By SAM OSUJI
The altitude of definitive development that has enveloped Imo State in recent times still confounds pundits. Before now, the state had been used to a superficial and plastic wave of development. No one could vouch for any solid developmental agenda of then state chief executives.
Government business was then conducted in a most shoddy and implausible manner. Roads, were for instance, awarded without any design and the contracts hurriedly completed in months. The same roads would unfortunately cave in under few weeks or months. Yet the state carried on as if all was well. The answered prayer of beleaguered Imolites has today been made manifest in the person of Dist. Sen Hope Uzodinma. He came with the full complement of faith which his spectacular name brings.
He drove all the way with a full tank of hope to trounce the muggers of his electoral fortunes. No sooner did he achieve this feat than he swung into action. Like a leader that was truly on a messianic mission, the Governor did not tread on the well-worn, popular and even populist route, yet unsustainable path of quick and expensive display of gubernatorial bounteousness.
He decided instead to follow the path of fiscal prudence and responsibilty characterized by careful planning. Not many did show understanding of what the Governor was doing at the time as people were used to a quick fix however unsustainable and illogical.With the strength of a meticulous czar, Gov Uzodinma set about cleaning the payroll mess that he met on ground. This was a payroll replete with fictitious characters and dubious acts.
As soon as he verified the true civil servants whose data were consistent with the database, the Governor made sure they were paid their wages as and when due. He did not stop at that as he gave instruction that workers should be paid 100% of their wages, as against the 70% perpetuated by the Okorocha administration and disingenuously sustained by the Ihedioha government. In a private conversation, one of the union leaders in a state owned higher institution in Imo told me that among all the governors in Imo that he interfaced with as a union leader, Dist. Sen Hope Uzodinma is the most transparent of them all. The unionist also told me that under this administration, Imo workers’ salaries became automated and consistent.
I recall that recently, a state civil servant also told me with boundless joy that the coming of Gov Uzodinma corrected all anomalies in his salary package, hinting that the shortfall of over 50% in his salary was instantly corrected, and arrears paid to him.It may not be necessitous to delve into the details of the colossal incentives which the Gov Hope Uzodinma administration has showered on civil servants; what with the logistic support, health services and the historic 13th month salary. There is then the New Year gift of salary payment before month-end through a rolling facility from Zenith Bank.
Truth is that it is all clear to Imo civil servants, stakeholders and pundits alike that Gov Hope Uzodinma does not act to be applauded. He works with extreme care and plan to bequeath sustainable infrastructure and system to Imo State. Like a relentless hard worker, Gov Hope Uzodinma sacrificed everything, friendship, patronage, warts and all, to recover lands and properties misappropriated by the Okorocha administration.
Being a man of due process, he retained the Judicial Panel of Inquiry instituted by the Ihedioha administration. And no sooner that he received their report than he constituted a committee which produced a white paper on the report which was promptly gazetted. Poor Imolites who were shortchanged in the past, with their lands forcefully wrestled from them, have today heaved a sigh of relief upon repossessing their properties.
From all intents and purposes, Imo State has officially bidden goodbye to the culture of impunity which had defined the landscape of the state. Is it not historic that it is under the administration of Gov Uzodinma that official impunity by government officials has been declared ended? It is also historic that financial sleaze and official embezzlement of public funds has become a thing of the past. Wait a minute, this is a feat unparalleled. It is only a leader with a deep commitment to the welfare of the masses that could go as far as restraining his appointees from helping themselves with public funds as was the practice in Imo in the inglorious past.
Now, without blowing his trumpet, Gov Hope Uzodinma has been redefining Imo under two years, with a lot of sharp and unwholesome practices giving way to transparent and sustainable methods. Any wonder the World Bank recently gave a thumbs-up to the government of Imo State for her bold stance on fiscal responsibility.
Today, Imo State has become a centre of attraction. Hundreds of kilometres of urban and rural roads are being constructed or reconstructed by the administration of Gov Hope Uzodinma. The cheery aspect of it all is that these roads are being undertaken with strict specifications to standards. Thus, Gov Uzodinma has come to boldly announce that it is still possible to construct durable roads in Imo, after all.
Major roundabouts in Owerri are wearing a new look with the ambitious urban renewal programme of the Governor. The gigantic twin Owerri-Orlu and Owerri-Okigwe roads are signature projects that would soon turn Imo into a one-city state. These were roads on which others before Gov Uzodinma merely did a “patch-patch” work. Remarkably, the Governor has already announced plans to deploy the foreign construction giant, Craneburg, handling the two projects to other aspects of the state upon delivery of their current contracts. This only bespeaks a Governor with a heart of gold.
Despite distractions posed by the buccaneers of the state, who have retreated into a bloc of detractors and terror-sponsors, the Dist. Sen Hope Uzodinma I know would deliver on his mandate of giving succor to the long-suffering masses of the state. And in the end, this bloc of buccaneers which John Storey, a famous British Cultural theorist, dismissed as mere hegemonists, would eventually fizzle into oblivion as the Governor returns the state to the real stakeholders, the people. God bless Imo State of Nigeria.