By Toni Wakiki Akuneme
The deluge of felicitations that greeted the recent low key celebration to mark the 62nd birthday of His Excellency, Governor Hope Odidika Uzodinma in Owerri did not come as a surprise, not just because of his status as governor, or former senator, but indeed because he has always lived his life for his people right from his youthful days.
Uzodinma’s philanthropic gestures run in his veins as he is known to be always willing to share his last penny to make everyone around him happy. His struggle for self determination from his early days till date, stands him out among his peers as a man who in spite of his humble beginnings and fair share of life’s weaknesses, continued to aim at the top, putting God first always and like the biblical David, always running back to God to ask for mercy and compassion, which perhaps has remained his greatest asset and secret in that journey of life.
Odidika, as his parents named him (meaning, to be alive is more important than anything else) has been through thick and thin and has never pretended to be perfect, but has carried on like a man with a divine covenant to lay down his life for his people. Like the several biblical stories that showed men and woman who God used to touch their generations, in spite or themselves, God seems to have also decided to use Uzodinma to uplift Imo people after nearly 40 years in political wilderness.
Joseph was from a lowly background and was so hated and envied by even his own siblings. He went to jail for what he knew nothing about. His gifts of interpreting dreams correctly brought him face to face with Pharaoh the King who had troubling nightmares and needed them interpreted (reminds me of Uzodinma chance meeting with Late Sani Abacha when Uzodinma’s was barely 30years old), Joseph was so humble he did not allow his gifts to get into his head. He acknowledged God as the giver of talents and never took Gods glory, even before the King. (Humility takes a man to the top).
Look at the story of Esther, an orphan who was raised by her uncle Mordecai who never knew that Esther would be later chosen to lead her people (reminds me of one man from Uzodinma’s village called “Alhaji” who just liked him as a small boy and took him to Port-Harcourt after college to be his bakery boy, from where Uzodinma saved up some funds to proceed to Lagos to start his own business). Never mess with those whom God has placed under your care; you never know what or whom they may become tomorrow.
So the simple lesson from all the above is that God can use anybody to bring succor to his people and thereby bring glory to his name, and if God can use Abraham and Moses and Solomon and David and Joseph and Mordecai and Esther, then who says God cannot use the Son of Uzodinma, in spite of his background?
The bottom line is that nobody can decide for God whom to bless or show his mercy, and Uzodinma seems to have long mastered these principles of God which has continued to guide him from childhood till date. Principles like remaining focused and determined in the quest to succeed; principles like being patient and waiting on God knowing that He is a God of due season and has the final say on what any one will be, in spite of what the world thinks about (Uzodinma waited for 17years to fulfill his dreams of being a Governor); principles like being a cheerful giver and using ones resources to bring succor to Gods children, knowing that heaven usually opens upon anyone who gives to the poor,(the bible says that he who gives to the poor, lends to God, so God has been owing Uzodinma for long); principles like knowing your gifts and also knowing your weaknesses and looking up to the holy spirit for wisdom, because once a man carry’s Gods anointing it attracts both negative and positive people around him but with the gift of discernment from the holy spirit one will always rise to the top in spite of all the draw backs. (See Psalm 41, verse 1 and Genesis 4 verse 16).
Thus, the bottom line is that God chooses whom to bestow his goodness and mercies upon and no man can change that fact. It does therefore go without saying, that men (sinful men) like Hope Odidika Uzodinma are operating in the spiritual realm, with God’s grace and mercy.
In the last 365 days of the shared prosperity administration in Imo state, a lot has indeed been done! For instance, reforming of the Justice Administration system, such that the poor can access justice equally and in good time just as the rich; renewal of the urban capital city of Owerri with better road maintenance and modern drainage systems as well as street lights and traffic lights that are now being obeyed; major road constructions in Okigwe and Orlu senatorial zones by a world class firm called Craneburg; free bus rides to and from work for all civil servants; automation of salaries and pensions with the billions of naira being saved therefrom, with the total elimination of the ghost worker/pensioner cankerworms; attraction of foreign investments in the oil sector, agriculture, construction, health, education and so on, most of which will begin to manifest fully post COVID; reducing the cost of governance as all avenues for wasteful spending of funds have been blocked with the introduction of The Single Treasury Account System (TSA).
Governor Uzodinma who has made it clear that he is more interested in service delivery than scheming for 2nd term, has successfully cleared arrears of salaries of 40,000 workers, out of the 46,000 workforce and has also paid 21,000 pensioners up to December, 2020. The few who are yet to be paid are mostly those with one irregularity or the other such as using their spouse’s BVN, dormant bank accounts, using the BVN of microfinance banks, falsification or tampering of records of service, etc. The governor has however assured that everyone who is cleared will be paid in full in the coming weeks and months, as he has vowed repeatedly never to tamper with “blood money”, which is the way he describes salaries and pensions.
It is our fervent prayer that the same God who has brought Uzodinma this far, will grant him the enablement to discharge his duties without fear or favor, so help us God.
Who knows, may be God has higher plans for his son. If Uzodinma performs beyond the expectations of Imolites in his first four years, God can send him to Abuja to save Nigeria too. Who knows? If God can use anybody, god can also use the bread boy from Omuma called Odidika!
Chief Toni Akuneme (Ochendo of Awomamma) writes from Imo State