Outcome of Ngor Okpala bye – election revalidates Uzodinma’s  acceptance in Imo, writes Emelumba.

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By Declan Emelumba

The reaction of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the results of the bye – election recently conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ngor Okpala State Constituency of Imo State was expected. It has become customary for losers of elections in Nigeria to blame their misfortune or predicament on their successful adversary.
Prior to the election, which the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Blyden Okanni, won convincingly, the PDP had saturated the media with information on how they were going to trounce Governor Hope Uzodinma and the ruling APC at the polls. In fact, the entire PDP family in Nigeria had to stage a rally in Owerri a few days to the election as part of their game plan to win the election. Unfortunately, even the charge by the loquacious Nyesom Wike for Hope Uzodinma to be disgraced fell flat on its face. Alas, the party had danced itself lame before the competition. Abysmal failure became its companion, hence the resort to blackmail and howling about APC rigging the election.

A section of the media had variously described the election as a popularity contest between Governor Hope Uzodinma and the ousted governor of the state, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha. Although that comparison was a deprecation of the sterling performance of Uzodinma in the last two years, one had to play along to see the practical reaction of Ngor Okpala voters to the unmatched challenge. On the other hand, Emeka Ihedioha who represented Ngor Okpala and Aboh Mbaise in the National Assembly for 12 long years, was supposed to use that test to prove his mettle and his popularity. But, deep down inside him, he knew that this was an uphill task or a mission impossible. He had offended the good people of Ngor Okpala by usurping their turn to occupy the federal seat which ought to rotate between the two local government areas. Secondly, throughout his 12 long years in the Federal House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha concentrated all the constituency projects in his home, Aboh Mbaise, to the exclusion of Ngor Okpala. The long-suffering people of Ngor Okpala were not going to reward a traitor and, as the saying goes, the chicken will always come home to roost.

Again, PDP will not tell Nigerians that apart from the burden of having Emeka Ihedioha, as an excess luggage in their camp, they went into that election, a divided house. Just few days to the election, a section of PDP endorsed the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), citing impunity and the usual absence of internal democracy within the PDP as their grouse. PDP will also not tell Nigerians that the thugs who were caught trying to snatch ballot boxes were their agents. Their names and identities of the owners of the vehicles used in that shameful exercise were published by the media. It is obvious that their desperation to scuttle the outcome of the election has landed them in trouble. And, thanks to the efforts of the ever vigilant security agencies, their plans of either rigging or disrupting the election was successfully thwarted, hence their resort to crying wolf.

But, beyond these, the election was actually supposed to be a walkover of an election by the APC candidate, because the face of the APC campaign was Governor Hope Uzodinma, who in the last two years has positively touched the lives of Imo people, including the good people of Ngor Okpala. While some members and well wishers of APC saw the outcome of the election as a validation of the acceptance of the governor, others saw it as an expression of appreciation and goodwill by the people of Ngor Okpala towards Governor Uzodinma for what he has done and promises to do for the local government.

Indeed, the youth of Ngor Okpala agreed with the latter school of thought, for they trooped out in their numbers to perform their civic responsibility. They did not only vote massively for APC, but ensured that the PDP rigging machinery was grounded. On their own, they formed the formidable wall that resisted the thugs of PDP from carting away ballot boxes like they did in the past. The question is: what was their motivation? The answer is: to show appreciation to Governor Uzodinma and APC for empowering them to become owners of businesses and employers of labour – something the previous administrations had failed to do for them. In addition, one of their beloved sons, Professor B. G. Nworgu, currently serves as the Commissioner for Science and Technology – another clear manifestation of the inclusive government of Hope Uzodinma. They are also aware that they are going to be beneficiaries of the five – kilometre roads mapped out for each of the 27 local government areas of the state. They have also seen the renovation and restocking of their health centres. Their parents also have been benefiting from the free mobile clinics services and other infrastructure provided by the prosperity Government of Hope Uzodinma. It is on that score that one can grudgingly accept that the Ngor Okpala bye – election was a kind of referendum on Uzodinma’s administration and not a comparison with the moribund and divided house know as PDP.

