By Chike Okafor
The history of every man, his peaks, and downtime are all summed up in how he stands in times of tribulation.
How he defies the odds to triumph and leave behind a statement on the unassailable human instinct that drives every nature-made survivor.
It is about the innate ability of man to succeed and excel, even against all presentiments, perils, and disillusionment.
Governance, as it concerns our dear Imo State, has never been a tea party, so to speak. It has never been a bed of roses, either. Imo State is unique, in the entire South-East, because Imo is a State blessed with men and women of high intellectual acumen and as such, it is not easy to pull wool over the eyes of even an average Imo citizen, let alone the elite.
Smokescreens are also hard to get away with, as it will not go uninterrogated. To say the least, Imo people, to their credit, are critically minded.
The Imo reality since 2019, and the circumstances that birthed the present government of His Excellency, Distinguished Sen. Hope Uzodimma should be enough pointer to anyone who cares to know, that there is a God who presides over the affairs of men, and that irrespective of our human machinations, choices and scheming, only the divine will of God will prevail.
There is no gainsaying the fact that, for good or otherwise, nothing happens without the direct approval and knowledge of the Almighty God, creator of Heaven and Earth. Thus, it will be completely an aberration, for a Christian, to question God’s design when it comes to pass.
The summary of the 15th January 2020 divine intervention, as it relates to Imo State, particularly with respect to who occupies the Douglas House, is that after all was said and done in the 2019 Gubernatorial election,what was meant to be, came to be. And in the past forty-two months, or thereabouts, Gov. Hope Odidika Uzodimma CON has been able to show himself approved.
It is important, at this point, to cast our minds back to the unpropitious auguries that have trailed the advent of this administration since Gov. Hope Uzodimma mounted the saddle on January 2020.
The first quarter of 2020 saw the outbreak of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic, in Nigeria, having engulfed most parts of the world, from the last quarter of 2019, leading to a global lockdown, which adversely affected global economy and not just Imo State, leaving many lives imperiled.
The response of the State and the measures adopted were acknowledged by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) headed then by the Nwangele born Imo son, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu.
As this was being subdued, towards the end of 2020, another storm broke,the #EndSARS protest.
The protest made a major landfall in Imo state, as hoodlums capitalized on the initial disorder to start attacking police checkpoints, burning police patrol vehicles, and police stations.
The chaos forced the government to take the only plausible action at the time, leading to 24-hour curfew to enable authorities to get a good grip on the new strain of unprovoked attacks and it’s pattern.
The protest which started as spontaneous response to years of police brutality,later turned to ugly attacks,and gradually it spread to other states of the South-East, and it did not take long to realize it had become coordinated and deliberately orchestrated by clandestine elements.
Imo state battled and brought it under manageable control. By 2021, when it was being hoped that respite may finally return to Imo, the criminal underworld scored a massive hit against the people of Imo state, when on April 5, 2021, the Owerri Correctional Centre and the Imo state Police Headquarters were attacked by scores of gunmen wielding high caliber automatic weapons and explosive devices.
When the dust of that attack settled, hardened criminals including convicts on death row, numbering nearly 2000 were freed from the correctional facility, and that marked the beginning of a drastic plunge in the security situation of Imo state and it’s neighbouring states.
Insecurity in Imo State became multi-dimensional with the influx of dare-devil criminal inmates into our society.
This particular attack resulted in a surge in crime wave, affecting not just Owerri, the capital city of our dear state, but also the remote parts of our state.
Such ugly incidents as attacking, burning and vandalism of public infrastructure became the order of the day, with Police stations, security posts and installations as well as offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the Courts of law as prime targets of this nefarious attacks, leaving in its wake, gory tales of sorrow, tears and blood.
Also not spared was the traditional institution,as Royal fathers were banished from their communities (revered stools), and some were either killed, kidnapped, or their palaces razed down.
In the face of all these, the opposition elements took liberties and rode on the sorry situation to mount and sustain a campaign of calumny against the State Government, for a situation that practically held down the entire South-East States, without exception.
