Governor Hope Uzodimma at the weekend declared that Imo State has returned to the path of safety and peace after several weeks of dislocations ocassioned by security breaches.
Governor Uzodimma however said the situation, today, shows that the State and its citizens are now ready to look beyond the unfortunate days of insecurity when peace elluded them and strive to recover what they lost.
Speaking during the 4th Stakeholders meeting held at the Eze Imo Palace in Owerri on Saturday, Governor Uzodimma also noted that the State is prepared to contain future security threats that may be envisaged.
In a speech he delivered at the occasion which attracted intermittent applause from stakeholders drawn from political, business, religious and traditional leaders across political lines, the Governor thanked Imo people for standing by his government during the trying times.
Governor Uzodimma specifically appreciated the leadership of the church in Imo State for their ceaseless prayers and other leaders, particularly those who called and proferred suggestions on the way forward on insecurity in Imo.
It was also an opportunity for the Governor to allow Imo people evaluate and possibly validate the policies and programmes of his administration in accordance with his promise to periodically brief them since he assumed office.
The Governor used the occasion to highlight the challenges his administration faced during the one year and half he assumed office and said the challenges include the long lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the #EndSARS crisis and of late, and very disturbing, the security challenges.
The Governor who acknowledged that the State has adopted some measures to arrest the untended consequences promised that with time his Government “will roll out programmes to address the effect of the damages inflicted on the good people of Imo State.”
The Governor lauded President MUhammadu Buhari for taking personal interest in the security challenges in Imo State, a situation he said helped to promptly arrest the threat to peace.
“The good news is that Imo State is now safe and secure and willing and able to contend future threat, all to the glory of God.”
Governor Uzodimma used the opportunity to extend the profound gratitude of the government and people of Imo State to all the security agencies for their invaluable contributions towards the return of peace which Imo people enjoy today.
The Governor said: “We recall with joy how Imo people poured out their hearts to God in one accord and God answered them,” and thanked the Imo State Chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) “for the laudable prayer session it organized for peace in the State.”
The Governor in the same vein acknowledged the “contributions and support of the Bishops, the entire Clergy, Traditional Rulers, Community Leaders, people in the Professions and Businesses, the Elders, the Women groups, Youths and the entire citizens of the State for their support in returning Imo to the path of peace.”
Governor Uzodimma made reference to his achievements in the State Civil Service, informing that the sector was down and out with morales of workers at its ebb, noting that today government had risen to the occasion and has changed the narratives.
His words: “The leaking roofs of the State Secretariat have been fixed, the rusty filthy environment has been cleaned up, training and re-training programmes were instituted and just recently, eleven Permanent Secretaries were appointed.”
On roads infrastructure, the Governor informed “that Imo roads revolution has changed the ugly past state of roads in Imo State. This has resulted in the government of Shared Prosperity constructing or rehabilitating no less than forty two roads across the State in the past one year.”
He drew attention of Stakeholders to the ongoing renovation work of the various roundabouts in the Municipal, specifically the ones at Fire Service and Warehouse junctions in Owerri that have given the State a new look.
On Education, the Governor highlighted the landmark achievements to include establishment of the new University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Umuagwo in Ohaji/Egbema LGA, the recovery of former Eastern Palm University (now K.O Mbadiwe University), establishment of a new Federal Technical College in Umuaka Orlu, ongoing construction work of “305 modern classroom blocks in the 305 electoral wards in Imo State aimed at providing modern Primary Schools with the state of art equipment for our children.”
The Governor highlighted his achievements in the rehabilitation of moribund Adapalm in Ohaji LGA which now produces over 100,000 (one hundred thousand) metric tons of oil per day.
The Governor did not forget the tremendous achievements of the committee on Covid-19 Taskforce that stoutly rose to the challenge and ensured that Imo State recorded the least casualty of the pandemic.
“Within the period the state was able to attract through private sectors collaboration and support the construction of a 250 bed Specialist Hospital at the Imo State University Teaching Hospital, as well as the commissioning of an Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) at the General Hospital Umuguma Owerri West.”
To stem the tide of youth unemployment the Governor informed that the State has embarked on training of Imo youths in different skills and equipping them with start- up capitals to become entrepreneurs. He said between 2020 and now government has spent billions of Naira in collaboration with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on youth empowerment.
“I make a solemn commitment to ensure that this government will work for all irrespective of Local government, political party affiliation, religion or situation of births”.
He promised a level playing ground for everybody where no one will be discriminated against.
Governor Uzodimma challenged the opposition that his government is not allergic to constructive criticisms and will always welcome great ideas that add impetus to the commitment of building Imo State.
He said doing do so will help to “collectively make Imo State a home of peace as well as grow the economy from that driven by Federal allocation to one run on Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the State.”
Assuaging the fear of those who feel relegated, he promised to revive the Development Centres which will operate in line with the old names they were bearing.
“The Development Centres will work together with the autonomous communities to identify peculiar developmental needs of each autonomous community and in liaison with the people and the local government administration.”
The Governor reiterated: “I did not become Governor to become richer than the State after my tenure but to serve you in truth and with the fear of God.
“I will leave no stone unturned in my efforts to recover Imo people’s stolen wealth. I assure you that God is with us in this direction.”
In their commendation messages, Senator Frank Ibezim, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, Amb. George Obiozor (President Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Worldwide), Dr. TOE Ekechi, Chief Greg Mbadiwe, Hon. Chike Okafor, Princess Miriam Onuoha (Member representing Okigwe North in Federal House of Representatives), Prince Alex Mbata, and the Chairman Imo State Traditional Institution and Community Policing, Eze E. C. Okeke, and many others, extolled the Governor’s efforts in the areas of security, health, road and generally, his developmental strides.
They pledged their unflinching support to his administration and their willingness to help ensuring continued peace and progress of Imo State.
The icing on the cake was when members of the Imo State House of Assembly led by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Paul Emeziem acknowledged the inclusive administration of the Governor and his respect for other arms of government and promised to continue to work in synergy with him.
They proceeded to unanimously pass a vote of confidence on his leadership.