Uzodimma: Coming To Equity With Dirty Hands ~ By Collins Opurozor
There is something called ‘memory hole’. It is an imaginary hole of ever blazing furnace invented by the renowned satirist, George Orwell, in his book ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, where all bits of inconvenient and embarrassing history are destroyed and replaced with ‘alternative facts’ by Big Brother. The vision of an ultra-tyrannical world of Big Brother is achieved when, as Orwell summarizes, the past is erased, the erasure is forgotten, the lie becomes the truth.
This trait of an advanced stage of totalitarian regime has sprung up in Imo State, where Chief Hope Uzodinma is now bent on destroying and discarding collective memory and to pretend as a champion of equity, the very same virtue he so deeply despises and has always sought to undermine. Equity acts on conscience.
Recently, Uzodinma took the stage to declare that, ‘What Ndigbo need is equity, not Biafra’. For him, equity is achieved in Nigeria when he or his surrogate, by being Igbo, is allowed to be president of Nigeria. While some will readily contest the qualification of Uzodinma to speak for Ndigbo, a more fundamental issue is that an Uzodinma is the least morally fit person to educate Ndigbo on the place of equity in national discourse. He does not just represent the opposite, his stay in Douglas House has continued to negate the sincerity of Ndigbo to an equitable Nigeria, so that his posturing as an advocate of equity has become a huge national absurdity. He who seeks equity must do equity.
A while ago, social media spaces were abuzz with a challenge to Uzodinma to produce pictures of his 2019 campaign rallies in the local government areas of the State. Till this day, his horde of hirelings could not provide any single picture to prove that Uzodinma ever campaigned anywhere in Imo State. As a writer would jocularly put it, ‘Uzodinma is the only person in Nigeria to become governor without taking new photographs’. He exhibited the height of political indolence for a candidate on the ticket of a major political party, and deservedly got a fourth position at the polls. Equity does not aid the indolent. Even though Abuja imposed him on Imo people through some unconscionable mathematical and judicial impossibilities, he has continued to exercise power without authority, and his reign has become emblematic of everything that is wrong with Nigeria’s legal system. Equity does not use statute to cloak a fraud.
In the build-up to the 2019 governorship election, an issue that stakeholders in Imo State considered very pertinent was equity. Civil society groups, professional bodies and sociocultural associations in the State had constituted themselves into an umbrella union known as the Amalgamation of Imo Professional Bodies and Associations, AIPA. In their set of criteria for choosing a governor, they highlighted the importance of equity in the governorship of the State, and gave a nod to any other zone, aside Orlu which had taken by then sixteen years out of twenty years since 1999, to produce the governor. Uzodinma from Orlu, the latter-day preacher of equity, repudiated this popular equitable position of Imo people, and when they could not elect him, he made himself their ruler by other means. Equity does not suffer a wrong without a remedy.
Today, there is no group in Orlu that has lent support to the rule of Uzodinma. Beyond the anomie of his insupportable emergence, they understand that a bad government is worse when it is closer to home. When a land-grabber rules, he first begins to grab from his kinsmen, and when a feudal lord rises, his first serfs are his neighbours.
Even when, against equity, Uzodinma stage-managed the endorsement of an Orlu person, George Obiozor, for President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, an Orlu group, OPAC, took a page in Vanguard Newspaper to argue as follows: ‘Beyond the infractions which have been caused by the jaundiced endorsement, we are provoked by the attempt to bring in an Orlu man as the president of Ohanaeze. Since 1999, our people in Orlu have dominated the politics of Imo State. Everything is about Orlu. Three governors in quick succession have come from Orlu. This is an aberration! And the man who has been purportedly endorsed for Ohanaeze Ndigbo president is from Orlu Zone!
‘What moral authority do the Igbo have to complain about marginalization in Nigeria if Orlu people have perpetrated the worst form of marginalization against the other parts of Imo State?
‘As conscientious leaders from Orlu, our insistence is that all Orlu sons are morally unfit to aspire for the president of Ohanaeze. We must begin to practise what we preach. Let the other zones in Imo State give us their best for scrutiny.’
All the communities in Imo State are currently preparing for war following the unilateral and iniquitous dissolution of town unions by Uzodinma. It has already begun in places like Orji and Ihitte Mbieri, and this ugly situation created by Uzodinma will exacerbate the insecurity in the State. Having observed that no single community leadership is willing to accept the illogic of number four becoming number one, Uzodinma directed his Interim Management Committee Chairmen at the Local Governments to dissolve the town unions and appoint members of his CampHope as their replacements. These community leaders were elected by their people in line with equity and law. In short, section 54 (1) of the Traditional Rulers, Autonomous Communities and Allied Matters Law 2020 provides that, ‘The tenure of an elected Town Union Executive shall be as stated and provided for in the Constitution of that Town Union’.
Yet, in a desperate search for support, Uzodinma has gone against the law to sack these town union leaders, and when his ALGON Chairman, one Chikwe Okoli-ogwo, was put on the spot on air to speak for Uzodinma, he boastfully said, ‘Okorocha did the same thing and heaven did not fall’. This is a government that claims to be recovering the institutions of the State from the ravages of Okorocha. He was further reminded that the court gave judgment in 2017 against Okorocha over the matter, but he fumed and suggested that court judgment was insignificant. This is a government that came to power through the court! Equity follows the law.
Now that Uzodinma wishes to burn memories to ashes, hoodwink the undiscerning and begin sermonizing on equity, let us remind him that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.