It was a day of chest-beating for Hope Uzodimma, Governor of Imo State, as he took a look back to the three years he became the resident at Douglas House, the seat of power in the state, giving himself the full marks in keeping his promise of bettering the life of the people.
Uzodimma, who spoke at the unveiling of Lady Chinyere Ihuoma Ekomaru as his running mate for the November 11, 2023 governorship election, while reminding the people of his oath of office during his inauguration, told the cheering crowd at the Event Centre New, Owerri on Saturday, where he also refreshed their minds his Three-Rs, said he had not deviated from the concept.
A statement by Oguwike Nwachukwu, his spokesman, quoted the governor as maintaining that within the period, the government, anchored its policies and programmes on bulwark of reconstruction, rehabilitation and recovery, which he marshalled out during his inauguration on January 15, 2020 till date.
“On our part, I can boldly reiterate that we have indeed walked our talks: We have kept faith with Imo people on our promises. We have laid the solid foundation for growth in all sectors of the economy and we shall consolidate on them to deliver an industrial, prosperous and safe Imo state in the coming years.”
Welcoming the stakeholders for joining him to unveil his running mate and being part of another four years of history in the making, he said he was happy to “welcome all of you to this special stakeholders meeting whose main purpose is to introduce our deputy governorship candidate, Lady Chinyere Ekomaru in our consolidation march to build a safer, more functional and more prosperous Imo State.”
He reminded his audience that included party members that his numerous achievements are there to speak for him and his government as another election beckons, adding: “We have so much to campaign with. Our works speak for us. So today, we are here to reinforce our genuine claim to re-election. I have picked a female deputy governorship candidate in the person of Lady Chinyere Ihuoma Ekomaru.
“I believe she will add value to this ticket. I expect Imo women to appreciate this gesture as my genuine appreciation of their innate strength and capacity to make contribution to the growth of our state. The stakeholders are aware of why this particular decision was taken because the process of choosing her was all inclusive. I plead with all of us to accept and make peace with it.”
Uzodimma, who also had kind words for his outgoing Deputy Governor, Placid Njoku, informing his audience of how they both shared a good working relationship, said: “Let me use this opportunity to make it clear that I don’t have any problem with my deputy Governor, Prof Placid Njoku. If anything he is a very loyal and committed partner in progress.
“My confidence in him has not waned in any way. I want to assure you that he is still very relevant in our political family. His political career is not by any means over. The truth is that as representative of the people, we need to be sensitive to the ecumenical nature of the environment.”
Njoku, who corroborated the sentiments of the governor, drew applause from the crowd when he rose to take a bow, to underscore that they indeed had mutual feelings of goodwill.
“It is important to recall the situation we met on assumption of office, as this will enable us to appreciate where we are currently. This would also help us to dream and imagine what the future of Imo State will look like in the next four years under our prosperity administration which is encapsulated in Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery. Looking back, I can rightly and proudly claim that I kept the social contact I entered into with Imo people when I assumed office in January 2020.
“In spite of the fact that the opposition elements in the state are to be held responsible for the messy situation we inherited, they were still not happy with our determined efforts to recover the wasted years and opportunities. Recall that we took over, – without any handover note, without a functional government house, without a functional civil service – they were alarmed at the speed with which we tackled the challenges of governance. Obviously, this was why they vowed to distract, stop or slow us down with the security challenges that they created and unleashed on the state.
“Fortunately, I foresaw their desperation and arrived prepared and ready to face them and their mischief. The more they tried to stop me, the more determined and emboldened I became in changing the narrative of the state. I was determined from day one to replace the rancid corruption and ineptitude that characterized their regime with a new era of transparency and good governance. In their desperation, the instigation of violence and insecurity became their last card in the chess game of deceitful politics.
“You may want to ask what our offence really are, it is that we have shown capacity to turn things around, to build durable economic roads, to empower our youth with skills, to recover our lost glory in the health and education sectors, and more importantly, to outline an audacious vision for the industrialization of Imo State with its promise with massive job creation opportunities.
“As you all know, we have successfully check-mated them in their devilish plans. We are all witnesses to the fact that the security situation in Imo has greatly improved from what it was between 2020 and 2021. The wanton and unprovoked killing of citizens by mercenary criminals has abated. The indiscriminate attacks on security agencies have been checked while the burning of houses of Imo citizens is no longer an everyday occurrence. Contrary to the wishes of those enemies of the state, who never condemned the carnage while it raged, people are no longer afraid to come to Imo state for business.
