Imo’s IberibeExit; Unlike Brexit By Emmanuel Onwubiko

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Imo is a state in the South East of Nigeria.

In the traffic parlance, Imo is known as the heartland of the East. The State has consistently produced the highest percentage of students enlisting for both the Secondary school certificate qualifying examinations and the University’s matriculation examinations known as JAMB. In the last decade, Imo state students have performed as some of the finest brains in the last qualifying examinations. The State is one of those whose mainstay is virtually the educational sector to an extent that it has a state owned university that can boast of attracting students from as far as Ghana; Benin Republic and Sokoto state just as it houses the most highly rated tertiary institutions such as the Federal Polytechnics; the Federal University of Technology and one of the finest colleges of education that is degree awarding and with first class affiliation with one of Nigeria’s best rated University of Nigeria. Imo has some of the highest numbers of female lawyers just as it can be stated without any fear of empirical contradictions that there is no village in all of Imo State without an academic professor. The state was in the times of military dictatorship known as the state with the highest percentage of public petition writers to an extent that those who govern the state were usually mindful of the public and private conducts. But the people of the state have lost the motivation for petition writing thereby emboldening politicians to turn the state to a state of poverty and gross underdevelopment.

Imo state in terms of politics has been lucky and unlucky at the same time.

Imo state is very lucky to have produced a governor who has entered the pantheons of political history as the best in terms of infrastructure and human capital development known as Dee Sam Onunaka Mbakwe. It was Mbakwe that started the building from scratch of the now prestigious Sam Mbakwe Cargo airport. It was Mbakwe that replicated the aggressive agro allied industry that marked Imo state out then as the food basket of Nigeria. It was Mbakwe that introduced policy frameworks for massive rural infrastructural advancements and encouraged community self-reliant economy. Imo people will not forget Samuel Mbakwe in a hurry. He has a special place in Imo state history.

In Igbo cosmology, the appellation ‘Dee’ or Uncle in English just like its relatively connected term known as ‘Mazi’ is a title that only revered elders are entitled to by virtue of their accomplishments that are beneficial existentially and empirically to the greatest number of people. In Arondizuogu, someone whose father is alive can’t bear the title of Mazi but will only be called NwaMazi. This is grounded in the African value system of respect for elders.

In the same vein, you can’t be identified as ‘Dee’ or Mazi in the real sense of it if you are not a worshipper of the ‘goddess’ of truth.

What do I mean by being worshipper of the goddess of truth? This precisely has no relationship or nexus with idol worship but simply implies that you must be somebody who is honest in bad and good times.

In that context as aforementioned, the man Dee Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe is today recognized nationally as the best governor to have come from the East just like the wise men from the East recorded in the Christian Holy Bible. He remains the benchmark and reference point when discussing good governance standards.

He was a governor in a political platform that did not control the federal government but he was able in the late 70’s to early 80’s to implement aggressive developmental blueprints that saw to the evolution of several projects in the then Imo state which comprised of present day Abia, part of Ebonyi and the entire Imo state as it is now.

Also, Imo state has been unlucky to have churned out in quick succession, a bunch of never-do-wells and opportunistic political predators as governors and legislators since after Sam Mbakwe who took turn to remarkably under develop the state to a sorry state.

The last eight years has however become particularly remarkable in the sense that the state has gone from bad to worse due to crass misgovernance and outright looting of the priceless resources of the state.

Imo state in the last eight years has become a laughing stock in the Nigerian nation to a ridiculous extent that it has become a reference point on how bad governance can increasingly result in a failed state.

Imo state under Rochas Okorocha reached such a low that it has become one of the biggest heavily indebted states in the federation to an extent that it may take Imo state almost half a century to recover from the consequences of governor Rochas’s misgovernance.

“The Debt Management Office (DMO), recently said the domestic debt stock of the country’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) stood at N3.5 trillion as at the first half of 2018 (H1’18).

The figure indicates that the states and FCT increased their debt stock by about N200 billion or 6.0 percent over the N3.3 trillion recorded at the end of December 2017.

According to data released by DMO on its website, Lagos State has the highest debt stock at N517 billion or 17 percent of the total debt stock of states.

