2023 Imo: Uzodimma Clamping Down on Opposition Over Governorship, House of Assembly Polls

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Amby Uneze in Owerri

All is not well in Imo State since the advent of the incumbent governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma; if it is not insecurity, it is strike and agitation or bringing trump-up charges against the opposition in the State. These political gambits are all targeted towards the 2023 Imo governorship and the State House of Assembly elections.

Unfortunately, for the governor, he is heading to political calamity if he continues to bridle with the opposition instead of working towards the provision of the needed democracy dividends to the people of the State.

Currently, judging by the down-turn in the state including the hardship people are passing through, the incessant insecurity which had contributed to the low patronage of visitors and the ease of doing business, fear of the unknown, lack of government welfare policy to the people, harassment of the perceived opposition elements, and the issue of lack of confidence on the activities of government by the people; it becomes an herculean task to convince the electorate to vote for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at any level other then looking for cockade means to foist the party’s candidates on the people.

Not too long ago, the country home of a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, Imo IkengaUgochinyere Ikegwuonu was burnt to rubbles which left his uncle and others dead. Again, two weeks after that very attack, his residence was visited by the same hoodlums. He accused the State actors and the security agents of being the brain behind the attacks.

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Ikegwuonu, however, won the House of Representatives election for Ideato North/Ideato South federal constituency. The State government is still not done with him as he is currently being invited by the State Police Command for alleged murder and other charges.

A week ago, the State government also through the State Police Commissioner, Mohammed Ahmed Barde arrested the former deputy governor under Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Engr. Gerald Irona for alleged charges of terrorism. He was subsequently charged before a magistrate court which later remanded him in the correctional centre. He has been denied bail on two occasions for reasons best known to the authorities.

The big one that invariably blows the minds of Imo people presently is another police invitation extended to the State Chairman of the PDP, Engr. Charles Ugwu, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Engr. Gerald Irona and Imo Ikenga Ugochinyere Ikegwuonu. In the letter of invitation addressed to the State Chairman of PDP and captioned:” Investigation Activities: Re-Case of Murder, Kidnapping and Arson” signed by DCP Ukachi Opara, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Admin) for Commissioner of Police, Imo State Police Command, it reads that the office of the State Intelligence Bureau, Imo state Police Command is investigating the underlined case involving some prominent members of your party.

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The list of clamping down on perceived opposition or those who criticize the government have been framed up directly or indirectly. Trending on both social and conventional media is the National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero who had been in a battle of supremacy over the strike embarked upon by the NLC in the State. As a result of the strike, which centres on a number of issued which the government has failed to address in the past, including salaries arrears to civil servants and pensioners, etc, the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) decided to punish the people of the state by switching off light for the past two weeks.

As if the fight with NLC president is not enough, the State government joined another chieftain of the Labour party, Chief Martin Agbaso who is also a governorship aspirant of the party in the State and accused him of sponsoring Comrade Joe Ajaero to instigate strike action in the State. The premise of their allegation is based on the fact that Ajaero is a kinsman of Chief Agbaso and because he is a governorship aspirant, he must be tagged names in order to discredit him.

Again, Dr. Sam Amadi, a public analyst and an Arise Television discussant, while advising Uzodimma to take it easy with Ajaero has been also tagged as an opposition.

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Amadi simply said, “Hope Uzodinma is Chief Executive of Imo State. He controls the formal institutions of the state. It is his responsibility to ensure security and well-being of the people by articulating and implementing policies. He is assisted by the State Assembly and other regulatory institutions in the state.

“Comrade Joe Ajaero is the Chief Executive of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). His responsibility is to ensure that workers in Nigeria who are affiliated to the NLC enjoy their democratic rights to the fullest.

“The crisis in Imo is a result of lack of respect and reciprocity. It is a result of not recognizing that the Governor is not God, he is not a King. He has a legitimate sphere of influence or control. It does not extend to Labour affairs. Ajaero is in charge of that. He can always consult Ajaero, but not to impose on him,” he stated.

Reacting, the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba said the Government is raising the alarm for Nigerians, especially the security agencies and labour leaders, to know that what is going on in Imo State has nothing to do with labour issues but the personal clannish ambition of some people in the opposition.

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