But, come to think of it, this is not the first bye – election that has held in Imo State since Hope Uzodinma assumed office as governor two years ago. It is actually the second. The first was an election for Imo North Senatorial Seat in the National Assembly, otherwise known as Okigwe zone. Expectedly, Sir Frank Ibezim of APC won the election! Was this a plus for Uzodinma and APC? Certainly, it was. But, this did not get to his head, because there is so much he wants to do for Imo people within such a limited time frame. So, when PDP and the remnants of their diminishing supporters were inflicted with the amnesia of APC supremacy in the state, I only had pity for them.

First, Okigwe zone, and now Owerri zone have reaffirmed their belief in the prosperity agenda of Uzodinma as encapsulated in Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery. If that is a foretaste of what is to come, PDP should simply close shop in the state.

Indeed, the party needs to stop deceiving themselves that they have any electoral value in the state. The worst thing to happen to any man is to lie to himself. PDP has been lying to itself ever since its illegal occupation of Government House, Owerri was terminated and the rightful winner of the election, Hope Uzodinma, enthroned. Perhaps, elections like that of Ngor Okpala need to come frequently to get them out of their self – induced coma. They also need to awaken to the fact that Uzodinma has come to stay as GOVERNOR and his re-election will not be a problem owing to his superlative performance.

This performance has been made manifest in the number and spread of roads constructed or reconstructed in the state. For example, the Okigwe – Owerri and the Owerri – Orlu dual carriageways are signature projects that will speak for Uzodinma when the time comes. The rehabilitation of Adapalm Nigieria Limited, Ohaji, which was abandoned or neglected for more than two decades, but which now provides jobs for thousands of Imo people will speak for him. The Otamiri Water Works reactivated by Uzodinma after three decades and which now supplies potable water to residents of Owerri will stand witness for him too. The balloon – driven tunnel, which he built at Chukwuma Nwoha axis, and which now controls flooding in that part of the city, will also bear witness. Those whose hitherto abandoned properties were saved and recovered by this singular project will also give their testimonies. Similar goodwill would be drawn from the progress made by the administration of Hope Uzodinma in the health, education and agricultural sectors.

Although, the payment of salaries is an obligation of government, we know of many states that are in arrears. Ironically, some of these states receive more money as allocation from the federation account than Imo State. But, in here in Imo State, civil servants are not only paid regularly, but were paid the 13th month salary last December. We know the multiplier effect of the prompt payment of salaries to civil servants on the economy of the state. We also know the positive impact of a conducive work environment and the provision of other incentives, such as free transportation – as provided by Hope Uzodinma – on the morale and output of civil servants. These are remarkable achievements that PDP can never match with mere propaganda and malicious rumours.

But, above all, the transparent and accountable style of the Uzodinma’s administration has endeared the governor and his government to the people of Imo State. His inclusiveness in the distribution of political office, amenities and other dividends of democracy has made him popular. His resolve to recover all stolen assets of the state from corrupt and tyrannical politicians and civil servants has made him a hero in the hearts of Imo people. Returning Power to the people and encouraging participatory democracy through constant consultation has revalidated his credential as a man of the people. Recently, he received accolades from no less a person than the Primate of the All Nigeria Anglican Church, His Grace, The Most Reverend (Dr) Henry Chukwudum Ndukuba who commended him for his “efforts at ensuring his government leaves a legacy of durable infrastructure in the state”. These achievements and endorsements from reputable citizens and organizations will be more effective in guaranteeing Hope Uzodinma’s re-election and not the ranting of PDP – a party who is at war with itself. Let the results of the recently held Ngor Okpala State Constituency bye – election serve as an eye – opener for everyone. As the saying goes, one good turn deserves another.

Emelumba is the commissioner for information and strategy, Imo State.

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