsiders and thus negatively impacted its image and progress. A good example of such unfortunate brickbat was the alleged government backed arrest of Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, the ex governors son in law and seeming political heir apparent in the church, some months ago.
On the heels of that alleged involvement of Gov Uzodinma in the macabre drama and announcement by government that it would name banditry and insecurity financiers in the state, the ex governor had fired back by alleging that the governor is funding a killer squad.
While the charged atmosphere created by that noisy verbal brickbat between the two leaders appeared to be to be degenerating, the bad news of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume’s stepping down as chairman of the NNPC board really made matters worse, as it was alleged that the plot was the brainchild of Imo government.
While politicians go about giving the state bad image and publicity which no doubt scale up its unattractiveness to the investing community, lingering insecurity which has held it at the jugular has refused to abate or wane. In fact, it appears to have degenerated dangerously in the past few weeks.
Orlu Zone remains hotbed of killings, bloodletting, arson and destruction.
At least five traditional rulers have been murdered there; thousands abducted; hundreds of citizens killed, while several houses and other properties have been burnt and destroyed.
It seems also that the scourge has reared its head again in the state capital Owerri if events of recent past is anything to go by.
The scary security situation in the state, taken together with the political tension being dished out at regular intervals by political actors, to a large extent have made the state insecure and unsafe.
And there is no gain saying that the state and its people are being hit hard by this poor or rather bad perception.
Apart from being a practical disincentive to investments inflow as it is turning away local and international investors, denying the state badly needed capital in the process, it is retarding good governance, real growth and development.
Although the governor has denied being negatively affected by the apparent inclement atmosphere, his posture however, has been interpreted as mere political grandstanding in some quarters, as it has been argued that economic and development indices do not support his claim.
In the whole of South East, Imo seems to have the least developed road network, boasts of the highest number of jobless graduates; ranks unenviable eleventh on the ease of doing business index; has plummeted down the education ladder and continues to seem the most unsafe state east of the Niger.
Obviously, this seeming worrisome trajectory needs to be looked into with a view to reversing them, if the present government is serious about good governance, development and general good of the state and its people.
While it should be pointed out here that all gladiators should contribute their own quota to changing the present ugly trend, Gov Hope Uzodinma as the Chief Security Officer of the state must be in the vanguard of efforts in this direction.
First, he should stop joining issues with the opposition and when it becomes so necessary that he should do so, he should follow the due process of rule of law, instead of going into combat with those opposed to his government, especially their leaders.
Once the ruling government is able to discipline itself and allow the laws to guide its actions, utterances and even inactions, the charged atmosphere will be drastically reduced, thus allowing it enough time, resources and energy to govern the state.
In the same breath, it must brace up to the task of effectively securing lives and property in the state. Insecurity is spiking on daily basis and if it is not decisively tackled, it may escalate to a point of total breakdown of law and order.
While, it is true no society can boast of 100% conducive environment, it is also incontrovertible that no genuine growth and development can occur in a society where security and safe of lives, property and investments is zero.