“While there is no doubt that the security situation has tremendously improved, it is clear to me that our people are still afraid from the security scars of yesteryears. The real issue now is the fear of the unpleasant occurrences of the past. This is understandable. However I want to assure our people that there is nothing to fear anymore. Shake off the scars of the sad events of the past, and feel free to go about your legitimate businesses. Enough measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of our people, going forward.
“We should all be emboldened by the fact that If anything, Imo has regained its pride of place as the hub of hospitality. In the last couple of months, the state has hosted high profile events and conferences, including those by the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Guild of Editors. Those in the hospitality business will testify to increased patronage, signaling the return of normalcy in our state. Certainly, it can only get better. To God be the glory.
“However, when I hear those who created this spate of insecurity talk glibly about making the state safe, again, I laugh. Except they have decided to call-off their goons, seeing that the security agencies have given them a bloody nose. It is really curious that the only campaign agenda they have is the promise to battle insecurity in the state. By saying they will make Imo safe if elected, they are directly telling the people that the only way Imo can be safe is by them coming into power, what a poor strategy.
“They are only confirming their earlier threat to make Imo ungovernable for my Government. When the witch cries in the night and the baby dies in the morning, we don’t need to look far in seeking answers. Those who said Imo is now like Afghanistan are still safe in their villages. I don’t really understand what someone gains by de-marketing the state he wishes to govern.
“After politics, we shall all remain Imo sons and daughters. We have no other state than this. In this regard, let us treasure and protect what we have. Our only regret is that we were compelled to spend substantial amount of money on security, which could have been deployed to providing more infrastructure and other dividends of Democracy.
“But it is remarkable that in spite of the distractions by the opposition through the contrived security challenges, this administration has truly made the difference in the lives of Imo citizens in the last 43 months. Through prudent management of resources, a vision backed up with determination, and the support of patriotic Imo indigenes, including officials of this administration, Imo is certainly far better today than it was in January, 2020. This applies to all indices by which governance and development can be measured.
“First and foremost, I met a disorganized and disoriented civil service. Today we have a fully automated system in place in the civil service. In addition, we have eliminated corruption and abolished the menace of ghost workers, which was a major drain on our commonwealth. The environment within the secretariat complex has changed. Apart from the renovation of the entire 10 blocks and provision of relevant equipment, the morale of the civil servants is now sky high because of the regular payment of salaries, including the 13th month salary and other welfare services.
“Our roads which were mere death traps when I assumed office, are now motorable. I am sure all of you drove through these motorable roads to come here today, courtesy of your responsive 3R government. At the last count, this administration has done more than 100 good quality roads across the entire state, including the dual carriageway of Owerri — Okigwe road and Owerri -Orlu road. Construction of five kilometers of roads in the 27 local government areas of the state are at the various stages of completion.
“Let me use this opportunity to appeal to all indigenous Contractors handling the local roads to complete the roads as awarded. The reconstruction of Owerri -Mbaise- Obowo – Umuahia, and Orlu- Mgbee – Akokwa- UGA road is also on-going. Before then, we had dualized the MCC-Toronto road and built balloon technology for the drainage at Chukwuma Nwoha road to effectively check flooding in that area. Several houses were recovered for the owners in the process while movement to the popular IMSU junction from there is now seamless.
“In education, Imo is probably the only state in the South- East that is funding three universities. Yes, after we recovered the KO MBADIWE UNIVERSITY, we also established Imo State University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Umuagwo to ensure that our children are availed more admission spaces and at the same time creating employment and boosting the economy of the state. We are also effectively funding a polytechnic and a college of education. Our primary and secondary schools are enjoying equal attention. Our vision is to ensure that Imo maintains her enviable leadership position in education in the country.
“Such efforts are being replicated in health where we have recovered the Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Orlu from decay ensuring that medical students graduate from the institution after eight (8) years of stagnation. Today, IMSUTH remains a truly tertiary health institution with the requisite experts and consultants. Through our collaboration with the Federal Government, the FMC, Owerri has been converted to Federal University of Technology Teaching Hospital, Owerri.
“Thus, we now have two tertiary health institutions in the state. We had earlier recovered the various schools of nursing and midwifery which lost accreditation before I assumed office. We have also embarked on the renovation of general hospitals across the state. Three new well equipped general Hospitals will be commissioned in the next couple of days. Also, a total of 305 health centers are being renovated and to be equipped to offer comprehensive health care coverage to our citizens in the rural areas. This is in addition to the free mobile clinics which we provided. The same zeal with which we fought COVID -19 in the state is what we have replicated to tackle the health needs of our citizens.
