By CELIA OSAKWE-HIBBERT
I would like to remind us all that our 3R Government is technically 2 months old, although I’m aware that several Imolites feel it is one year because of the numerous accomplishments of Sen. Hope Uzodimma, the Governor of Imo State.
My name is Chief. Cllr. Celia Osakwe-Hibbert, one of the
Special Advisers to Imo State Governor (on Diaspora Affairs). As part of celebrating the one year anniversary of our 3R Government, here are my reflections and I believe that any analytical thinking individual will agree that the administration of Governor Hope Uzodimma hasn’t had more than 2 uninterrupted months to operate. Despite the unprecedented challenges of 2020, His Excellency has still performed excellently.
Firstly the 3R Government inherited an anxious public, Imolites who were coming out from an epileptic administration. We were dehydrated and thirsted for change. The 3R Government also inherited a State filled with restive Imo youths; young men and women who were starving from lack of opportunities and were hungry for a decent future.
Things became increasingly worse as just barely 2 months into office, CoronaVirus pandemic hit the world sparing no towns, no villages, nor districts. As if that wasn’t enough the ‘restive youths’ later pounced on the streets of Imo, to dramatize their dissatisfaction following a series of empty promises by successive governments. #EndSars protest was chilling!
Let me also remind us that amidst all of these my Boss Senator Hope Uzodimma had a blueprint to completely transform Imo within the first 2 years, this blueprint unavoidably became temporarily shelved. The urgent mission was to find palliatives to sustain indigenous women, men and children shielding from the devastating pandemic.
A lot of investors the 3R administration attracted were recalled back to their home countries; their diplomats warned the investors that if they do not come back home, they will be stuck in Africa. This SOS call swept away nearly all of the investors the various 3R offices attracted.
I recall some Foreign investors that my office, the Diaspora office invited to Imo. As soon as the CoronaVirus news broke, they were frantically running to the Imo airport to catch the next flight out! All our plans were grounded to a halt!
Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodimma now had to think on his feet. So as well as dealing with the CoronaVirus challenges. He began to call for laws to combat lack of transparency, laws to strengthen the civil service, laws to elevate the status of women and people living with disabilities. The various offices He created ‘stood for something’.
My Office, the office of the Governor on Diaspora domesticated all our plans; it was obvious we couldn’t travel across the Diaspora but we didn’t resign to fate. We picked up the pragmatic cues from our Governor and supported the realization of his vision of recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation in all our engagements. Meanwhile, the Governor also used his executive powers to enact progressive reforms to benefit people living and working in Imo State.
As the situation of the pandemic gained some rhythm, the initial panic abated, road constructions re started heavily. Agricultural programmes began in collaboration with the federal government programmes. Community projects such as Primary healthcare and Primary school rehabilitation commenced earnestly. Women Empowerment works and work around vulnerable communities also started to happen. The Governor became relentless in settling the socioeconomic turbulent times.
Before we all went to bed and woke up Christmas was with us. Nevertheless, several Diasporans still managed to return back home. Nearly 100% of them had similar experiences to share. Their various host countries were in serious trouble; yet upon returning to Nigeria, they all noticed that a lot was happening in Imo State. Most of them for the first time didn’t need to limit their journeys around the State, they travelled at night and day; without mobile police either.
The security network the Governor had set up was yielding results. Barely any incidents of crime were recorded. The State Police and State Government worked collaboratively round the clock to reduce crime figures. Crime figures plummeted by over 22.5% a feat that has never been attained before.
So for the first time in history, Imo State became one of the safest places to live in the world. A lot of people from the Diaspora temporarily made Imo their home. The Governor ‘is working’ was no longer merely ‘words’ but ‘verifiable action’.
Now to think all of the aforementioned distractions occurred within a year is unimaginable, because Imo continued to catalogue achievements and tangible milestones were now being recorded by Gov. Uzodimma’s administration.
Additional community projects such as rural electrictrification, clean water, emergency vehicles, technological facilities also began to spring up! Governor Uzodimma re attracted investors. He also channelled state funds to appropriate projects and he unlocked funds like that of ‘world bank’ by staking the counterpart funds required.
This enabled Imo State to access millions never accessed in the last decade. As a result of this proactive process by Imo Governor, today laudable world bank projects are being witnessed in our rural areas. No excuses, the Governor got up, folded his sleeves and just got on with the job!
Under the leadership of Sen. Hope Uzodimma, Imo certainly towered over its emerging and previously accumulated tribulations. Hope is no doubt the most qualified driver, no wonder his Chief of Staff sometimes last year described him as a ‘driver with a legitimate driver’s license’ . I therefore believe that any other driver would have definitely crashed on the ‘potholed’ roads of 2020. Instead, Gov. Uzodimma drove Imolites across the borders of terror and we all came out into 2021 unscathed.
All we can say is a massive ‘THANK YOU’ to our Governor for a job well done as we look forward to a less dramatic 2021.