Dead Conscience

Conscience is an open wound: only truth can heal it”, so said the late spiritual leader of the 19th century Fulani Jihad, Uthman Dan Fodiyo, who lived between 1754 and 1816.

Apart from change, truth is another thing that is constant. No matter what you do, how you do it and when you do it, truth is constant. Nothing is as constant as the truth. Referring to the sanctity of the truth, Uthman Dan Fodio, said it is the only potent medicine that can heal an open-sore conscience.

Uthman Dan Fodio was right about the conscience. Like a spreading cancer, if it is left untreated by the truth, it kills the whole body. That certain persons at certain times present the lie in the garb of the truth does not make it the truth. Truth is sacrosanct. Truth does not need any supporting pillars. It takes no mixtures. Once a substance is added to the truth it becomes something else, no longer the truth. Truth may not be popular, but it remains the truth. That is why often times those who tell the truth are despised.

It is therefore unfortunate that many of those who have led us, who lead us and who seek to lead us, have killed their consciences because they do not accept the truth. To many people, therefore, it is surprising that even the people who are looked up to brazenly do not accept the truth. This is why our society is in ruins. And if there is one government that does not accept the truth, it is the outgoing government.

The last seven days have been challenging for the people of the state. It has been a week when some people insist on murdering the truth because they have not healed their wounded consciences, a period of time when the government does not only shudder upon hearing the truth but make efforts to bury it.

The confusion started with the maiden press conference of the Governor-Elect, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha on Monday, March 11, where he addressed a number of issues in the polity, particularly the propaganda that he would run an Mbaise government. Ihedioha disappointed those who held this erroneous view about him, assuring instead that he will not only run “an open, transparent and accountable government with due process as its hallmark”, but would also “be governor to all Ndi-lmo – both those who voted for us and those who did not”. He added that whether it is Mbaise or Oguta, all parts of the state are equal.

“No part [of the state] is greater or more important than the other. We are equal stakeholders in the Imo project and must therefore ensure that our people are united in the pursuant of the common good”.

Ihedioha’s highpoint was his assurance that “it is my duty and responsibility to ensure that we remain brothers and sisters with a common destiny… Ours will be a government that will promote the unity of the state, rather than accentuate the fissures that have characterized our relationship with each other in recent times”.

He continued: “As the popular saying goes, ‘let us not listen to things that will divide us, let us rather listen to things that will unite us, for united we stand, divided we fall’”, he said.

Nevertheless, anyone who had followed the governorship campaigns would recall that it was one that was essentially centered on the economy of the state. It was one where all the contestants agreed that the economy was down on its knees and needed quick interventions. It was therefore natural that Ihedioha, the Governor-Elect, would talk about the economy of the state in his maiden press conference. He said: “The elections are over. What remains is the fulfillment of the promises we made to our people…We entered into a social contract with you with our manifesto and we shall remain faithful to our obligations in that contract. This contract seeks to substantially improve the welfare, security, property rights, economic and social advancement of our people. We shall find creative ways of funding our ambitious infrastructural projects and give Imo the quality education, healthcare and general good governance that you desire”.

The governorship campaigns was also one that exposed the level of decay in the state, so much that the people of the state were inundated with reports of the humongous debt profile of the state, and how the government had since crossed the borrowing limits. Since the outgoing government is known for financial rascality, the Governor-Elect needed to raise the red flag and warn for prudence in transacting government business. This was expedient considering that two days to the governorship election, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested the Accountant General of the state, Mr. Uzoho Casmir, for allegedly laundering N1.050bn through a commercial bank in the state allegedly on behalf of the Governor.

According to a report by the Punch, “Casmir was alleged to have withdrawn the money from the bank in three tranches between Tuesday and Thursday…He allegedly withdrew N200m on Tuesday, N500m on Wednesday and N350m on Thursday…Casmir was before his appointment the Director of Finance in Okorocha’s government and was in 2016 fingered in a N2bn bailout fund scam”. This alleged financial infraction forced the EFCC to allegedly block the accounts from which the withdrawals were made.

Apart from the N1.050bn withdrawal, the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Barr Charles Babatunde Ezekwem, recently raised the alarm that the Governor had within a couple of days after Ihedioha was declared winner of the governorship election of March 9 withdrawn N17bn in multiple transactions.

Any sane person would be alarmed at the reports that emerged within one week. It was therefore on this premise that Ihedioha issued the warning to financial institutions in the state not to engage in illegal transaction with the government. He said, “Finally, may I also use this opportunity to warn all those who may be tempted to do illegal last-minute transaction with the outgoing government, particularly financial institutions, which may result in further burdening the state with unsustainable liabilities that they will be doing so at their own peril”.

I had in my earlier intervention on this matter noted that Ihedioha’s warning has been misinterpreted, especially by the state government, who has claimed that Ihedioha issued a directive to the banks. They have also raised the question of whether Ihedioha had the right under the laws of the country to issue directives to the banks when he has not been sworn in and thus is inhibited by law from acting in the capacity of the governor.

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