Ugorji, ex-Guber Candidate
Says Imo lost over N150 billion investments in few months due to peaceless environment
International business strategist, investor, healthcare specialist and 2019 Imo Governorship candidate under the platform of Restoration Party (RP) Nze Francis Chike Ugorji obviously saddened with the recent orgy of violence in Imo State, South East Nigeria wants aggrieved politicians, youths and indeed all Imolites to sheathe their swords in order to give peace a chance so that investments could thrive and precipitate rapid development.
In this interview with select Journalists in Owerri, Ugorji, a Canada-based pro-democracy activist assures Gov. Hope Uzodimma of his support whilst pleading with stakeholders and political leaders to consider Imo first and lend their support to the Governor, among other issues.
SUDDEN ERUPTION OF VIOLENCE IN IMO:
Our dear State was the most peaceful enclave in the entire Nigeria before now. From East, West, North and South, Imo was a reference point and primus inter-pares in the comity of States in Nigeria. The reason for the peaceful and conducive atmosphere in Imo was simply because our people were more educated, better exposed and widely traveled.
It therefore beats my very imagination how and when these highly educated people suddenly turned into something else, to the extent that killers, arsonists, unknown gunmen, kidnappers and unrepentant non-State violent actors emerged from among them. In far away Europe, America and Asia, Imo State dominated the news recently in anything violence. It was noted and rated side by side with Borno, Kaduna, Oyo, Zamfara, etc. Ranging from burning of Police stations to killing of security operatives and innocent youths, the once most peaceful State got down shamelessly from her olympian height and I really wept for my State. But thank God that today peace is gradually returning.
IMO ECONOMY IN THE WAKE OF THE CRISIS:
Imo State economy shrinked to unreasonable proportion. You guys may not understand what I am talking about.
Night life, hospitality industry, Estate development sector and many others were worst hit at the peak of the violence. It was more or less a war. Believe it or not, Imo maintained number one in the list or index of leading tourist destinations in Nigeria before now.
People were leaving Abuja, Lagos, Port- Harcourt, Onitsha, Kano, Sokoto to Owerri each weekend in order to enjoy the frenzy, cozy, serene and beautiful Owerri environment because of the presence of super and world class hospitality industry here.
In this circumstance, aviation industry was booming, Airport taxi operators were smiling to banks, building contractors were getting contracts wherein they erect magnificent edifices for investors and owner-occupiers, restaurants and eateries were having Bazar of all sorts each new day. Infact, the value chain of all of these were trickling down to other sectors of the economy in a very unique way.
Before now, I had arranged to bring international investors from Canada, Europe, etc to invest in Imo with billions of naira, but when they saw what was going on, they shrinked into their shells and told me to forget the State of Imo for now. To them, any Imo bound person is bound to be killed by either the unknown gunmen or security operatives. Investors already in Imo before the violence erupted, quickly picked their baggage and fled for their lives. Even some Imolites born and bred here had to flee to other parts of Africa, Europe and America because they felt the situation would possibly snowball into war. Some industries and blue chip companies had to shutdown.
Gentlemen, by my own estimation, Imo lost over N150 billion naira worth of capital inflows and investments while the violence lasted.
WHY STAKEHOLDERS AND AGGRIEVED POLITICIANS SHOULD SUPPORT GOV. HOPE UZODIMMA:
Love they say is stronger than hatred and peace better than war. What we are expected as patriotic Imolites to do now is to activate a process of rebuilding Imo State. This process cuts across political party lines. The consequential gains and benefits of this rebuilding and restoration initiative will not be enjoyed by Gov. Hope Uzodimma and family alone. It’s for all of us.
So I beckon on all and sundry, stakeholders, aggrieved politicians, youths, students, journalists, professionals, market men and women, religious leaders, name it to close ranks with Dist. Sen. Hope Uzodimma in his sincere efforts to rebuild Imo. Let us not say Gov. Hope is bad or good or why must somebody from Orlu zone rule Imo again?
Supreme Court judgment is final because it is a policy court. Those still filing suits up and down at low and higher courts to unseat Uzodimma should desist from doing such. They are wasting their hard earned resources on shrewd lawyers that are not willing to tell them the truth.
I am from Owerri-Nkworji in Nkwerre and I ran for governorship of Imo State on the platform of Restoration Party (RP) in 2019 but when I discovered that I did not win, I refused to go to court to challenge Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha who at that time was declared winner. I did not go to court because I had no money to hire good and influential Attorneys but because I love Imo my dear State and our people, I toed the path of peace and allowed Hon. Ihedioha some peace. I learnt some other candidates in that Guber election went to court to harass Ihedioha and eventually got some money from him, but myself, I did not do that.
Now that Gov. Uzodimma is the governor, and he is calling on all of us to assist him to rebuild Imo State just like Prophet Nehemiah did in Nehemiah 2vs 14-20, it behooves on us all to hearken to the voice of reason and lend our support to Uzodimma. Nehemiah said “Ye have seen the distress that we face, how Jerusalem lieth waste and the gates thereof burnt down with fire, come, and let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem that we may see no shame and reproach again” (Neh. 2vs17).
After Nehemiah’s appeal to Israelites, they all complied. It was only Sanballat and Tobiah that opposed the prophet. In the same spirit of Nehemiah, I hereby request all to support Gov. Hope Uzodimma in this rebuilding process. Our economy is in shambles, our roads need attention, critical public utilities must be fixed and Uzodimma that I know, is capable of delivering all of these and many others. If all of us come together and only two persons like Sanballat and Tobiah oppose us, then we are good to go.
MY SUPPORT FOR UZODIMMA IS 100% AND MY LOVE FOR IMO UNQUANTIFIABLE
I support Gov. Hope Uzodimma 100% not because he is from Orlu zone where I come from but because he has passion for development and mega vision for a new Imo. His quality road projects bear eloquent testimonies of his love for Ndi Imo. His public service reforms, rural development projects, agric programmes, etc are all sustainable. I tell you, by the time Uzodimma finishes a four year term, Imo would realize the stuff he is made of.
I have been on the side of the youths and human development for quite sometime now, and this is why I donated a mega football trophy for my people which tournament is played annually. Currently I have diversified into mechanized agriculture, specifically palm oil production. My farm in Nkwerre and Ohaji-Egbema when fully operational would take well over 1,000 youths.
I am bringing the best investors to Imo State soon from Canada and Europe because I am a stakeholder and my love for Imo unquantifiable. I also seize this medium to appeal to security agents in the State to be more professional in their activities and security handling. The families of the innocent ones killed during the violence must be compensated adequately by the government whether they are civilians or security operatives.
Some of the people fomenting troubles in Imo don’t have one kobo investment here and we must never support them to sink our well built and properly navigated ship while we are all onboard.
My pet project, Nze Chinyere Foundation has been into grassroots and rural youths/women empowerment and medicals too. During Covid-19 era, we did a lot to put smiles on the faces of the people particularly those from Nkwerre-Isu-Njaba-Nwangele Federal Constituency.
We are not going to rest on our oars until humanity in Africa is better positioned and advanced, and most people successfully lifted out of the dungeon of poverty and diseases to the glory of God.