Since 1983 when the late Sam Mbakwe was herded into abrupt political retirement, no thanks to the inglorious military coup that terminated his administration, Imo State has not been very lucky with democratic governance. The state had, since then, passed through four civilian governments starting with Evans Enwerem whose tenure was short-lived due to yet another military interregnum, to Achike Udenwa who tried to do a bit of infrastructure but without a clear-cut development plan.
Next came Ikedi Ohakim, whose innovative approach to development was promptly terminated by his brash display of youthful exuberance that ended up making him the most misunderstood governor in Imo history. After him came the maverick Rochas, (what’s the meaning of that name by the way?), who seemed to possess plenty of ideas but lacks the tact, finesse, decorum, and depth of character to allow those ideas to flourish and transmute into better lives for the good people of Imo.
Among the plethora of candidates aspiring to govern Imo people in 2019, only three men stand out in terms of political sagacity and visible structures: Hope Uzodinma of the ruling party, APC, Ifeanyi Ararume of APGA and Ikedi Ohakim of Accord Party. But of these three, only one seems to possess what it takes to bring Imo people back to the path of Mbakwe’s type of visionary and all-inclusive leadership: Senator Hope Odidika Uzodinma, the 50-something-year old son of a poor bread maker from a quiet small town called Omuma, near Awomamma, in Imo State.
Incidentally “odidika,” in the local dialect of the Oru nation where Omuma is situated, translates as “character is supreme.” (Odidi is a habit or attitude), while “Ka” means that which is “bigger” like Nneka (mother is supreme) or Chukwuka, (God is greater). All that a genuine leader needs to succeed is character with a dose of compassion and competence. A good leader does not need to pull down a library and replace it with a chapel. More often thing not, a man’s character shapes his destiny. A man’s ways, like the Bible says maketh way for him.
Love him, hate him, nobody can accuse Chief Hope Uzodinma of greed, wickedness or self-centeredness. Those who know him closely say that he is an epitome of compassion and philanthropy. A political entrepreneur with little or no time for malice and calumny, Uzodinma comes to the Imo gubernatorial race fully prepared with his eyes fixed on the ball ready and fit as a fiddle, to match and if possible, exceed the unbroken records of late Sam Mbakwe. He refuses to be carried away by the euphoria that greeted his “triumphant entry” into Owerri, the state capital, after the protracted and needless battle over the governorship ticket of the ruling party. To most Imolites who witnessed Uzodinma’s arrival from Abuja, the only event that compares with that was the arrival of Ikemba of Nnewi from exile in Ivory Coast way back in 1982.
That said, it becomes imperative for Imolites, irrespective of ethnic and partisan considerations to rally round him and ensure that he is voted into power in next year’s governorship election. Aside from his near permanent smile and harmless disposition, from my little glimpse of his plans, Hope is fully armed with a blueprint for the even development of the entire state using massive youth involvement of small and medium enterprises (SMES) as springboards.
The idea is to attack the ailing state like a military invasion, using the PPP (Public/Private Partnership) module, targeting key issues like steady electricity, genuine road construction, robust basic education, functional health insurance, food security and capacity-building among the workforce, both serving and retired.
Uzodimma, perhaps, more than the co-contestants (he detests the word “opponents”) boasts of a profound local and international business networks which he hopes to leverage on to jump- start the economic base and unlock thepotential of the youths. He sees work as fun and he is excited about great ideas and superior logic. As a homeboy who worked the family bakery to earn his school fees and who dared all odds to rise from grass to grace, Uzodinma knows that he has no room for indecision as he shops for the best brains that Imo can parade, in his quest to revamp the various systems that make up Imo.
For him, the clock will start ticking from the day he becomes governor. He says he cannot afford to waste time on such frivolities like empty slogans and false promises, rather he hopes to seek God’s blessing so that with the roadmap already put together by an impeccable think-tank, nothing can stop the strengthening of government apparatuses, revitalization of the people’s socio-economic well-being as well as the rebuilding of lost confidences. He hopes to achieve this lofty goal by maintaining a template for quality assurance, project monitoring, using qualified professionals as well as re-modeling the curriculum of our basic education with emphasis on value reorientation, science and technical education.
Chief Uzodinma, like the people’s general that he is, will lead by example. He will lead from the front too, so that within the four years of his governance, Imo will be transformed into one of the best states in the nation as to become the hub of the long-awaited south eastern states economic integration. By 2023, who knows, with the rising profile of the Onwa of Omuma, the anointed one and the reincarnate of Sam Mbakwe, Uzodinma may jolly well be getting ready to step in as the indisputable Igbo leader and everyone may demand that he goes to Abuja, this time to Aso Rock! After all, as the Igbo adage says “Uzo di mma, agaya ugboro abuo”, meaning that one good tenure deserves an even higher one!
Written by Toni Nnawugo, first published on Suns News Online.