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Monday, December 11, 2023

Gov Hope Uzodimma’s Successful Reelection: A Story Of Mandate Renewal – By Hon. Collins Ughalaa KSC



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Governor Hope Uzodimma was on Sunday, November 12, 2023, declared the winner of the Imo governorship election held on Saturday, November 11, with 540,308 votes to beat his main challengers: Senator Samuel Anyanwu (Samdaddy) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who came a distant second with 71,503 votes, and Senator Athan Achonu of the Labour Party (LP) with a miserly 64,081 votes. The governor’s re-election is a resounding victory that has left many wondering about the factors that led to his triumph, which has put to rest the false claim by the opposition that the governor was unpopular. To prove the opposition wrong, Imo people showed an overwhelming display of confidence in the governor and support for him, and they secured a resounding victory for him in the election. As Imo people continue to celebrate the decisive victory, we will highlight some of the factors that contributed to Governor Uzodimma’s reelection.

The first is the governor’s successful fight against insecurity. It might sound awkward to some people, but Imo people, by their massive votes on November 11, have shown that they support the governor’s fight against insecurity and disagree with those who accuse the governor of sponsoring insecurity. From the time some disgruntled politicians introduced insecurity to overwhelm the governor and derail his government, the issue of insecurity became topical in Imo politics. Issues of the economy such as job creation and youth empowerment, industrialization, inclusive government and social welfare used to be the main issues in Imo politics, but a devilish dimension was introduced into it by some demonic politicians in order to reap political gains. They started on time and made insecurity their anthem. Some even promised to make Imo safe again. But the November 11 election provided Imo people a rare opportunity to choose where they stand. It was a kind of referendum on whether the opposition was right that the governor is the cause of insecurity in Imo or not, and whether the governor is rather a victim and has been making successful efforts to address the security concerns. The governor placed great importance on ensuring security and safety for the people, and his administration collaborated with security agencies to tackle crime and maintain law and order. The governor’s swift action in addressing security challenges and promoting peace and harmony resonated with the electorate, leading to their support for his re-election.

Peehaps the second factor is the charter of equity, which Imo people bought into from the political divides. We have said many times that governance is about serving the people and solving problems. One of the issues that rear up each election cycle is the issue of alleged marginalization by Orlu Zone. The proponents of this view do not hesitate to do mathematics and tell anyone who cares to listen that Orlu Zone has been governor for 20 years since 1999  and that another term would make it 24 years. To resolve the issue and engender peace and love among the people of Imo, the governor threw his weight behind the charter of equity, which provides that the next governor would come from another zone. A few days ago, the governor reiterated his strong commitment to the charter of equity when he received the Imo Council of Elders, who came to congratulate him on his victory at the government house, that his successor will come from Owerri Zone. Imo people believed the governor that the next governor should come from another zone, and they showed their agreement by their votes.

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The third one is the governor’s economic development and job creation policy. In the midst of politically contrived insecurity, the governor implemented policies that attracted investments and fostered an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. His administration created numerous job opportunities, reducing the unemployment rate in the state. Some of the  policies are the Oguta Lake/Urashi River Development Project, which is opening up the waterway and making it navigable to the Atlantic Ocean. Another one is the Naval Base. Though it centres around providing security around the waterways, it will no doubt boost economic activities as well as boost security along that corridor. The other one is the Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone, which is programmed to open Imo State up for industrialization and unprecedented industrial and commercial activities. The Skill-Up Imo Project and the employment of workers into the civil service will also boost the state’s economic activities. In the area of youth empowerment, the Shared Prosperity administration recognized the potential of Imo State’s youth and prioritized initiatives aimed at empowering them and creating employment opportunities. The establishment of skill acquisition centres and vocational training programs under the Skill-Up Imo Project and others have equipped Imo youths with valuable skills, fostering entrepreneurship, and reducing unemployment rates.

The governor’s infrastructure development was another factor that gave him victory at the November 11 polls. In order to make all Imo people share in the prosperity of the state, the governor prioritized infrastructure development and embarked on massive road construction and rehabilitation projects, ensuring improved connectivity and transportation within the state. Imo people saw for the first time in decades genuine efforts being made to improve the infrastructural deficit in the state by opening up major roads in the state. Under his leadership, key roads connecting rural and urban areas were prioritized, easing transportation and promoting economic growth. Such roads include the Owerri-Okigwe Road, Owerri-Orlu Road, Owerri-Mbaise-Umuahia Road, etcetera. These roads are seen by the people, and they are not tales by moonlight. The governor also invested in the provision of amenities such as healthcare facilities, schools, and water supply systems, significantly improving the lives of the people. The people saw all this and decided to stand with the man they trusted, Governor Hope Uzodimma.

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The governor’s efforts to change the face of education in Imo State is worthy of emulation. Not only did he introduce reforms in the sector, but recognizing the importance of education in driving progress, the governor made very significant investments in school infrastructure, provided quality learning materials, and improved the welfare of teachers. These efforts contributed to improved educational standards and better opportunities for the youth in Imo State and gave the people more schools, including the recovery of the K.O. Mbadiwe University, Ogboko, the rehabilitation of the Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Orlu, the establishment of the Imo State University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, the establishment of a campus of the Federal Polytechnic Nekede at Abezi n Ohaji-Egbema LGA, the upgrading of Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education to Alvan Ikoku Federal University of Education, the upgrading of the Federal Medical Centre Owerri to the Federal University Teaching Hospital Owerri, the establishment of the Imo State Polytechnic, Omuma, the strengthening of the Imo State University Owerri, etcetera.

Running a transparent and accountable  governance was another factor that endeared the governor to the people. He established systems to ensure transparency in public procurement, budgeting, and resource management. By actively involving citizens in decision-making processes and being open about government activities, he fostered trust between the government and the people. The governor instituted e-governance systems, which ensured openness and transparency in governance, and on many occasions, the governor had stakeholders meetings where he rendered account of his stewardship and as well received imput from the stakeholders. No government can be more accountable than the one that has a culture of rendering periodic accounts to the people. No wonder no candidate accused the governor of corruption. Imo people took notice of this because since 1999, Governor Hope Uzodimma is the first governor who has not been accused of corruption by the opposition. Usually, the opposition would be bandying claims of corruption against the incumbent and showing the property he has looted or where he stashed the money he looted. But Governor Hope Uzodimma is not like that, and Imo people saw it.

The re-election of Governor Hope Uzodimma on Saturday, November 11, was a result of a combination of factors, including his administration’s commitment to economic development, infrastructure development, educational reforms, security provisions, and transparent governance. These achievements resonated with the people of Imo State, who recognized the positive impact of his policies and programs, and they voted for the governor for a second term in office.

Collins Ughalaa is the Special Adviser (Public Communications) to the governor.

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