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PROFILE: Meet Uzodinma, the governor-elect who finished fourth

“In Imo state, there is hope. Hope, hope, hope in Imo state! A new leadership that will break barriers and there would be joy in the land ...


“In Imo state, there is hope. Hope, hope, hope in Imo state! A new leadership that will break barriers and there would be joy in the land of Imo. Lift your candles as I bless Hope Uzodinma; and I empower him to, spiritually, to take over. How, I do not know,” Ejike Mbaka, a Catholic priest in Enugu diocese, prophesied Hope Uzodinma’s ”victory” at the supreme court about two weeks ago.

A lot of people had dismissed the prophecy but on Tuesday the supreme court declared Uzodinma, former senator representing Imo west, as the duly elected governor of Imo state — to the surprise of many.

The court held that results from 388 polling units “were wrongly excluded from scores ascribed to them (Uzodinma and APC)” adding that “the first appellant (Uzodinma) holds the majority of lawful votes cast.”

However, the road leading to Uzodinma’s victory at the apex court was long and rough. There was a fierce struggle before he was able to pick the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC).


Rochas Okorocha, immediate past governor of Imo, had wanted to install Uche Nwosu, his son-in-law, as successor, but this led to a rancour in the party at the state level.

When the primary poll was held in October 2018, both Uzodinma and Nwosu were declared winners of the election — Nwosu in a parallel  exercise. Eventually, the former senator’s name was sent to the electoral commission as the party’s standard bearer.

He picked the APC ticket seven months after he left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).  And at the time the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the governorship election result of Imo in March 2019, Uzodinma came fourth behind Emeka Ihedioha (PDP), Nwosu (Action Alliance) and Ifeanyi Ararume (All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

While Ihedioha polled 273,404 votes, Nwosu, Ararume and Uzodinma secured 190,364; 114,676; and 96,458 votes respectively. Uzodinma challenged the victory of Ihedioha up to the apex court and won.

POLITICAL JOURNEY

Uzodinma became prominent in Imo politics in the early 2000s as a PDP member. In 2003, he ran for governor of the state on the ticket of Alliance for Democracy (AD) but he did not win.

He returned to the PDP and in 2006, Uzodinma sought the ticket of the party to contest the governorship election again but lost at the primary poll to Ararume.

Uzodinma who was later appointed a PDP board of trustees (BoT) member, was first elected into the senate in 2011. He was reelected in 2015.

Before the 2000s, Uzodinma was the youth leader of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in Imo in the second republic. He was also a prominent member of the now defunct United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP).

He also has been involved in the oil and gas sector through SMIEC Chemical Engineering & Construction Company Limited, his company, which he used to execute many projects for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

He obtained his secondary school certificate from Mgbidi Secondary School, Orlu west in 1982.

Uzodinma has a bachelor’s degree in international studies and a diploma in transport studies. He is also a recipient of a honorary doctorate degree from the Imo state university.

OKOROCHA BASTARDISED IMO ECONOMY

Uzodinma, while unveiling his five-point agenda ahead of the governorship election in 2019 in Owerri, accused Okorocha of bastardising the economy of the state.

He said as governor, his administration will be committed to the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the state.

“Today, I presented my manifesto to the good people of Imo State. I thank every person who made an effort to join. The manifesto highlights my 5 point blueprint agenda for economic survival in our dear state. Under my leadership as Governor, our administration shall be purpose driven and anchored on the following 3 Rs – Recovery, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation,” he said.

“In a democracy, power belongs to the people and not the other way round. Government is not instituted to deride the people but, to protect their fundamental rights.

“I pledge that we shall be responsible and accountable to the people of Imo State”.




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