By Dr Ugoji Egbujo
Many have no hope in Hope Uzodinma. He doesn’t inspire confidence. Many doubt he has genuine claims to the mandate, despite the Supreme Court.
But the mandate legally is his now. The law is such an ass, his opponents will say. Hope Uzodimma must know that his reputation has holes.
It has to be patched, stitched with exemplary performance. Beer parlors are filled with gossips about his past. So he must rise to the occasion and confound doubters. And confound those who have said that the Supreme Court has pushed Imo State onto a ‘one chance’ Danfo bus.
We all knew Ihedioha himself didn’t win the elections. We had watched one Professor Otunta, a professor of mathematics, who could not work out what the two thirds of 27 was, hand him a mandate he didn’t deserve.
A professor in broad day light confused school children with his abracadabra mathematics and announced Ihedioha winner of Imo governorship elections. And Ihedioha, well aware that he had a dubious mandate, marched around like an emperor, intimidating his political opponents and indulging himself in building 27 fancy stadia when there were 27 general hospitals waiting to be equipped. The gods must have been livid.
Hope Uzodinma must understand his handicaps. Ngige understood his when he broke from his godfather and became a political cow without a tail. So he started mopping the mess of the Okija shrine and doubts about whether he was a man or a houseboy with solid roads and sensitivity to the cries of the people.
Hope Uzodinma must forget his political hunchback and run with the people. He has been around for a long time but he has not been known for any political virtues or for foresightedness. He may have excelled in notice—me philanthropy but he has an opportunity to prove the skeptics wrong and show them he can be a genuine and honest leader.
I have seen Rochas Okorocha jubilating. Hope Uzodinma should reconcile with Rochas Okorocha and rebuild the party in the state.
But he must be careful in his romance with Okorocha. He must not adopt Okorocha’s Okachamara attitude and run another one man show bereft of standards and coherent policy making. Hope must run a transparent government that relies on the engine of the state’s civil service and institutions.
He must not copy Rochas and run the state from his family’s Obi or Ibari. He must not emulate Rochas Okorocha and fill Imo government with his brothers and in-laws. He can adopt the intensity of Rochas without imitating him in being flighty and superficial. I don’t have to remind him that greed kills.
Hope Uzodinma ought to complete the probes Ihedioha started. And recover all stolen assets. He cannot afford to be seen as the man that came to cover exposed corruption and free suspected thieves that had been identified. And since Ihedioha has set the standards, Hope must look to see if the Ihedioha government lived what they preached or whether they pulled wool over our eyes and milked it. But he must not adopt the Ihedioha-Jasper janjaweed methods in the recovery of stolen assets.
Imo needs foresightedness. That many have no hope in Hope Uzodinma does not inspire any confidence. So Hope, must hit the ground running, otherwise he could find the ground of public opinion slipping away from his feet before he has even settled.
Hope can do a few things quickly to instill hope. He must equip and commission the 27 general hospitals in Imo state. They are rotting away while children are perishing from preventable diseases. If the state can’t run them, he should concession them quickly.
Imo must re organise its ministries and agencies that went moribund under Rochas Okorocha. The civil service of Imo state is a dilapidated fuel-guzzling Bolekaja. Hope must find courage from somewhere and prune it. It embarrasses men of good conscience when at every roundabout in Owerri 40 people, in all kinds of uniforms, who draw salaries from the state government, loiter, doing nothing , begging for money in the name of traffic control.
Hope Uzodinma must prioritize data collection. His interventions ought to be well thought out and evidence based. The arbitrariness of the past must be banished. He must seek to build a government that has integrity.
And need I tell him? Kidnapping must be eliminated.
Hope must not fall into the temptation of using refusal disposal to bleed the state like some of his predecessors. Imo is not Rivers state. Imo does not have the funds to be thrown around or siphoned through bogus projects. He can keep Owerri clean with one or two smart waste management companies at a godly cost.
A town is an organism. You can teach a child to dance but every child will ultimately choose his own rhythm, develop his own preferred dance steps.
Owerri has chosen oriri na nkwori—hospitality. Aba and Onitsha chose business. Hope must help Owerri become the hospitality/entertainment headquarters of West Africa. So the government must help the private sector develop capacity, brains and hands, for five star hospitality.
Open air theaters would help. A modern city library will help. Zoos and parks will help. Vocational training schools in and around Owerri for hotel and tourism will help. Oguta lake development will improve the traffic of tourists. He can give out free land for big bookshops. Boxing and football matches must come to Owerri.
He must fix Owerri roads. And fix them to last. The Okigwe-Owerri-Orlu ring must be done to Julius Berger standards.
And he must not forget Orodo. Biko !
Imo was a civil service state for a long time. So it’s important that salaries of civil servants and pensions of retirees are paid promptly.
Father Mbaka, the fortune teller, had told us that Hope was coming to bring hope. Let him tell Hope, now that Hope has come, that the people are watching to see the folks Hope will surround himself with. Once they see them, they will know if they can truly hope.