By Declan Emelumba
The fact that remains indisputable is that Senator Hope Uzodimma is the governor of Imo State. Those deluding themselves, calling his government illegitimate, may continue to revel in denial, but Uzodimma will continue to exercise his power as governor of Imo State till the end of his tenure. With this in mind, the vile propaganda being mounted by the Peoples Demicratic Party (PDP) through its hirelings, including one charlatan called Collins Opurozor, will never change fact and history. Blowing hot air, dishing insults and desecrating the office of the governor will not bring Emeka Ihedioha and PDP back to power.
It is unfortunate that, two years after Ihedioha was sacked by the Supreme Court based on facts that he was not the validly elected governor of Imo State, himself, PDP and cheerleaders are yet to come to terms with this simple fact. Truth be told: The real usurper of that position is the man who sought to govern Imo with results from three local governments, thus negating the constitutional requirements for victory. But for them to continue to whine over a filched mandate, which was recovered by the Supreme Court, means that they are the real desperados. It’s funny also that, at the approach of the anniversary of Uzodimma’s administration, PDP and its agents will rev their disinformation machinery with the aim of deceiving the unwary.
For instance, last year, just as the governor was about to commence the inauguration of projects, the issues of insecurity came up. Imo came under serious bombardment by criminal elements. Nevertheless, the roads and other projects were inaugurated, to their shame. But discerning minds knew there was a correlation between the security breaches and the brazen and virulent attacks by the PDP and other opposition elements. The same thing is playing out this year as the administration celebrates its second anniversary with a litany of achievements. But the difference is that the security forces are alert to deal decisively with troublemakers, hence the resort to unsubstantiated falsehood against the government by the PDP.
Is it not laughable that the chief security officer of the state is being accused of having a hit squad by a man whose right-hand man has been fingered as the financier of the criminals terrorising the state? For PDP to parrot this infantile allegation confirms what is in the public domain: that they are colluding to cause havoc in the state. After all, these same characters had openly vowed to make the state ungovernable for Uzodinma.
But because they are bereft of any modicum of intelligence and decency, these PDP agents are concocting and repeating the same falsehood with the vain hope that lies told severally will turn to truth. And because they are driven by hatred, bitterness and envy, they have become blind to the tremendous successes recorded by the Uzodinma administration in the last two years.
Take, for instance, the hogwash howling of Uzodinma having plunged Imo into debt. What was the debt profile of Imo State when Emperor Okorocha departed in 2019? It was N97 billion in March 2019. Just seven months of illegal occupation of the Government House by Ihedioha and PDP, the debt profile ballooned to N164b. The record from the Debt Management Office shows that as, at September 2021, under the watch of the Uzodimma administration the debt profile of Imo State was N151b. It has not been rising, but reducing. PDP will not tell you that.
They will also not tell you that the so-called 26 per cent recommended by UNESCO to countries to allocate to education from the annual budget is simply advisory and not binding. Even the Federal Government of Nigeria has not adhered to it. Countries and governments all over the world tailor their budgets to suit their peculiarities and priorities. Imo State Government remains alive to its responsibility towards education. Comparing Nasarawa state to Imo is actually the height of ignorance. What is the educational ratio between the two states? What are the developmental indices? Imo remains far ahead in terms of number of schools and teachers. No parameter used can put Nasarawa ahead of Imo. While it is quite easy to deceive people with bogus statistics, let it be known that even the illegal government of PDP did not allocate 26 per cent to education in the 2020 budget.
They also didn’t make any attempt to revive Adapalm Nigeria Limited, which Uzodimma did. Quoting the general manager of Adapalm Ni Ltd out of context cannot fly because Uzodimma has invested a lot to revive the company, which is now engaged in massive production. Adapalm is not the only company being revived. Uzodimma has paid off the debt owed AMCON to pave the way for the revitalization of the shoe factory at Amakohia. Avutu Poultry is next in line. These are not done to impress PDP but to strengthen the economy of the state.
The actual youths of Imo State are appreciative of what Uzodimma has done to take some of them off the unemployment market. It’s pure madness for PDP to bandy unverified statistics that made Imo tate the capital of unemployment in Nigeria. Is it that Uzodimma sacked some workers or that he stopped the private sector from engaging workers? This pedestrian postulation negates the global economic realities occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. At any rate, Uzodimma has worked assiduously to empower Imo youths in skills, thus making them employers of labour. He is teaching them to fish, instead of dashing them fish in the manner of ‘share-the-money,’ a la PDP.
It is the same way that he has taken seriously the welfare of Imo workers at all levels, and pensioners. Unlike in the past when PDP was paying consultants N500 million monthly for compilation of padded payroll, Uzodinma is directly paying the workers, including the historic 13th month salary last December. Seeing that their sponsored protests and demonstrations have failed, barefaced lies have become the only available tool for PDP.
It is the height of irresponsibility and crass ignorance for the PDP to accuse the Uzodimma administration of budgetary fraud. They claim that two agencies of government had budgetary provisions without evidence of implementation. Again, the party childishly claimed that over N1 billlion was spent canvassing for foreign loans and that, when it came, Imo was not among the three South East states that benefited. What a show of putrid ignorance! The truth, which the PDP is unable to live with, is that the Uzodimma government has received grants from the World Bank amounting to millions of dollars for transparent budgetary system. This is known as the States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme. This is a World Bank project and Imo State has benefited for two consecutive years now, that is, under Uzodimma’s watch. It never happened under Ihedioha.
Again, the selective amnesia and perceptions, which members of the PDP are suffering, will not allow them to take a trip to Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Orlu, to see things for themselves that, contrary to their wild claim, the state indeed has specialists for the treatment of cancer, heart diseases and the likes. I only hope that Imo women will not stone them for claiming that all of them are now cancer patients. I also don’t know how Uzodimma is responsible for the fabled low life expectancy that the PDP hack writers are parroting. What I do know is that these are a bunch of bad losers who will continue to wish that they were in charge long after the ship had sailed. No amount of propaganda, misinformation or character assassination will distract Uzodimma from remaining focused in delivering his shared prosperity agenda to Imo people. His score card as read out in the recent stakeholders’ forum is there as evidence. But those inflicted with the blindness of bitterness and vengeance are not expected to see the achievements. And no one is surprised.
•Emelumba is commissioner for information and strategy, Imo State