PROFILE: Hope Uzodinma, the fourth-place finisher who became governor

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Senator Hope Uzodinma, on Tuesday, January 14, emerged as the governor of Imo State. The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Mohammed, led a seven-man panel of the Supreme Court that sacked Emeka Ihedioha and declared Uzodinma as governor.

Uzodinma, the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), had finished in fourth place in the March 9 governorship election in Imo State.

In the results declared by INEC, Ihedioha came first, followed by Uche Nwosu of the Action Alliance (AA) and Ifeanyi Ararume of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

Apart from becoming governor after only finishing fourth, below are some other interesting things about how the former senator rode to the exalted position he now occupies.

Defection from PDP

In April 2018, Uzodinma, a two-time senator who represented Imo West on the platform of the PDP dumped the opposition party for the APC. His defection came months after rumours of his intention to defect to the ruling party.

Hijack of APC structure

After officially joining the APC in April 2018, by May, Uzodinma had apparently taken control of the party structure in the state.

Just less than two months of his defection, he rattled the then governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, when members of the party loyal to him emerged as winners of the ward and local government congresses in the state.

The development saw Okorocha run to President Muhammadu Buhari in his home town in Katsina, Daura, praying him to come to his aid.

Uzodinma did not stop there; he continued to fight even when Okorocha seemed to have taken back control of the state party structure following the outcome of the party’s national congress that favoured his men.

However, when it was time for the real decider, Uzodinma clearly dribbled past Okorocha.

It is not clear if Okorocha has forgiven Ahmed Gulak, the chairman of the APC committee for the gubernatorial primaries in Imo who declared Uzodinma as the winner of the exercise from Abuja.

Gulak was alleged to have been bribed by Uzodinma and his camp for that declaration.

Final capture of Imo APC structure

Okorocha had ensured that there was a fresh primary in the state in which his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu was declared as the governorship candidate of the APC.

However, by the time the legal tussle on the matter was over, Okorocha was left gasping for breath as Uzodinma was declared as the candidate of the APC.

While Nwosu left the party for Uzodinma to continue his governorship ambition with Action Alliance (AA), his father-in-law, Okorocha, who remained in the party and emerged as Imo West senator, was later suspended for anti-party activities.

Coming fourth in Imo poll

Uzodinma and the APC supposedly performed woefully when the Imo State governorship election result was announced, scoring the fourth position after APGA, AA and the PDP.

Mbaka’s Prophecy

Many people never imagined Ihedioha and the PDP would lose the state governorship seat. This was especially as the governor had already secured election victory both at the tribunal and the Appeal Court.

If any party was thought to have any real chance of upturning the victory of Ihedioha, it was certainly not the APC.

If no one believed this could happen, certainly not Rev Father Ehime Manama of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu, who raises much dust in his December 31 prophecy.

Mbaka, with an air of certainty, declared that APC Uzodinma would take over Imo State by 2020.

The other side of hope

The new Imo State governor has often been linked with one corruption allegation or the other.

In 2001, he was alleged to have attempted to transfer money from the National Maritime Authority to former military ruler, Abdulsalami Abubakar.

Also in 2005, Dere Awosika, a close associate of the then First Lady, Stella Obasanjo, was accused of awarding fraudulent contracts to herself and Uzodinma.

Awosika and Uzodinma’s companies were accused to have each got mobilization fees of N250 million. It was later reported that Uzodinma’s part of the mobilization fee was forfeited when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) pressured him.

Uzodinma was again accused of corruption on February 10, 2009, with the EFCC arresting and detaining him.

The senator in 2018 was accused of issuing a dud cheque. One Chima Akuzie, and his company, Chitek Ventures Limited accused the former senator of issuing them a dud cheque of N200 million.

A Grade 1 Area Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, on September 18, 2018, ordered the arrest of Uzodinma over his refusal to honour the summons to answer to the complaint. It remains to be seen how Uzodinma would fix his reputation baggage. Well, it has been with him and yet his star has only brightened!

By Ebere Ndukwu

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