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Two weeks ago, many critical observers were shocked when Governor Hope Uzodinma came out to read the riot act to his appointees where he assured them that ‘looting’ would attract consequences in his administration; the irony of his determination to rid the State of graft was just too amusing knowing fully well that the Omuna born former Member of the House of National Assembly is the epitome of the rot itself; the exact reflection of what is entirely wrong with Nigeria. To be more succinct, if anyone should be credited with anti-graft comments, Uzodinma should never be considered.
Given Uzodinma’s long history of fraud and a checkered past dominated by criminal conduct, every lover of Imo State was left in anguish early last year when Uzodinma was imposed on Imo people by a vicious gang in Abuja. Many people of good conscience were appalled by that move because it was akin to handing over the keys of the treasury of a bank to an armed robber or maybe handing over the reins of a well-stocked bar to an unrepentant chronic drunk; it was simply a depressing thought to stomach.
On assumption of the stolen office, Uzodinma wasted no time in setting the pace for his camouflaged agenda for Imo State. He began by bribing greedy lawmakers in opposing political parties to defect to his ‘coven’ – the All Progressives Congress to ensure a smooth ride. Smart dude! Next he went on to declare that he inherited an empty treasury and a disoriented civil service laced with monumental corruption, again to the surprise of many, he went further to posit that a whopping ₦19.63 billion was missing from the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) of the 27 Local Governments Areas of the state under the watch of his immediate predecessor – Hon. Emeka Ihedioha. That declaration came just three months into his stay in office. Yes, one may argue that the governor was ostensibly in search of the legitimacy that had evidently eluded him at that time, however how those claims disappeared into thin air after verbal exchanges between Uzodinma and Ihedioha was unnatural. Perhaps, it was Uzondima’s way of announcing that monies would soon be missing; well, Uzodinma did not disappoint in any way as the bizarre looting commenced shortly afterward. To cover and polish the open siphoning of public funds in Imo, Uzodinma soon launched a pursuit of self-effacement, using noise and media propaganda machinery to hide the mindless looting going on in the State, not too far after that, ‘Hopism’ was birthed, One may ask; Of what use was a social philosophy that is announced on banners fluttering over bad roads? The answer was simple; so much was going on and needed to be kept away from the eyes of Ndi Imo who were yet to recover from bruises inflicted on them by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
In the first week of July 2020, Uzodinma visited Ohaji/Egbema to interact with the stakeholders of the oil-bearing communities of the State. During that interaction, he disclosed that he had saved over ₦800 million just in two months from the 13% Derivation accruals to the State from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC. By that, he meant that after each recurrent expenditure, including personnel and overhead costs, he was able to save an average of ₦400 million per month for capital projects in the oil-rich areas. Now taking a cursory look at Uzodinma’s assertions back then, it is safe to conclude that he should have by now saved over ₦8 billion from the Derivation funds given the fact no capital project has been done in the entire oil-producing areas in Uzodinma’s over 16 months in office, so where are these monies? Today many of those communities still groan under the pains of lack or absence of social amenities, good living standards, or even security of lives and property, despite being the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg.
Earlier this year, the media was awash with news and stories suggesting that the Uzodinma led government was out to recover Imo properties from another looter, the former governor of the State – Rochas Okorocha, well, the intentions could be applauded however, the question was that; does Governor Hope Uzodinma even have the moral justification to do such a thing? how would a governor that was struggling with corruption cases prior to becoming governor sincerely claim to fight another person on the issue of corruption? What moral justification does a governor with dark antecedents have to fight corruption if there is no personal vendetta? Of course that Uzodinma was engulfed in a corruption case that came to an end abruptly when he got the APC governorship ticket in 2019 is no longer secret, it was a contract saga. It is the empirical manifestation of the perpetuation of corruption in leadership that has held Nigeria back for over half a century. Uzodinma through his fraudulent company (Niger Global Ltd) received a total of $12.5 million for work done on the Calabar channel in 2015 which was never carried out, the legal battle has now been left for posterity. Many feel such cases are the empirical manifestations of the perpetuation of corruption in leadership that has held Nigeria back for ages. For many citizens of Imo State, there is no difference between Hope Uzodinma and Rochas Okorocha as the duo are nothing but thieves, and for obvious reasons that school of thought is absolutely on point!
Painstaking investigations have revealed that Imo State has received funds in the excess of one hundred and ninety billion Naira between 15 January 2020 and May 2021 in statutory transfers from the Federation Account, this is excluding ISOPADEC fund remittances and the Internally Generated revenue (IGR) accruable to the State on a monthly basis, asides this, Imo’s debt profile according to figures from the Debt Management Office (DMO) grew by three billion Naira, Now the big question is; what have Imo people benefited from these staggering wealth which was supposed to better their lives and improve their living standards? Apart from completing a few meters of substandard roads awarded by his predecessors of which he wasted millions of taxpayers’ money inviting unnecessary guests to commission, what else has ndi Imo benefited from these monies? Uzodinma has been pilfering Imo’s common patrimony while the State is in a dire state and under the firm grip of stark maladministration. What else would one even expect from one who even lied about his academic records? such a person lacks a conscience. Imo indigenes deserve sincere pity and genuine sympathy. It’s very terrible!
Uzodinma is simply an embodiment of the shame and evil that have befallen Imo State, while the State he superintends over is in flames, Uzodinma is in Abuja frittering away Imo’s wealth on inanities, pursuing personal pleasure and lavishing away the future of Imo youths on personal comfort. To him, he is smart, and has the needed expertise to navigate through the polity by employing ‘Ben Johnson’ theatrics to hoodwink Imo people, people that have his ears should constantly remind him that posterity is waiting, he will definitely pay for his wickedness to Imo State someday.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK