A lot has happened to Imo. One governor came and spent millions on CNN adverts, raising his hands to the sky, and telling the world he was a genius. He littered Imo with billboards. By the time he left, Anambra had quietly fixed many of her rural roads.
One charlatan goes another charlatan comes. Poor Imo. The one who taught us Iberiberism ran an opaque government that serviced his ego more than it touched the common man.
It is true he built many roads and structures. But he took his shallowness into everything he touched. The roads were poorly done; some of his bridges had no engineering designs. When he did a tunnel that became a swimming pool for cars, he didn’t see the need to fix it.
Not even shame could make him step back from childishness. The other one was temporary. He is still sulking. When he was dumped on Imo by a nakedly dubious INEC result, he found the government house uninhabitable. His personal comfort became his priority.
He didn’t rise to the challenge of fixing bad roads until one month before he was ejected by the supreme court. Owerri residents watched his personal house whose frenzied construction was commenced at about the time he assumed office and shook their heads. That was the man that prioritized the construction of 27 stadia—all at once—when the main stadium in Owerri was in shambles.
Then came Hope Uzodimma.
Hope promised to fix security in the communities. He said he would organize a neighborhood watch in collaboration with the police. That was in February. It’s September now. A couple of days ago, armed robbers came at midday to my village of Orodo and freely robbed people. That had never happened. And even by Lagos’ standards, that was brazen.
Hope promised to fix the major roads and connect the big towns. He promised to bring in Julius Berger to handle the construction of Owerri-Orlu and Owerri-Okigwe roads.
I know COVID happened, but the reality is that those roads have crumbled and commuters are in agony. Most of the roads are still in the bad shapes they were in December. But perhaps December was better. The governor then had begun to fix roads. I had hoped that the roads would be better by September.
Hope promised many things and promised to be different. One of the difference I had expected was self effacement. But I guess that has proved difficult. Imo has had too many governors who have come with inflated sense of self importance and noise. That was why when I drove into Owerri a few days ago and saw that banner, I cringed.
What exactly is Hopism?
Of what use is a social philosophy that is announced on banners fluttering over bad roads? I had imagined that Hope would understand where he was coming from. And would fix his feet firmly on reality and wipe away ugly reputations with solid performance.
One former Imo governor had imagined himself another Azikiwe. So he picked up from somewhere that traditional title Zik made popular. Then he tried hard to speak like Zik.
Is Hopism another shallow Zikism?
Azikiwe published his political thoughts. And they were collected into a political philosophy which centered on the decolonization of Africa, freedom, and improvement of human dignity. He didn’t print useless banners. When Fashola was governor of Lagos he did many things. And his work endeared him to the entire nation.
While Fashola worked, he didn’t let praise singers seed delusions into his head.
He never imagined himself more than a lucky fellow with a strong godfather, whom serendipity presented with a chance to help his community. He didn’t embrace any of these pieces of megalomania that have settled on Imo.
Flamboyance is no sin. Sloganeering is no offense. But if Hope Uzodimma wants to become a phenomenon, he must choose thoughtfulness and hard work. He will not become a political phenomenon through a naming ceremony. If Hopism has any meaning then it should be revealed through good visible works.
Let me leave out the new law it will understand it. Because on the surface it’s nonsenseical. They say it allows a governor to detain citizens arbitrarily? That would be easy—a court will shove it into the dustbin. It is manifestly ultra vires the constitution. It sounds like a joke. Let’s focus on more serious things. Littering Owerri with banners is irritating.