Dr. Acho Orabuchi is the Chairman Emeritus of Pan Ndigbo Foundation a United States-based political group. The American-trained educator cum political activist, in this interview, speaks on governance in his home state, Imo and other national issues. Excerpts:
You are from Orlu Senatorial Zone (Imo West). How do you see Senator Hope Uzodimma, who hails from the zone as the governor of Imo State after another Orlu man, Rochas Okorocha?
I am a firm believer of the politics of ideology. I believe in politics of ideas replete with issues. Going back to your question, Senator Hope Uzodimma is eminently qualified to be the governor of Imo State. As a result, I am not surprised that he emerged as the governor of the state. It is my personal opinion that with his heart on the welfare of beleaguered masses and his dynamic leadership focused on elevating the hopes of downtrodden, Governor Uzodimma will unwittingly touch the lives of so many Imo State indigenes in both home and abroad. So far, he is doing that. Governor Uzodimma has adequately shown that in a culture of corruption, a good few men and women abound; that’s a promise we would hold dearly.
Despite the picture you’ve painted about Uzodinma, there are still pockets of opposition to his administration. Why do you think it is so?
You know that politics is both the science and art of possibilities. Also, it is a contact and rugged activity. Thus, despair is often a veneer for ignorant of the knowledge of politics. So, I will be surprised if everyone likes him. That is the nature of democracy.
In a democracy, philosophies and principles, inherent in party politics, are always in contention during elections. At the end of the contest, the opposition would prefer its candidate at the helm, directing the affairs of the state. Sadly, in Nigeria, losers are still learning how to magnanimously accept loss, and work together for the common good of the society. With the ascendance of Uzodimma as the governor of Imo State, some members of the opposition resisted, but to no avail. However, I strongly believe that the majority of people will move beyond the circumstance and commit fully to making Imo great under the leadership of Governor Uzodimma.
I am also hopeful that Uzodimma will transcend the politics of bitterness and unnecessary division to achieve economic gains for the masses. Nevertheless, I don’t think it is necessary for Uzodimma to appease the political class to prove himself.
He needs to focus on lifting the masses. He needs to work for the people of Imo State to ensure that the citizens of the state can feel and touch the dividends of democracy. In any case, Uzodimma is our governor. It is natural that some people may not like him but it is evident that most people admire him and appreciate him as their governor. It is critically important that we support the governor to achieve for the state regardless of one’s disposition. Governor Uzodimma’ success is our collective success. Thus, if we don’t support him to be successful, the failure of the state rests in our hands.
Do you communicate with the governor and what do you tell or advise him?
I do communicate with the Executive Governor Uzodimma, but not frequently. The content of our communication is privileged, and it is not for public consumption. Besides, the governor has assembled a star-studded team to advise him. I have confidence in those he has hired to help him achieve success for Imo State. For instance, I personally know and have confidence in the following individuals to perform exceptionally: Chuck Chuckuemeka, Prof. Bernard Ikegwuoha, Thelma Nkechi Ugwu, Ralph Nwosu, and Dr. Bartos Nwadike. Also, Chief Cosmas Iwu, Barr. Chief COC Akaolisa, Chief Barr Nnamdi Anyaehie, Hon Declan Emelumba and others are capable of helping the governor to transform Imo State to the height of prosperity.
What do you think are the accomplishments of Governor Uzodimma so far?
I have always prayed for the success of every governor in Imo State. I pray that Uzodimma will work hard with his team to create a lasting legacy in the state. Having said that, I can see that Uzodimma has made and he continues to make significant progress. He has truly made some impressive strides. Within a short period in office, he has awarded a contract to a reputable company, Julius Berger, for the reconstruction of the 34 kilometre Owerri- Orlu road and 54 kilometre Owerri- Okigwe road. He has started paying arrears of pension owed pensioners, which is commendable.
I hope he will continue to do these until every pensioner is paid what is due to him or her. You may realize that the past governors of Imo State have played politics with this group. Now, Uzodimma has the empathy to pay them, so that they can live their life with dignity. Realizing the importance of clean water, the governor has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide portable clean water to the cosmopolitan cities of Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe.
I am very pleased with the governor when he committed to fully implement the recommendations of the investigative panels and judicial commissions of inquiry. This indicates that graft, which has been chokehold on Imo prosperity, will be finally removed.
How would you assess the governor’s response to COVID-19 pandemic in the state?
I commend the state for its effort to treat the global pandemic seriously. Governor Uzodimma has managed the spread of the virus in the state very well. He has ensured that Imo citizens follow the mitigating protocols religiously to avoid a widespread of coronavirus in Imo State. You may recall that soon after the outbreak of COVID-19 was in the public domain, the governor inaugurated the COVID-19 Special Committee. The committee, under the chairmanship of Prof. Maurice Iwu, has been working diligently to provide mitigating guidelines to the governor and the state. By acting quickly on the mitigation measures, the spread of coronavirus in Imo State is minimized.