It is true that there is no rest for man on this side of the divide. But man is not permitted to be restless all the time. He is required sometimes to relax and rest his limbs.
Governor Hope Odidika Uzodimma of Imo State has not just been restless, he has had no moment of respite since assumption of office on January 15, 2020.
For the All Progressives Congress administration under Uzodimma’s watch, it has been like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Every day, week and month come with its own challenges, which challenge the administration.
From the spate of protests that trailed his victory at the Supreme Court and his subsequent swearing-in, to the lockdown exacerbated by the outbreak of COVID-19 and the EndSARS protests as well as the rising insecurity in the state, Gov. Uzodimma has not heaved any sigh of relief since mounting the saddle.
Clearly, he didn’t envisage his governoship will come to this sorry pass. The opposition Peoples Democratic Party organized no less than four protest rallies in the state immediately he assumed office. It also held a protest rally at Abuja to express its displeasure at Uzodimma’s emergence as governor. The party only relented after the apex court told it pointedly that it could not reverse its verdict on the March 19, 2019 gubernatorial poll in the state.
When street protests failed to yield the desired fruits, the party resorted to the use of social media to keep Governor Uzodimma on his toes. It recruited an acclaimed social media tiger, Ambrose Nwaogwugwu, who it appointed Director General of its New Media Team.
Nwogwugwu and his team did the propanganda job well that the governor found it difficult to sleep, necessitating the administration unleashing the DSS after him.
It was the Nwogwugwu team that popularized the Supreme Court governor tag which stuck to the governor like a second skin.
The DSS, besides clamping him in its dingy hell-hole, slammed him with the charge of treasonable felony. It was either the spy catcher could not sustain the charge or it was prevailed upon to drop it. But the incarceration which Nwogwugwu passed through helped to win him over to the camp of the governor.
Today, he is doing the yeoman’s job for the governor though without attracting same applause and believability he got while on the PDP stable. He is now seen as a renegade, who isn’t worthy of anybody’s hire.
In addition to anti-Uzodimma governorship protests, pensioners in the state also have held several protest rallies demanding the payment of backlog of pension arrears. Government’s explanation of being up to date with pension payment did not stop the protest. That the protest by the retired senior citizens has stopped could be a function of their weak limbs.
In the midst of the protests, COVID-19 broke out in the state in April 2020. To compound the situation, a nationwide lockdown was added. While Imolites, like other Nigerians were reeling under the Covid-19 induced challenges, the EndSARS protests also hit the state.
Little did many know that the EndSARS protest and its negative impact on the state were a child’s play. Attacks on security formations which started during the EndSARS protest has heightened in intensity in the state.
Police stations, offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission, health centres and military formations have come under attacks. Police operatives and soldiers have also come within the firing range of hoodlums. But the civilians are mowed down daily like chickens by security operatives. There is no proper statistics yet but if there is any statistician taking the count, he will tell you the number of civilians being extra-judicially killed in Imo State is on the upward swing.
For instance, the body of Miss Divine Nwaneri, a student of Imo State University, Owerri killed in April in front of Government House, Owerri by security operatives must have decomposed and mixed up with clay by now. A pig farmer was equally shot dead in front of Government House, Owerri.
The body of a 300-level Law student of Imo State University, Owerri, Kingsley Chiwueze was found in the morgue of Imo Specialist Hospital, Umuguma five days after, in April.
What of businessman, Noel Chigbu, who was shot dead while cruising in his newly-acquired Camry car by soldiers for violating checkpoint rule in the last day of April, this year?
Two ladies were paraded lifeless on social media after being cut down by bullets during the attack on Orji Divisional Police Headquarters. And on May 30, the police paraded the lifeless bodies of young men they claimed pulled the trigger that sent former presidential aide, Ahmed Gulak to his ancestors.
The governor admitted inviting the military to keep peace in Orlu zone. Since the invite, Orlu and the entire state have known no peace.
Today, youths are rounded up in droves on allegations of being members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, or its militant arm, Eastern Security Network, ESN, which security agencies believe are responsible for the series of blasts at security facilities in the state and deaths of security agents.
IPOB has constantly denied responsibility of the attacks, saying its operatives are stationed mainly in the bush to combat killer-Fulani herdsmen who have been terrorizing the entire South East region.
Farmlands are overrun by the herders, who also kill, maim and rape women and ladies in the state. Though farmers/herders clashes pre-date Uzodimma’s advent as governor, their frequency has risen under him. And the governor’s handling of the problem tilts towards pleasing the invaders to the discomfiture of many Imolites, who see him as a Fulani lackey.
For instance, when some herders overran an Mbaise Community with their cows, destroying farms, and the villagers reacted by killing about 90 cows, the governor speedily approved the payment of compensation to the herders leaving the natives whose farm crops were destroyed koboless.
The governor has not devoted any of his broadcast to mourn the many youths who were killed but when some hoodlums killed Gulak, he was quick to make a statewide broadcast in condemnation of the murder and assuring of the unravelling and punishment of the felons behind the dastardly act.
As gruesome and condemnable as Gulak’s murder is, the fact remains that his life is not more important than the several people that have been mowed down in the state in the wake of rising insecurity in the state.
Many people, including Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike and Prelate of Christ Victorious Alive Revival Mission Owerri, Bishop Uzoma Emmanuel, have pointedly told the governor to be cautious in elevating Gulak’s life above many others also lost in gruesome circumstances.
Governor Wike also frowned at the hasty conclusion made by his Imo State counterpart that Gulak’s murder was pure political assassination. Wike advised that Governor Uzodimma would have waited for the outcome of investigation into the murder.
Even President Muhammadu Buhari didn’t find it bad to condemn the killings in the state until Gulak was sent packing from the earth.
Hear Mr. President! “I am repulsed by such premeditated and gruesome murder of Gulak by evil people who are determined to undermine the peace, unity and territorial integrity of our country”, The Nation quoted him as saying.
He went on: “Let me warn, however, that nobody or group of people who engage in such despicable act should expect to go free.
“’We will deploy all resources at our disposal to ensure that such callous and criminal elements are brought to justice”.
Gulak was a prominent fellow and such people can’t have their blood spilled in vain. He was like the ‘lazy’ youths who had been slaughtered in the state.
The opposition believe that Governor Uzodimma has lost the battle of securing the state. Going by the wanton killings in the state by state and non-state actors, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party has called on the governor to throw in the towel.
But will he heed to the call? Is the governor finding his reign patatable? He may not publicly answer yes. But the sweat of anxiety is flowing daily ceaselessly on his cheeks.