Umunnem Ndi Imo, Ndewonu. Exactly three years ago today, it pleased God for me to be sworn in as the duly elected governor of our dear Imo State. That was after a lengthy and tortuous legal battle to reclaim the mandate you freely gave me at the polls in March 2019, which high level electoral fraudsters and unscrupulous conspirators, tried in filch.

It is, therefore, with a heart full of joy and gratitude to God that I address you today on the occasion of the third anniversary of my Shared Prosperity administration. Let me therefore, first and foremost, once again express my immeasurable gratitude to God Almighty for the great thing he did for Imo people and my humble self, by using the judiciary to restore the mandate you freely gave to me through the instrumentality of your votes. To God be all the glory for upholding your mandate by manifesting His strong arm as the God of justice.

As always, I can never thank you; the good people of Imo State, enough for your solidarity with me, which was unassailable, all through that long heroic struggle. I will never forget in a hurry, how, inspite of all the daunting odds, you stood by me, like the rock of Gibraltar. As I have said many times before, I have forgiven all the perpetrators of that heinous electoral fraud.

Albeit, all that is now history, even if not a too pleasant one. What matters now which is the most important information you need, is what my government has done with your mandate, three years on. On this I am glad to state that we have made you proud through the huge difference we have made between the Imo State we met on January 15th 2020 and the Imo State of today, January 15th 2023. Indeed, the difference is so palpable and so pervading, that even the blind can feel it.

The Imo State we met in January 2020 on assumption of office can best be described as something very close to the political definition of a failed state, this time at a sub – national level. For all practical purposes we met a state with a decayed infrastructure, dysfunctional workforce and a deeply despondent and traumatised populace. There was hardly any single motorable road across the state. The state capital of Owerri, in particular, was littered with unmotorable roads and dilapidated government buildings.

The Civil Service was a good example of a disoriented and directionless institution with no regards for regulations and due process. As a consequence, the productivity and reputation of the Civil Service dropped to zero. For a state like Imo that was renowned for its efficient and reputable civil service this collapse was a major dent on our pride and reputation. The general populace, dismayed by the inexplicable failure of government, relapsed into utter despondency and hopelessness, like sheep without Shepherd. Yes, the situation was that bad.

The situation was made worse by the fact that we had no handover note, and there was nobody to ask questions about government’s assets and liabilities. We were faced with a dead end on arrival. Our situation was worse than talking to the deaf and dumb. It can only be comparable to the ordeal of someone groping in the dark in search of a pin. Yes, it was that daunting. But we refused to be deterred. I am not the one to give excuses for failure. By my election I had reached a social contract with Ndimo to move our state forward. And that, for me, was a task that must be accomplished.

To make a very bad situation even worse, it appeared that the god of oddities was temporarily on the throne. While we were trying to navigate an already messed up ship without a compass, the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head with its negative consequences on the global, national and state economies, in addition to an unprecedented toll on human life. As if that was not enough trouble for us, some unrepentant sour political losers vowed to make the state ungovernable for me. And they did not stop at mere threats: They walked their threats by unleashing unbridled violence in the state. It was like hell was let loose and insecurity became the order of the day. Our state that was once admired for its safety, serenity and sanity became a den of criminals

.Our state that was a preferred destination for tourists became a dreaded city as visitors and even indigenes stayed away for fear of becoming victims of the senseless killings, arson and violence that spread across the state. Yes, our take-off was that bad. It was bad enough to daunt even the bravest. But we refused to give up. Instead, we summoned courage and confronted all the challenges head -on. I was convinced that this was what the Imo people who chose me over the other candidates expected me to do. Looking back to three years ago, I can beat my chest and say that to a very large extent, we have overcome. But I must add that we overcame not because we are the bravest or the wisest but because God is with us, and I know it for certain that our faithful God does not abandon his people. I was inspired and strengthened by the verse from the Holy Bible in Joshua chapter 1: 9. which says :

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened or dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”

So we trudged on with the determination and zeal of the spirit filled. Three years after, it is clear to all and sundry that we have not only secured our state, we have made life far better for citizens and residents of Imo State. What is more? Imo State is looking up to the future with greater confidence knowing that glorious days lie ahead.

