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For Uzodinma, Ben Johnson Means Grace

By Ifeanyi  Maduako

In the twentieth century when his Excellency, Governor  Hope  Uzodinma was a  youth or much younger, Benjamin  Sinclair  Johnson  (popularly known as  Ben Johnson) was the most famous athlete in the world. Ben  Johnson,  a  Jamaican born  Canadian former sprinter was the modern-day Usain  Bolt.

He came into limelight in the 1984  Olympic championship where he won two bronze medals in the men’s  100 meters and  200 meters dash. He came to the apogee of his athletic career when he won two gold medals in  1987 and 1988 consecutively. Even though he was later stripped off the gold medals on the allegation of testing positive  to  steroid, his  name  remained a  recurring decimal and synonymous  with  exceeding  speed for overtaking  competitors.

In  Ben Johnson’s  competitive days , his  famous style  was  always  a surprising  overtaking  or  out-pacing  his  competitors  from behind  to win  all the  medals  he won. The common  parlance  in the  streets of the  world then was using  the name of  Ben  Johnson  to  illustrate  either speedy  running  away from  danger  or  overtaking  opponents   in any  race in whatever  form.

Therefore,  when Governor Hope Uzodinma  used the metaphor  of  Ben  Johnson to illustrate  how he  became  the  All Progressives  Congress (APC) gubernatorial  candidate  in Imo State  and subsequently  won the election  in less than a year after  he joined  APC, he was  trying  to demonstrate  or illustrate  the grace of God  in his life to  his audience. Yes,  it’s only  the  mighty hand of  God  which would  have  made  it possible  for a  then  new  entrant into  APC to  displace  all the  formidable  structures and  tendencies  to become  its  governorship candidate. Before  his  entrance  into  APC , there  were  the  Rochas  Okorocha’s structure, the Ifeanyi  Araraume  structure, the Eze Madumere structure, etc. All these structures were at daggers-drawn to one another. There was no meeting point for all of them. The centre could never hold.

By the  way,  when   the then  Governor  Rochas  Okorocha sponsored  the removal  of the  then  national  chairman  of APC , Chief  John  Odigie-Oyegun, in preference  to the immediate  past  chairman, Adams  Oshiomhole,  he never  believed  in his  wildest  imagination  that Adams  Oshiomhole  would  dig and bury  his  succession  plan  to  impose his  son-in-law as the governor  of  Imo State. When  Okorocha  mobilized  the state’s  funds  and resources  to ensure  the election  of  Oshiomhole  as the  national  chairman  of  APC,  he never  believed  that his Achilles’ heels  and  political waterloo were  in the  offing.

With the election of Oshiomhole  as  chairman , he was  cocksure in  his mind that   he had conquered Imo State. He came  back from the  national  convention  of the party that  faithful day basking  in  the  euphoria  of two  missions accomplished. They were to wit:  the removal of Oyegun and the election of Oshiomhole as the national chairman of APC.

However, as Williams Shakespeare said, “there no art on the face to show    the mind’s construction. Oshiomhole, being  a man  with a  conscience knew that  it was  politically  and morally  reprehensible  for him  to support  an outgoing  governor  who  wanted  to impose  his son-in-law in a  sophisticated state like Imo.

Oshiomhole knew that it was unjust. It was greed writ large. Chief  Bola  Tinubu, who single-handedly controls all the political structures in Lagos  State had never made  such an  egregious attempt of imposing  any  of  his relatives  on  Lagosians  how much  less Rochas Okorocha . So, Oshiomhole  stood  against  that unjust  cause,  and  it failed  woefully.  The day  Oshiomhole  was  elected  the  national chairman  of  APC  was  the day God  Almighty  liberated  Imo State from  Okorocha’s  intention of  instituting  familiocracy  in the state. There’s  a faint  possibility that  if  the  former  chairman before  Oshiomhole  had  continued  as the chairman  of  APC  in the 2019 general  elections , he  could have  bowed  to  Okorocha’s  succession  plan  either  through  massive  inducement or  intimidation. But Oshiomhole  being  a man of  tougher  steel, a  stoic, he was too  much  for  Okorocha to intimate  or induce  having  being  a former governor  of  Edo  State for  eight  years. Also, without  the coming  of  Oshiomhole , Governor  Uzodinma  may  not  have  emerged  as the  candidate  of  APC  in  the state.

 Against this background, when Governor Uzodinma told Okorocha’s  appointees who recently  paid  him a solidarity  visit  at  the  Government  House pledging  their  unalloyed  loyalty  to his  government , that he became  the  governor  of  Imo State through the “Ben Johnson way”, he was merely  explaining  to them that he became  the  governor  through  the grace of  God . His “Ben Johnson way” connotation or context doesn’t mean that he became governor through a fraudulent means. He couldn’t have said that he became a governor through fraud. In any case, no “Ben Johnson way” succeeds in any endeavor if God doesn’t sanction it. It’s neither of him that willet nor of him that runneth but of Him that showeth mercy.

Governor Uzodinma  came  from behind  and overtook  the several structures  and  tendencies  in the then  APC, and  became  its candidate. He went ahead to win the general election. Governor Uzodinma has abundant grace in his political   life because  he  became  the governor  of Imo State in just  two attempts  whereas many  couldn’t  achieve  it after many  attempts. In politics and life  generally, “Overtaking is allowed” and that was exactly  what he did in  2019 gubernatorial election  through  the  “Ben Johnson  way” which  means  the grace of  God.

Maduako, a media practitioner, writes from Owerri (08061562735)

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