Declan Emelumba is the Imo State commissioner for Information. In this interview, sheds light on the controversy surrounding the Administration Of Criminal Justice Law and other issues in the state
Your principal, Governor Hope Uzodimma, has been receiving bashes from the opposition since his assumption of office early this year. As his image maker, how have you been containing this?
You’re right, the opposition has not relented in their efforts to castigate this government and frontally accuse it, basically because they have yet to come to terms with the reality that they are no longer in government. They had thought the evil they perpetrated would not be uncovered. But injustice cannot be covered forever. So, when the governor was able to fight and he recovered his mandate, it took them by the storm; they were not expecting it. And in the process, they became reckless and desperate. They even went as far as saying they would make the state ungovernable for him.
And one of the things they do is that whenever they see his public profile rising, they come up with something, to see if they can douse it but they have always failed, and they will continue to fail. The good thing is that the governor is doing exceedingly well. He has demonstrated vision, he has demonstrated courage, he has demonstrated clear understanding of the problem of Imo State and how to solve them.
I give you a good an example, and I challenge anyone who can tell me of any government in this dispensation that commissioned projects in seven months. This government did that. And that will show you that he knew what he came to do. He hit the ground running. Owerri has been perennially flooded since its creation but he has been able to solve this by constructing a very big tunnel to divert the flood from the metropolis. The man knows the problem of his people and he’s solving them and the people are happy. The opposition is increasingly getting frustrated and they are throwing sands, as we say it in Ibo language. They can’t say he’s not performing because if they say that, people will laugh at them because the evidence is there.
You said this government commissioned projects in seven months, were these projects initiated by preceding administrations or those initiated by the current one?
I am not aware if the previous government, which of course was an illegal government, commissioned any project but the ones he commissioned were the ones he started and completed. And I give you a typical example, Douglas Road, is a popular road in Owerri and an economic hub of the city. Before this administration came on board, that area had been overtaken by refuse. If you come there now, you won’t believe what you will see. The area has been given a facelift, the road is now dualised. People cried for joy the day the governor commissioned it. They could not believe that that area could be transformed. Again, look at this road that leads to the major market in Owerri, it has also been dualised. People who used to live there around 10/15 years ago had to pack out because the area was perennially flooded. Some of the buildings used to be submerged by the flood so they had to relocate. Some of to those people have now started coming back.
One major problem associated with South East where Imo State falls to is that of erosion. How is the state government addressing this?
The good thing is that Governor Hope Nzodimma was in the Senate for eight years. And while in the Senate, one of the first bills he sponsored is the Erosion Control Bill. And that tells you that he’s alive to the challenge. As we speak, I can’t tell you that he has attracted federal government’s intervention fund for erosion control and work is ongoing in some sites.
The state government has come under criticism over the recently passed Imo State Administration of Criminal Justice Law which the opposition tag ‘anti-people’. Kindly give let us into the details of this law.
The law is Administration of Criminal Justice Law which was passed by the House of Assembly and the governor assented to it. What the opposition is saying is that the governor through the law has empowered himself to be able to detain anyone without recourse to due process. But that is malicious because in the first place, the law was initiated under a PDP-led government. It was a private member bill, sponsored by a private member of the House. What happened was that the process of the passage had been completed by the time the governor came into office. It was signed March 11, shortly after the governor assumed office. More importantly, the law is a domestication of a federal law, Federal Act which was passed by the National Assembly in 2015, and most states of the federation have domesticated the Act.
And don’t forget that under this same government, we have had course to be at crossroads with the opposition concerning one of their social media handlers who was arrested by the DSS. Due process was followed, he was taken to court and later granted bail. That provision was there when this thing happened. He did not use that law. This governor was in the Senate for eight years and he knows the limitations of law viz-a-viz the constitution. What the opposition is saying is that irrespective of the constitution, the governor can do as he likes. No, this governor is too refined to toe such path. They come up with all sorts of things whenever they see his profile rise. Not too long ago, Hope Uzodimma rolled out 30 coaster buses for the conveyance of civil servants to and fro the State Secretariat daily and free of charge. That was after he had restored the dilapidated buildings and spruced up the environment, returning power and water supply to make the place conducive for civil servants. That had not happened since the creation of the state in 1976. Permanent Secretaries, who had been trekking to work due to lack of official cars, were put out of the misery by the same Governor who provided brand new official vehicles to them.
Just as the ovation of what the governor did was about to reach a crescendo, he rolled out 10 mobile clinics to take health care to the sick in their homes. The clinics equipped with laboratories and drugs and personnel provide their services free to the sick, the aged and the vulnerable. The rural areas have been agog with the news of the novel policy which is also the first of its kind since 1976 when the state was created. The outpouring of joy and appreciation by a grateful populace for Uzodinma is at the centre of the current allegation against the governor.
For the opposition who had a golden opportunity to perform for seven months but squandered it while pandering to selfish and vain glory, the successes being recorded by Uzodimma is like a hot knife thrust at their hearts. Because they can’t bear to see the people happy, they have reached for their tar brush in a futile effort to erase the good works of the governor. But that is a mission impossible.