First and foremost, through the right policies and provision of medical facilities, we were able to contain and minimise the devastating effect of the dreaded corona virus pandemic. To the glory of God, Imo state recorded one of the lowest numbers of Covid-19 deaths and infections in the county during the pandemic.
Similarly, through the help of President Muhammadu Buhari and the unfailing cooperation of security agencies, we were equally able to contain the politically contrived insecurity surge in the state. But this was at a huge financial cost to the state because we had to support the security agencies with both equipment and logistics to do the battle. But it is instructive that we never allowed the two monsters of Covid-19 and the politically contrived insecurity to be an excuse for not delivering on our promises to Imo people. So, in spite of the enormity of these challenges, we still performed far beyond expectations. From the recovery and restoration of our commonwealth to the rebuilding of our physical infrastructure, from restoring our Civil Service to securing our cities, from health to education, from growing our economy to saving our traditional institutions, I can tell you, my beloved Ndi-Imo, that we have delivered, to the chagrin and utter dismay of our detractors.

As you may already know, last week, I held the 7th edition of Imo State stakeholders meeting in Owerri. That is a forum through which I render regular account of my stewardship to the stakeholders. The forum also provides an unfettered opportunity for the stakeholders to interface with me and ask probing questions on how the state is governed. Before the meeting, I had a three hour live phone – in radio programme which was aired by all the private and public radio stations in the state. Interest groups such as students unions, labour unions, professional bodies, civil society organizations and market unions were in the hall and also fielded questions on the governance of the state. These programmes, which I initiated and commenced on assumption of office, are in keeping with my promise at my swearing in to run an open, inclusive, transparent, accountable and God – fearing government.

With these, we have restored the confidence of the people in governance. We have returned Imo state to the rightful owners i.e the people. Democracy is after all about the people buying into a participatory government that is for them and run by them. Today, Imo people from all walks of life know how their government is run. They have become part of the governing process. The dark clouds that shrouded the process of governance in the past have yielded to a new era of well illuminated governance process that is transparent, inclusive and accountable. To this end, it will be a statement of fact to claim that my administration has restored for Imo people a true democratic government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Anyone who needs further empirical evidence of this should check the website of the World Bank and find to his or her delightful surprised that, the World Bank, a reputable international institution, has awarded a total of 30 million US dollars as grant, to my administration. The grant covers the period of 2020, 2021 and 2022, and the grant was awarded to us for running an open, transparent and accountable government, particularly for operating a people – driven budget. This is the first time that Imo State has won this coveted price and it happened under my watch.

Beyond that, I can boldly tell you that after three years of painstaking efforts at the pursuit of our 3R mantra encapsulated in Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery, everything is turning around for good in our state. Now, we can all proudly declare that we are the sons and daughters of a state, created to make life better for Imo people.

Because I came prepared to serve you as your governor, and because I made a covenant with God that as governor I will do only those things that will make life better for Imo people, I was not deterred by the largely man – made obstacles and challenges that stood on my way.

Many of you may not remember that when we assumed office the situation was so bad that government businesses were transacted from briefcases and bush bars. That was a big shame as it made government lose its myth and dignity. To the glory of God, that sordid state of affairs has changed for good. The abandoned and dilapidated governor’s office has been rehabilitated and Imo State now has a functional, refurbished and re- energised governor’s office. The sorry structure that was hitherto the governor’s residence has been practically rebuilt and turned into a befitting edifice for the home of our state governor. And a brand new Executive Council Chambers, with state of the art communication gadgets, has been erected to ensure that the entire machinery of the Executive arm of government is brought up to date with modern day realities. A befitting banquet hall has also been built in Government House.
The collapsed House of Assembly complex, left to rot for over 10 years, has been rebuilt by my administration. The Chambers of the assembly has equally been re-equipped with modern state of the art communication gadgets. We can proudly say today that Imo state House of Assembly is world-class with respect to its structure and facilities.

We also restored the dignity of the judiciary by providing our judges with SUV Vehicles as official cars and by clearing the salary arrears of 13 months which was owed them by previous administrations.

The take away here is that we have revived and revamped the institutions of government and repositioned them as the dignified landmarks of the government of the people for the people and by the people. Those who do business with the government of Imo State, represented in the three arms of the government, now know that we mean business and they approach us with the respect and dignity deserving of a state government.

I am also glad to report that the once disoriented and forgotten civil servants whose morale was at its lowest ebb before we took over, have bounced back and are now full of life and energy. They now have a conducive working environment and all the tools they need to deliver on their specific mandates. . They have free transport to move them to and fro offices. The permanent secretaries now have their dignity restored as the chief accounting officers of their ministries. They also have befitting official vehicles to show for their newly restored status. Through training and retraining, the state workforce has been up-skilled and repositioned for more effective and efficient service delivery. In addition, the civil servants now receive the 13th month salary, to further boost their morale. This has been on for two consecutive years, in addition to regular, prompt payment of salaries. I also released the promotions of state workers who had been denied their promotions for over ten years. Even the civil servants could not believe the “miracle”. But it happened all the same. Looking back at what I met in 2020, I can declare without any fear of contradictions that Imo State Civil Service is currently one of the best motivated and highly rewarded civil service in the country today.

Perhaps one area we have surpassed expectations is on road construction. As I am very certain that you will recall vividly, before January 2020, most of our roads including those in the state capital and the Intercity ones were in a dilapidated state, constituting a threat to the lives of road users. I am glad to report that in three years, the landscape has changed dramatically. Many roads in Owerri Capital have now been fixed. The Owerri landscape now wears a comforting new look. So far, we have embarked on the construction of close to 100 roads in different parts of the state. Some of these have been completed and commissioned, while others are at various stages of completion. Some of these, such as the Owerri – Orlu road and the Owerri – Okigwe road have been rightly dubbed as signature projects, not only because of their strategic and economic importance, but also because of the sheer quality of the roads.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari was so impressed on his last visit to the state to commission some of our signature projects that he baptised our massive road construction efforts, INFRASTRUCTURAL REVOLUTION.

As you will remember, the signature projects commissioned by President Buhari include the Owerri- Okigwe road, Owerri- Orlu road,the House of Assembly complex and the balloon flood technology at Ikenegbu. Work is currently on – going on the Owerri-Mbaise-Obowo-Umuahia road, Orlu- Mgee- Akokwa-Uga road and Oguta – Okporo to Orlu road, which I have assured will be completed and commissioned this year. All these are aimed at turning around the economy of our dear state. I have no doubt that by the time we complete our first four years in office, the enormous benefits of this infrastructure revolution would be felt by all, especially with respect to the five – kilometre roads being constructed in each of the 27 local government areas of the state. I envision that by this time next year we will be celebrating with the competition of more than 150 road projects solidly completed across all the 27 local government areas of the state. This will be a record in the history of Imo State.

Those of us who regularly ply the Orlu – Owerri road and Owerri-Okigwe road have continued to extend their gratitude to the state government for saving them from the several years of nightmare at the intractable Njaba junction of the Orlu – Owerri road as well as the even more intractable Eke-Mele junction of the Owerri – Okigwe. No matter how short human memory can be, I am sure that many will not forget in a hurry how they spent hours or sometimes days, trying to wiggle through these two nightmarish junctions that tormented motorists for many years. Through our determined efforts, the torments and nightmares are not only over but are permanently over. This is because we delivered top standard, durable roads, on these two signature projects, that will last for years.

Realizing that the development of infrastructure must go hand in hand with human capital development, I have intensified efforts to get our army of youths engaged in productive ventures. Only recently, I launched the Skill up Imo project – an initiative that will see that more than 100,000 of our youths are trained and equipped in different digital skills for immediate employment or self employment. So far we have trained over 20,000 youths of Imo origin in different skills and availed them with start up kits to start their own trades. More than 30,000 others have been empowered through different cash transfer programmes in collaboration with the Federal government.

Because government cannot employ all the army of youths, I will continue to avail them of windows of opportunities to find expression for their talents.

One way I have also been creating gainful employment opportunities for them is through the resuscitation of hitherto moribund industries in the state. We have successfully done that with Adapalm nig LTD. We have also gone far with Imo Standard Shoe Industry after paying off the debt it owed AMCON. Searchlights are being beamed at Avutu Modern Poultry, Nsu Ceramic Tiles and other similar ones. With the new Imo industrial policy which I recently launched, the state is on the march to economic greatness which will be tapped by our youths. The policy will attract and encourage investors to the state, and this will create additional opportunities for employment.

Even as we are doing that, we are also encouraging the young ones to embrace education by creating opportunities for them. After we recovered the K. O. MBADIWE University, Ideato, we deemed it fit to complement existing tertiary institutions in the state by establishing new ones. We set up Imo State University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Umuagwo, and moved the former Polytechnic to a new site in Omuma. With Senator Ben Uwajimogu College of Education, Ihitte Uboma,we are now funding five tertiary institutions including the foremost Imo State University, Owerri-. What it means is that our indigenes would no longer be stranded while seeking admissions into institutions of higher learning. The other implicit benefit is employment opportunities for teaching and non teaching Staff.

