By Maazi Obinna Akuwudike
Imo State is currently embroiled in the worst case of insecurity, since it’s creation in 1976.
Never before, have Imo citizens been herded like animals through military checkpoints, forced to raise their hands up, and dehumanized, as had become the daily routine along popular roads in the state, like Okigwe road.
On almost daily basis, a citizen is killed, either by direct shooting from suspected security operatives, or stray bullets, (I lost my brother in-law yesterday to stray bullet) also believed to have been fired by security operatives, who are supposed to be protecting the people.
For many people, Imo is now a war theater, and the tension keeps raising by the day, as the government fails to uncover the identity of those behind the mayhem that have enveloped the state.
While all these are happening, Senator Hope Uzodinma have seemingly abandoned Imo people, and taken refuge in Abuja, leaving his people at the mercy of unknown gunmen, and trigger happy security operatives.
Many have asked, what would former governor, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha have done in such a situation?
Unlike Uzodinma, Ihedioha is a seasoned management expert, who has experience in crisis resolution, and have helped restore peace in numerous volatile spots in the country, while he was in the National Assembly.
Even during his short time as governor of Imo State, Ihedioha intervened in numerous communal crisis in the state, deploying dialogue, instead of force, to achieve his objective.
While comparing both men, it could be recalled that when the head of Ihedioha’s recovery team, Mr. Jasper Ndubuaku was attacked by thugs loyal to former governor Rochas Okorocha, when he went on an official assignment at Spibat, Okorocha’s residence, Ihedioha refused to be dragged into joining violence with violence, when Ndubuaku was attacked.
It wasn’t because he couldn’t call on Imo people, who were already angry with Okorocha, to descend on the former governor’s house, and have a field day like during the day of Otokoto, but Ihedioha believes in Due Process and dialogue in resolving issues, rather than resorting to violence.
Okorocha got a different deal from Uzodinma, when he tried to break into the Royal Spring Palm Hotel, owned by his wife, but seized at the orders of Senator Hope Uzodinma.
The former governor barely managed to escape from being physically assaulted, but his aides were not so lucky. Okorocha was unceremoniously bundled into a Toyota Hilux, and dragged to the Police Headquarters, where he was paraded like a common criminal, while his vehicles were destroyed, all at the orders of Senator Hope Uzodinma.
The recent crisis in Imo State today, had it’s roots from the invasion at Orlu, by men of the Nigeria military, who Senator Hope Uzodinma admitted that he invited. That invasion left behind tales of death and sorrows.
Again, at his invitation of the military, which led to the death of his kinsman, and commander in the Eastern Security Network ESN, Ikonso, violence erupted across the state, with the burning of Uzodinma’s country home, as their start off point.
Many have asked, would Ihedioha have followed the same path Uzodinma took?
Ihedioha’s handling of the Ndubuaku matter, is an example of how Ihedioha would have handled the Orlu incident, which would have saved lives and property, that were lost.
As a crisis management expert, Ihedioha would not have invited the military on his people, knowing that like the late Fela Kuti said, the military were like zombie, and once deployed, you cannot be able to control their excesses. Those excesses could include harassment and killing of innocent Imolites, as was the case with Uzodinma’s invitation.
Ihedioha would have probably called the leadership of the ESN to a closed door security meeting, and since the ESN was supposedly formed to safeguard the people of the region, fine-tune modernities for their operation, which would not go contrary with laid down laws.
That would have been Ihedioha’s approach, which would not have resulted in an all out military offensive, that has today left so many people in mourning.
It is without a doubt, that the little infrastructural accomplishments of Uzodinma, we’re from blueprints laid down by Ihedioha.
Ihedioha didn’t achieve it alone. He sought the knowledge of former leaders, such as former governors Achike Udenwa and Ikedi Ohakim, as well as experts in various fields, who gave ideas, that helped developed the whole blueprint he worked with.
Like Rev Father Ejike Mbaka accused Uzodinma of turning deaf ear to everybody, and becoming what is called “Eze Onye Agwalam” meaning “A king that listens to nobody”, that is why he has failed to manage the situation in Imo State, the way Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha would have managed it, and save lives in the process.
With the way Imo State is, and with Uzodinma already on AWOL, political pundits are not certain Uzodinma can win a second tenure in Imo State, if he even manages to finish the next four years as Imo governor.