“Based on the foregoing, it is obvious that we have never lost focus, and this is because the template and vision formulated under the 3R agenda are being implemented strictly. When I promised the people of Imo state that I will run a transparent administration, I meant every word of it. Today, even the World Bank has given us an award and prize money for transparency in governance. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria has followed suit with an award to us on transparency and accountability in governance.
“It is this push for excellence that gave us the impetus to recover our moribund industries so as to create jobs and stimulate the economy. We started with Adapalm Nigeria limited. We are now in the process of doing the same at IMO SHOE INDUSTRY and the Rubber Company. Thereafter, We shall move to Avutu Poultry, Nsu Ceramic Industry, etc.
“Through a friendly tax regime and creation of new business opportunities, we have also created the enabling environment for investors to establish industries and create employment opportunities in the state.
“Ladies and gentlemen, few months ago, the creme de la creme of Nigerian society were here in imo State for the flag-off ceremony of the dredging of Oguta to Orashi to Degema to the Atlantic ocean project. That is the game changer in the economic rejuvenation of the entire South-East. With a promise of a sea port at Oguta and an industrial cluster, we are on the verge of economic renaissance in our state. I wish to once again appreciate the federal government for the approval granted Imo state to execute this project. When it is completed, our state shall experience a new lease of economic life.
“I have enumerated few of our achievements today to let Imo people know that the APC government remains their best bet to the attainment of improved life and the economic progress we all are yearning for. Our transporters and farmers can testify to increased patronage and boost to their economy as a result of the new roads. Those working at Adapalm Nigeria limited know where their help came from. The residents of Owerri Capital city enjoying potable water from the rehabilitated Otamiri Water works know we are working, including those beholding the results of our urban renewal efforts.
“What it means is that Imo people are appreciative of what we have done in the last 43 months. We don’t need to employ subterranean tactics, subterfuge, propaganda and deceitful politics to achieve re-election. That belongs to the opposition who have nothing concrete to show to the people. In other words, they have nothing to campaign with. I challenge them to publish their programme for Imo People that will outline their development agenda.
“On our part, I can boldly reiterate that we have indeed walked our talks. We have kept faith with Imo people on our promises. We have laid the solid foundation for growth in all sectors of the economy and we shall consolidate on them to deliver an industrial, prosperous and safe Imo state in the coming years.
“We have so much to campaign with. Our works speak for us. So today,we are here to reinforce our genuine claim to reelection. I have picked a female deputy governorship candidate in the person of Lady Chinyere Ihuoma Ekomaru. I believe she will add value to this ticket. I expect Imo women to appreciate this gesture as my genuine appreciation of their innate strength and capacity to make contribution to the growth of our state. The stakeholders are aware of why this particular decision was taken because the process of choosing her was all inclusive. I plead with all of us to accept and make peace with it.
“Let me use this opportunity to make it clear that I don’t have any problem with my deputy Governor, Prof Placid Njoku. If anything he is a very loyal and committed partner in progress. My confidence in him has not waned in any way. I want to assure you that he is still very relevant in our political family. His political career is not by any means over. The truth is that as representative of the People, we need to be sensitive to the ecumenical nature of the environment.
On that note, it is my honour and privilege to present Lady Ekomaru as the APC deputy governorship candidate in Imo state for the forthcoming November election.”
Earlier in his address, the APC Chairman in Imo State, Dr Macdonald Ebere, acknowledged the good works done by Governor Uzodimma’s administration and reiterated the need for continuity.
Ebere said: “We are not unmindful of the fact, that the increasing strength , popularity and visibility of our party in the state as reflected in the just concluded election, the litany of defections from major political parties is attributed to your pacesetting infrastructural development and economic re-engineering of our state.
“At the national scene, we are proud of your sterling and diligent display of rare leadership disposition and administrative prowess, which has earned you the confidence of your brother governors and other critical stakeholders in the Nigerian project. Just recently you won your election as the Chairman of the Progressive Governors forum of Nigeria, you also won your election as the Chairman of the South East Governors forum, you were decorated with one of the prestigious National honour in Nigeria as the Commander of the Order of the Niger and was conferred with the highest honour in Rivers State as GSSRS Just to mention but a few. All these achievements and shine are not unconnected to your uncommon service to humanity and God, your philanthropy to Churches and human capital development.
“Today we have gathered here once again to reaffirm our commitment and dedication as a political party to the actualization of your re-election come November 11, 2023.
“We are already in high spirit, our Party is strong and popular, with the current state of cohesion and sense of purpose amongst our leaders and party men and women, APC is firmly position to take advantage of the achievement of the shared prosperity administration to secure once again the mandate of our people.
