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Today makes it 245 days since the Executive Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma assumed the apex position in the state due to a Supreme Court ruling that ousted the incumbent Governor Emeka Ihedioha.
These past few days have seen Imo State deteriorate and suffer from the lack of infrastructure and development. Perhaps this was due to the nationwide Coronavirus lockdown of April 30th which lasted up till June. Nevertheless, Imolites have bemoaned their terrible fate in the hands of Governor Hope Uzodinma and his administration.
Many roads in Imo State and its capital, Owerri remain unattended to, and have been rendered almost unpliable by the incessant rains in Imo state. Most of these roads like the Worldbank-Control Junction axis in the State’s capital harbour potholes as deep as a man’s knee-length which swallow up automobiles and destroy some vital engine parts making brisk business for the mechanics in the state. Also, a drive to the popular Polytechnic Nekedde would be very ill-advised as the muddy, waterlogged roads would surely ruin any beautiful paint the car is wearing if that doesn’t deter one enough, the very sharp edges of the broken-down asphalt roads is sure to do a number on any automobile’s exhaust workings. This is the condition of many other roads in the state.
Besides dilapidating infrastructural issues, Imo state has recently been plagued with numerous protests by Government workers, civil servants and pensioners who take turns in braving the scalding heat of the sun and the stinging rains to protest on the major roads of the state capital sometimes taking the protests to the Imo State Government House while demanding that the Governor grants them an audience. There have also been numerous reshufflings in the Imo State Civil Service Commission which have led to the indefinite sack of many civil service workers without any form of payment or reimbursements. Also, contract workers and Engineers in the state have lamented on how they are being owed and denied payments for numerous projects all around Imo State.
These and many more issues have plagued Governor Hope Uzodinma’s 254 days in office which is why he is finding it very difficult to garner acceptance by Imolites and prove the legitimacy of his Government. The concept of legitimacy is the right or acceptance of authority usually a governing law or an administration a people. For this authority to be legitimate, it must have the right and political justification to exercise power. When a government is destitute of legitimacy or suffers apprehension of such, its moral authority naturally diminishes, perhaps from the knowledge that ultimate power belongs to the people from whom all governments derive legitimacy and authority to rule. Such an unpopular government falls back on the instrument of coercion at its disposal: police, military and other critical institutions of the state to extract some modicum of authority howsoever contrived, being considered legitimate only by the minority and a small, but influential elite class who run these institutions. This represents the power dynamics in Imo State as Governor Hope Uzodinma has recently signed a new decree with the unintended help of the Imo State House of Assembly which gives him express power to arrest and detain anyone at will and for whatever duration he deems fit. Many Imolites have analysed this move as a method of intimidation and coercion to the many individuals who feel that the current Imo State Government was forced on them by the Supreme Court of Nigeria and not by the choice of the people.
Amid all these, many stakeholders in Imo State which include religious and political leaders who are on the neutral have noticed the huge friction between most Imolites and the current Governor Hope Uzodinma-led Government and have offered some form of an olive branch in form of negotiations and benevolent incentives to further smoothen down the relationship and reception between Imolites and the Imo State Government. One of these such olive branches is the recent thanksgiving service to mark Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary organised by the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna where he hosted Governor Hope Uzodinma and his wife, the first lady.
Reliable sources had revealed that Archbishop Anthony Obinna who is a revered and well-respected religious leader in the state had on previous occasions made some efforts to reach out to the Governor to broker a delegation which would broach the subject of his maladministration in Imo State. These efforts yielded no results as Governor Hope Uzodinma dismissed the delegations. Archbishop Obinna who is a well-known advocate for good governance finally sent word to the Governor asking him to work on the terrible state of affairs in the state or he would lose his patience with his administration. On realising this, Governor Hope Uzodinma finally honoured his call and pleaded with the Archbishop to allow him work things out as there were still a lot of grey areas in his administration. To show his commitment towards this promise, he opted to attend the thanksgiving service and make public his promises to Imolites.
During the thanksgiving, the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna commended Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State for his pro-people programmes, despite the teething challenges the government faced in the early days of its administration. He acknowledged the efforts of Uzodinma towards doing things right in Imo State, especially his policy of reconstruction, rehabilitation and recovery and assured him of the fervent prayers of the Catholic Church to enable him succeed. He however appealed to the Governor not to derail from his vision so that he’ll not disappoint Imo people. from his vision and disappoint Imo people.
Governor Hope Uzodinma on his part assured that his administration will rectify the areas the political class in the past disappointed the people by improving on those things that were shadily done ‘and with the Grace of God, bring back happiness and sense of security to Imo people which have been an impediment to people’s plans to go about their businesses without fear of molestations.’ He also promised to create an enabling environment that will ‘allow politicians to do their politics, businessmen do their businesses and the Civil Servants do their job.’ He also admonished the Civil Servants to desist from abetting crime and fraud in the Civil Service and he reiterated that he has the good intentions of restoring the past glory of the system by bringing back the dignity, pride and responsibilities of the civil service. He spoke about his plans not only to remodel the civil service infrastructure but also to restore the Code of Conduct that has been ignored over time and then he reaffirmed his earlier position that he has come to serve and that he will do his best to restore people’s confidence in government, as ‘Government will take responsibility by working assiduously to give them what will make them happy.’
This may seem like a step in the right direction as many Imolites have come to see it as the beginning of better days ahead in Imo State since Archbishop Obinna now fully has his eyes on Governor Uzodinma’s administration.
Imo State has long suffered under this current administration of Governor Uzodinma, and apparently, the Governor still has a long time on the seat and it would be wonderful if he uses this opportunity to redeem his filthy image. It is not clear how that struggle for legitimacy will play out between the people of Imo State and the Uzodinma-led Government for the remainder of his four-year tenure but so far so good, his Government has not made any decision that can not be reversed.
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AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK