Barr. Tagbo Agbazue, International Governance and Development Expert, has called for the re-election of Governor Hope Uzodinma, for critical and socio-economic development of Imo State and the emancipation of a marginalized South-East.
The development expert who made the call in a press statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday, described , Governor Hope Uzodinma as one of the most notable Igbo leaders of South-East decent within the national ruling party, the APC.
Barr. Tagbo Agbazue, who is also one of Africa’s foremost internationally acclaimed governance and development experts, reiterates the importance of re-electing the incumbent Governor of Imo state during the forthcoming gubernatorial polls of 11 November 2023.
According to Barr. AgbazueAlso, Governor Hope Uzodinma has a great working relationship with the newly elected President of Nigeria, HE President Bola Tinubu, as well as members of the Federal Executive Council and the leadership of the various party structures of the APC.
The statement said that, “The re-election of Governor Hope Uzodinma is of strategic importance to the continued socio-economic development of Imo State and indeed the cause of ndi Igbo.”
Barr. Agbazue maintains that:
“At the moment, ndi Igbo have been marginalized at the national level due to the political situation wherein the political inclination of ndi Igbo have been fragmented as evidenced by having Governors from four different political parties governing the five states of the South-East, with only two out of the five states, including Imo State, being run by APC that is the ruling party.
“We need to start strengthening the voice of ndi Igbo at a national level this means that when we take stock of where we are at the moment, we ought to support and maintain our Igbo leaders that already have a strong voice within the ruling party.
“To do otherwise would amount to shooting ourselves in the foot. We really need to start consolidating our position as ndi Igbo at a national level, which presently needs a lot of improvement. Part of the improvement required in this regard involves identifying and supporting our Igbo leaders from the base of the pyramid upwards.
“This is the time for ndi Igbo to build-on-build and to build on the established credentials of the incumbent Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, particularly when he has performed well with several initiatives and infrastructure projects to improve the security situation and socio-economic development of the state with benefits for the polity in the state, including the business community, youth, women and children.”
According to him, ndi Igbo should support those leaders like the incumbent Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, and work with them as a rallying point to engage with national development issues and structures.
Incidentally, the November 11 polls in Imo State is not the time to experiment with new entrants to the space, especially from political parties that do not currently have the necessary prowess at the national level.
Barr. Agbazue also advises that ndi Igbo should adapt a few strategies from the south-west states. “Since the return to democracy in Nigeria, the Yoruba nation has done a number of things with strategic intent and precision that are worthy of emulation. Firstly, they have carefully selected and supported their leaders at every dispensation.
“Whether it was HE President Obasanjo or HE Bola Ige or the incumbent President of Nigeria, HE Bola Tinubu, they always delimited their leadership and gave them all the support they required from the grassroots to the state-level to the very highest level. Secondly, clearly selecting their leaders and supporting them became a baseline for the Yoruba nation to come together and bargain with one voice at the national level.
“No wonder they are reaping the dividends today. The facts speak for themselves. From bagging the Vice Presidency and Speaker of the House of Representatives in the previous political dispensation, they now possess the ultimate office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the current administration.,” he said.
Barr. Agbazue bemoans the steady decline of the political strength of ndi Igbo at a national level since the return to democracy in Nigeria: “Ndi Igbo are currently not in an ideal position at the national level with the present situation where we do not possess the Presidency, Vice Presidency, Senate Presidency or the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Barr. Agbazue highlights that: “a simple analysis of appointments to national executive offices of parastatals made in the present dispensation show that the Yoruba nation from the south-west geopolitical zone are quantitatively the overwhelming beneficiary, while qualitatively, they are predominantly in charge of most strategic national institutions.
“For example, the entire control of Nigeria’s economy has been ceded exclusively to south-west Yorubas e.g., The Minister of Finance, The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) etc. Further, the EFCC Chairman, Inspector-general of Police, Controller-Generals of Nigeria Customs and Immigration Services respectively, as well as the Chief of Army Staff are also all from the south-west geopolitical zone.
“Unfortunately, this approach of nepotic appointments, stemming from gray areas in the Nigerian Constitution, is becoming a convention in Nigeria, against the tenets of good governance. Let us not forget that during the last administration under President Buhari, the Hausa-Fulani had the privilege of dominating most of these appointments.”
Barr. Agbazue contends as follows:
“On the 19 October 2023, the Nigerian Senate proceeded on a retreat in Akwa Ibom, in conjunction with the Minister of Finance, CBN Governor and key institutions like FIRS to deliberate on issues of revenue mobilization, fiscal policy, tax and monetary regimes. Can you imagine that out of about 10 speakers that spoke during the opening ceremony, not even one Igbo person handled the microphone at such a sensitive meeting about the country’s economy.
Barr. Agbazue is internationally recognized as an expert resource person in the field of economic and corporate governance and several practice areas pertaining to the long-term economic growth, competitiveness and sustainability of Africa. These include: international trade; corporate citizenship; anti-money laundering; compliance; anti-corruption; illicit financial flows; and gender, business and human rights.
Barr. Agbazue, whose work covers about 70 countries globally, has influenced the development of several ground breaking global, pan-African and national programs and initiatives that presently support the enabling governance and business climate in Africa.
He is a Senior Expert Adviser to The African Union, several regional initiatives, inter-governmental organisations and development finance institutions, including The World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC), The African Development Bank and The African Import Export Bank (Afreximbank). He has advised several national governments (e.g., Cameroon, Lesotho, Nigeria, Mozambique, South Africa, Germany and The United Kingdom), as well as several major public and private sector corporations in Africa. Notably, he was appointed by the Nigerian Presidency to restructure the governance of the tax sector in Nigeria (2010 to 2015).
The educational background of Barr. Agbazue, who was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1999, includes a Bachelors of Law (UNIZIK) and a Master’s degree in Politics (University of the Witswatersrand, South Africa).
He is a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, MA. USA. In 2004, he was recognized by the EU Presidency as the African Champion of Corporate Citizenship in Maastricht, The Nederland. In 2007, he was honored as a scholar of the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN), while in 2008, Barr. Agbazue was named as a recipient of the inaugural “Millstein Rising Star of Corporate Governance Award” by Yale University.