By Emeka Alex Duru
The video of Imo State governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, his wife and supporters dancing in celebration of the governor’s victory in the November 11 governorship election in the state, is quite instructive. It tells more stories than could easily be decoded.
Winning an election in Nigeria, is not a tea party. It takes a lot and entails a lot. Imo case is not different. So, the governor had every reason to celebrate; and he did. Knowing where he was coming from, equally made the mini party understandable. Ordinarily, the air of excitement should involve the people – the real people, not the ubiquitous supporters of Any Government In Power (AGIP), some of whom were sighted in the video. The victory should indicate an assurance of continuity in programmes and policies aimed at the progress and development of the state. It should ensure sustenance of the lofty projects of an administration. Let us assume that those could be the reasons for the governor’s animation.
Then, the other side – perhaps, the most important angle; the nagging question by citizens and concerned Nigerians on what happens to the state in the next four years. That, really, is the crux of the matter. Imo deserves urgent attention. The election is over, despite the controversies and disagreements on the process. It is now a moment for governance and nation building.
What bothers the people more is what happens next. You can only hail from Imo, reside in it or have dealings with the state to appreciate the concern of the citizens on the probable turn of events in the days and years ahead. At the heart of it all, is the cycle of insecurity and bloodletting that has enveloped the state in the last three and half years. That has become a dilemma that has grown to a morbid fear among the people and a huge challenge before the governor.
Shorn of fleeting genuflections and dubious display of loyalty by aides and hawkish hangers-on, in his quiet moments, I am not sure that the current atmosphere in Imo, is what Uzodimma had dreamt of in coming to office. There is no true warrior that craves to be remembered as hero of a wasteland. Imo may not have fallen to that irredeemable point but developments in the state, are quite scary.
On June 4, 2021, I did a piece; “Imo cannot remain in this state”. The outing was prompted by an enquiry from a colleague from a neighbouring state, who was troubled by the reports of security challenges in the state and Orlu zone in particular. He sought to know if it was wise and safe for him to attend the burial of his father-in-law in Nkwerre, a neighbouring town to Orlu, as tradition demanded with his kinsmen, sneak in alone or better, stay away. I was literally deflated by those questions. From the moment he hung up, it dawned on me the extent, Imo, my state had become an object of derision and disdain, among people within and outside. Nothing can really hurt, as one being reminded of how ugly he is.
Before then, events in Orlu, the largest senatorial district in the state, had prompted the piece, “Orlu does not deserve this stress!” It was informed by eruptions in which the tranquil environment of the city was shattered, on Monday, January 25, 2021, following bloody clashes between security agents and suspected militants. Many were reported dead and/or wounded in the fracas.
In a move to check the situation, the governor, in a broadcast, imposed a dusk to dawn curfew (6 pm to 6 am) in the following Local Government Areas of Orlu zone; namely; Orlu, Orsu, Oru East, Oru West, Ideato North, Ideato South, Njaba, Isu, Nwangele and Nkwerre. The curfew which took immediate effect, saw indigenes and travelers to the affected communities, stranded. That climate of uncertainty prevails in the city. Uzodimma, incidentally, is from Orlu. So also, his predecessors, Rochas Okorocha and Achike Udenwa.
Elsewhere in Ihitte-Uboma, Umunakara, Ehime-Mbano, Ngor-Okpuala, Irette, Izombe, Oguta and other parts of the state, tales of insecurity resonated. The immediate result is the exodus of human/material resources and the consequent slide on the economy of the state.
Of course, you cannot entirely blame the governor for the uncertainties in the state. He cannot also be entirely excused. The buck, as they say, stops on his desk. To whom much is given, much is expected from. Governance is about the welfare and security of the people. Government provides security for the people as its side of the bargain, while demanding loyalty from them.
The immediate agenda for Governor Uzodimma should be finding a solution to the already bad situation in the state. The beauty of his victory in the November 11 election, is that he has surmounted the discouraging tag of “Supreme Court Governor” and all that it represented. Even with disputations from his co-contestants and critics on the processes leading to his reelection, Uzodimma can now lay claims of having the mandate of the people to govern them. This should make him stand on his own and see the entire state as his constituency. Nothing humbles a man as assumption of responsibility. And the governor has a surfeit of it, in Imo. The ‘war’, in all ramifications, is over between him and whatever enemies in the state – real or imagined. It is no longer an issue of us and them. He is the man on the spot. And history is taking note of his actions and inactions.
Uzodimma has a lot to pick from Number 47 of Robert Greene’s classic, “The 48 Laws to Power”, which urges moderation in goals and management of victory. It says; “The moment of victory is often the moment of peril. In the heat of victory, arrogance and overconfidence can push you past the goals you had aimed for, and by going too far, you make more enemies than you defeat. Do not allow success to go to your head. There is no substitute for strategy and careful planning. Set a goal, and when you reach it, stop”.
Onwa, as Uzodimma is called, had set a goal of being a governor, not with the aid of the Court, this time, but through the ballots. He can be said to have attained that goal. An athlete that braces the tape has nothing more to prove in a race. For the governor, there is nothing more to go for other than to bring down the tension in the state and assure the people of good governance in the next four years.
*DURU is the Editor, TheNiche Newspapers, Lagos