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Imo guber: Equity beckons on Owerri Zone/Ihedioha

By Luke Onyekakeyah
05 March 2019   |   1:58 am
If the South-East of which Imo State is part is lamenting its marginalisation and denial to take a shot in the leadership of the country, turns around to marginalise sections of its people, then there is no moral justification for the outcry.

Rochas Okorocha

If the South-East of which Imo State is part is lamenting its marginalisation and denial to take a shot in the leadership of the country, turns around to marginalise sections of its people, then there is no moral justification for the outcry. Imo State can’t be marginalising Owerri zone and at the same time crying foul against the marginalisation of Igbo by the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy. What is good for the gees is also good for the gander, they say. Also, he who comes to equity, they say, must come with clean hands.

The golden rule says do unto others what you would like others do unto you. Put in another way, do not do unto others what you would not want others do unto you. That is the foundation of equity, justice and social justice. That is the solution to social discontent and animosity that breeds hatred among peoples.

Interestingly, the other states in the South-East have addressed the issue of equity and social justice in the governance of their states. I am aware that Enugu State has a standing zoning arrangement for the office of the governor. The three governors that have presided over Enugu State hail from three different zones. While Chimaroke Nnamani is from Enugu East, Sullivan Chime and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi are from Enugu Central and Enugu North zones respectively.

Similarly, Anambra State has applied the same equity principle in its guber selection. Former governors Chinwoke Mbadinuju and Virginia Etiaba hail from Anambra South, Peter Obi and Chris Ngige are from Anambra Central and Willie Obiano is from Anambra North.

Ebonyi State has a standing zoning arrangement for governorship. Governor Sam Egwu from Ebonyi North zone governed the state from 1999 to 2007. He was succeeded by Martin Elechi from Ebonyi Central who presided over the state from 2007 to 2015. The incumbent Governor, Dave Umahi, who took office in 2015, hails from Ebonyi South. My investigation shows that the office of the governor will return to Ebonyi North in 2023.

Finally, Abia State is not left out in the zonal/equity arrangement for the office of the governor. From 1999 to 2007, former governor Orji Uzor Kalu, from Abia North governed the state. He was succeeded by Theodore Orji from Abia Central from 2007 to 2015. The incumbent Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, from Abia South has been on the seat since 2015. I have used these states to illustrate how equity, justice and fairness have taken root in all the states of the South-East, except in Imo State where Orlu zone alone wants to dominate the others.

For instance, former governor Achike Udenwa who ruled Imo State for eight years from 1999 to 2007 is from Orlu Zone. He was succeeded by Ikedi Ohakim from Okigwe who governed from 2007 to 2011 (just one term). The incumbent Governor Rochas Okorocha, once again, is from Orlu Zone.

Altogether, by May 29, 2019, Orlu zone would have held sway in Imo State for sixteen solid years while Okigwe Zone had just one shot of four years. But Owerri Zone, where the capital of Imo State is located, has never had one shot at governance in the state. Owerri zone should close ranks and redeem itself.

Suddenly, Orlu Zone has become a dominant force that lords it over the entire state? Not only that, the ethnic nepotism accusation being leveled on President Muhammadu Buhari in his appointments is full blown in Imo State. My investigation, for instance, shows that virtually all the principal officers at the Imo State University, Owerri are from Orlu Zone. The same is the case in other government institutions in Imo State. Former Governor Achike Udenwa instituted this anomie, which has been upheld ever since by the successive Orlu zone governors till date.

The time has come to break this hegemonic grip on the state. This blatant cheating should stop and the power is with the people to say enough is enough. Whereas all the states in the South-East have instituted zoning of the governorship seat, in Imo State, the story is different. Virtually, Orlu zone has dominated governance to the detriment of the other zones.
While the Igbo are bemoaning their plight in Nigeria over marginalisation, back in Igbo land, there are worse slave drivers who have arrogated leadership to themselves. Orlu zone has constituted itself into a political hegemonic powerhouse that perpetually wants to rule and dominate leadership in Imo State while others remain spectators. This is unacceptable. The people should vehemently resist tyranny through their votes. Imo State belongs to all of us.

The 2019 governorship poll should be used to correct the injustice. Equity demands that Owerri zone should produce the next governor of the state. It is incomprehensible that the incumbent Governor, Rochas Okorocha, is once again, and for the fifth time, positioned Orlu Zone to produce the governor without minding the feeling of others.

Luckily, the plot to field his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, as the APC candidate was thwarted by some patriotic citizens of Imo State. The APC National Working Committee (NWC) led by Comrade Adams Oshiomole, delivered the final death blow that sealed the unjust plot by Governor Okorocha to establish what he called a political dynasty in Imo State. Uche Nwosu was replaced by Senator Hope Uzodimma, also from Orlu zone, as the APC governorship candidate.

Rather than withdraw and allow the will of the people to prevail, Uche Nwosu, guarded by his in-law, Okorocha, out of desperation, joined another party, Action Alliance (AA), with the result that two governorship candidates are gunning for the office from Orlu Zone, namely, Uche Nwosu and Hope Uzodimma. This is a good omen for other zones, as it has torn APC apart, a development many see as the finger of God to liberate Imo people. The Governor, who is holding Hope Uzodimma at the jugular, has vowed never to see him succeed him as governor.

Consequently, rather than supporting APC, Governor Okorocha has pitched his tent with Uche Nwosu and AA, which has further attracted the wrath of the APC National Working Committee (NWC). Over the past week, the NWC suspended Okorocha from the party and recommended him for expulsion. This has further thrown APC into turmoil. It is written that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. How can APC stand in Imo State with the internal crisis rocking the party?
Going by the outcome of the presidential/National Assembly elections, the party to beat is the PDP. All the other parties are just there in the catalogue. With the crisis rocking APC, the PDP is holding sway in Imo State. The coast has been cleared and Emeka Ihedioha is already cruising to victory.

My investigation shows that the people are out to uphold equity and give Owerri zone a chance, and the man of the moment is Rt. Honorable Emeka Ihedioha, the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. He is the standard bearer for Owerri Zone that the people know.

When I say that equity beckons on Ihedioha in the 2019 Imo gubernatorial election coming up on Saturday March 9, it is with all sense of responsibility and without emotion. I want Imo State to shine for all of us. I have been a strong supporter of the Imo State free education policy of the Okorocha administration (irrespective of how it has been implemented), but not to the detriment of equity, justice and fairness. Live and let live is an eternal maxim we all should uphold for peace and stability in the polity. The issue of equity is one problem that Nigeria is unable to resolve. There is outcry across the country over perceived marginalisation.

The just concluded presidential and National Assembly elections have given insight into where the governorship election is heading. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that won the poll in Imo State remains unbeatable. The people should resist imposition of a governor in whatever form using their votes.The line-up has made the battle easy for Ihedioha. This is noticeable from public perception. The masses of the people have endorsed him based, not on sentiments, but concrete, verifiable and stellar achievements while working as the Deputy Speaker and one time Acting Speaker of the House at the National Assembly.