By Michael Jegede
Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma of All Progressives Congress (APC) was sworn in as the governor of Imo State on January 15, 2020, following the Supreme Court’s sack of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who had assumed office after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), declared him winner of the Imo governorship election held on March 9, 2019.
Uzodinma, though came fourth in the 2019 Imo gubernatorial election, Supreme Court declared him the actual winner in a case he filed to challenge the results announced by INEC.
Now, after over three and half years in the saddle and the governorship election fixed for November 11, 2023, the question being asked is: Has Uzodinma performed creditably well to deserve a second term in office as Imo governor?
While there are those who see Uzodinma as a failure without any meaningful achievement, many watchers of events in Imo are of the view that the governor has made notably significant impacts in the governance of the state since he took over power as the Chief Executive, and as such, deserves to be re-elected for a second term.
Recently, the National Chairman of APC, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje, at the inauguration of the party’s national campaign council for the November 11 guber poll in Owerri, accentuated the need for Imolites to ensure Uzodinma is re-elected to allow him consolidate on the numerous feats he recorded in his first term. Ganduje urged Imo people to consider the wisdom, astuteness and visionary leadership of the governor to secure a better future for the state.
The Chairman of the national campaign council for the Imo election inaugurated by Ganduje, Governor Bassey Otu, said they “only came to reemphasize the re-election of Gov. Uzodimma by saying Yes! Yes! Yes!”
The Cross River governor thanked Imo residents for the unflinching support they have invariably given to the APC, adding that it would be in their best interest to re-elect Uzodinma for him to continue and complete the several laudable projects he has initiated.
Otu, who gladly accepted the role to lead APC to victory in the Imo guber election, maintained that “It is only Uzodinma that can complete the projects in the state. We want Imo to be better and greater than it is. Only one man can do this, increase federal presence, dredging of Oguta Lake, and many others.”
Various groups and individuals both from within and outside the state have hailed the “impressive performance” of Uzodinma as Imo governor and endorsed his re-election bid, agreeing that he has indeed done well to deserve a second term.
For instance, the Imo State Joint Parliament (IJP), is one of such many groups that are standing firmly behind Senator Uzodinma in his bid for a second tenure in office as Imo helmsman.
IJP, comprised of serving, former state and federal lawmakers from Imo State, had argued that the first term performance of the ex-parliamentarian makes him fit for another term. It pleaded with the flag bearers of other political parties, particularly those of the PDP, Senator Samuel Anyanwu and the Labour Party (LP), Senator Athan Achonu, who are members of the group, to dump their ambitions and support the incumbent governor.
The group through its spokesman, Hon. Ezediaro Henry Uzoma, had declared that “Without fear of contradiction, Senator Hope Uzodinma has proven that seasoned legislators can make good administrators in the executive arm of government. With abundant verifiable developmental strides of Senator Uzodinma as governor of Imo State, it is safe to say Uzodinma has brought back the lost glory of Imo State as in the days of Dee Sam Mbakwe of the blessed memory. That as the saying goes, one good term deserves another, we unequivocally resolved that due to enormous projects and uncommon administrative capacity displayed by Senator Uzodinma as governor of Imo State, he has the mandate of the entire members of Imo State Joint Parliament to seek re-election for another term of office as Imo State Governor.”
The Imo Progressives Movement (IPM) led by its national convener and lawmaker representing Oguta/Ohaji-Egbema/Oru Federal Constituency at the Green Chamber of the National Assembly, Hon. Eugene Dibiagwu, also adopted Uzodinma for second term for the consolidation of good governance in Imo. For IPM, whose membership is said to cut across political parties and civil society organisations, Uzodinma has succeeded in implementing sound and robust policies that have paved the way for great developmental strides in the areas of health, education, agriculture, road construction, youth empowerment and job creation.
Uzodinma’s re-election bid had gained serious boost with his endorsement by the Imo Council of Elders made up of respected senior citizens and critical stakeholders in Imo State. The Imo Elders’ Council in their adoption of the Charter of Equity to promote a just and equitable power rotation system in the state, insisted that Uzodinma, an Orlu man, should, for his developmental efforts, be allowed to have a second tenure to complete his two terms of eight years before it moves to Owerri and Okigwe zones respectively.
The National Association of Imo State Students (NAISS) has likewise identified with Uzodinma in his aspiration for re-election. NAISS feels that the governor has done so much for Imo people and students in particular, and should therefore be supported by all and sundry to continue with his good works in the state.
In his speech during a solidarity march for the governor, President of the student body, Comrade Umukoro Marvis Udechukwu, said they were impressed with the incredible performance of Uzodinma, flowing from his dogged determination to positively impact on the lives of Imolites with the delivery of democracy dividends to their doorsteps.