The data showed the domestic debt stock of the other states among the top five during the period under review are: Delta (N223 billion), Rivers (N191 billion), Akwa Ibom (N179 billion), and Osun (N136 billion).

The states with five lowest debts are: Anambra (N2.6 billion), Sokoto (N25 billion), Yobe (N27 billion), Kastina (N31 billion), while Ebonyi and Jigawa States have N34 billion each.

The other states are: Abia (N57 billion), Adamawa (N67 billion), Bauchi (N78 billion), Bayelsa (N123 billion), Benue (N93 billion), Borno (N78 billion), cross river (N125 billion), Edo (N69 billion), Ekiti (N118 billion),   Enugu (N61 billion),   Gombe (N42 billion),   Imo (N85 billion),   Kaduna (N76 billion),   Kano (N95 billion),   Kebbi (N54 billion), Kogi (N114 billion, Kwara (N40 billion), Nasarawa (N70 billion), Niger (N40 billion), Ogun (N105 billion), Ondo (N51 billion), Oyo (N88 billion), Plateau (N122 billion), Taraba (N60 billion), Zamfara (N70 billion) and FCT (N94 billion).” As we speak Imo state has surpassed Lagos state.

It is for this poor governance status of the Rochas Okorocha administration that millions of Imo state indigenes resolutely decided to vote out the self-imposed governorship successor and the Son in law od Rochas who incidentally was for over 5 years the defector deputy governor even though he occupied the post of Chief of staff but in real terms he called the shots much better than the deputy governor. He has allegedly amassed so much wealth by virtue of his closeness to the governor who is his father in law. Most people alleged that he has amassed a lot of assets both within and without the State even when in reality he never worked anywhere else since after his youth service. Rochas introduced the term IBERIBERISM to ascribe to those who think he isn’t performing optimally but that terms which means foolishness has come to define his eight years stint in office. Imo people say his administration is styled after IBERIBERISM and therefor the voters decided to reject him which in effect marked the end of IBERIBERISM IN Imo state with the landslide victory of Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP against Rochas’s Son in law of the Action Alliance party. Imo has therefore made history by resolving to end IBERIBERISM and indeed achieved IBERIBEXIT. Imo state voters have achieved what even the British government and people can’t achieve in over three years because the policy of BREXIT is becoming the albatross of the Theresa May’s government. 

UK Prime Minister Theresa May had to resort to all kinds of last minites tactics and recently called on British lawmakers to “come together” and vote her Brexit deal through, following months of uncertainty and division.

“I am convinced that the time to define ourselves by how we voted in 2016 must now end” May wrote in a Britain’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper, referring to the country’s referendum on membership of the EU.

“We can only put those old labels aside if we stand together as democrats and patriots, pragmatically making the honourable compromises necessary to heal division and move forward.”

In the article, May argued her deal “honours the result of the referendum, addresses the hopes and fears of all sides, and is the very best deal negotiable with the EU.”

She said its rejection by MPs, who have twice voted it down by a massive margin, had opened up “a range of undesirable alternatives,” including the risk that the UK could crash out of the EU without a deal.

“Voting against no deal does not of itself change the legal reality that, as things stand, a failure to agree a deal ultimately means we leave without one,” the Prime Minister cautioned adding that without an agreement “the way ahead is one of uncertainty and ongoing, perhaps permanent, division.”

One rebel conservative MP, Esther McVey – who resigned from May’s Cabinet in order to vote against the government on Brexit – said yesterday she would now support the PM’s deal.

“Theresa May – the government and parliament – connived to take ‘No deal’ off the table,” McVey told sky’s Sophy Ridge yesterday, meaning that the choice MPs face is now Mays deal or “no Brexit.”

Therefore, Imo state people should be praised for making a decision to end IBERIBERISM and for following through with this resolution. It is hoped that the incoming government of Emeka Ihedioha will never take Imo state back to the era of IBERIBERISM which has crippled development in Imo state which has potentials for becoming a pivotal state for rapid technological advances and innovation in Africa. Imo state shall never return to the Years of the ROCHAS’S LOCUSTS.

*Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko is the head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and blogs @;

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