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Chief Sam Mbakwe

From Mbakwe to Uzodinma By Emeka Obasi

Mbakwe and Uzodimma

As governor of Imo State, Dee Sam Mbakwe wept for his people to be treated with all decency due citizens of a nation. In death, the tears continued to roll until the gods of the land visited Government House Owerri to say hello to incumbent governor, Hope Uzodinma.

Something terrible has been going on for 40 years in Imo State. We talk of Abandoned Property in Port Harcourt and demolitions in Lagos. Lucifer took a permanent seat in Owerri. Land owners, with relevant documents, were denied their property and exploited by insiders in government.

Uzodinma, woke up, sometime late in 2023 and said enough was enough. He descended heavily on those in charge of Lands in Imo State and has come to prove that as governor, he is the Chief Landlord. When I say Mbakwe smiled in his grave, believe me.

As a lawyer, Dee Sam took it upon himself to fight for Ndigbo whose investments in Port Harcourt, were declared Abandoned Property after the Civil War. It did not happen in the North. Not in the South – West but in our own Pitakwa, full of cousins, of Ikwerre extraction.

Mbakwe’s role in fighting for the oppressed sent him to the Imo State Government House in 1979. Unfortunately, land allocations he made before the Muhammadu Buhari coup in 1983, which were duly paid for, have been denied the owners ever since.

I speak authoritatively. With Certificates of Occupancy (C of O) obtained so many decades ago, the land owners have been through hell in the hands of Imo State government officials. They have been paying money to subsequent governments till date without seeing results.

Land was mapped out in the New Owerri Area by Mbakwe to create a beautiful town. It was so strange that one governor came, converted the area to a pocket layout and made new allocations without relocating or compensating the Original Owners who are legally backed with their C of O.

When I say land owners have been paying for decades, I am certain. Mr. Governor could ask for documents from the Ministry of Lands. There is, for instance, Plot 166, Housing Area P, New Owerri. Checks revealed that more money was paid into government treasury in November 2022.

It was so bad that even after some of the landowners died waiting for government intervention,  families were made to update the tax papers of the deceased. The waiting game continued, nothing positive happened.

Uzodinma must be a wizard to have come to the rescue of the dead. Dee Sam says I should salute the Imo State governor. How the incumbent heard the cries of the oppressed continues to baffle me. This Hope seems to be full of hope, after all.

I never reckoned with Uzodinma when he emerged as governor. However, he did something as a senator which said so much about his dream. While pursuing his goals as senator, Hope did not forget Ndigbo. Emeka Enyinnaya, a former banker with Zenith Bank was moved to one of the agencies in the Aviation ministry as General Manager.

When I visited home during Yuletide in 2022, I marveled at the state of the Owerri – Añara Road. Before Uzodinma, that Highway was abandoned. The worst came from our own, Ikedi Ohakim, who had the honour of following the route to his village but abandoned it.

For Uzodinma, old things are gone. I see the Imo Renaissance through this man in his second tenure. Let me bring back Mbakwe. Imo progressed because Dee Sam had quality around him. Enoch Anyanwu. Alex Emeziem. Ray Ofoegbu. Rose Mezu. Gina Onyejiaka.

Prof. Anyanwu, a United Nations Consultant, was Secretary to the State Government. Emeziem, was in charge of Public Utilities. Under Mbakwe, there was electricity, water flowed. As a student, Ememe dined with Queen Elizabeth. He worked with Shell too.

Dr. Ray Ofoegbu taught Political Science at Nsukka. As Commissioner for Lands, there was no controversy. He was ADC to General Philip Effiong in Biafra. Gina Onyejiaka, made History in 1963 as the First Nigerian to take part in Miss World. She sponsored herself as First Runner – Up after Martha Bassey was dropped.

Rose Uremegbulem Mezu came from a family of scholars. Her husband, S.O. (Sebastian Okechukwu) Mezu, at 27, was Biafran Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire. In that family, they speak Igbo, English, French, German, Italian, name it. Today, she is a Professor at Morgan State University, Baltimore.

Uzodinma should search for quality hands from around the globe to run Imo in the next four years. Mbakwe is waiting for more good news, to bless the Imo State governor, a man who has shown signs of changing the environment.

Mr. Governor needs to bring Works minister, Dave Umahi, to fix the ultra busy Aba – Owerri Highway which has been abandoned since President Shehu Shagari left office in 1983. I am happy that Uzodinma does not do ‘eye service’, unlike some leaders in high places.

I am worried, that the governor, known as a good left winger in Festac, Lagos, has not worked on Heartland, the only Nigerian soccer team to have played in an Intercontinental Championship, the Korea President’s Cup, 1988. The club should go back to its original name, Spartans.

For destroying the land demons in New Owerri, I owe His Excellency, one 2 – metre bottle of champagne, to be delivered in Omuma. I know that with him, all those who bought land under Mbakwe, will for once smile.

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