The Hunchback on Hope Uzodinma.
By Chido Nwakanma
On 6 February 2020, I wrote on the moral and strategic challenge before Hope Uzodinma as governor. As soon as the piece appeared, the governor’s spokesman dived into the gutter with the hackneyed accusation. “You wrote at the behest of political enemies.”
It is such a moronic cliche nowadays for former journalists as spokespeople to accuse their erstwhile colleagues. You wonder if that is how they practised!
Political enemies are the battle cry of Douglas House, Owerri. After each false accusation or every incident, Owerri reverts to the omnibus “political enemies”.
Well, one year later, has “The hunchback on Hope Uzodinma” reduced, cleared or increased in size and significance? Have his actions restored hope and confidence in Imo State or done the opposite?
Governor Hope Uzodinma needs to find a reliable compass for steering the ship MV Imo State more than ever before.
Closeness to PMB has proven not to be reliable.
The stakes are higher. Douglas House must get political friends in large numbers. The stakeholders abound in all parts of the state and only need mobilisation through proper actions and engagement. It is critical now for Alaigbo beyond Imo State.
The hunchback on Hope Uzodimma
THE PUBLIC SPHERE with Chido Nwakanma
Former Senator Hope Uzodinma attracts more than his fair share of attention in his new capacity as Governor of Imo State because of the manner of his ascension to the post. It was a judicial heist. He is the receiver of a mandate that Imo State citizens did not give.
Uzodinma carries a giant hunchback of negative perceptions into his occupation of the Governor’s Office in Imo State. As the days go by and the reality of his residency at Douglas House sinks in, citizens and watchers of Imo State wonder what he will or will not do. It is essential to understand why.
The second term of former governor Rochas Okorocha left many Imo State citizens bewildered. It exposed and presented the Government and governance as trickery and mockery. They contended with many barefaced lies and broken promises. They lived in a new moral universe.
In eight months, Emeka Ihedioha and his team worked valiantly at rekindling hope in the citizens. Ndi Imo began, once again, a deliberate attempt at investing trust in Government and governance. They saw possibilities. Elite and masses agreed on the need to work together for a new direction.
Then Hope Uzodinma struck with the wondrous 388 electoral units and the fiction of the Supreme Court. That judgement is loading in the Guinness Book of Records for the infamy of having more votes than voters.
As a man under a halo, Mr Uzodinma should tread warily. His inaugural statement was full of sound and fury. It did not articulate any plans and programmes.
Since then, Governor Hope Uzodinma has made the appropriate noises and some actions. He is growing in confidence and doing some things right. It is in the area of those promises that he should tread with caution. On January 28, Douglas House announced that Uzodinma would forfeit his security vote entitlement to ensure workers’ payment and tackle other pressing issues in Imo State. The alleged sacrifice is because of the financial limitations of the state.
It was a subtle jab at populism. Unfortunately, it is one of those sound and fury statements. As George Orwell noted in 1946, “Political language — and with variations, this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
What does it mean in concrete terms for a governor to state that he would forfeit his security vote? It amounts to making the wind appear like a solid. The security vote is a secret sum known only to the governor and his kitchen cabinet. It is not subject to auditing, nor is there any accountability to it. Such a subhead cannot possibly be the basis of any promise.
Furthermore, it is curious to hear of alleged challenges with the finances of Imo State necessitating this enormous sacrifice for which citizens need to hail the governor. In eight months, the immediate past administration did not speak of any such challenges. Instead, they outlined programmes and plans and went ahead with the execution.
Unfortunately for Uzodinma, comparisons would trail every action and pronouncement that he makes. It is the nature of these matters.
Citizens would also pay attention to the moral tone of the state under Uzodinma. The report card does not look good thus far. Members of the Imo State House of Assembly confirmed the characterisation of politicians as scoundrels and harlots by moving en masse to the All Progressives Congress Party. They came from both the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Grand Alliance.
House of Assembly Speaker Collins Chiji claimed that the members defected because of the alleged personality of the governor. The word on the streets of Owerri reads something more dubious. What fib! “Imo State House of Assembly comprises 27 lawmakers, but as I speak to you now, 26 of us have joined the APC because of our governor. Nine lawmakers joined immediately the Supreme Court delivered judgement in our governor’s favour. On the next legislative day, eight more lawmakers defected to the APC. Just watch what will happen on the next legislative day; more lawmakers who have not defected will defect, making it 26 APC lawmakers.”
The Imo State House of Assembly banks on the alleged closeness of Governor Uzodinma to President Muhammadu Buhari for significant progress. It is unclear how this would translate beyond constitutional provisions.
Imo State brings to the fore again one of the core issues of concern for Alaigbo. Questions of character and values are critical and contributory to the conduct and perception of a people. Imo State. Imo State. Imo State. Chai!
Governor Uzodinma would need clear pronouncements and even better actions to remove the hunch back he carries. He should set to work and surprise all those who doubt both his motivation and capacity. What a pleasant surprise it would be for Imo State and the narrative of governance in Alaigbo for Uzodinma to turn out right no matter how long he stays on the seat.+ Best of luck.