By Collins Opurozor
It is shocking how a supposed leader, Chief Hope Uzodinma, would go all out to impoverish Imo people so as to lure them with crumbs and make them his vassals. For him, the only way to permanently keep something is to destroy it. To force his reign on the people, they must necessarily be cut off from all means of livelihood. They must be conquered and made captives of war! This mindset has underlain all his actions from the first day he saw himself in power. He has sought to be an island of affluence in a sea of affliction. The man also works hard to make Imo a desert and to become the only oasis. And the creation of abject poverty, now deployed as a tool for political control, has become the greatest accomplishment of Uzodinma’s ruinous misrule in Imo State.
A snapshot of the performance indices of Imo State over the last eighteen months would ignite mass outrage, even as it would further clarify Uzodinma’s actual motives. Last week, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) released a state-by-state ranking of the ease of doing business in Nigeria which captured the entire period Uzodinma has been pretending to Imo’s gubernatorial throne.
We have it on PEBEC’s authority that the business climate in Imo has not just deteriorated, but Imo itself is, in fact, among the worse destinations anyone could think of starting up a business in Nigeria. To buttress the verdict of PEBEC, out of the 52.3 million dollars that came to the South East as foreign direct investments in the last thirteen months, Abia and Anambra States got about 88% of the total sum, while Enugu took the rest. Imo got zero even after the regime of Uzodinma had squandered, as captured in their budget, a whopping N1.2 billion to run a ministry of foreign affairs charged with accelerating the inflow of foreign direct investments. Preposterous!
Uzodinma did not just bury the policy of the Ihedioha Administration to create over one hundred thousand jobs by reinventing Adapalm and creating and expanding its downstream operations, he unapologetically also discontinued the recruitment process of over five thousand teachers into the State’s school system and terminally ran aground the vocational education initiatives, which were designed to make Imo youths skillful and competitive both nationally and globally. When he saw that former political leaders of the State were not willing to accept his unelected regime, he quickly stopped their pensions just to starve them into submission. He indeed turned Imo State upside-down.
While incompetence has in part contributed to the present sorry state of affairs in Imo, there is, by a greater measure, a deliberate policy to cripple the entire system, bring the people down on their knees, make them to cower before tyranny and beg their common enemy for daily bread. For instance, the unyielding insistence of the regime of Uzodinma on nonpayment of workers, pensioners and contractors serves the purpose of stripping Imo people of every possibility of eking out a living. Also, the destruction of the local government system by outrightly withholding their statutory allocations has created untold poverty throughout the land.
Having succeeded at making Imo a sanctuary of penury, agony and starvation, Uzodinma has now unveiled his real intentions. Every day, he invites people from each Local Government Area of the State to visit his office for praise-singing so that they might be given a pittance for feeding.
It is true that man does not live by bread alone. But it is a more fundamental truth that man cannot live without bread. The quest for survival in the face of the poverty in Imo now propels the visits to him. The processions that file out before him only need food to eat. That is all. The visitors do not believe in what they say about him, and they do not even love him. They only need to survive in order to tell the story. They even fight while sharing whatever they are given. The people of Ideato South are still searching for the person that made away with N2 million from the N7.9 million they were reportedly given to share. But, methinks, they should instead be asking for the whereabouts of the N2.4 billion that should have come to their Local Government in the last eighteen months under Uzodinma which till date nobody can account for. Uzodinma has made Imo a barren land!