By Collins Opurozor
Hope Uzodinma could not have hijacked the Imo State governorship seat without consequences. He knew about this. But, in this thinking, he would deal with the situation, one way or the other. To douse the mass resentment that his outrageous victory at the Supreme Court triggered, he must do either of the two. First, he must quickly connect with the people through laudable programs, projects and policies or, second, try to cast mud on the reputation of Emeka Ihedioha, so as to appear to have necessarily saved Imo State from corruption.
The first three months Uzodinma was in office proved that he could neither consolidate power nor connect with the people. For instance, no reputable group in the state ever lent its support to the nascent administration. An attempt by the lieutenants of Uzodinma to infiltrate some key socio-cultural and civil society groups in the state to legitimize the rulership of Uzodinma was vehemently resisted. The failure of the government to meet some statutory responsibilities, like the payment of pensions and salaries, and the unending militarization of civil spaces further accentuated popular discontent with the government. While cynicism, even despair, replaced hope, the people had no illusions that worse days lay ahead, and the atmosphere became charged.
Uzodinma, of course being incompetent and having raised the most inept team in the history of governance in Imo State, found it comforting to fall back on propaganda. We began to hear that Adapalm had begun to produce 100,000 metric tonnes of palm oil per day. We also heard that the government had built 1,000 housing units in each of the three senatorial districts.
The government profusely churned out these lies and many more. But the inability of Imo people to fall for these cheap falsehoods eventually led to the biggest hoax: the appointees of the government began to scream that the Ihedioha administration misappropriated N19.63 billion belonging to the local governments. The contrivance of this hoax was intended to overpower the truth of their underperformance, incompetence and corruption, and to lead the people far away from the facts.
One of the facts is that for five months Uzodinma alone has been the one who knows the whereabouts of the over N16 billion that has accrued to the local government system in Imo State. He has never convened a JAAC meeting. He has never made disbursements. The local governments lie comatose as their funds are nowhere to be found. Even the N19.63 billion allegedly mismanaged was almost by 90% spent under Rochas Okorocha.
Every month, Imo loses about N1.2 billion in Irrevocable Standard Payment Orders (ISPOs) for the debts incurred by Rochas Okorocha. Why has Uzodinma not asked questions about the loans which Okorocha obtained, for which Imo is now paying, including the bailout funds that disappeared in the bedroom of Okorocha’s son-in-law?
But one thing about hoaxes is that they are patently unsustainable, and their lifespans are very short. With the Imo State House of Assembly realizing the foolery in abdicating its core legislative function only to partake in probing a hoax, Uzodinma and his henchmen have now come up with another fairytale: “Ihedioha is begging us to stop the probe. He has gone to beg the Speaker to stop the probe.” What a way to end a show of shame!
These people who illegally usurped a mandate that isn’t theirs and came to power without a paragraph of manifesto have now reduced governance in Imo State to a farce. But, maybe they don’t know, Imo people are now set for a mass action.