My beloved Imo people, if our education sector is looking good, our health sector is looking even better. Due to what I will describe as criminal neglect, we met our hospitals in a worse state than mere consulting clinics. Our health centres were allowed to decay .Consequently, from the time I was sworn in as the Governor and was confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic, I never relented in tackling the sordid state of affairs in the health sector. This determined move culminated in the revitalization of the Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Orlu. For the first time in years, the institution was able to graduate medical doctors because we did the needful. Today, the administration is renovating and equipping 305 health centres-one in each of the electoral wards of the state. The schools of Nursing and Midwifery which had lost accreditation have been recovered and are now set to admit new students before Easter. All the general hospitals are being revived to have requisite staff and equipment to function. We have continued to fulfil all our obligations in the sector.

Another good news is that we have been able to get the Federal Government to upgrade the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri to a teaching hospital for Federal University of Technology, Owerri. What it means is that Imo state now has two teaching hospitals which comes with enhanced quality medical services for our people at the tertiary level. I envisage that by this time next year, we would have all the primary and secondary health centres functioning at full capacity with two referral health centres handy for our people with any complex medical condition.

The Federal Government, through our efforts has also taken over the Alvan Ikoku College of Education as a Federal University of Education. That is yet another cheering news for our people.

You should also know that by working in synergy with the Federal Government, approval has been secured for the dredging of Oguta Lake/ Orashi rivers to the Atlantic Ocean. This will be followed by the building of a river port at Oguta Lake. Of course this is coming with enormous potentials for a boom in international trade and commerce as well as investments in the oil and gas sector. We also attracted the establishment of a Naval base in Oguta which will help to enhance maritime security in the area and check illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism.

My esteemed Ndi-Imo, it will take more than a broadcast to exhaust our achievements in all the sectors, including agriculture’, housing, sports and many others where we have recorded very impressive achievements. Feel free anytime to go over to the Ministry of Information and Strategy to obtain a copy of our handbook containing detailed sectoral breakdown of our achievements in three years. Suffice it to say at this point that we have done quite well and I have kept faith with my covenant with God and my social contract with Imo people. After three years in office I have had neither scandal nor an indictment. No one has been able to point accusing fingers at me that I stole Imo People’s money or pilfered our common patrimony. All that the opposition has been accusing me of is about insecurity in the state, yet they are behind the insecurity.

This brings me to the same appeal l made to stakeholders last week which is to call on the perpetrators and sponsors of violence in the state to give peace a chance. Like I also asked at that meeting, how come the only victims of insecurity in the state are those associated with the government or the ruling party? Why is the insecurity domiciled in Orlu and Okigwe zones? Why has there never been a single victim of insecurity from the opposition? So it is clear from the answers to these questions that those behind insecurity in the state are known to all of us. Let us appeal to them not to destroy Imo state because of their vaulting ambition for power. As Christians and Igbos, there is no justification to take an innocent life. Power obtained on the blood of fellow humans can only come from Satan with devastating consequences for the masterminds.

On the brighter side, I want to use this opportunity to sincerely appreciate the ordinary Imo man and woman, boy and girl, who have believed in my capacity to deliver good governance and the dividends of democracy to all. I must also appreciate our religious leaders whose fervent prayers have kept me going. Our traditional rulers have been a pillar of support for this administration. Even when the agents of darkness singled them out for persecution, they never wavered in their support. I am proud of you. To those who sent me personal messages of encouragement; to those who spent money on the media to congratulate me on my modest work; to members of my team, from the cleaner to the Commissioners who have been under intense pressure to keep pace with my speed, I thank you all for your patience, prayers and goodwill. I was touched when some of our people who returned from abroad openly confessed that the work they saw that I have done exceeded their expectations. In this regard, I am grateful to you all for your kind words towards me and my administration.

Umunnem Ndi Imo, I believe that on this auspicious occasion of my three years in office anniversary, all of us who mean well for Imo people can look back with a sense of satisfaction and say that yes, together we have made a huge difference. The Imo State of today is far better, in every aspect than the Imo State of three years ago. To God be the glory. Congratulations, Ndi-Imo.

In the years ahead, I believe that working together with everyone of you including our engine room, the civil servants, we shall achieve even more to bring our dear Imo State irreversibly into the hall of fame of the nation’s league of successful and developed states. Fortunately, we are on the right track and God is with us, so victory is surely ours.

Let me therefore end this broadcast with these words:

When I think of Imo State I am proud of our history, mindful of the present and confident of the future. So let us march on together into the future, sure- footed, with fervent faith in God. Let us never be deterred by challenges for as the scriptures tell us in the book of Proverbs 24:10: “if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small”

May God continue to bless the works of our hands.

Thank you all and God bless all of us.

Long live Ndi-Imo
Long live Imo State
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Sen. Hope Uzodimma

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