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Imo Security Conundrum And The Opposition


Imo Security Conundrum And The Opposition

by Apostle Prof. Chinedu Asinu Anosike. Brand Consultant/Altruist


Before now, Imo State was known as a peaceful and secure state in Nigeria. You didn’t have to ask or look deep into the horizon to know this. Infact, if a contest for the most peaceful state in the country was organized then, Imo would have been a top contender for the crown of glory. As a corollary, Imolites carried themselves with pride everywhere they went based on this perception. With the burgeoning hospitality industry in the state, Imo became undisputably a preferred destination for many visitors and tourists to the South East. Our visitors wanted to have a feel of the hospitable nature of the people. Owerri, the state capital naturally became South East’s major host of events like seminars, conferences, workshops and entertainment shows etc. We savoured it while it lasted and it impacted positively on the image of the state, the economy and other privately owned businesses.

On January 14, 2020, the Supreme Court of Nigeria declared Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodimma of the All Progressives Congress(APC) winner of the 2019 governorship poll in Imo State. This judgement automatically nullified the hotly contested election of the then incumbent, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, of the People’s Democratic Party(PDP). This did not go down well with the opposition party. It set off a cacophony of voices of dissent and acceptance from supporters of PDP and APC. It became the trigger pulled and the singular shot fired that affected the peace, harmony and stability of the state.

The opposition bared its fangs. Suddenly, all kinds of bitterness were expressed by the losers and the most hateful comments against Governor Hope Uzodimma and the APC were peddled in the traditional and new media. Propaganda against the new APC government became the order of the day. It ranged from the vile and unsavoury to the unbelievable. Governor Uzodimma was alleged to have installed Emirs in the three Senatorial zones of the state. Many believed the purveyors of this fake news. How can Uzodimma install Emirs in the state when he is not a Moslem? By the way, is Imo a predominantly Moslem State? It is akin to alleging that the Governor of Sokoto State who is a Moslem now has the power to name Catholic/Anglican Bishops in the state. Uzodimma was also accused of using executive power to sale and cede land to Fulani herdsmen for their business. Again many people whose minds have been attuned to only hearing negative news about the governor swallowed this lock, stock and barrel.

Almost two years in the saddle as Imo helmsman, no one has clearly pointed at any land occupied by these herdsmen ceded to them by the governor. No one has seen these Emirs he is alleged to have installed and given staff of office. No one has also seen or being to their Palaces. More worrisome is the fact that those who should know the truth have joined the league of those who look up to them for information.

Critics of the judgement that brought Governor Uzodimma to power have always forgotten one important thing. The Justices of the highest court in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Supreme Court, spoke based on the body of evidence adduced before them by the two contending parties. They were neither in Imo State when that election was held nor did they cast votes in the state. These critics just want the Justices to know without any shred of evidence that Chief Ihedioha won that election. But the law does not work that way. It works with facts, figures and not fictions.


With this judgement, a death knell on the opposition’s efforts to re-take power in Imo was sounded. Facing a new and discomforting reality, they naturally moved over to other options to keep the Uzodimma government on its toes. They painted the government black before their undiscerning supporters with all kinds of name calling and propaganda. They planted vexatious and untrue stories in local tabloids and online.

For record purpose, it is apt to note that the present security challenge in the state started in the Okporo -Umutanze area of Orlu LGA in December 2020 but escalated on January 22, 2021. Skirmishes between the Police and militants was becoming a common occurrence before the army got involved to put it down. Lives have been lost on both sides. Police and army weapons have also been lost to the armed group members. Today, it has snowballed into a statewide conflagration. To keep the peace, Governor Uzodimma requested for Presidential approval for the military to be deployed to the volatile areas. The President obliged him. As usual, the story being peddled by the opposition is that Uzodimma invited the military into Orlu to come and kill the natives. Is Uzodimma the President of Nigeria who has the sole authority to deploy the Army to any part of Nigeria?

On Monday, April 5, 2021, the Imo security conundrum assumed a new dimension. Egged on by the resources of the opposition, one thousand eight hundred and forty four (1,844) inmates of the Nigeria Correctional Service Custodial Centre in the heart of the state capital, Owerri, were forcefully freed by these armed militants into the Imo society. Also attacked on the same day was the Imo State Police Headquarters. Up to this day, only a dismal number of these released criminals have been re-arrested. Others have re-integrated themselves into the society and possibly found accommodation in the arms of their ilk who are still active. This means a ”rich personnel” of criminals have been released into the Imo society. Having tasted freedom, many would’ve changed location since then to evade being identified and re-arrested.