The position of NAISS on Uzodinma, said to have so far done over 100 roads in different parts of the state, was fully backed by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). Members of NANS recently inducted the Imo governor whom they described as youth and students-friendly into their Hall of Fame and adorned him as their “Most Cherished Patron”. Applauding Uzodinma’s sterling leadership qualities, NANS President, Usman Umar Barambu said: “The induction was in recognition of the extraordinary work the governor has done to advance the cause of unity in the country and more importantly, to improve the lot of the youths and students.”
Groups like the Okigwe Political Consultative Assembly (OKIPOGA), Orlu Political Consultative Assembly (OPOCA), Orlu Development Forum (ODF), Nzuko Owere General Assembly (NOGA), Owerri Zone Political Leaders Forum (OZPLF), Imo State Amalgamated Markets and Traders Association (ISAMATA), Hope Community Vanguard, Dominion Women International, Imo Diaspora Support Group, Imo Hopeful Youths, Ohanaeze Youths (the Youth Wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide) and a host of others had equally at different times declared their unalloyed support for the second term ambition of the Onwa-NetiriOha of Omuma in Oru Local Government Area of Imo State. They all believe that Uzodinma has changed the face of Imo through monumental projects.
In spite of the gale of endorsements and overwhelming support for the re-election bid of Uzodinma as a result of his focused, purposeful and pragmatic leadership, believed to be turning around the fortunes of the state, opposition candidates in the guber race with him, have insisted that he has done nothing to merit another tenure.
The PDP candidate, Senator Anyanwu, for example, was quoted to have said that “Hope Uzodinma and his government have impoverished the people and put them in perpetual poverty. Young people, talented and educated, have no job. Imo State is one of the most dreaded places in the country because of the heightened insecurity. This is the legacy of Uzodinma.” The LP standard bearer, Senator Achonu, was once reported to have asked Uzodinma to resign honourably for his failure to tackle insecurity in the state. The flag bearer of the Young Progressives Party, YPP, Kemdi Chino Opara, on his part, said voting out Uzodinma on November 11 will be the solution to what he described as “bad leadership” in Imo.
But the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the incumbent Governor, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku, argued that those claiming to be contesting against his principal have nothing to offer, and so, he doesn’t see them as threat to Uzodinma’s second term aspiration.
Mr. Nwachuku, a veteran journalist, in an interview, said the outcome of the November 11 guber election will be a landslide for his boss, as according to him, his numerous achievements are visible enough for everyone to see and verify.
His words: “If you are talking about his opponents, I don’t expect that they will see anything in what we have done. They will always look for a way of advancing the cause of falsehood that they have been known for almost four years now. The truth is that there is even no opposition here. Hope Uzodinma does not have serious opponents for the office of the governor of Imo State so to say for the November 11 election. There is no serious challenger. What we have, has been noisemakers who go about causing problems. For instance, you talked about insecurity. Some of them keep saying they will make Imo free again. And we ask, how? How are they going to make Imo free again? Because nobody has seen their blueprint. Nobody has seen their manifestoes. And then you want to make Imo save again from November 11, meaning that you are behind the insecurity. If you want to wait till November 11 before you begin to make Imo save it means that you are behind the insecurity. It’s an irony of a sort. And I don’t think that Imo people are reckoning with such people and their propaganda because they have seen through their lies.
“If you have been in Imo State of late and you went round to see the level of infrastructure this governor has put in place, you will be amazed. And I don’t think you will still want to listen to these people when they are talking. The roads that lead to their places, those roads were abandoned for as long as they have been in politics until this man (Uzodinma) came and built it for them. These same people that are complaining and talking nonsense. They don’t have anything to offer. When they face their people they are going to ask them where were you when we didn’t have a road to pass through to our place.
“But we are in democracy. There is freedom of speech. We concede that to them that they have the right to talk. But when they are talking nonsense we will draw them back and remind them about the nonsense they are talking about. How can anyone who is sincere to himself say Hope Uzodinma has failed and hasn’t done anything as Imo governor?
“In any case, we have no fear about Uzodinma’s re-election because it is guaranteed. As far as we are concerned, these people are making this noise because they have seen that they will fail woefully. It is going to be an overwhelming victory. It’s going to be more of a coronation because in every nook and cranny of this state everybody has seen the imprint of Uzodinma. There’s no part of the state where you won’t find Uzodinma’s footprint. So, some people are just afraid of what will befall them in terms of defeat. The defeat is going to be colossal.”
Michael Jegede, a journalist writes from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja