By Ori Martins
The Imo State governor, His Excellency, Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodimma, Onwa Oyoko, is a man of many parts.
He is a man of dual personalities. He is hard and soft – he can respond or react. He loves his friends and admirers and at the same time loathes his traducers.
About 25 years ago, Governor Uzodimma was one of the most reputable faces in the country’s social circuits as he was a household name in grand public affairs.
Delectable, handsome and highly sociable, Uzodimma, according to those very close to him, was a faithful friend as well as a formidable foe. He reciprocated kind gestures and equally never spared ill treatment meted to him by either buddies or bad guys.
One interesting feature that dramatically distinguishes Uzodimma from the crowd is his flair for controversies and special knack to almost effortlessly to either contrive a controversy or navigate through controversial circumstances.
Politically, Uzodimma unleashed his bag of controversial menu in 2003 when he jumped out of the PDP, pitched his tent with the AD, to vie for the Imo State governorship seat. Actually, it was the first time Uzodimma was to bare his fangs and many never took him seriously. Of course, he lost miserably.
Uzodimma’s controversy, which manifested in the form of confusion, again, went largely unnoticed when he unexpectedly employed the supreme court to sack Senator Osita Izunaso as the senator representing Imo West, otherwise known as Orlu Senatorial District. That was when, in real terms, he comprehended the powers as well as the pawns of the supreme court.
While in the National Assembly, Uzodimma was credited with good and ugly actions and inactions. The one most people still remember was his unholy involvement in the alleged multi million dollars Calabar Dry Port which ultimately ended in a scam celebrated as front cover stories in most national newspapers.
It was while Uzodimma was at the senate that the PDP leadership crisis and tussle between Makarfi and Sheriff reared its ugly head. Controversially but expectedly, the then Imo West senator backed, supported and financed Sheriff’s group.
As it turned out to be, Makarfi triumphed and that was what sent Uzodimma out of the PDP.
In joining the ruling APC in 2018, the procedures and processes which Uzodimma toed were not only controversial and confusing, they were also hydra – headed and high veld in outlook.
Controversially and contradictorily, the controversial Uzodimma shriveled up then Governor Rochas Okorocha in the APC governorship primary election in Imo State. It was one of most controversial upsets of the 2019 General Elections.
The Imo 2019 APC governorship primary election was a huge shroud and an unmitigated disaster as the supreme court on December 20, 2019 ruled that the broom party had no valid candidate in the Imo State governorship election.
The apex court held that the candidate of APC in the election was Ugwumba Uche Nwosu who was controversially hounded out of the party whereupon he, in a motherless mode, sought refuge in the AA party.
In other words, Uzodimma was never a candidate in that election. Yet, he was controversially returned, from fourth position, as the winner of that March 9, 2019 Imo governorship election.
Controversies continued to trail two principal actors who consciously or unconsciously had hands in the Uzodimma eventual emergence as Imo governor. Alhaji Ahmed Gulak who was the party’s chairman for the Imo APC primary election, was brutally assassinated along the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport Road about two years ago.
And the fiery Catholic priest, Fr Ejike Mbaka whose prophesy of December 31, 2019 controversially made the January 14 saga popular, by giving it a divine colouration which was not just controversial but fake, has lost his Adoration Ministry Enugu Nigeria (Amen) ground.
And ever since Uzodimma was sworn in on January 15, 2020, most things about him and his administration have been controversy and nothing but controversy.
Number one: Uzodimma informed Imo people about May, 2020 that he had been saving the sum of N2b monthly from pension and workers’ salaries’ overpayment. Calculate N2b monthly since May 2020 till date and confirm how much Uzodimma ought to have saved for Imo. Yet, the same Uzodimma has been borrowing billions of naira ever since then! Wonderful.
Number two: Since 1976 when Imo was created untill Uzodimma sauntered into the horizon, the state had always been peaceful and orderly. Sadly, Uzodimma emerged and Imo has never known peace. It has been insecurity – killings, killings and killings everywhere – Orsu, Orlu, Otulu, Ejemekwuru, Oguta, Njaba., Okigwe, Obowo, Ihitte Uboma, Onuimo, etc.
Number three: During a stakeholders meeting at the Imo State Government House, Owerri, the governor admitted that he was a Ben Johnson as he confessed winning the 2019 APC governorship election primary through a Ben Johnson way. Sure, you are aware that Ben Johnson means criminality, fraud and unethical. It was a typical Freudian slip at work.
Number four: While most southern governors supported the ban of open grazing in their respective states, Uzodimma went for open grazing.
Number five: Governor Uzodimma played a lead role in the formation of the now highly controversial Ebubeagu Security Network. The public outcry and condemnation against Ebubeagu is really monstrous that the masses have been calling for its disbandment.
Have you ever noticed that the governor used to be known and addressed as “Uzodimma” but now prefers “Uzodimma”.
And perhaps, the most earthshaking of all Uzodimma’s controversies is what is now known as “Omuma Magic”, referring to the hike in the number of registered voters in Omuma which took a quantum leap from 6000 in 2019 to 45, 000 in 2023! It is an unprecedented increase never ever before experienced in the history of voters registration in Nigeria.
It is the litany of Uzodimma’s tragic and absurd controversies and controversial flipflops in about three years in office.