Shortly after that daring simultaneous attack, Governor Hope Uzodimma accused the opposition and aggrieved politicians in the state of being behind the attacks. As governor, Uzodimma receives security reports/briefings from relevant agencies often. He should know better. He had this to say on May 1, 2021, in a statewide broadcast on Workers Day after his country home was attacked and set on fire: “You would have noticed that disgruntled politicians in concert with militants and other criminal elements have unleashed violence in our state known traditionally for its peace and hospitality. Unable to contain themselves over the developmental strides of our administration in just one year, these enemies of our state have devised devious ways of not only distracting us but striking fear in our citizens. Some of them have even come out to unmask their real intention which is to make the state ungovernable. Let me assure the good people of Imo State that investigations to unmask the sponsors of these security breaches in the state have reached an advanced stage. Very soon the long arm of the law will expose and prosecute them. Recall that at the onset of this administration, these same people had vowed to make the state ungovernable for us. Our only crime against them is our resolve to hand over the state and its resources to the people as the true owners. While I sympathize with them over their feeble and futile efforts at intimidating us, let me declare here that the state will employ all lawful machinery at its disposal to crush criminality. Last Sunday’s attempt to burn down my country home was just their Lilliputian way of sending the message that Imo State is insecure. As always, they failed woefully. The government in collaboration with all the security agencies is more than capable to protect the lives and property of all residents of the state. I swore an oath to that. I will never shirk this sacred responsibility. It is quite unfortunate that despite the impressive progress we have recorded in the first year in office, some people have failed to appreciate the glaring evidence everywhere that Imo State has taken a turn for the better. This group of fifth columnists have therefore elected to disrupt the peace of the state. Although their actions are quite regrettable, it is my duty as the Governor of the state to ask everyone to sheath the sword and make room for development. I must warn that the days of mindless criminality in the state is over. Let me use this opportunity to assure all Imo people that I will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the security and safety of all of us. Be rest assured that my administration is willing, able and capable of protecting the lives and property of all Imo people and residents alike.”
The governor cannot speak out of the brief given to him.

In the course of this orgy of violence, precious lives of security personnel and citizens have been lost. Police weapons have been stolen. Government institutions have been attacked and burnt down. Businesses have been affected. Freedom of movement has been curtailed. While Uzodimma grapples with the challenging security situation in the state, the opposition has remained mute and reticent about the governor’s challenges and accusations. The opposition has never condemned the attacks in any known form. Theirs is to run the blame game that Uzodimma caused it all by inviting the military. But those who know are aware that this is not true. Reading between the lines, it is tantamount to saying: This is Uzodimma’s problem. He asked for power. He got it. He should equally accept the challenges that come with it.

The opposition which is fully after having Uzodimma discredited and ousted from office has a well prepared plan of attack. They know the governor is a very calculating politician and knows how to beat opponents in this game of politics. So what they have done is to cause a security breach in his comfort zone and sphere of influence, Orlu. They want the whole area to be in turmoil. They want to sustain the uncertainty there so that he is not able to muster electoral support in his homestead in any future contest. Orlu zone has 12 local governments – more than any other zone in the state. In their thinking, with this turmoil in place, Uzodimma wouldn’t be able to garner the required electoral support from Owerri and Okigwe zones in the next election to retain the seat as governor. But this plot of using insecurity, unrest and blood of innocent people to wrest power from the governor is most likely going to fall flat on the faces of the people and their evil strategists. You can’t force good out of evil. The two are diametrically opposed to each other.

The opposition is not alone in this plot. Suddenly there is a subtle co-operation between strange bed fellows united because they have one common enemy: Governor Hope Uzodimma. For those who can sift the wheat from the chaff and remove the cluster of web from the surface, there seems to be a dangerous working ‘relationship’ between the opposition and some disgruntled and fastidious elements within the APC. Within the governor’s own party, APC, there are still ripple effects bothering on the 2019 governorship ticket and who controls the structure of the party today. As we all know, it is very difficult for a governor in Nigeria today to surrender/cede control of the party in his state to another top politician. If he does, how then does he assert his authority when the time comes?

