Since Nigeria’s present democratic dispensation began in 1999, a presidential visitation has become an epic event. And a governor who is able to convince a sitting president to visit his state to commission projects is considered diligent and industrious. Before President Muhammadu Buhari, there had been Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Late Alh. Umaru Yar’Adua and Dr Goodluck Jonathan. Obasanjo was reputed for paying many working visits to states.
In his first year as president, Yar’Adua visited Imo under Chief Ikedi Ohakim. It was considered a great visit then because Imo was the first state to which the president paid a working visit after his election in 2007. It is on record that before his demise, the late Yar’Adua also paid another visit to Imo when he commissioned the new digital equipment at the Imo Broadcasting Corporation, among others. Under Jonathan of the Okorocha years, Imo did not earn any presidential working visit. Not even an APC presidency from 2015 to 2019 earned Imo State a presidential working visit under Okorocha.
Among Nigeria’s presidents since 1999, President Buhari seems to be the least travelled. Essentially, every leader has his style of leadership. Whilst some may be given to visitations at the slightest of promptings, others may want to be convinced as to the cogent rationale for the visit. President Muhammadu Buhari falls into that category. He does not seem compelled by any flashy projects before consenting to pay a presidential working visit to any state.
There must be something symbolic in the projects carried out by a state chief executive to warrant the consent of a president for a working visit.
Remember that the president sees beyond what most of us are inclined to see. He has his secret agents who update him with credible intelligence regarding the true performance of any state chief executive.
Beyond the pomp and colours of project commissioning, there is also a psychological factor that may compel a sitting president to pay a working visit to a state. The president may feel emotionally attached to a state owing to the solid personality of its chief executive or political expediency.
There is every compelling reason to believe that the president is emotionally attached to Imo State. In terms of appointments and spread of federal projects, Imo is evidently the first in Southeast Nigeria. In terms of access, the president has made sure that the Imo Chief Executive Officer reaches him as and when possible.
For those who are in the know of bureaucratic measures involved in seeing the nation’s number one citizen, they will easily acknowledge the extraordinary effort of Dist. Sen Hope Uzodimma in building a solid bridge of camaraderie with the central government.
Reaching out to the president of any country for whatever reason is not a mean task. Building bridges of mutual understanding with the presidency is also no undemanding venture.
Recall that the president is a human-being that responds to the sway of character and loyalty of attitude like every other human. By making Imo the centre-piece of his affection in the east, the president has demonstrably passed a vote of confidence on the nobility of our governor’s character. Here is a governor who took off without any hand-over notes from his predecessor. Here is a governor who took off without any farthing in the coffers of the state. Here is a governor who took off with a plethora of landmines set by preceding administrations to make it fail. Here is a governor who met a huge outlay of infrastructural decay.
Yet with a characteristic mien uncommon with leaders, he has been quietly stabilising the system without making a hell of noise. Imo has become a construction site and lasting economic pillars are being erected in every sector of our statecraft.
Today, Imo State under Dist. Sen Hope Uzodimma is scoring another first since he assumed office last year. He has secured the firm nod of Mr President to pay a working visit to Imo State to see for himself what he has achieved with very lean resources. He has built massive goodwill with the government at the centre. His excellent leadership style and nobility of character have attracted much goodwill to him within and outside the state. He has been entrusted with national assignments due to his fine charisma. He has also been tipped even for more national responsibilities.
There were noise makers before him who regaled residents with stories of heroism which at best were a fluke. True heroes are no noise makers. They speak the loudest in their actions.
The presidential visit today Thursday 9 September, 2021 is symbolic. The president by this visit has shown that Imo State, and indeed the southeast, is his home.
Mr President has also shown that he is at peace with the leadership potentials of the State governor, Dist. Sen Hope Uzodimma. Yes, the president has covertly indicated readiness to partner with the state in all spheres of her socio-political and economic endeavours.
Above all, the president has made a loud statement to the effect that there is a shining star in Southeast Nigeria. And that star, is, Dist. Sen Hope Uzodimma.
Typical of presidential visits, the governor will present his wish-list to the august visitor. This is one list which so many state chief executives desire to present but cannot due to accessibility and allied factors. But today Thursday 9 September, 2021, our own inimitable Onwa Oyoko will have the singular honour and privilege to make the yearnings of Imolites known first hand to the visiting president. And this shows that no presidential visit is a waste. It is a great plus and boost to the state and her leadership.
I recall that it was in one of his presidential visits to Imo that President Olusegun Obasanjo was requested to effect a federal takeover of Alvan Ikoku College of Education. Today, that institution is a federal tertiary college.
We have the Kingsley Ozurumba Mbadiwe University which was nearly cornered by a dubious former chief executive. This may be the opportunity to beseech Mr President to consider it as a second Federal University in the state. This is justifiable as the state has the highest turnover of school leavers and university graduates.
Make no mistake about it; this presidential visit is a wonderful omen for Imo State. No one should be taken in by the antics of the opposition in Imo which has lately been thrown into confusion by the sterling strides of Dist. Sen Hope Uzodinma. They now resort to mournful monologues and meaningless pontifications.
Fundamentally, the impressive alliance with the centre has given Imo a great social boost. Most of the benefits are still streaming in. There are others that will come later.
And, only time, will tell the beautiful story of this economic partnership. God bless Imo State of Nigeria. And may God uphold the governor, our leader, Dist. Sen Hope Uzodinma.
- Hon Sam Osuji