Those who mischievously argued that insecurity in Imo State was occasioned by the emergence of Gov. Hope Uzodimma has not been able to convince their ill-informed fan base and the global reading public about the cause of the insecurity in the other South-East States.
Even in 2023, and with the other South-East States now having new governors on the saddle, this hydra-headed monster of insecurity is still rearing its ugly head.
The synopsis of the above submission is that insecurity in Imo is not about Governor Hope Uzodimma.
It is easy to sit on the side lines, and criticize the Gov. Hope Uzodimma’s handling of the security situation of the State, until you take a closer look at other States in the region, even with their new Governors who assumed office with so much ovation and fanfare.
They are also battling the same insecurity.
Indeed, no one can be governor and freely share power with non-state actors,that would be against the oath-of-office.
The issue of negotiation is also arguably dicey and somewhat unrealistic as it appears the state does not have what it takes to assuage the desires of the proponents of this insecurity or to meet their demands which are broadly complex and multifarious.
In spite of all these, Gov. Hope Uzodimma has continued to focus on delivering the much-needed dividends of democracy to the beleaguered and insecurity-wearied people of Imo state. No doubt, his courage, in the face of life-threatening danger, has inspired many to rise to the occasion and give him the support he needs to succeed.
Little wonder more people are now boldly identifying with the 3R mantra of the governor – Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Recovery – as against what it was at the preliminary stage of this security challenge when identifying with him was tantamount to a death wish! For some people, though.
In the area of providing the fundamental needs of the people ranging from physical infrastructure to human capacity development, even the most rabid opponents of the Governor admit that he has made his mark, indelibly so, in these areas.
The first major infrastructural deficit, which the governor is tackling headlong, is the issue of access into the state. In the indices of urbanization, access is key. No other form of development can thrive without access to mobility. Thus, addressing the road infrastructure is a major win for the administration. The Orlu-Owerri road, Owerri-Okigwe road, which are both dual carriageways, of not less than 37km each, have been completed and commissioned, in record time and already in use, for the good of the people.
The Owerri-Mbaise-Obowo-Umuahia road of no less a distance as the aforementioned is ongoing.
The fact that these are federal roads being constructed by the state and with reputable construction companies must be acknowledged.
The others, like the dualization of the airport road, are among the over 70 local roads, either completed or at various stages of completion, undertaken simultaneously.
And not too long ago, the Governor commissioned for use 3 giant health facilities in the oil producing local government areas of Ohaji Egbema and Oguta,constructed by the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission,ISOPADEC,fully equipped with modern state of the art hospital and health facilities.
All these are being done despite the said security situation of the state.
Apart from roads, Gov. Uzodimma has recently lifted the embargo on the promotion of civil servants of the state after about a decade of zero promotions, with excitement and accompanied with the raise of minimum wage to N40,000.
There are various empowerment programmes of the State Government, especially for women and youths (Skillup Imo project) which speak volumes of the commitment of the leadership in the state to meeting the needs of the people.
Gov. Hope Uzodimma admits during the regular stakeholders meeting that there is, yet, a lot to be done, and this is a hallmark of a leader who is committed to delivering the goods.
This is the time for Imo people to rally round this Omuma-born lawmaker, administrator and leader, and with our votes come November 11, give him the support and encouragement he deserves, as well as the mandate to continue to work for the future of Imo State.
Our poser for all those aspiring to be Governors of Imo State is that they should be intentional about their policies and programs projections in all sectors for Imo people and showcasing what they may do better or differently from what our Governor is doing currently instead of resorting to name-calling and item-campaign (insecurity). This in my view, is the way to go.
All things considered, Imo is in safe hands with Governor Hope Uzodimma!
He deserves another four years.
(Chike Okafor, PhD, a seasoned banker, two-term member of the House of Representatives and former Commissioner for Finance, Imo State, wrote in from Owerri, Imo State.)