In almost two years in power, Uzodimma has returned power to the people through his actions even though his opponents think otherwise. He has shown dedication to duty. He has shown committment. He has shown love to Imo people. Uzodimma has dealt a heavy blow to ghost workers who are milking the state dry even though more work needs to be done on this. He has implemented the White Paper Report on the Panel of Inquiry set up by the Ihedioha administration on the illegal land acquisitions of Okorocha and his cronies. All the original land owners at Shell Camp now have their plots back and illegal occupants booted out. The Okorocha administration did the unthinkable by driving away the original owners and generously distributed the plots to family and cronies. The governor has returned ownership of K. O. Mbadiwe University (formerly Eastern Palm University) to Ndi Imo. This is a university built with Imo State scarce funds, recognized by the Nigeria University Commission and promoted as the state’s second university. But ex Governor Okorocha surreptitiously converted it to his with the connivance of the lame duck House of Assembly then.

Furthermore, Governor Uzodimma has constantly supported the security agencies in the state – Police and Army – by equipping them with operational vehicles and gadgets to tackle insecurity. This is why Operation SEARCH & FLUSH is very active in the state. In a rare show of political maturity and administrative continuity, Uzodimma retained all the RAMP road contractors engaged by the Ihedioha administration even though many of them abandoned sites shortly after power changed hands in January 2020. The governor has continued to govern for the good of Ndi Imo, delivering the greatest good for the greatest number of people through the 3R – Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery. The armed opposition will never see these. Rather, they will prefer he didn’t take action so that they can continue on their roller coaster criticisms.


It amounts to pure self deceit for the opposition and elements within the governor’s own party, APC, to think that the governor will not fight back. He is bound to considering the enormous reach and resources at his disposal. Wallowing in the belief that if the security situation remains intractable and challenging for him, the President might be forced to declare a state of emergency in the state does not hold water. Not this President. He did not do so in a highly volatile place like Borno State where insurgency continues up to this day. He will not do so in Imo. The opposition should device more politically acceptable and intellectually stimulating ways of playing opposition politics. Quietly supporting an armed opposition against the governor and pretending in the public space not to know anything about it amounts to living a life of double standard.

As for politicians in APC who are in cahoot with the opposition to run the administration of Uzodimma down, the options before them are very few. It is either they come to peaceful terms with him or they continue in their subversive activities. It is apt to remind those fighting Uzodimma as if their whole life depends on it that he is not occupying this position for the rest of creation. This is a tenured office and he will leave as soon as his term expires or if the electorate decides otherwise. Let the electorate be the determinant of where Uzodimma would be after four years. In my thinking, fighting him by using militants is a lost battle. He will fight back with our Commonwealth and resources to keep his position. So any attempt to make Imo State ungovernable is actually an injury inflicted on all Imolites. And in one way or the other, we are all affected including the sponsors of this disturbances and carnage


Any keen follower of political events in the state knows that the political heavy weights sponsoring these militants are drawn from the three zones in the state. They have conspired and divided the state as I noted earlier in the hope that Uzodimma will only reign and not rule. The attempt to use armed rebellion to settle political score runs contrary to the tenets of democracy. It is important to note that some of the people fighting him within his own party are the same people who joyously boarded the plane with him in Abuja for that historic flight to Owerri on January 14, 2020, so that he can assume office as governor. They are very angry with Uzodimma because their expectations that he will kowtow to them, open the state treasury and pardon previous misdeeds have not been met. These are the people whose public aura tend to portray them as working for the people in the eyes of the uninitiated but inwardly want power for self.

What Is happening in Imo state is not an opposition based on debate and superiority of argument. It is an opposition mounted surreptitiously by those who detest political defeat and those who want to be recognized always. While the armed opposition is on, the media minders of the main gladiators are at one another’s jugular. The tone of the attacks remain high and acerbic. It must be toned down. If these men and their foot soldiers are noble and have the interest of Ndi Imo at heart, they will call their aides to order. For the state to move forward, peace must be an irreducible minimum demand. Without peace and security, progress will elude Imo and all the gains so far made in the forty five years history of the state will fizzle out like an early morning dew.

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