By Wilfred Eya
Amid obvious challenges, the Imo State governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, recently celebrated one year in office. Since the All Progressives Congress(APC) took over the reins of leadership in the state, it had literally been one day, one trouble for the governor. What seemed like the peak of his headache was the recent torching of the Imo police headquarters and freeing of inmates at the state’s Correctional centre, Owerri. Such development was hitherto, unprecedented in the history of the state.
For those familiar with the state, Imo with its capital in Owerri has always been a bustling city with some of the most popular landmarks. It was one of the earliest states created on February 3rd, 1976 during the era of military rule in Nigeria. Little wonder Imo has the acronym, “Eastern heartland.”
With its administrative organs spanning across 27 local government areas, the state is known to be relatively peaceful and a tropical paradise for tourists and visitors.
It is in view of all the potentials of the state that many, especially those from the South East are worried about the recent crises of insecurity in Imo.
However, Governor Uzodimma appears undaunted and is poised to overcome the hurdles before his administration. He believes in the words of a great thinker, Lao Tzu that: “Adversity is inevitable, but difficulties or misfortunes don’t have to keep you from achieving your intended goals and finding the happiness you seek in business and in life.”
The governor has ensured that Imo witnesses a lot of infrastructural revolution especially in road construction and rehabilitation in the last one year. During the one year anniversary, many dignitaries were on hand to commission various road projects in the state.
President Muhammadu Buhari commended Uzodimma on the inauguration of road projects which will provide infrastructure and improve the welfare of the people.
The President who spoke at a virtual inauguration urged the governor to sustain the momentum and accelerate the pace of good governance in the state.
He said: “I feel happy to learn from Governor Uzodinma that the policies of our administration and the manifesto of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), have greatly influenced his resolve to make a difference in Imo State. I pray that you will keep the flag flying.”
He applauded the governor on the completion of the Assumpta to Hospital junction road and the World Bank to Federal Secretariat road, respectively.
He described the two roads commissioned on his behalf by the Imo governor as quite symbolic and strategic. The first road, Assumpta to Hospital junction road, is the gateway to the South-South from the South-East.
“The second road, the World Bank to Federal Secretariat road, is an important access way to the Federal Government secretariat and a major connecting link road between the residents of the densely populated World Bank area of the state and the rest of the state capital,’’ he added.
President Buhari said he was aware that in the first year in office, the Imo State government had embarked on an ‘ambitious target of executing 46 road projects’.
“I am glad to learn that significant strides are being made towards their completion, and a number of them are amongst those being commissioned as part of the events in honour of the one-year anniversary.
“I must commend the state government, under the leadership of Sen. Hope Uzodinma, for setting ambitious targets and within just one year in the office using this moment to evaluate the journey thus far.
“It clearly demonstrates the commitment of the government to the welfare of the people”, the President noted.
Speaking when he received the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo during the commissioning of the Dick Tiger road and Dick Tiger Street, Governor Uzodimma noted that before the advent of his administration, almost all the roads in the state were not motorable, hence, commuters and motorists groaned under roads that were nothing but death traps.
The movement of goods and services, he said, were hampered, hence, the state government had to intervene urgently to reverse the ugly trend. He said: “As I speak, we have a total of 46 quality roads, completed or nearing completion, and still counting. Our vision is to ensure easy movement of goods and services across the 27 local government areas of the state and by extension, the neighbouring states. We equally expect that our roads revolution will not only boost commerce but real estate and other small-scale businesses as well.
“With what we have achieved in all sectors in the last one year, we have become a living example of what an APC government can do for our people of the South East. As the oldest APC government in Igboland, we have become the torchbearer of the party, spreading the gospel of development with our sterling performance as a standard-bearer. With this in mind, I believe sincerely that by 2023, there will be a walkover for APC in the South East.”
Commissioning projects in the state, Vice President Osinbajo said they aligned with President Buhari’s own belief that the building of roads, rail, power, digital technology and other infrastructural assets must be the first priority for economic development.”
Congratulating the governor for his exploits in road construction, he said Africa’s largest economy can only provide opportunities for its huge population if it runs on modern infrastructure.
Also, the Senate president, Ahmed Lawan in his remarks corroborated the commendations of the vice president on Uzodimma. He said: “I served with Uzodimma at the Senate and he is very reliable and someone you can trust. He is one you can’t find wanting; when Uzodimma became governor, I knew Imo will be taken to the next level because of his capacity to deliver.
“Uzodimma plays center politics and we want others to learn from him. We are expecting Abia and Enugu to be onboard. Buhari does not discriminate; he works with everybody. The Senate and the national Assembly will always be on your side to support the development of Imo State.”
Indeed, even his detractors agree that since Uzodimma’s assumption of Office, Imo has witnessed a revolution in road infrastructural development spread across the state. They include
Oparanozie, Amaigbo and Edede streets.
The state has also constructed many internal ring roads in Aladinma estate including Lake Nwaebere, Olokoro, Umuahia, Okeikpe, Arugo, Egbema streets, and Ngwa and Douglas roads
The state government has also completed ring roads behind Concorde Hotel.
They include JP Ajaelu, Thomas Moore, Gozie Nwachukwu, Archdeacon Dennis and, Aladinma roads.
Others are Assumpta/ Ibariogwa Portharcourt, Federal, Muhammad Buhari Drive, Dick Tiger road and Dick Tiger Street, and Akachi road and Evan Enwerem Way.
Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi while commissioning a major reconstructed road named after one of the young football stars from Imo State who made Nigeria proud by winning the under 17 world cup in China in 1985, Chukwuma Nwoha congratulated Uzodimma on the good works he is doing in Imo and for achieving the construction and reconstruction of very important roads that link up the Owerri Municipal to other local governments and states of the South East.
He said what Governor Uzodimma is doing in terms of infrastructure in Imo is in sync with the reason the people trusted him with their mandate, adding that he has shown huge and sincere commitment to his people.
He appealed to the youths to help restore peace and shun violence and destruction of public and private property as such acts will never allow for development.
He acknowledged that though in a democracy the people have the right to show their grievances when things are not going well, “but they should not join hands with detractors to pull down good intentions of their leaders like the governor of Imo State.
The president general of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Professor Obiozor in his speech in Owerri approved the work Uzodimma has put in place since he took over the administration of Imo State as standard. He stated that the present administration in Imo has done marvelously well within his first one year in office.
He said: “We have taken note of his achievements so far, for the progress, development and growth of Imo State; and we urge him to keep doing the good work as our Executive Governor.
“We have also taken note of all other achievements of other governors in our various states. We charge all of them to further strengthen our democracy and believe in our people too. Nigeria remains our dear country which we should all believe in.
“On behalf of the entire leadership and members of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo Worldwide, I say congratulations to His Excellency, Sen. Hope Uzodimma, the Executive Governor of Imo State”.
Many analysts believe that the coming of Uzodimma was timely following the unsavory state of affairs in the state occasioned by years of political infightings and misplaced priorities by successive administrations. “The structure of an emperor was being laid in the state by the Okorocha-led administration and no wonder there was wild jubilation in the state after the Supreme Court ousted Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP and restored the mandate stolen from the APC candidate, Senator Uzodimma,” Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Simon Ebegbulem said.
Another stakeholder in Imo, Comrade Ben Osuala, former scribe of the All Peoples Party (APP), said: “The state suffered decayed infrastructure, under development and an unprecedented rottenness of the civil service before the coming of Uzodimma. And the fact that within one year, he has been able to put Imo back on the road to sanity is the reason for this celebration.”