“We are very optimistic that our people will once again speak through their votes, to revalidate their implicit vote of confidence in our party and the Shared Prosperity administration of our governor.
“While we intend to take advantage of the numerous life saving projects of this administration, it is important that our eyes remain fixed on the ball, with zero internal distractions and infighting. We must remain focused and undistracted till victory is assured. We need undiluted unity, total collaboration, unalloyed collective support, symbiotic efforts and political consanguinity is pivotal at the various organs of the party. The supremacy of the party should be our watch word at this time. Let us eschew all political slumber, callous approach to grassroot campaign or devil-may-care-attitude in our efforts to victory. We shall never take any opposition for granted or treat them with kids gloves.”
While thanking the Governor for his gender sensitivity that led to the choice of his running mate, Ebere encouraged Party faithful to rely on “the impressive scorecard of our governor… to be fishers of men, winning and converting souls for our governor and our victory come 11th of November is 100% guaranteed by the grace of God.”
In her acceptance speech after her resume was read out by the Chief Political Adviser/ Head of Political Bureau, Barr. Enyinnaya Onuegbu, Lady Ekomaru, accompanied by the husband, thanked the Governor for choosing her as his running mate and promised not to disappoint his expectations of her.
She recalled that she has been in politics for more than 40 years and assured the Governor that her choice meant
winning supporters from the Anglican Communion, academia and social groups where she belongs, from the Judiciary where the husband belongs, from the health sector where her child belongs, and more importantly, from the numerous women, social groups where she also belongs.
The event was witnessed by top politicians in the APC, including serving/ former senators and House of Representatives members, former ministers, retired security chiefs, ranking traditional rulers, business moguls, women and youth leaders, among others.
BREAKING: Stop these demolitions, you’re killing the people, Obi tells Lagos govt
A government that has lost the milk of human kindness is not justification to preside over their affairs, Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party’s (LP) in the February 25 election, said on Thursday, in reaction to the ongoing massive demolitions of properties in parts of the country, particularly, Lagos and Abuja, mostly.
While Nyesom Wike, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), had been engaging in some demolitions of buildings contravening the building plans of the city, the more devastating outcomes are being witnessed in Lagos, which seemed to have gone haywire with the bulldozers, which had been pulling down multi-billion structures in high-brow areas.
Alaba International Market, Abule Ado, Lekki and other parts of Lagos, have witnessed some of the onslaughts with the building owners lamenting that in many cases they were given just a few hours to evacuate their properties, a condition which many of them could hardly meet.
Obi, while bemoaning the situation, while pleading with the government to take the suffering of the people into account and approach the issue with human face, said:
“All government actions must show compassion, even though we should enforce sensible regulations.”
Amid the speculations that some of the victims who come from the South East were being punished for creating the situation, which gave Obi the massive votes in Lagos that made him beat President Bola Tinubu, who governed the state for eight years, and still maintains a stronghold on the political structure of the state, who used his X handle to air his position, on Thursday, advised the government to come up with measures aimed at alleviating the people’s hardships considering the current harsh economic conditions in the country.
He said, “It’s with complete despondency and unhappiness that I have followed the ongoing demolitions of properties across the country, especially knowing the extra hardship such acts have been heaping on hapless citizens who are already battling with multi-dimensional poverty.
“What a responsive government should be doing under the current harsh economic conditions in the country is to come up with measures aimed at alleviating the people’s hardships and to carry out measures that will take more people out of poverty.
“Even if there are some violations as the governments are claiming, this critical time is not auspicious for such an exercise knowing the hardship in the land and the consequences it will have on the poor who are struggling to make ends meet with their little resources.
“The poor in our midst who are putting their meager resources are going through very severe financial stress that should not be multiplied further. In some cases, the properties being demolished are the life time savings and retirement abodes of the aged and incapacitated.
“My appeal therefore is for the respective governments involved in this act to consider the hardship in the country and try and put a human face to their actions. While we should enforce sensible regulations, all actions of government must show compassion.”
It’s Tinubu’s budget of ‘hopelessness and pains,’ prepare for more hardship – PDP
Nigerians must gird their loins for more suffering with the budget President Bola Tinubu released on Wednesday if allowed to pass, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has said, warning the National Assembly not to approve it if they were truly representing the people.
Describing the N27.5 trillion budget for the 2024 fiscal year as deceitful, strangulating, and hopeless, the party in a statement by Debo Ologunagba, its spokesman, said if the budget was allowed to pass, it will further plunge the nation into more economic depression and hopelessness.
