Raxy E. Ekwebelam
The current administration in Imo State under Senator Hope Uzodinma recently marked its 100 days in office. There have been efforts by supporters or opponents to express their views regarding the achievements of the administration within this short period. But the milestone also presents a platform to rally the people of Imo State as critical stakeholders in the administration. Sentiments apart, the time has come for the people to realise that elections are over, and it is time to face a non-partisan reality. That reality is that it is in the interest of the people to support the Uzodinma-led administration. If such support is withheld and the administration performs woefully, the governor could, as bizarre as it might seem, still be asked to repeat as the people of Edo State did under Lucky Igbinedion. It would mean that head or tail the governor wins, so why not give him the necessary support to at least do something meaningful for the citizenry. In other words, it would be an own-goal for any citizen, no matter their political affiliation, to work against the success of the current administration. Nothing good can come out of it! At the same time, genuine and constructive criticisms should also not be misconstrued as an attempt to pull the administration down.
Currently, the citizens of Imo have no other governor than Uzodinma. Like him or loath him, he symbolizes the collective aspiration of the people to experience a better quality of life in key areas. Yet he can only deliver positive and enduring outcomes if allowed to keep his eyes on the ball. Doing so is a prerequisite for good governance. Imo citizens have long craved a caring, sensitive and inclusive administration and, God helping him, Uzodinma might end up giving it to them.
The penchant to dismiss the governor or denigrate the high office that he holds or the authority that resides within the office is defeatist and illogical. Innuendoes about the circumstances of his emergence areequally needless, as they add nothing to the value chain of governance or citizenship, and the proponents must find them boring by now. Truth be told, Douglas House, Owerri – the seat of power-belongs to the people and any citizen has a right to aspire to get there. It does not belong to any politician no matter how seemingly altruistic their intention, ambition or clamour. It is a case of “Soldier go and soldier come, but barracks remain”. Therefore, fanning the embers of disunity or orchestrating hate campaigns as a result of anyunrelieved fixation on Douglas House is tantamount to shadow-boxing. It can neither help the orchestrator northe people. In the same vein, primordial considerations as to whether the governor is from Owerri or Orlu should not matter in a 21st Century Imo State. It is even worse to wish the state and its leadership evil simply because one’s political group ‘outsmarted’the others.
Whatever happened to honour among ‘thieves’? Interestingly, for the second time in Imo political shenanigans, followers of the Ikiri School of thought were forced to give up something they thought they had already secured thereby making a mockery of the witty, tight-fisted creature they claim to personify. What manner of predators! What manner of hunters!
Now that the electoral ‘storm’ is over, is it not yet time to embrace calm, love and unity of purpose, for united we stand? Shouldn’t the focus be on how and if the dividends of democracy would reach the nooks and crannies of the state? That there is massive poverty in the land is not in doubt. Consequently, the population of those at risk due to overall poor life outcomes is high. This has resulted from a consistent failure of governance that has taken away the dignity of an otherwise proud, determined and hardworking people. Now, across the 27 Local Government Areas, hunger pervades, and the people succumb to basic ailments that should have no business prevailing against them. The sad correlation to this is that mortuaries that used to be rare enterprises in the state are nowrampant cash cows.Even the children are no longer scared of the spectacle of a cadaver no matter how gory.
As if these are not symptomatic enough of leadership or systemic failure, there is a dearth of functional and reliable state-owned health facilities to cater to the health needs of the people. Schools that in the past produced some of the narcissists and political noisemakers in the state are now decrepit, eye watering, and can hardly boastof competent and conscientious teachers. Those whose physical structures are still ‘standing’ depend on the modest interventions of the Old Students Associations despite annual budgetary allocations to Education.
As though the foregoing is not worrisome enough, the rainy season isgearing up to empty its incontinence of traditional flooding across the state. Most communities would be completely isolated not due to COVID-19, but due to bad roads and the force of erosion. In the circumstance, the pervasive hunger and deprivation in the land could be exacerbated.So, what the people, forever trembling under the jackboots of heartless and imperious political gladiators masquerading as selfless leaders,need is functional infrastructure through which they can eke out a fairly decent living. They also need effective health, educational, housing delivery systems, as well as other dividends of democracy. They expect Onwa Oyoko to rise up and make his mandate count without being encumbered by unnecessary self-serving hysteria, stampede or other forms of distraction.
Thus, it is fruitless and unpatriotic to orchestrate anti-Uzodinma sentiments as a way of gaining political pound of flesh. The rhetoric would solve nothing. Sloganeering too, would solve nothing. It is akin to a tale told by a fool, full of sound and fury and, as Shakespeare would say, in the end it signifies nothing. The political will and financial wherewithal to transform the lives of the citizens, unequivocally rest with the man currently with the mandate to govern. So, attempting to embarrass or denigrate his office by labelling him ‘Supreme Court Governor’ would not change anything, neither would it cater to the wellbeing of Imo citizens. There can be only one governor at a time and Uzodinma is it today. Nothing is going to change that at least for the next four years. He needs all the goodwill he can get to succeed, especially at a time like this, and his success is the success of Imo.
Dr. Ekwebelam, a public policy analyst, writes from Abuja