Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State is turning out to be one of the worst governors Imo state has ever encountered, making Senator Rochas Okorocha’s tenure look like heydays in paradise.
His controversial rise to power reins in Imo state, his devastatingly low turn out of supporters during the 2019 elections and his use of the Nigerian Supreme court powers to intimidate and force the real election winner, Emeka Ihedioha out of the gubernatorial seat has all added to the taint in his image.
He recently celebrated his 100 days in office and he was very vocal about how he has uprooted the state from the rot which it was thrown into by the past Governments and how he would surpass the achievements of Governor Sam Mbakew. Scoffs. He declared that he was working hard to make sure Imo state will be great again. That would completely qualify as a ‘Hopeful anthem’ because by the way things are going in the state, he is a very long way off from actually making real developmental strides.
Why Governor Uzodinma chose to stretch himself that far, no one knows. There would have been no much worry if he had chosen to surpass former Governor Rochas Okorocha; that would have been easier, for all he needed to do is to build solid engineering infrastructures that would not easily collapse, pay salaries and re-engineer the free education policy.
He could also have chosen to improve on the appreciable governance framework that his immediate predecessor, Governor Emeka Ihedioha, was initiating before abruptly leaving the stage. But to choose to surpass Mbakwe, whose indelible landmark achievements in every sector of Imo economy are unparalleled in the annals of governance in Imo State can only raise suspicion that Uzodinma has something up his sleeves, which only time will show.
In the past few months, there have been protests all around the state. And they all have one cry: “Pay Us Our Arrears”
From pensioners to civil servants to commission workers. Just yesterday, workers of the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission on Monday besieged the Government House in Owerri, to protest three months unpaid salaries by Governor Hope Uzodinma.
The workers, who wore black attires, displayed placards with various inscriptions depicting their anger. They grounded movements in and out of the state government house for hours.
All vehicles going in and out of the government house were turned back by the enraged workers.
The union chairman, Chinedu Awuzie, told journalists that the state government was being wicked, adding that despite ISOPADEC having only 320 workers as against the thousands of workers its sister commissions had in other states, the government had continued to short-changed them.
He said the leadership of the commission had on several occasions met with the governor without any result as regards the payment of their salaries.
Also in recent times, pensioners have besieged the state capital, blocking off major roads and sealing off the government house demanding for what is rightfully theirs.
No one can morally justify any frivolous expenditure in a state where youth unemployment is estimated to be nearing 38% which is almost double the national average of 19.58%.
In Imo, millions live under the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day, with workers’ salaries and pensioners entitlements not paid when due for lack of funds and these competing priorities.
Imo people have over the last 20 years demonstrated electoral consciousness and many are vigilant and will remain so throughout the tenure of Governor Uzodinma. The governor must rise up to the significance of his name to convince Imo people that he has the vision to restore and renew hope.
It’s much better if he streamlines his government, repudiate inefficiency, and have around him lieutenants that can generate leadership capital.
He should leverage on the abundant human resources at home and the diaspora to move Imo forward. He should as a matter of urgency ensure ordinary Imo workers and pensioners are paid their salaries and entitlements regularly. The focus of Governor Uzodinma in the coming years should be on prudent management of our collective resources. He needs policies to reinvigorate the state’s internally generated revenue base, explore and close permanently all bureaucratic loopholes used to siphon Imo commonwealth, build trust and goodwill among Imo people, and pursue populist but measured policies that are based on credible evidence; invest in agriculture, drive growth of infrastructure projects, including primary health and education; enhance the state’s security architecture and create greater economic opportunities for Imo people.
Any failure in delivering good governance based on sound leadership, prudent financial management, tolerance of divergent views, equity and justice for all will backfire with deleterious consequences at the polls come 2024.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK