It is barely four months before Imolites head to the polls again to have a say on their political destiny. The last time they spoke in resounding terms, their choices were invalidated by judicial buccaneers in Abuja who imposed an unpopular Governor on them, but nevertheless, Imolites must fight again, this time, their mission will ultimately be to eject the beneficiary of that injustice from Douglas House.
In any democratic country around the world where democracy is practiced in the real sense of it, the power to effect change in leadership lies within the hands of the people and not some bunch of lily-livered, unpopular, callous elements whose only expertise is crookedness. Citizens are the ones saddled with the responsibility of scrutinising their leaders, holding them accountable for their actions, and ultimately demanding a better future for themselves and their communities. The people of Imo State did not hand their mandate to Senator Hope Uzodinma to be their governor; hence, these democratic expectations have only remained painfully elusive.
Characteristically, what Sen. Uzodinma has succeeded in doing over the last three years as Governor of Imo State is clearly demonstrating the disconnect between the leadership and the followers. Very vital democratic tenets, which include adherence to the rule of law, transparency, and accountability, have been completely crushed under him. Armed with the understanding that a stolen mandate should only be deployed to steal state resources, Uzodinma, and his colluding hawks have managed to entrench a culture of mindless corruption, lies, deception, and mismanagement of human and natural resources.
Shortly after taking office on the 20th of January, 2020, Uzodinma, who was miffed by the reality of his unpopularity and an ugly reputation of crookedness, began promising Imolites an eldorado just to endear himself to the people. He promised a new dawn, a revitalisation of the economy of the state, and improved living conditions for all Imolites, all of which he brought under his hopeless 3R agenda for the State. Sadly, none of those desperate promises were kept.
Uzodinma has, over the past three years, proven himself to be one of the worst governors Imo State has ever had. Imolites will not easily forget how he mismanaged the insecurity in the state. When he was not accusing his political opponents of being behind the daily slaughter of Imolites, he was in Abuja holding fruitless meetings with fellow politicians, wasting billions of taxpayers’ money on jamborees. Uzodinma is the governor who preferred to fight labour union leaders rather than improve the welfare of the struggling Imo workers. Uzodinma is the governor who preferred wasting scarce Imo’s resources by bringing different classes of politicians to the state to commission uncompleted projects. Uzodinma is that governor who preferred to buy up politicians like commodities rather than provide genuine and selfless leadership that would win the love of the masses.
When it dawned on him that another election was around the corner and neither the late Abba Kyari nor Justice Tanko Mohamud was still in a position to foist him on Imo State using his preferred ‘Ben Johnson’ mechanisms, he resorted to misinformation, outright lies, and deceit. To him, that was the only strategy that could help him retain his seat by November, but Uzodinma needs to know that Imolites might have their shortcomings, but stupidity is surely not one of them.
Today, Uzodinma is seeking re-election as Governor of Imo State despite his abysmal performance. Under his maladministration, the once hopeful faces of Ndi Imo have now been clouded with disappointment and despair. His scorecard is an eye-sore. Under him, rural infrastructure is at its worst, the collapsing education and healthcare systems are in disarray, and unemployment rates are currently at an all-time high. The truth is that Imo State deserves better.
Despite the humongous resources Uzodinma has earned, He has almost nothing to show for them. In barely 40 months as Governor, Uzodinma has earned over 600 billion naira as FAAC remittances, 13% oil derivations, and Local Government allocations, yet Imo State under him is presently the most indebted state in the South-East. According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), the debt profile of the state currently stands at 240 billion naira, and Uzodinma is still borrowing more. In just a little over three years, Uzodinma has doubled the debt profile of the state, and there is nothing on the ground to suggest that such a humongous sum passed through the coffers of the state.
Transparency and accountability are the cornerstones of any functioning democracy. In fact, it is the most probing yardstick for measurement, however, these tenets are mere words to Uzodinma. Uzodinma took over the mantle of leadership in the state and turned the Government House into a breeding ground for corruption, where public funds are misappropriated, and the interests of the few outweigh the needs of the many. Uzodinma has turned Imo State into a state populated and controlled by greedy politicians who only think of how they can continue to grow and thrive while the voiceless suffer the painful devastation that comes as a result of bad governance. This is an injustice that should not be allowed to thrive beyond November.
Today, several communities in the state are still under the firm control of terrorists, kidnappers, and other non-state actors who levy death upon Imo people day after day. Recently, a former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, came out to lament that farmers have abandoned their farmlands and that the insecurity in that state has now become existential. Uzodinma’s lack of purpose and direction has birthed an unprecedented rise in poverty and starvation, a 60% unemployment rate, and ultimately various forms of crime in Imo State. How then can a man who supervised these anomalies be seeking re-election? What does he take Imolites for?
Over the past three and a half years, Uzodinma has chosen to pay attention to frivolities and play petty politics while ignoring the governance he should be paying attention to. Expectedly, the common man on the streets of Imo is the one feeling the brunt while politicians smile to the bank every day. Even as he seeks reelection, there is nothing on the ground to show that Uzodinma has any plan to improve the living standards of Imolites. He basically only cares about his masters in Abuja and how to keep them happy.
Given the present reality in Imo State and the country that Uzodinma’s party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), plunged Nigerians into, as someone who is clearly clueless about the situation, one will expect Uzodinma to apologise to the Ndi Imo, step aside, and allow someone else to save the state from the ultimate destruction that his second tenure would bring. However, rather than do that, Uzodinma has shown that he lacks any iota of shame or honour and he is jokingly seeking re-election.
Thankfully, in November, Imolites will have an opportunity to reshape their destiny, to elect a leader who will champion the cause of the people with integrity, empathy, and dedication. It is very critical that they do their best to ensure the era of Governor Uzodinma receives an unpleasant goodbye from them. Imolites must rise above apathy and complacency which Uzodinma is trying to instill in them and take a stand for justice, progress, and equality. The duty to vote out Governor Uzodinma from office is a moral and just one and Ndi Imo should do everything legally possible to achieve it to pave the way for a new era of leadership that will prioritise the needs and aspirations of the people. Imo State is too enlightened to be having jokers and fraudsters like Uzodinma as governor presiding over the collective destinies of over 6 million people.