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Swarmed by Detractors on All Sides, Uzodinma is Determined Win

Tony Amadi spent three days moving around Imo State capital, Owerri to witness Governor Hope Uzodimma at work

I returned to Imo State last week for a three-day assessment of the seemingly beleaguered government of Senator Hope Uzodimma. No one hazarded a guess that the former ranking Senator would dabble into the politics of Imo at the gubernatorial level, but he plunged into those murky waters and battled his way to an election under the All Progressive Congress. The Eastern states were not in the habit of voting for a party that have a Northern colouration and domination.

But this strong man of Imo politics was adamant and stuck his neck in it. I developed an interest in his political career during his first Senate term, looking ahead with the possibility of writing a book about the Politics of Hope Uzodimma including his contributions at the Upper House of the Nigerian legislature. There was no doubt about his charismatic bent and strongly reminded me of Dr. K.O. Mbadiwe who hailed from the same senatorial district with the great Mazi Mbonu Ojike in the 50’s. So Hope Uzodimma fits in the mold of these political giants of the zone. Mind you that he took over the Imo West seat held by Senator Arthur Nzeribe who himself was a real political juggernaut in his days at the Senate.

My interest in the governorship quest of the senator led me to fly to Owerri during the 2019 political season to witness his political campaign in that election. I watched his soap box performance at the time and had seen a determined political player adept in all facets of the game and wanted seriously to be a factor in the outcome. Ultimately, the final outcome favoured him and he is today the Executive Governor of Imo State. Consequently, he had to face the wrath of determined opponents. The opprobrium of a section of the people of the state followed the Supreme Court decision to make him governor due to the circumstances of the election result. It was this development that led Governor Hope to develop a stoicism that has baffled his opponents who are quite strong and powerful.

I was unable to attend the first anniversary of his administration, but four months later last week, I returned to a town that I had known very well before, during and after the Nigeria-Biafra war. I clearly remember the Owerri Prison torched by unknown gunmen last month, where upon the closing days of the war, a Nigerian Army Sergeant had arrested me on my return to Owerri after I had faced Biafran forces who had conscripted me and my pop band members The Fractions which I managed during the three-year war. The Sergeant was not going to jail us for being on the Biafran side, but took me and my group to help him loot tons of imported relief materials stored at the prison for the impoverished and war torn people of the territory. We had carried the goods to his garrison, string of houses converted from seized properties beside Wetheral Road area of Owerri.

The military governments that ruled the state before the 1999 return to civil rule made no positive impact to the growth of the state capital until governors Udenwa, Ohakim, Rochas Okorocha, Emeka Ihedioha and now Hope Uzodimma came to power. But it was Sam Mbakwe who laid the political and economic foundation for the state when he became governor in 1979. I have followed Governor Hope’s ascendancy to power in Imo state with great interest and right from the very first day in office following the Supreme Court verdict that threw Governor Emeka Ihedioha out of Government House, Owerri. The new governor’s motorcade arrived at the private wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport immediately after the verdict and onto a private jet for the hour long flight to Sam Mbakwe Cargo Airport, Owerri. Former Governor Okorochza was on hand to usher the new Governor to the aircraft. A year after those pleasantries at the airport, Okorocha has become a persona non grata at the Government House under Hope Uzodimma. The two men are at daggers drawn mode right now and the new Governor is determined to go the whole hog to dispossess all the state assets said to have been diverted to the former Governor’s personal use and ownership.

The avalanche of political enemies that Hope Uzodimma has gathered in his political career are many and they are being fingered as the sponsors of the destabilization of his Imo state project in the face of the recent insurgent activities which has left the state reeling in extreme insecurity. On Monday 9th May 2021, the governor was working late in his executive mansion, going through security matters with state security officials. He told me later that several arrests have been made and that he was confident that crime figures will drop rapidly and comparative peace will reign.

Economic Development

How has Hope Uzodimma handled the crucial matters of development of infrastructure and governance for the past 16 months he has held court at the power pinnacle of the state? Press Secretary Oguwike Nwachukwu, a veteran journalist and a former national newspaper editor, took me to his office and reeled out the achievements within one year of the Governor in office. He simply handed me a publication titled “Uzodinma One Year After: A Harvest of Projects and Landmark Speeches ‘ produced by the Commissioner for Information Honourable Declan Emelumba. It was not an exercise in futility because Governor Hope Uzodimma showed an element of a hands-on approach to governance that is absent in many states across the country.

