Home Youth empowerment Much ado for a wristwatch

Much ado for a wristwatch

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There has been a lot of noise recently about an expensive wristwatch worn by Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State during an official visit to Daura in Katsina State. As a general rule, the questions raised about the expensive watch disturb the imperatives of morality more than those of good governance. Some have gone so far as to detail how the claimed cost of the watch can build a hospital, school or market, thus giving the mistaken impression that said watch was purchased from public resources which could have been spent providing the listed public infrastructure. . Others went even further by prescribing an austere lifestyle for the governor.

Interestingly, some of these proponents of an austere lifestyle do the exact opposite of what they recommend. Hypocrisy! Some of them, in their hypocritical crusade for morality, have gone so far as to provide unnecessary comparisons with Angela Merkel, the former German Chancellor, Barrack Obama, a former President of the United States of America, and Alhaji Lateef Jakande, a former Governor of Lagos State, as role models of public officials who lived austere lives. They claimed that Merkel rehearsed her dresses as Chancellor of Germany, while Obama wore only one evening dress for eight years as president. As they approached their home, they claimed that Alhaji Jakande had driven his rickety Toyota Crown from his ilupeju home to Government House for over four years as governor. The significance of these examples, which these critics have not highlighted, is that these leaders simply continued with a lifestyle to which they were accustomed before becoming holders of public office. Essentially, they were just themselves when they held public office. Ironically, they deliberately made no reference to the world’s most colorful and stylish rulers, many of whom were very successful.

Like those leaders evoked, Hope Uzodimma had grown accustomed to a lifestyle before assuming his governorship just two years ago. For the record, he has been an ardent watch collector, as well as an investor in luxury watches for decades. This was long before his foray into politics and before he assumed public office. In reality, Uzodimma hasn’t bought a wristwatch since becoming governor. Watch collectors around the world usually opt for expensive, premium watches because they retain their values, and some brands and models also increase in value over time. This also applies to second-hand watches.

Uzodimma’s $783,084 wristwatch can build a state-of-the-art hospital and roads

Objective observers will have noticed that Hope Uzodimma has been a colorful and elegant dresser since his appearance in the public space. This became very evident when he was criticized by the public as a senator between 2011 and 2019. It is only natural that this would continue when he became governor of his state two years ago.

The purpose of the misinformed critics orchestrating the watch saga is to make Hope Uzodimma look like a wasteful governor who buys and wears expensive watches. In light of economic hardship, vulnerable people can easily be misled into adopting this view. I dare say that this unprovoked hate campaign is being promoted by the same critics who are determined to tarnish the reputation and diminish the achievements of this hardworking governor. Left to Senator Uzodimma, baseless slander campaigns like this should be ignored. However, one wonders why a cameraman at such an event would be more interested in zooming his camera on a governor’s wristwatch. Did he also zoom in on the watches worn by the other governors of Daura? These smear campaigns appear to be the latest strategy of Uzodimma’s detractors as their threat and ploy to render Imo State ungovernable through violence and insecurity has failed.

But, before I am accused of embarking on the journey of argumentum ad hominem, let us proceed to a calm examination of the facts. First and foremost, Senator Uzodimma owned this collection of watches long before he assumed public office and the price of the watch in question has been hopelessly exaggerated to sensational limits. Like all luxury collections, the price and value of the watch has appreciated over time. Moreover, given the recent drop in the value of the naira, the watch must also have been much cheaper in naira terms when purchased. Finally, it should also be pointed out that wealthy people are not barred from holding public office and that no law requires them to live like poor people when they take office. The law only prohibits them from doing so at the expense of public funds.

That being so, it is despicable to make propaganda for people to put the cost of the wristwatch at more than 400 million naira and then imply that the acquisition was financed from the money acquired through corrupt enrichment. Going further to list the infrastructure that could be funded with the cost of the watch is sheer malice and was meant to incite the people of Imo State against their Governor. While acknowledging the right of the media and, by extension, the public to question the actions or inactions of public office holders, it is most unjust that these interrogations are polluted with prejudice and envy.

And this is where I think our colleagues in the media should have done a more patriotic duty in comparing the situation in Imo before Uzodimma emerged and two years after he took office as governor of the state . While the hard facts are there, as evidenced by the Sun Newspaper’s recent tribute, a trip to the state will undoubtedly dispel many people’s doubts. At last count, Uzodimma has constructed over 99 roads including the dualization of Owerri-Okigwe and Owerri-Orlu roads which are federal roads. He restored Owerri’s public water supply after 25 years of dry taps. He brought Adapalm Nig Ltd back to life after 15 years of moribund and he effectively controlled perennial flooding in parts of Owerri through innovative balloon driven technology and in the process salvaging dozens of homes which had been swallowed up by the floods. For many years, Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Orlu did not graduate doctors. But they do now. Health facilities that lost their accreditation have now resumed full nurse education. And there are free mobile clinics to take care of people’s health in rural areas.

For those who want to remind Uzodimma what he could do with the value of his watch, Uzodimma has built health centers and classrooms in each of the state’s 305 neighborhoods. The university he recovered from a former state governor is now functioning as all the necessary facilities have been provided and the courses have been accredited by the NUC. Organized workers and state pensioners are happy because they are paid regularly. They even received a 13th month’s salary last December. The Secretary of State and State House of Assembly complexes that were on the verge of collapse were also brought back to life. These are verifiable facts. So, if Imo had been unlucky in the past with leaders, now we are lucky because we have a successful governor who is close to our hearts.

Ironically, this governor, despite the useless wristwatch saga, remains a man after the hearts of the poor and young in the state IMO. Even before he became governor, his home in Omumma was still something of a Mecca because the needy always flocked there for the help they desperately needed. His help enabled thousands of his constituents to go to school. His intervention through the Hope Foundation was responsible for the development of human capital through the training and empowerment of thousands of young people and women.

This was reproduced while he was in the Senate. His compassion is legendary and his generosity is incomparable. Now in government, he has invested huge funds in training and empowering young people. He even created a Ministry of Youth Empowerment just to convey his commitment to the economic development of the poor in the state.

Everyone involved in the dastardly propaganda against Uzodimma knows the truth, but they deliberately seek to distract him. And as always, their antics will come to naught. This is because the people of the state are not interested in the taste in dress of their governor, but in the dividends of democracy he has faithfully distributed to them. Nor do they demand that he give up his lifestyle for a more austere lifestyle, which is unbridled hypocrisy, as long as he remains sensitive and responsive to their needs. Governor Uzodimma is aware of this and remains focused on driving his shared prosperity agenda in Imo State.

*** Emelumba is the Information and Strategy Commissioner of Imo State.