Imo: Yes for Uzodinma, But……..

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By Kelechi Mejuobi

Since the ink of my pen started flowing for this commentary in Trumpeta, when the newspaper hit the newsstands, nine years ago, Agwodinuju column can’t be branded an ego massaging instrument for persons with behemoth status. Rather, it has been taking interesting unbaised voyage on trending issues affecting the society, especially in Imo State.
Despite ill feelings that have continued to dominate reactions over the quality and content of the write ups, I have always ensured it remains a potpourri of social and political commentary. This brief assessment review stems from certain reactions I have received in recent times since Uzodinma came on board. As a I keen watcher of developments in Imo State, I have always adopted a “wait and see” approach to styles of governance adopted by the executive governors who bestride affairs of the state.
For emphasis sake, I will spare this week to discuss the journey so far for Uzodinma considering the miles covered since January 14, 2020, he assumed office.
There is no gainsaying the fact that sheer discountenance on the part of Imo people had heralded Uzodinma’s entry into Government House, Owerri, after the January 14, 2020 Supreme Court judgment that removed Emeka Ihedioha. The reason for the uninspiring feeling to the coming of APC candidate, eight months after May 2019 swearing in of the PDP candidate, can’t be farfetched.
The trademark of political playmakers in Imo and even beyond has always been to align with any Government in Power, AGIP, irrespective of party and zonal differences in the State. The 2020 Supreme Court judgment caused political upheavals as those who had already aligned with Ihedioha’s Rebuild Imo project administration became disgusted with the action of the apex court. Consequently, Uzodinma was visited with this resentment not minding what he had in stock to offer and any of his initial actions that gladdened the heart of Imolites.
The new governor has continued to battle against odds posed before his administration with issues related to non- payment of salaries and pensions in the front burner. It can be said that the major challenge he faced which pitched him against Imolites was workers salaries and pensions. It could be recalled that in his maiden speech to the people after Oath of office ritual, he promised to pay monthly salaries on or before the 25th of every month. But that was not to be months later was the fulfilment of the promise. Workers lamented non-payment prompting the staging of street protests. Same fate befell pensioners who resorted to “one week one demonstration” crusaders in the state. Uzodinma also met the challenge associated with the adverse effects of some rampaging task forces established by agencies like environmental transformation commission ENTRACO, OCDA and similar outfits.
Periodically, the activities of this group brought a flash back of the sad reminders of the brutish ENTRACO days of the old when residents of the state underwent nightmarish experiences in the hands of the operatives. The ENTRACO, OCDA and other task forces reinvigorated harassment, intimidation and extortion which led to public outcry.
Obviously, Uzodinma inherited a colony of bad roads. Though his immediate predecessor, Ihedioha awarded many road contracts, but the change of guards somewhat affected the output of the contractors handling the projects.
Today, Imo roads are in very sorry state with motorists lamenting the dilapidated conditions.
It is evidently clear that Uzodinma who anchors the soul of his administration on Shared Prosperity mantra, have come to realize that in democracy, power belongs to the people.
It is not surprising the governor has come to realize that the interest of the people counts, hence the quest to tackle the recurring obstacles plaguing his administration.
At a meeting with government officials and top echelon of the work force in Govt House, Uzodinma disclosed intentions to make problems related to payment of salaries, a thing of the past. Recall that a discomfort situation had been established between civil servants in the state and the governor arising from none and delay in payment. In very few pathetic cases, those paid complained of slashes and unexplained deductions observed in their monthly pay.
But in what appears more like a new move to readdress issues of civil servants in the state, Uzodinma intimated them on the new plans to ensure salary payment brouhaha, which he reassured will be a thing of the past. Based on what the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Nnamdi Anyaehie also offered to newspaper publishers based in Owerri this week, no pensioner is owed in the state again, except those who have peculiar issues requesting proper clarifications.
To add flavor to his desire in making the workers in Imo happy, Uzodinma has introduced an innovation unknown in the history of state whereby air conditioned buses convey them to and fro office, from their different locations in the state. Uzodinma’s haters cannot help but appreciate this kind gesture extended to the workforce for the first time in the history of the state. The innovation has no doubt changed the narrative about welfare of the civil service in Imo. Though, complaints have started emanating from the workers that the supposed “Free Ride” and snacks served are not after all free, because N3000 each is to be deducted monthly from their salaries. This is after they have operated for about two weeks. The second part of this piece will furnish more on this.
Based on public outcry and complaints that trailed activities of the operatives, Uzodinma relying on wise counsel banned all forms of activities conducted by the ENTRACO and other task forces. It was learnt that a truck got lost in Owerri when suspect agents operating as ENTRACO officials allegedly hijacked the truck from the owner and disappeared till date on the premise that the driver faulted traffic laws on the road. Only recently, pictures of dead birds either crushed or suffocated to death as a result of the scuffle between a task team and the driver made social media headlines.
Apparently aware of the negative stories against traced to the obnoxious practices of the task forces, Uzodinma not only banned them but clipped ENTRACO wings in the state capital. This “sermon” Continues next week due to lack of space .