By Dr. Chucks Osuji, OON.
There is one common saying among Field Generals, “Old soldiers never die, they merely fade away.” Many, particularly in Imo State, and infact all over the nation would agree that Chief Ikedi Ohakim (Ochi na nwata) is an apt definition of the above quotation. But in this instance, he has never faded away not to talk of dying. Therefore, he is never dead nor has he faded away, because since he left The Governemnt House in 2011 through what many of us believed was some type of converging conspiracy against him, there has never been any week his name has not popped up in many conversations, discussions, newspapers or social media publications. This has been so because; he is an irreplaceable active person.
In one of my newspaper columns a couple of days ago, I made a reference to the fact that one of his greatest legacies which he left behind was his programe of, “Clean and Green policy in Imo State.” Little did I know that in the next few days he would be appointed the chairman of the ‘planning, sanitization and implimentation committee’ whose mandate beginning with this july is to ensure total environmental cleaning of the entire Imo State.
His appointment is significant in two ways: Governor Emeka Ihedioha has demonstrated intelligient capacity in putting together those men and women who would work with him. Nobody could default this appointment. Secondly, since the creation of Imo State in 1976 and the coming of the first governor of Imo State Chief Sam Mbakwe in 1979, none of the past five governors except Chief Ikedi Ohakim whose banner of legacy includes a legacy of making Imo for four years the cleanest state capital in Nigeria. What an appointment!
Unless one is myopic, nobody can fault Governor Emeka Ihedioha on adopting the pivotal policy of ‘go green, stay clean environmental policy’. Unfortunatley, many of us don’t take the issue of environment very seriously. Yet many world leaders and great philosophers have tendered to make pronouncements in respect to cleanliness in our environment.
For example, one of the most noted philosophers was Mahatma Gandhi, the first prime minister of India. He was reported to have said, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Besides, quiet a number of philosophers have added their voices to this noble cause of clean environment. For example, Benard Shaw, one of the worlds’ acknowledged philosophers, once said, “Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which people must see the world.” The implication of this statement is that we as individuals who dwell in the society must be clean in order to make our environment clean.
Further more, another philosopher has added her voice to the significance of cleanliness in our environments. According to Marie Kondo, “The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment. “ The importance of this philosophical exposé is to show that a clean environment is prerequisite to our individual happiness and goodness except for animals like pigs and brids like the vulture which are outstanding species of nature’s creation that live and enjoy unclean environments.
There is no gain saying that by making environmental cleanliness one of the cardinal objectives of his policies, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha the present governor of Imo State has cut out a special place for himself within the annals of Imo Politics.
While Ohakim’s environmental policy was ‘clean and green’, Governor Emeka Ihedioha’s policy is ‘go green, stay clean’. Properly put, these two policies converge together to mean zero tolerance for unclean environment.
We could recall that, during the tenure of Ikedi Ohakim, monthly environmental exercise was a matter of strict public notation and adherence. Monthly cleanup was almost sacrosanctand for those four years, the people of Imo State embraced it religiously. Today’s Douglas road was rid of all manner of environmental pollution materials – box bin, sign posts, posters, banners and other items of unclean consequences. The result was that one could stay at the junction of Douglas mbaise road and see clearly even the ants crawling on bank road. Although many people suffered the consequences of the implimentation letters of this policy, in the end many were happy that the state’s environmental outlook was clean and inviting.
Unfortunately, for eight years, The State particularly the state capital, Okigwe and Orlu cities lost their glory because environmental authorities where slow in driving the people like sheep to fulfill their environmental responsibilities. Although the immediate past government may be said to have share of the blame, but in truth and in honesty, their was no time the last governemnt revoked the monthly environmental clean up practice. The policy and regulation were there except that those implementing those policies changed the course and concentrated only on engaging in illegal practices of harassing taxi’s and vehicles, arresting their drivers and collecting illegal fines which probably went into the pocket of individual authorities and not into governement authorities.
Today, everybody agrees that there is a general apathy of the people towards monthly environmental activities and therefore everybody agrees that the people’s attitude must be rekindled. And to have appointed the former governor the chairman of this committee is indeed an action that potains goodwill and success in the environmental activities.
After all, according to Christine Pelosi, “Being green and clean is not just an aspiration but an action.” People must brace up with the new thrust for general cleanliness of our environment because to do so is in our overall well being. But nobody should allow himself or herself to support this policy of “go green, stay clean policy of the present adminstration” because in the words of Disrael Benjamin, “Cleanliness and order are not matters of instinct; they are matters of education, and like most great things, you must cultivate a taste for them.” We are to make it part of out living culture.
Inconclusion, Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha the current governor of Imo State must be commended to have appointed former governor Ikedi Ohakim the Chairman of the planning, sanitization and implimentation committee. The humility demonstrated by Chief Ikedi Ohakim to serve in this capacity must be taken down in history as a landmark commitment to serve the people of Imo State. And he too, must be commended and appreciated.
This analysis must be concluded with this philosophical citation from Abdu’ul – Baha, “in every aspect of life, purity and holiness, cleanliness and refinement, exault the human condition. Even in the physical realm, cleanliness will conduce to spirituality.” Do I need to say more?