Jonah Ben-Amittai is a prophet in the Hebrew Bible from Gath-hepher of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BCE. He is the central figure of the Book of Jonah, in which he is called upon by God to travel to Nineveh and warn its residents of impending divine wrath. Instead, Jonah boards a ship to Tarshish. On his way to Tarshish a boisterous storm arose which almost wrecked the boat.
Caught in a storm, the crew members made a divination and discovered that Jonah was the cause of the storm as he was being haunted by God. In order to save the boat from being capsized by the storm, Jonah orders the ship’s crew to cast him overboard, whereupon he is swallowed by a giant fish. After Jonah left the boat, the sea became calm and the crew were saved from destruction.
The woes that befell our once peaceful state Imo, after the Supreme Court installed Sen. Hope Uzodinma governor of the state, from a distant fourth position in the guber election, could be likened to the the story of Jonah. It is public knowledge that prior to his controversial advent as governor, the state was serene, calm and peaceful. The people were at home with the administration of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha whom both heaven and earth acknowledged won the election.
It would be wrong for anyone to say that there were no social vices during the time Ihedioha held sway. No one can also deny the fact that the pro-Biafra groups such as the MASSOB, IPOB, etc were also active during that period. But the glaring difference between now and then is that unlike Uzodinma, Ihedioha applied administrative wisdom, tact and Intellectualism in managing the security affairs of the state, which is the reason why the state remained calm and peaceful then. But as soon as Uzodinma mounted the saddle, the story changed.
Instead of consulting or at least borrowing a leaf from Ihedioha on how to maintain peace in the state, he decided to go despotic. Uzodinma apparently out of guilty conscience perceived that he wasn’t welcomed by the people, in order therefore to cow the people into accepting his administration he decided to armtwist them into submission. The governor introduced several obnoxious and despotic measures, just like Pharaoh in the Bible, to break the people’s resolve not to accept him.
He started by starving workers and pensioners by not paying up their salaries and pensions. He ensured they didn’t complain by allegedly ordering thugs to beat them up when they attempted to demonstrate peacefully to demand for their rights to be given to them. The governor didn’t also stop at that, he threatened the opposition when they challenged his excesses. Ambrose Nwaogwugwu ,the former Director-General of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Imo State chapter New Media Unit was the first victim.
Ambrose was arrested and detained several weeks for speaking out against the misdeeds of the government. Later, Prof. Protus Nathan Uzoma, a political activist and another critic of this administration was also arrested, tortured and detained for several months. A radio personality, Mazi Chinomso Uba (Nonso Nkwa) and yours truly severally recieved threats from suspected agents of the government for criticizing this administration.
Recently, newspaper vendors were reportedly arrested enmasse for selling newspapers which published stories that criticized the government. When the Fulani Herdsmen were killing, maiming and raping Imolites, Gov Uzodinma didn’t deem it fit to neither condole nor visit the victims. Instead he looked the other way. But as soon as Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB formed the Eastern Security Network (ESN) to checkmate the terrorist activities of the Herdsmen, Uzodinma hastily mobilized southeast governors to establish the phantom Ebubeagu Security Outfit, just to counter ESN, which obviously allows the Herdsmen to continue their dastard act.
Many political watchers wondered why Uzodinma found it difficult to synergize with ESN. If the governor has the safety of his people at heart just like it seems the ESN does, why can’t he work together with them to checkmate the rampaging herders. Agreed, the governor may not be at home with ESN, so why hasn’t he been able to recruit enough personel and equip Ebubeagu to confront the Fulani Herdsmen till now?
Let’s also believe that the government may be financially handicapped to fund Ebubeagu, then why didn’t the governor invite the army to enter our forests to flush out the criminal Herdsmen? But as soon as ESN offered to give protection to the people which the government failed to do, Uzodinma quickly invited the army to go after them. Does this make sense? Taking a cursory look at all these, any right thinking person may conclude that Uzodinma is indeed working against his own people.
And to be honest, peace left the state the moment Imo was militarized by the governor. Since the military was invited the security situation hasn’t improved one bit. Instead it appears to be growing from worse to worst. Lives and properties are still being destroyed everyday. The people can neither go about their daily businesses freely nor sleep with their two eyes closed. To make matters worst, their have been multiple reports of human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings by security operatives with the governor saying and doing nothing about it.
Even when an appointee of his government by the Facebook name Boris Fever , published on his page how he was abducted by security operatives and released after paying thousands of naira as bribe, the governor still kept mute. Instead some of his jobless e-rats had been demanding to know why Ihedioha has kept mute over the high rate of insecurity in the state. And I ask, what do you want Ihedioha to say? When he was robbed of his mandate he kept quiet to allow Uzodinma to do his bit.
When Uzodinma was churning out his despotic policies and invited the military to the state, did he consult Ihedioha? Has Uzodinma ever acknowledged Ihedioha as his predecessor? Now that the state is collapsing under his watch Uzodinma now remembered that Ihedioha exists, that is quite pathetic. Sociogists will agree with me that crime and social vices cannot thrive in a society where the leadership is accepted. If the people voted Uzodinma, why does it appear they are not supporting him?
Recent videos of the people cheering the unknown gunmen on the streets of Owerri speaks volume of the fact that the people are not in support of this government. It also could mean that they didn’t vote this government. It also could be interpreted that the governor doesn’t have their blessing and mandate. Finally, it also could be inferred that Gov Uzodinma appears to be the Jonah that has entered the once peaceful boat of Imo State, and like in the Bible, the sea will always be rough and the tide always very high, as long as Jonah remains in the boat. I rest my pen.
Ekene Bob-Ekechukwu Esq.
Public Affairs Analyst