New Cabinet: As Uzodinma Keeps Imo Waiting 

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By Henry Ekpe

The Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma was sworn-in for a second term on Jan 15, 2024.

Many political pundits had predicted that he would immediately after the second inauguration announce a skeletal number of Appointees right there at the venue.

But Eighteen days after, Uzodinma is yet to appoint his inner Staff, like the Secretary to the State Government SSG, Chief of Staff, Special Advisers SAs, Senior Special Assistants SSAs etc, before the list of Commissioners that must pass through the House of Assembly.

Majority of Imo people believed that even before Uzodinma ran for a second term, which he campaigned vigorously and was sure of victory, because of the caliber of his challengers, he would have penciled down his Executive, only for replacements and adjustments, where necessary.

But indications are that the Governor has decided to take his time before arriving on the list of his New Appointees.

Various factors may have caused this. The major reason we heard is that at the dying period of his first outing, the Governor discovered that most of those he relied on as his confidants and first eleven of his cabinet, got involved in shoddy land deals that embarrassed the Governor.

Even to the shock of the perpetrators, the Governor did not cover their misdemeanor and allowed the law to run its full course, as some of those indicted spent weeks in police cells.

Therefore, those he ought to have left behind to look after his Government while searching for fresh faces for his new cabinet got swept off in the blanket State Executive Council dissolution that spared no body, because of the land deal saga.

Following this ugly scenario, Uzodinma is now  taking his time, and even shopping outside the Imo political shore to fish out people to help him drive the State in his last four years in office.

And again, following the humongous fund pumped into the Uzodinma reelection project, it seemed the Governor had paid off his party stalwarts and members who worked for him during the election.

The party members did not spare a kobo and showed no pity on the Governor as they demanded for the Head of Goliath for favourable election results.

With this development, nobody should blame the Governor, if he believes he had paid off most Imo APC Leaders and therefore not dwell on Godfatherism in choosing his Appointees, but quality and qualification.

In that case, it will not be surprising if some of those from other political parties who joined in the “November 11 Battle of Douglas House” on the side of the Governor are given plum positions, against their APC counterparts.

From the Governor’s body language, he is likely to use more of Technocrats than “Professional Politicians”, as that experiment failed him in his first few months in office,  and the reason he dropped politicians and used more of Technocrats to complete his first term.

From all indications, Uzodinma is not ending his political career after four years as Governor in 2027.

Many people who believe that Uzodinma will use the next four years to “Settle Friends and Enjoy”, will be disappointed as the Omuma, Oru East born political Avatar, has other ideas.

In this case, he will try to improve his records when leaving office, as part of his political selling points to gain more political leverage in 2027.

Therefore, Uzodinma’s latest and last outing as Governor may not be all about “Bread and Butter” for desperate politicians.

One thing sure is that the Governor will not act another “Father Christmas”  as before where he created over Five Hundred Appointments that dug deep hole into Imo coffers.

Although that exercise  helped to create numerous jobs for Imo people, but it also helped to create more lazy people who now have  sense of entitlement, as most of those Appointees refused to create a second address for themselves and thought Government Appointment is a Profession.

While the “Busy” ones among the legion of Appointees have since moved on in search of what to do, some are still loitering around Government House, after sleeping every night with the hope that they must return as Government Appointees.

Therefore, Imo people are now looking for a Manageable State Executive Council, where each member will have his/her job cut out, and not a situation where three or four persons were assigned to  the same job as we witnessed  in the last State Executive Council.

One has been thinking how much it would cost Imo State to pay off “Severance Allowances” to these numerous former Appointees, who  were Special Advisers, SAs, a position nearly that of a Commissioner.

It is believed that the Governor made those Appointments because of the crucial Governorship election then that is now gone.

Since the polls are over and the Governor not seeking for fresh mandate, there is no need for “Pepper Soup” appointments to attract voters sympathy.

However, one thing certain is that many of those in the last State Executive Council will return.

They will come back either because of their strategic relationship with the Governor, or their performance while in Government.

The Commissioner for Works, Bar Ralph Nwosu, I think is one of those that deserve a return, because of his sterling stewardship.

If there is anything Uzodinma can point at as glaring achievement in his first four years, it is road construction.

And the man that made that happen is the ever-present Commissioner for Works, Ralph Nwosu, who has also been a long term buddy and Ally of Uzodinma.

The Commissioner for Information and Strategy Hon Mbadiwe Emelumba has been Uzodinma’s Media Man for decades now. So, apart from his close relationship with Uzodinma on a personal ground, Emelumba stood his ground in the early days of the administration, when he  met a solid star studded Imo PDP Media Machine.

Emelumba was on Radio Stations every day and was writing to counter heavy bombardments against the Government every hour

The Government even resorted to poaching the PDP Media Personnel, the reason Ogubundu Nwadike, Ambrose Nwaogwugwu and others joined the Uzodinma Train.

Presently Emelumba has also repackaged the moribund Imo owned Statesman Newspaper.

But my grouse with Emelumba has remained his poor relationship with Imo Journalists, which is his major constituency. It is not a good story for the ear that for four years in office, Governor Uzodinma has never met Imo based Journalists.

Even when he was running for a second term and briefed all groups in Imo State about his ambition,  Uzodinma did not meet Imo NUJ.

Bar Cyprian Akaolisa (COC) has been Uzodinma’s man for years and has done well as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. In such position you are not seen but only heard.

Akaolisa lost his House and that of his father for supporting Uzodinma

Another person I noticed through his work, is the Commissioner for Digital Economy, Dr Okere. The man did a lot in that sector, and suddenly arose attention to the Ministry one thought was alien here.

Bar Rex Anunobi  (Sokom) has also did  well in the area of Traffic Management in the State Capital. The usual Traffic Jams are vanishing, by blocking most of the junctions that cause the gridlocks.

The security issue is getting better than before it was unpredictable for one to move around even in the State Capital, Owerri.

Today, most of the incidents are outside the State Capital. But the guerilla type of attacks are very difficult to control because it is not conventional.

Now, as Uzodinma plans his new Executive, attention should be given to Agriculture. Agriculture does not need a Rocket Science method to succeed. And neither would it succeed with a Commissioner sitting in office and signing papers.

Governors Achike Udenwa and Ikedi Ohakim administrations showed that it is feasible for Imo State to make progress in Agriculture and even feed herself.

Even the seven months administration of Emeka Ihedioha also made Agriculture a priority and the results were quickly noticed.

The teeming unemployed Imo Youths can turn Imo to a Food Basket if the Governor makes it a priority. Even if we send out all Imo Youths to Overseas, their parents and relations at home need to eat.

Agriculture is a pratical profession, and any person to be appointed in that position as Commissioner should throw away his suit and tie and fold his shirt. Chief Longers Anyanwu did it during the Ohakim era.

There are massive lands in Ngor Okpala, Ohaji/Egbema, Owerri West etc begging for attention.

As Imo people quietly wait for Uzodinma’s new State Executive let their patience worth the while.