Prof. James Okoroma, the gubernatorial candidate of the African Democratic Congress, shared his insights with CHUKWUDI AKASIKE regarding the upcoming governorship election in the state and other pertinent issues.
In your bid for the governorship position in Imo State, how do you plan to garner support from voters leading up to the election scheduled for November 11?
My assessment reveals a marked deficiency in leadership within Imo State. In comparison to the entire South-East region, Imo State lags behind in development. We’re witnessing a lack of focus on Imo Capital Development, minimal progress in infrastructure, economics, social welfare, and community advancement. This state of stagnation is unwarranted, and given my background, I am well-equipped to address these gaps. I am the ideal contender to lead Imo State into a phase of progress and growth.
The roots of our challenges can be traced back to the period after Samuel Mbakwe’s departure in 1983. Since then, we’ve lacked effective and impactful leadership that caters to the populace’s needs. Meaningful improvements in education, healthcare, infrastructure, and economy are attainable by engaging with the people. I am committed to leveraging my expertise, understanding of the state’s politics, and experience to lead Imo State towards a positive transformation. My aspiration for the governorship is driven by the desire to instigate a new direction for leadership, bolster the people’s confidence in government, and foster a sense of trust in their leaders.
Addressing the alarming security situation in the state, there have been numerous casualties in the past four weeks. The Orlu Zone, in particular, has been severely affected, with communities facing depopulation due to escalating violence. The current administration’s efforts to quell these issues have been insufficient. As a leader, it is my responsibility to take action and restore peace to the region.
When discussing the state’s purported infrastructural advancements under Governor Hope Uzodimma, it’s evident that the current approach has not yielded the desired outcomes. The leadership’s tactics appear to be conventional and inadequate. The key to effective leadership lies in innovative and unconventional strategies. I firmly believe in the significance of conflict resolution rather than suppression. By engaging with all stakeholders, both state and non-state actors, we can address the root causes of conflicts and establish lasting peace.
I advocate for the release of Nnamdi Kanu and for genuine conflict resolution in the South-East. Embracing these measures will allow people to regain their confidence in Imo State and contribute to its revitalization.
You’ve highlighted that Governor Hope Uzodimma and Samuel Anyanwu are prominent figures in the political landscape. Are you concerned that their influence might hinder your chances of victory?
I’m confident in my candidacy and believe that I am the best choice. While Governor Uzodimma and Samuel Anyanwu have their merits, I do not perceive them as insurmountable obstacles. Democracy thrives on competition, and the upcoming election will be a democratic contest. Imo State’s future hinges on making the right choice, and I trust that the people will choose a path of light over darkness.
Leaders who have been part of the problem cannot suddenly become the solution. Those who have held political office for two decades without effecting positive change cannot lead us forward. My vision and commitment to the people’s well-being set me apart from those who merely engage in political maneuvering.
As a candidate from Owerri Zone, how do you respond to claims of political marginalization and the lack of sustained leadership from your zone in the state?
The facts speak for themselves. Since Imo State’s inception in 1976, the distribution of leadership has not been equitable. It’s evident that there’s been a lack of representation from the Owerri Zone in leadership roles. Achieving balance and harmony within the state necessitates a shift in the status quo. I firmly believe that to uphold fairness and justice, the next governor should emerge from the Owerri Zone. This will help remedy the historical imbalance and contribute to unity within the state.
Considering the Exclusive List’s control over security matters, do you believe your proposed approach to tackling insecurity is feasible?
Conventional approaches to security focus on the police and military. However, there are innovative methods that can foster peace. My strategy entails engaging individuals with the courage, efficiency, and character required to secure the state. It also involves a combination of constructive measures and unconventional strategies, such as a carrot-and-stick approach, to address the root causes of conflict and create an environment of peace. Deploying these methods will counter conflict escalation and contribute to long-lasting security and stability.
Comparisons have been drawn between you and the late Sam Mbakwe, hailed as one of the state’s best governors. Do you believe you can replicate his accomplishments if elected?
Sam Mbakwe’s legacy as an exceptional governor is widely acknowledged. While I can’t predict the future with certainty, I am dedicated to serving Imo State to the best of my ability. My aspirations are grounded in a genuine desire to effect positive change and drive development within the state. If given the opportunity to lead, I will draw inspiration from the achievements of leaders like Sam Mbakwe and work tirelessly to make a significant and positive impact on Imo State’s progress.