– Kelechi Mejuobi
The dominating activity in Government House, Owerri, the seat of power of Imo State Government is the visit of stakeholders from each LGA in Imo State.
In the wake of the Unknown Gunmen menace in the State, the only prominent activity the governor, Hope Odidika Uzodinma, has been chanced to perform is playing host to stakeholders from each LGA.
A select team comprising politicians, religious leaders, and youths from each LGA engage in roundtable discussion with the governor where issues related to their areas are discussed. The program which started weeks ago is yet to be completed among the 27 LGAs.
Very noticeable during the visits is the subtle schemes of suspected office seekers who tried to show their faces and attract governor’s attention.
Uzodinma had few months ago sacked about twenty commissioners before sending other appointees in the Special Adviser, and Senior Special Assistant categories packing from office.
While outlining steps to reconstitute the State Exco, Uzodinma hinted about stakeholders from LGAs contributing to the nomination of fresh appointees.
This revelation about stakeholders inputs may have fired the zeal of opportunists interested in getting appointment take front seat at the gathering.
A cursory survey of the names from different LGAs present when Uzodinma had audience with them have identities of those angling for either fresh calling or reappointment in the 3R administration.
Others too who cannot be ruled out in the struggle for recognition are some heavyweight political leaders. The governor, since coming on board in January of 2020 may not had the chance to observe a one-to-one interactive session with many leaders. The lofty services, the office of the Governor provides may have curtailed his movements and social interaction.
Therefore, the LGA visit has become a rare opportunity for the topshots to be noticed.
Despite what may have motivated the number one citizen of Imo State coming up with the arrangement of the visit, it has provided his allies in other parties as well as politicians who do not have the knack to be in opposition camp, chance to come close for a political romance.
A notable hallmark the visit has exposed is the rumoured marriage some prominent PDP chieftains have started with Uzodinma. Apart from the initial defectors who joined him to APC moments he became governor, there is palpable fear in the umbrella party of loosing strong members to the APC.
Aside Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, an elder statesman and formidable PDP chieftain who has not hidden support for the governor, a former National Vice Chairman of the party. South East Zone, Ozichukwu Fidelis Chukwu, Chris Anyanwu, a Senator and former State Chairman of the Party, Eze Duruiheoma (SAN) are within spitting distance of joining Uzodinma in his APC.
Already, the likes of Willy Amadi, a household name in PDP has declared for the ruling party. Those present when they spoke indicate that their choice of words while addressing the audience show change of party platform outside PDP.
Available information also has it that other relatively unknown leaders who can’t live without being part of the ruling party in the state are using the opportunity to stealthy crawl into the APC. There is this spectacular political class in the state who strive to be in the ruling party irrespective of who is incharge.
From the time of Achike Udenwa in 1999 till date, the “anywhere belle face” politicians have always thrown support to the ruling party in the state. They were with Udenwa, migrated into Ikedi Ohakim’s government and shifted base to Rochas Okorocha.
Even the brief period of Emeka Ihedioha saw them show interest in governance before re-aligning to Uzodinma.
Their move is solely to gain political positions hence they are in the front row in the current LGA visits to the incumbent governor.
One major importance the visits have settled is the perturbing issues of apex leadership of the various LGAs.
The emergence of Uzodinma has seen most of his followers and those of APC who didn’t “shift” alliance to former governor Okorocha, embark on internal schisms over who should dictate the pace of party affairs in their respective LGAs. But during the visits, the designated apex leaders became delegation leaders thereby resting the battle for apex leadership.
Photo Gallery: Diary of the interface between Governor Uzodinma’s Government and the people of the various LGAs in Imo State
There is hardly any LGA where leaders of CampHope; the political family of the governor do not have intra-party squabbles related to who takes charge as apex leader.
There is no gainsaying the fact that those entrusted with the task of Delegation Leaders position in the ongoing visits have emerged de facto Apex leaders of the party under Uzodinma’s set up.
Very interesting in this aspect is the Ikeduru LGA example.
Before now, two known political gladiators; Charles Amadi (Chalvon) and Uzoma Obiyo have been at crossroads over who should call the shots in APC.
The war of attrition afflicting them reached alarming crescendo when their verbal exchanges became public, before the governor intervened. Despite Placid Njoku, from the LGA holding Deputy Governorship position, both had supremacy combat over the soul of Ikeduru politics. As observes watched who would get upper hand before Uzodinma as the apex leader, it was rather the elder statesman, Iwuanyanwu that led the delegation.
The Ikeduru power play further manifested as the son of Chalvon, said to be using his Akarachi foundation for 2023 Mbaike (Mbailtoli and Ikeduru) House of Reps position, reportedly doled out N100m to the governor as support for the empowerment program of Mbaike youths.
More striking in the Ikeduru visit was the absence of Uche Ogbuagu.
The comedian turned politician who represents the state constituency in the House of Assembly. Ogbuagu was of PDP descent before jumping into APC cruising boat moments the party governorship candidate, Emeka Ihedioha lost the seat to Uzodinma of APC.
Ogbuagu quickly dumped PDP for APC and was handsomely rewarded with Majority Leader position until recently he got removed. The comedian’s absence before the governor has raised several speculations about his continued stay in the party, relationship with Ikeduru leaders and future political permutations.
It is believed that these disturbing trends listed above may have made LGA Leaders who attended the several parley easily forgot ailments worrying their localities.
Reports have it that most of the LGAs who visited Uzodinma concerned their interest to ephemeral matters, leaving behind challenges affecting their communities and councils.
The opportunity to tell Uzodinma their problems which should be the main focus of the program became squandered due to partisan proclivity and quest to be recognized.
Reports of skirmishes arising from the millions of naira, the governor gave out to appreciate each LGA after the visit is another sour point that can’t pass unnoticed in this review. Each LGA suffers breakdown of law and order when it was time for sharing of the millions of naira.
Except for few where sanity prevailed, it witnessed theatre of absurdities.
At the end of the visits, it is expected that the score card of the program would have recorded its importance and achievements for public evaluation.
9News Nigeria (Owerri)
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