Stating that NASS must activate its mandate to the constitution under Sections 80, 81, and 82 of the 1999 Constitution, to reject the 2024 budget as presented, he said: “The PDP calls on the National Assembly pursuant to its Constitutional duty under Section 80, 81 and 82 of the 1999 Constitution to reject the 2024 budget as presented and use its legislative powers to disassemble the budget and make provisions that are critical and pivotal to the growth of the economy and the welfare of Nigerians,” the party said.
Ologunagba, while stressing that the document was devoid of concrete mechanisms to revive the economy, create jobs, address the comatose manufacturing and productive sectors, human capital development deficiencies, and depleting the life expectancy of Nigerian citizens, alleged that it was filled with heavily padded figures, duplicated items, and several false statistics, including claims of global increase in the inflation rate.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary declared that the budget is predicated and expected to be funded from multilateral and bilateral foreign loans and increased taxes on Nigerians and is designed to further mortgage the nation and strangulate the already impoverished Nigerians.
No room for corruption in Abuja anymore – Wike * Says, Abuja metro ready in six months
Anybody planning how to skew the process for personal advantage, would discover the hard way that there is a new sheriff in town and it would no longer be business as usual, Nyesom Wike, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), said on Wednesday.
Wike, former Governor of Rivers State and the only Minister of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or member of the opposition in the cabinet of President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), made this solemn declaration on the floor of the National Assembly, where he presented and defended a N61billion supplemental budget for the year 2023.
The Minister, whose is presenting the fresh estimates one month to the end of 2023, said components of the proposal, were projects-specific, added that President Bola Tinubu would commission most of them including the Abuja Metroline by May as part of activities marking the president’s one year in office.
According to him, the N61 billion FCT Supplementary Budget was drawn from its Paris Club refund, PAYE, the N5billion special presidential intervention for states, the presidential infrastructure support funds and the territory’s Internally Generated Revenue IGR.
For instance, Wike, who assured that the President would commission the metro line by May adding that part of the project, which would ease the movement of the people in the capital, was already contained in the national budget, presented by Tinubu on the same day.
Wike, who also spoke on the fate of victims of the administration’s demolition exercises, blamed them for the situation, saying there was no way that the desire of a world-class Federal Capital Territory by Nigerians could materialise with those entrusted with making it happen engaging in excuses for unplanned and illegal developments.
Noting that demolitions could not be stopped as long as people continue to build on green areas, water and sewage lines and other unapproved places, he said the Administration would however pay compensation in areas designated for resettlement.
He said: “We can’t stop demolitions. You cannot go and build in a green area and then when we demolish, you want us to compensate you. Illegality is illegality. But if we want to acquire your property for development, we will pay you.”
Wike, who justified his decision to engage Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) to help handle cases involving the Administration, lamented that the lack of diligent prosecution of cases in the past by FCT officials led to the loss of a number of cases, adding that over 800 litigations involving the FCT, were currently pending in various courts.
Wike, who also alleged complicity on the part of some officials who connived with plaintiffs to get judgments against the FCT Administration, he said: “I have never seen a territory with over 800 litigations. Some of these litigations were in connivance with staff of the FCT. So, I said I will engage SANs because I don’t want a situation whereby someone will go to court and then agree with the plaintiffs and judgment is entered against the FCT.”
Revealing that his administration would revive the city’s mass transit system to eliminate cases of “one chance”, adding that private operators would undergo security vetting before being allowed into the system, he added that he was working with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Department of State Services (DSS) with regards to providing Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in strategic parts of the city.
Accusing some of his staff of using some Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) entered into by the FCT with some private developers, to fleece the administration, he vowed to cancel the contracts, adding: “I will cancel several PPPs. All the PPPs in Abuja are about land and are against the FCT.”
Citing a case in Wassa where the FCT gave a developer land for mass housing, and gave him another N85billion for infrastructure, he lamented a situation where the same developer would go and build houses, and sell to people at market value without anything coming to the government.
On the recertification of all Certificates of Occupancy (C of Os,) he said: “All C of Os will be recertified and you will put your NIN. In FCT, there are a lot of fake C of Os but with this new development, we will end that and security-wise, we can know people who own each structure. If you have a C of Os and you have enjoyed recertified, it will no longer be valid,” he stated.
Chairman of the House Committee on FCT, Muktar Betara lauded the minister for his passion for developing the territory, however urged him to reconsider the uniform fees for obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy, saying highbrow areas like Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse and others cannot have the same fees with the satellite towns.
December 3, 2023 1:33 pm
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