GOV HOPE UZODINMA: ONE YEAR AFTER

BY: SAM OSUJI

When in mid-January 2020 Senator Hope Uzodinma mounted the saddle as governor following the landmark ruling of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, most Imolites were agog with joy. Their excitement was predicated on the antecedents of the governor as a humane and generous giver. These twin virtues were apparently lacking in the leaders the people had seen.

Their expectation was heightened even the more when in his maiden broadcast to the people of the state, the new governor declared that his government was envisioned to bring prosperity in Imo. Everyone of course was eager to be prosperous in a land where leaders had made it a fancy to reward only family members and friends.The prosperity the governor declared was going to run on the tripod wheel of reconstruction, recovery and rehabilitation. The broadcast was sound as it was inspiring.

No sooner had the young government settled down than Covid-19 broke loose sending a whirlwind of morbidity and mortality. This tragedy was as unsettling as it was distracting. Yet the young government of Sen Hope Uzodinma showed commendable courage and sagacity in containing the spread of the dreaded virus in the state. Manifesting the virtue of a whiz kid, the governor quickly activated public safety protocol to the fullest. In the end, Imo State was spared the trauma of community transmission. Not a few commended the young government for its proactiveness in containing the dreaded and dreadful pandemic. The brilliant move of the governor in doing this became one of the early lights that the leadership of Sen Hope Uzodinma was indeed prepared in knowledge and will to lead Imo State.

Unlike his predecessors who ruled in a period of oil boom and relative economic stability, Sen Hope Uzodinma came at a time when the economy of Nigeria was in tatters owing to the rapid fall in oil price in the internatoional market. Added to this was the fact that the young government met an empty treasury. There was equally a huge liability of over N200 billion which potentially posed a clog in the wheel. But like an astute and determined administrator, the governor did not raise any eye-brows at these hurdles and snares. To cap it up, there was no hand over notes of any form by the preceding government. All these conspired to pose a challenge. But the governor’s eyes were already focused on the ball hence he did not lose focus. He also did rarely whine or grumble on the issue.

Yet the government of Sen Uzodinma knew that government was a continuum and the people the centrepiece of leadership. This made him to go along with the projects of his predecessor, Chief Emeka Ihedioha. The governor was indeed unequivocal that contractors should return to site and continue their work. This was even when he had the option of booting them out as did his predecessors when they assumed office. The governor did not stop at that, he also retained the various probe committees inaugurated by the government of Ihedioha as they were in the interest of ndi-Imo.

Within a few months in office, the governor was able to commission a good number of road projects in the state. Through these roads, traffic was eased off in Owerri the capital city. Roads leading to Portharcourt and World Bank from Control Post, among others, were reopened for use. And Imolites were better for it. Markedly, it is only a man of uncommon will and purpose that could do this.

Then came the
challenge of the EndSars protest which was obviously hijacked by hoodlums to unleash mayhem on the state. Again the governor manifested courage and brilliance in nipping the menace in the bud. Evidently, the Imo helmsman was a step ahead as he promptly activated security measures to restore calm in all parts of the state. This also included the imposition of a guided restriction of movement and curfew for non-essential service providers in the state. The panache with which the governor tackled the EndSars challenge effectively deflated the convoluted and collateral damage that it would have caused. When after a few days absolute calm returned to the state, many citizens had the governor to thank.

There is the dignity of the civil service which the governor is steadily restoring. Already he had gifted them comfortable coaster buses to convey them to work and bring them back. This is intended to enhance the savings of the workers and improve service delivery. There is also another hefty promise of a housing scheme for Imo workers. Earlier, the governor had used almost two months to retrain all civil servants in the state for effective and efficient service delivery. This training was handled by a renowned firm in the state after which the participants received certificates of participation.

Like a man whose eyes are focused on the ball, the governor has remained undaunted in the face of a swell of conspiracy and sabotage. He also did not complain as he understands that uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. One by one, however, the governor has been responding to mindless critics with projects. Already, the governor has graciously flagged off the construction of two key road projects in the state, all of which are after all owned by the federal government. These are roads leading to Orlu and Okigwe from the capital city of Owerri. These roads as ambitious as they are had been carefully avoided by previous regimes on account of their complex cost implication, but the government Uzodinma has elected to undertake them to ease the suffering of Imolites on the roads, as well as improve the economy of the state as transportation is key to the survival of any economy.

Remarkably, the governor declared that he was not going to borrow a dime to fund the project of over N55b. This can only be done by a leader with uncommon purpose and projection.
The governor has also flagged off an urban renewal project in Owerri goaded to ease traffic on the major roads of the city; as well as improve the beauty of the city. The joy of it is that these projects are handled by firms that have a track record of performance and delivery. There are other ambitious projects already envisioned in the 2021 appropriation act which the governor has already signed into law. There is therefore sufficient indication that next year, 2021, will shine the light of bountiful harvest of prosperity and gargantuan infrastructure on Imolites.

There is no doubt that the corona virus pandemic and soaring food prices have created an unfair outlook for most governments the world over. Imolites are not insulated from these challenges. But the beauty of it all is that the state is governed by a man vast and knowledgeable in statecraft. There is no doubt that the ‘Egyptians we see today, we shall see no more’ as soon as possible. With all the armada of challenges, Gov Hope Uzodinma has remained unwavering. His kind is the crop of leaders the world need in times like this. There could be gray areas that may be improved on; but in general my takeaway is that Gov Uzodinma has shown sufficient courage and panache at service delivery. God bless Imo State.

Honourable Sam Osuji is the Special Adviser to the Governor on Agricultural loans and a member of Hope New and Electronic Media Center

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