By Oguwike Nwachuku
On Thursday, February 6, 2020, Chido Benedict Nwakanma, one of Nigeria’s very active communications strategist and marketer with extensive media experience, set out on a voyage to deliberately undermine the person of the governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Senator Hope Uzodinma.
When I read Chido Nwakanma’s “The hunchback on Hope Uzodinma” in his Public Sphere column in BussinessDay, the first thing that raced to my mind was that the political desporadoes in my beloved Imo have also got him, nay influenced him.
Nwakanma wrote like someone who was counseled to foist a hunchback on the Imo State Governor for the fun of it, even when he knows too well that Senator Hope Uzodinma does not have one.
Many people who read the piece written by Nwakanma, like yours sincerely, are still wondering whether Chido, the person I have known for many years for his strong character, has not joined the band of cheer leaders and hired writers who dot the country’s landscape, crying more than the bereaved in matters that political exposed persons are providing the environment.
I will return to this shortly, but first, let us get the records right.
Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma was returned as the duly elected Governor of Imo State on January 14, 2020 following a Supreme Court ruling that jolted many persons. Going by Nwakanma’s write up, he appears to have also been jolted by the apex court’s judgement.
Shortly after the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Imo State, Uzodinma who ran on the ticket of the All Progressive Congress (APC) felt short-changed and decided to take his case to the court, starting with the Imo State Governorship Election Tribunal.
At the tribunal, his political traducers in the other political parties, particularly those who belong to the sacked People’s Political Party (PDP) administration worked hard to ensure Senator Uzodinma was not given fair hearing. Imo people watched as they rejoiced and celebrated their short-lived victory at the tribunal.
Senator Uzodinma remained undaunted and proceeded to the Court of Appeal where, again, majority of the Justices who sat on his appeal ruled against him except one that saw the merit in his prayers and gave a dissenting ruling. Again, his traducers rejoiced and thought the end had come for the astute politician and tested senator.
It was that lone voice from the Justice who gave the dissenting ruling at the Court of Appeal that spurred Senator Uzodinma up to proceed to the apex court.
All through the journey from the tribunal to the Supreme Court, there was pressure on Uzodinma to let go but being a man of destiny and an experienced political leader in the country, he chose to remain focused and to pursue his matter to a local conclusion, even if he would lose at the end of the day. And as Uthman Dan Fodio once said, ”conscience is an open wound, only truth can heel it.”
Senator Uzodinma was goaded not to give the court the chance to test its potency which has always been the desire of well-meaning democrats.
The Supreme Court ruling of January 14, 2020 was therefore the highpoint of Senator Uzodinma’s trust and confidence in our judicial system as the last hope of the common man and the pillar upon which democratic culture revolves.
Seven Justices of the Supreme Court who sat to hear Senator Uzodinma’s case were all in agreement that he was wrongly treated and cheated during the governorship election that brought Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha into office ab initio.
The apex court saw the reason in ensuring that the results from the 388 poling units which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not capture were an attempt to rig Senator Uzodinma out of the contest, and decided to redress the electoral robbery targeted at him.
The result was his being declared the rightfully elected Governor in the March 9, 2019 Governorship election in Imo State when the Apex Court added the results that were initially carefully excluded from the 388 poling units to the earlier votes Senator Uzodinma got.
Ever since the Supreme Court pronounced Senator Uzodinma Governor of Imo State, there have been persons who have taken it upon themselves to undermine the integrity of the apex court, howbeit, shamelessly.
They have sponsored protests upon protests against the Justices of the Apex Court and have also behaved in ways that suggest our Supreme Court is useless knowing full well they were being economical with the truth.
They have given the Supreme Court judgement different interpretations to suit their selfish desires and ambitions as well as those of their masters. Many of them have gone as far as insulting the Justices of the Supreme Court, calling them unprintable names and demanding that they be sacked.
We understand the sentiment. Failure is nothing but an orphan.
The ruling that was in favour of Senator Hope Uzodinma did not go their way. Had the judgement been in their favour, the Justices of the Supreme Court would have been heroes and deserving of being their role models. They would have been the best thing to happen to Nigeria, while the institution itself would have been described as the best in the country.
That Nwakanma is trying to foist a hunch on Governor Uzodinma’s back is not surprising because it is part of the narrative to suit the intension of his masters who think they have been yanked off from office.
Nwakanma shares the same sentiments with the organisers of the protests, otherwise, he would have been a little more circumspect in his hasty characterisation of a man who approached the court and got justice that was denied him for standing in for an election he was clearly primed to win but for manipulative fingers of his political traducers and enemies of democracy.
I do not know how much thought Nwakanma has spared evaluating the circumstances that brought his pay masters into office in the first place vis a vis Uzodinma that the apex court said rightfully won the Imo governorship election.
As media and brand expert, Nwakanma knows that perception, more often than not, does not mean reality. But, because he was writing from where he appeared, he painted the picture of an Uzodinma he alone claims to know what image he cuts. How not to be biased as a media strategist!
In recent times, I have not read a piece laced with such venom and written by one who ought to be an expert.
Hear Nwakanma: “Uzodinma carries a huge hunchback of negative perceptions into his occupation of the Governor’s Office in Imo State. As the days go by, and the reality of his residency of Douglas House sinks in, citizens and watchers of Imo State wonder what he will or will not do. It is essential to understand why.”
I need not dwell on Nwakanma’s biased assessment of Governor Uzodinma’s inaugural speech which only him conceives and has tried woefully to market as “full of sound and fury.”
But let me add that in the fullest of time, the likes of Nwakanma will wonder if they did not write in a hurry about the man who is today calling the shots at the Douglas House in Owerri.
Truth is that majority of Imo people are praying for Governor Uzodinma, not just for him to succeed, but for him to pilot their affairs in the next four or eight years because of his people-oriented programmes they are already feeling the impact.
The people have seen his good intensions that are contained in his maiden speech but which the likes of Nwakanma’s would love to ignore for reasons we had identified earlier.
Imo people have seen a man that is not selfish, greedy, crafty and vindictive. They have seen a man who understands their plight and wants to be part of the history in the making to take them out of the hole of abject poverty and misery.
Governor Uzodinma has already started to turn the tide in the way Imo has been governed over the years. He wants the local governments to be autonomous in all ramifications, he wants to secure Imo without giving excuses, he does not want Imo workers to complain about their wages, he does not want pensioners to groan in pain any more, he wants the Imo youths to be engaged in productive ventures, he wants the state to rank among the best in terms of infrastructure, and a lot more.
Civil servants in Imo have not been as happy as they are today before. They have given their commitment to be part of the journey to reclaim, recover and rehabilitate Imo by Governor Uzodinma because they have seen the sincerity of purpose in the man on the driver’s seat.
I am sure the likes of Nwakanma who are interested in a single narrative would not want to hear all that. But that is the position today less than one month that the administration of Governor Hope Odidika Uzodinma came on board.
May be I should remind Nwakanma that the dawn of a new Imo is here. If I were him I will have no choice than to be part of history in the making for the rebirth of Imo which is the yearning of all of us.
.Oguwike Nwachuku is the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State