The deluge of felicitations that greeted the recent low key celebration to mark the 62nd birthday of Governor Hope Odidika Uzodinma in Owerri did not come as a surprise, not just because of his status as governor, or former senator, but indeed because he has always lived his life for his people right from his youthful days.
His struggle for self-determination from his early days till date, stands him out among his peers as a man who in spite of his humble beginnings and fair share of life’s weaknesses, continued to aim for the top, putting God first always and like the biblical David, always running back to God to ask for mercy and compassion, which perhaps has remained his greatest asset and secret in that journey of life.
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Odidika, as his parents named him (meaning, to be alive is more important than anything else) has been through thick and thin and has never pretended to be perfect, but has carried on like a man with a divine covenant to lay down his life for his people.
Like the several biblical stories that showed men and woman who God used to touch their generations, inspite or themselves, God seems to have also decided to use Uzodinma to uplift Imo people after nearly 40 years in political wilderness.
In the last 365 days of the shared prosperity administration in Imo State, a lot has indeed been done! For instance, reforming the Justice Administration system, such that the poor can access justice equally and in good time just as the rich; renewal of the urban capital city of Owerri with better road maintenance and modern drainage systems as well as streetlights and trafficlights that are now being obeyed; major road constructions in Okigwe and Orlu senatorial zones by a world class firm called Craneburg; free bus rides to and from work for all civil servants; automation of salaries and pensions with billions of naira being saved therefrom, the total elimination of the ghost worker/pensioner cankerworms; attraction of foreign investments in the oil sector, agriculture, construction, health, education and so on, most of which will begin to manifest fully post-COVID; reducing the cost of governance as all avenues for wasteful spending of funds have been blocked with the introduction of the Single Treasury Account System (TSA).
Governor Uzodinma has successfully cleared arrears of salaries of 40,000 workers, out of the 46,000 workforce and has also paid 21,000 pensioners up to December, 2020. The few yet to be paid are mostly those with one irregularity or the other such as using their spouse’s BVN, dormant bank accounts, using the BVN of microfinance banks, falsification or tampering of records of service, etc.
The governor has, however, assured that everyone who is cleared will be paid in full in the coming weeks and months, as he has vowed repeatedly never to tamper with “blood money”, which is the way he describes salaries and pensions.
It is our fervent prayer that the same God who has brought Uzodinma this far, will grant him the enablement to discharge his duties without fear or favour, so help us God.
Chief Toni Wakiki Akuneme writes from Imo State