We are in a political season, and there is a renewed effort in the use of smear campaigns by the fledging opposition against Governor Hope Uzodimma, who is also the governorship candidate of the APC for the November 11 election. Led by the minority and battle-weary PDP, the minority parties now feed on the security challenges in the state, lying to the people and engaging in warmongering. On Friday, June 2, the governorship candidate of the Labour Party presented his running mate, Tony Nwulu, to his party members. Armed with a microphone, Nwulu made the politically orchestrated insecurity his focus. He maligned the governor, called him names, and lied to Imo people. Apart from trying to please the gallery, he exposed his poor understanding of the security challenges and his lack of any solution to the challenges. Nobody can solve a problem he does not yet understand.
Having realised that they cannot win the November 11 governorship election on the strength of their character and popularity or lack thereof, the pretenders to the election now think that the only way to save face is to insult the governor and deploy subterfuge and character assassination. Interestingly, nobody has become governor by insulting his opponents or the incumbent. If you desire the office of governor, you must respect that office and not ridicule it. Inflamatory, inciting comments, insulting words, and peddling falsehood do not make anyone governor.
Everyone knows that Governor Hope Uzodimma will not arm any group of people to go on a killing spree no matter what. He wants to serve his people and leave impressive marks on the sands of time. Insecurity will not help his course, and he has nothing to gain from insecurity. Unscrupulous opposition politicians, who want to unseat the incumbent, believe, weirdly though, that they have a lot to gain from discrediting him by orchestrating an unsafe environment. But leaders like Governor Hope Uzodimma, who are worth their salt, would spare no efforts fighting insecurity in order to secure his people and create a safe environment for them. It is, therefore, worrisome that those who want to become governor after Uzodimma are the same people fighting him for fighting insecurity. They are disappointed that their threat to make Imo State ungovernable has failed.
Nwulu and his co-travellers should know that nobody can be governor of Imo State if there is no such state. Supporting insecurity or funding those who go on a killing spree without any provocations puts one in a very precarious or dangerous situation instead. According to an ancient Chinese proverb: “he who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.” As governorship candidate of the UPP in 2019, Nwulu couldn’t render a good account of himself; riding on the back of insecurity will not make him a deputy governor in 2023.
A good leader should have emotional intelligence, which is the capability to identify, manage, evaluate, and understand one’s emotions and those of the people around him; he should be honest to himself and those he wants to lead because honesty is a great quality expected from leaders. Being open and honest, a leader will encourage the same in his followers. Dishonest and insincere leaders have difficulty leading. When Nwulu took the microphone on Friday and lied to his audience about insecurity in Imo, he rather presented himself as a dishonest leader who lacked empathy. An empathetic leader is compassionate and knows how to connect with his people. He has absolutely no need to lie and therefore manipulate them. An empathetic leader would not politick with the plights of his people.
It amounts to mocking Imo people who have borne the brunt of the politically orchestrated insecurity when people like Nwulu abandoned them and offered no empathy in the heat of the insecurity but now returned when the governor has fought the monster they ran away from. They are now moving freely campaigning for votes. Rather than thank the governor who has secured the state and created a condusive atmosphere for business, social life, and politics, the politicians that ran away now turn around to malign him. Where were these unscrupulous politicians when so-called unknown gunmen made efforts to capture Owerri? Where were they when Orlu was a no-go area? Where were they when businesses almost shut down, and nightlife became a mirage in Owerri? They tucked in their tail and ran away and left us with the governor who never left us for one minute. They left us with the governor who went through the horrible experience with us, fought cannibalism and other forms of banditry.
Those who stoke fire for political reasons should always bear in mind what the Holy Bible says in Proverbs 6:27-28: “Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?” These questions drive the discerning to retrospection. There are times we need to eschew politics, slow down, and reconsider some of the things we are doing to see whether they are helpful or ruinous. If someone scoops up burning coals and holds them close to himself, he will no doubt burn his clothes and maybe far worse. If someone steps on hot coals, he should expect his feet to be burned. When we incite people and support bandits, we make insecurity fester and force peace to flee.
Tony Nwulu claims to be a different kind of politician, but he is doing the same bad things bad politicians do. He has not been able to convince Imo people that he has something to offer. Joining the PDP to stoke fire and peddle falsehood will not make Imo people to love him. The PDP has towed this path for years now, but it has always been rejected by the Imo people. We love peace, unity, and happiness, and we will not give our votes to those who feed on our misfortune.
There is an age long saying that you should not cut off your nose to spite your face. A good leader should process his thoughts and actions and speak peace and not war. When one churns out accusatory claims that the innocent is the one perpetrating insecurity and killing people, he is merely cutting off his nose to spite his face. Only a fool would scoop up hot coals and hug them close or dump them in his lap, thinking there would be no negative consequences.
As governorship candidates move freely to campaign, we would like to see them preach peace. We would like to see them ask those wielding guns to drop their guns and embrace peace. Peace is the only way to go because peace is better, cheaper, more enduring, and fosters serenity, unity, brotherhood and development. Playing the ostrich and preferring to incite the people against the government shows how low we have gone already.
Collins Ughalaa KSC
Special Adviser (Public Communications) to the Governor.