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)