Most recently, Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo state has been in the news for notorious reasons, from the unpopular Supreme Court verdict that sacked his predecessor, Sir Emeka Ihedioha, and eventually made him Governor to the late payments of workers salaries and pensions’ arrears.
Though, some of his friends and close associates who are not directly involved in the governance of Imo state are of the opinion that the Governor means well for Imo people, but unfortunately, his intentions are misinterpreted and not well represented in the media.
One of such persons is Chief Joseph Ekeh Oshi-Udela, who incidentally was the Spokesman of the Camp Hope in London, a campaign group that worked tirelessly to mobilise support for Governor Hope Uzodinma during the campaign period in 2019.
Chief Oshi-Udela, a British trained barrister, and successful businessman with interests in hospitality and agriculture both in the United Kingdom and Nigeria granted a no-holds-barred interview via telephone with Africa Daily News, New York where he explained the reason for the perceived notoriety of Governor Uzodinma among other issues.
ADN: Chief Oshi-Udela, you were the Spokesman of Camp Hope in London and from the reports we gathered, you played a major role in mobilising support for Governor Uzodinma at that time. Would you say that you are disappointed looking at his performance thus far?
Chief Oshi-Udela: Well, within the short period Senator Uzodinma became Governor of Imo state, I would rather say that he has performed marvellously.
ADN: Chief, why would you say he has performed marvellously considering the notoriety associated with his administration?
Chief Oshi-Udela: He has performed marvellously because he inherited a government that had nearly 5,000 ghost workers that were milking the state dry, and uncovered the fraud which definitely will save Imo state hundreds of millions of naira monthly. This singular action of the Governor is quite commendable.
ADN: But Chief, those were mere allegations, and the Governor is yet to prosecute the alleged culprits…
(Chief Oshi Udela interjects)
Chief Oshi-Udela: Of course, the alleged culprits will be prosecuted in the competent court of jurisdiction. The records are there, and they will be laid bare for all and sundry to see. This is not just a scenario of mere allegation. There are proofs.
ADN: Do you consider that as a good excuse for the Governor’s administration to owe salaries and pensions arrears for that long?
Chief Oshi Udela: First and foremost, Senator Uzodinma as the Governor of Imo state has a huge responsibility to protect Imo from all sorts of unpleasant things and fraud in the state’s civil service is one of such ugliness, so in the process of carrying out his responsibility as a Governor and delays in payments of salaries and pensions occurr, he should not be labelled a bad Governor.
ADN: Chief, won’t you think that the Governor, if he were genuinely concerned about the welfare of the workers, he would have found a quicker way to resolve the issue before it reached to a point that aged pensioners had to take to the streets of Owerri to protest over their arrears?
Chief Oshi-udela: Before the Governor embarked on the investigation to uncover the teeming ghost workers, he communicated his idea to the workers and pensioners. All he needed from them was to exercise a little patience to prune the bad branch in his administration.
ADN: Chief, but why did the pruning take months, and was not duly communicated in the media if in deed there were some genuineness in the Governor’s action?
Chief Oshi-udela: The pruning or cleansing took probably a little longer basically because of the bureaucratic bottlenecks of government. You know the due process way of doing things in government.
The second issue is the media. Quite frankly, I must say that the major problem of Governor Uzodinma’s administration is the inadequate representation in the media.
ADN: Chief, Governor Uzodinma has a media team so why did you say he is not well represented in the media?
Chief Oshi-udela: Admittedly, Governor Uzodinma has a media team but then the team clearly, doesn’t seem to be formidable enough to effectively propagate the messages or the good works of the Governor. The things the Governor has done thus far in Imo state are really worthy of commendation but you hardly, get to see the ingenuity and coverage which they are being propagated in the media. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the Governor’s media team is not doing their best but they have limitations in some key areas which I am sure many who can look critically, would easily notice.
ADN: Chief, so you are insinuating that the Governor’s media team is weak?
Chief Oshi-udela: I wouldn’t want to use the word, ‘weak.’ But if I were to advise His Excellency, I would suggest that he uses both local and international media outlets to propagate his good works in Imo state.
As you very well know as people from an international media firm, you know exactly the support a formidable media outlet can offer the Office of The Governor.
A local media outlet is good, it can serve at the local level but we should realise that Imo indigenes are equally in the diaspora, and if they get to read the good works of the Governor while there, they will repose their confidence in the Governor’s administration but when they hardly, read about the Governor’s good works, and then somethings like the issues of delayed payments of salaries and pensions arise. And One or two persons share the video of a protest against that on any social media,and before you could say Jack, people in the diaspora will be calling for the Governor’s impeachment or writing him off as a failure.
But a strong media support which could be external can go a long way to tackle such issues even before they become embarrassing.
ADN: Chief, what is Governor Uzodinma doing about the dilapidating infrastructures in Imo state?
Chief Oshi-udela: As we speak now, there are on-going constructions and reconstructions in the state. Julius Berger, currently is handling the road projects, so those areas are settled.
ADN: Interesting. Chief, can you confirm that these projects were not the ones that the Governor’s predecessor, Sir Emeka Ihedioha had previously awarded because our findings show that the immediate past Governor Ihedioha awarded major infrastructural contracts before he was sacked by the Supreme Court?
Chief Oshi-Udela: No!
ADN: Chief, you mean Sir Ihedioha didn’t award any infrastructural contract?
Chief Oshi-udela: What I actually mean is that Governor Uzodinma’s administration is working on new projects as well as the ones his predecessor left unfinished.
ADN: Chief, in summary, do you honestly think that Governor Uzodinma’s administration can actually deliver the dividends of democracy to Imo people?
Chief Oshi-udela: Absolutely! I campaigned seriously for Senator Uzodinma to become Governor because I understood his blueprint as regards the transformation of Imo to a bigger and better state. All I can say to Imo people is that, exercise patience, and let Governor Uzodinma work.
ADN: Chief, it’s been nice speaking with you. Thank you very much for your time.
Chief Oshi-udela: The pleasure is mine. Thanks.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK