By Emeka Obasi
Imo State governor, Hope Uzodinma, missed an opportunity to push for fair play in Federal Government appointments when Senate President Ahmed Lawan visited Owerri recently. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was also in the state.
Uzodinma feels very much at home with Lawan, having served as senator for eight years between 2011 and 2019. While in Abuja, the governor was active and led at least, two committees, Aviation and Customs, Excise and Tariff.
As the older of the APC governors of the South-East, I thought Mr. Governor would advise the Senate President on the need to adhere to the Federal Character principle in confirming nominees sent from Aso Villa in view of the frightening security situation in the country.
Take the paramilitary agencies for instance. All ten, from the Police to Correctional Services, are headed by Northerners. When Prof. Osinbajo and Alhaji Lawan arrived Owerri, nomination of Controller General, Nigerian Correctional Service had not been confirmed by the Senate.
It was an opportunity for Uzodinma to discuss with Lawan since no South-East officer was deemed good enough to be made Service Chief or Controller General. This is injustice because there are many from the zone who had shown exceptional brilliance even in interviews for top jobs but were overlooked.
And I am sure a word well spoken would have alerted Lawan once again, to the most annoying relegation of the South-East by the Senate under his watch. It is nauseating that the Federal Character part of governance has been murdered by this regime , from Executive to Legislature.
It is not too late. I am hopeful that Hope will do something about the paramiltary agencies as it affects his people. I do not care how he goes about it, it is a task that must be done. People are watching.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Interior, Kashim Shettima, needs to be reminded of the past. He is one man I have come to respect not just because of his Zenith bank background. His choice of Babagana Zulum as successor in Borno State is commendable.
Now if an Igbo man, Tim Ifeanyi Onwuatuegwu, spared Governor Kashim Ibrahim’s live during the January 15, 1966 coup, it does not help matters that as committe chairman, no Igbo name has crossed his desk for consideration as Controller General.
Sir Kashim Ibrahim was the governor of the Northern Region in the first Republic. His son, Kashim Shettima, is the immediate past governor of Borno State as well as Chairman of Senate Committee on Interior that screened the Controller General, Nigerian Correctional Service.
This is injustice because there are many from the zone who had shown exceptional brilliance even in interviews for top jobs but were overlooked
During the January 1966 coup, Chukwuma Nzeogwu assassinated Sir Ahmadu Bello, Premier of Northern Region in a bloodbath that consumed more than seven persons. Onwuatuegwu performed the same gory ritual at the home of Commander 1 Brigade Kaduna, Brig. Samuel Ademulegun.
The same Onwuatuegwu who arrested Sir Kashim Ibrahim offered to die in place of the governor when soldiers under him threatened to harm the old man.
It is a big shame that these perceived irregularities are happening when there is a Federal Character Commission. Worse still, chairperson of the body, Muheeeda Dankaka Offo, from Offa in Kwara South Senatoral District has not been of help.
Last year, she was alleged to have filled the commission with candidates from her area during a tortous recruitment exercise. I guess some members of the 38- member board like Tobias Chukwuemeka, Uche Ibeabuchi, Uche Diogu, Henry Ogbulogo and Ginika Florence Tor are watching.
Governor Uzodinma must attract appointments and Federal presence to Imo. As a former Chairman of Senate Committee on Aviation, I urge him to make sure the Sam Mbakwe Airport goes international soonest.
The Airport is one of the busiest in the country at the moment and could become the Second busiest after Lagos. The Igbo man has aviation pedigree. Airstrip Annabelle, Uli was the second busiest airport in Africa even at war time.
Oguta deserves a Naval base. What we have at Onitsha and Owerrinta are baby bases. Uzodinma should continue from where Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe stopped in 1986.
The Navy knows the importance of Oguta in its war records. That was the only land and sea battle that involved a Head of State, Gen. Emeka Ojukwu of Biafra and three of his Service Chiefs, Philip Effiong, Alex Madiebo and Wilfred Anuku respectively.
In what was known as ‘ Operation Now or Never’, the Biafrans fought their last sea battle. That was how Allison Madueke became a household name. The Inyi, Oji River seaman, maintains that he is a Biafran hero even when some accounts allege that he crossed over to Nigeria.
Hope needs to restore Hope by fighting for the South-East. He was sworn in on January 15, 2020. The war ended on January 15, 1970. Odidika was born on December 12,1958. Enyimba won the CAF Champions League on December 12, 2003 and won again, same date in 2004. We keep records. Dates mean a lot.