As I flipped through the book of achievements, I insisted on physical examination and was taken around Owerri town which had become a huge construction site as everywhere breathed new life. Construction works were going on at a frenetic pace and jobs were created massively in the process. It was only when the rain halted my verification exercise and the fact that I had seen enough proof of serious activities that I concluded that Hope is working and positively affecting the lives of his people. Later, I asked the governor what moved him to turn to local vehicle manufacturer Innoson of Nnewi where he had purchased over 500 cars including security vehicles, jeeps for judges, cars for Permanent Secretaries and all sorts of equipment.

Little did his detractors realize that the motivation was the job creation content of the purchase agreement. Innoson Motors has already opened a vehicle parts and repair plant in Owerri with hundreds of jobs created for the army of Imo job seekers. Perhaps what a local pundit told me about the Uzodimma strategy that has angered his opponents to accentuate political and physical attacks is because the positive results of his one-year governance was getting to the people who are beginning to see that the governor was not a joke after all.

The other issue rattling political opponents of the state governor is the well-oiled political and economic machinery called Hopism with the pay off line: Where Governance Meets the People “is an ideology and medium committed to delivering Imo’s shared prosperity to the people of the state.” Hopism is therefore expected to take both infrastructural and human capital developments to every corner of the state. It appears that the number one opponent of Hope Uzodimma is the former Governor Rochas Okoroocha because Hope is determined to retrieve all properties belonging to the state that Rochas is claimed to have appropriated to himself and members of his family.

The fear among political opponents of Governor Uzodimma is that if the rate of progress continued the way he is going; his ultimate success was already igniting fears that they may not have the chance of driving him out of office before he has generated enough steam and confidence to mount a successful second term challenge. Working through the night every day that I visited, there was little doubt that the governor is determined to make his mark and go down the route of first Imo civilian Governor Sam Mbakwe of blessed memory who not only industrialized the state but put it among Nigeria’s most developed states category during his reign in the Second Republic.

The Commissioner for Information Hon Declan Emelumba wrote in the foreword to a 116-page compendium of the State Governor’s achievements over his first year in office that “As Governor Uzodimma marks the one-year anniversary of his administration, Imo people have seen the difference. Today, we can beat our chests to proclaim that a new dawn has arrived. The transformation of the state is on an unstoppable ascendancy to the consternation of critics. Imo State has become one huge construction site, churning out completed road projects every month.

“Even locations which previous administrations cringed from addressing, Governor Uzodimma has dared and conquered! One example is the perennial flooding of Owerri, which particularly rendered Chukwuma Nwoha and Dick Tiger Roads impassable. This has been duly arrested with the ongoing balloon technology underground drainage system terminating at the Otamiri River. Recall that this has been on the Owerri masterplan since the creation of Imo state in 1976. But it was ignored at the people’s peril by successive administrations. Kudos to Governor Uzodimma for the fine legacy he is living for posterity.”

My Owerri cab driver Charles had no idea that I had just left Governor Hope Uzodimma when he began to lecture me about the new kid in government house. As we drove past Shoprite on the Egbu Road he showed me three roads on the left of the shopping centre. “These roads have just been completed by the new Governor and I admire him so much by the way he is completing other projects left by the outgone administrations. This one on the left leads to my house. It was impassable before. So, you can imagine how much I love him,” he added.

QUOTE

Little did his detractors realize that the motivation was the job creation content of the purchase agreement. Innoson Motors has already opened a vehicle parts and repair plant in Owerri with hundreds of jobs created for the army of Imo job seekers. Perhaps what a local pundit told me about the Uzodimma strategy that has angered his opponents to accentuate political and physical attacks is because the positive results of his one-year governance was getting to the people who are beginning to see that the governor was not a joke after all. The other issue rattling political opponents of the state governor is the well-oiled political and economic machinery called Hopism with the pay off line: Where Governance Meets the People.

-ThisDaywp_posts

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Posted by on May 17 2021. Filed under Governors, Headlines, Imo, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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