Ihedioha:End Game Of A Slippery Political Sojourn
BY now, the Deputy Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, must be ruminating on several African parables about the lizard. By declaring the Imo State Governorship election inconclusive, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), actually raised Ihedioha’s hopes of occupying the topmost executive position in the state.
This is more so when his ‘twin brother’, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has succeeded in transiting to the Sokoto State Government House.
There is a common Igbo adage, which states that when the lizard falls off a tall Iroko tree and none is ready to commend it for the feat, it commends itself by nodding its head.
Despite his eventual loss at the supplementary Imo State governorship election, if Ihedioha looks back at his exploits in the public sphere during the past two decades, he must see reason to nod his head in self-exultation.
As the seventh session of the National Assembly gradually wounds up, Chukwumeka Nkem Ihedioha, who is the current Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, would also be rounding off 12 years of representing the people of Aboh Mbaise and Ngor-Okpala federal constituency.
Prior to the political conspiracy against the zoning of positions in the Green Chamber for the seventh plenary, Ihedioha served the House of Representatives in the capacity of Chief Whip.
He is from a community called Mbutu in Aboh Mbaise local government council of Imo State. Also, apart from the underhand political pranks that rewarded him with the post of Deputy Speaker, a cursory analysis of his past political footsteps reveal a tendency towards artificiality; especially when it comes to keeping agreements.
There is no record to show whether the Mbaise-born politician ever took a course in the anatomy of political conspiracy. That is even if such a course exists.
But his trajectory describes the general outline of such a discipline. And whether by accident or design, in 1993, Ihedioha was appointed the Chief Press Secretary to the then Deputy President of Senate.
The appointment, which came barely one year after he was appointed as the Press Officer to the Senate President, Prof. Iyorchia Ayu, raised some eyebrows then. However that scheme went with the wind after the demolition of the civilian democratic structures by the Sani Abacha regime.
Ihedioha was to resurface as the Director of Publicity for the inchoate Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), which was one of the many groups that coalesced into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
PDM was instrumental to the emergence of a former prisoner, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, as PDP’s presidential candidate in 1998. When the political treachery in PDP, which denied the leader of G34, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, the PDP ticket is revisited, Ihedioha’s roles would be highlighted.
As a political ally of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who was later to be rewarded with the position of presidential running mate to Obasanjo, Ihedioha enjoyed visibility in the newly formed federal government.
Though he was appointed briefly as Special Assistant to the Special Adviser to the President on Utilities, the Mbaise new breed politician schemed his way to the position of Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President of Senate.
Yet, like a monkey that never tarries at one tree branch, Ihedioha jumped over to the Presidency as Special Assistant on Political Matters to the Vice President, two years into the new democratic government. Subsequently during the preparations for the 2003 general election, the Vice President, Atiku, released him to contest election into the House of Representatives.
Ihedioha used his principal’s ambition to succeed Obasanjo to carve his own political space. He cleverly convinced Atiku that as MHR, he would become an automatic delegate to any PDP presidential primary election.
However, shortly before his constituents consented to the idea of the Vice President’s aide contesting the federal seat, a rotational power sharing arrangement between the constituent local government councils, Aboh-Mbaise and Ngor-Okpala had been in place. Under the plan, each of the two blocs would alternate candidates for one term apiece.
It was based on that understanding that Ngor-Okpala had to yield to Ihedioha from Aboh-Mbaise after occupying the seat from 1999 through 2003. But no sooner had Ihedioha gained access to the Green Chamber than he started dreaming dreams of limitless tenure.
Add to that, he came about the green cap mantle, not only to match the seats in the lower federal legislature, but according to side talks, fulfill the dictates some fetish pronouncements.
So, with ease and facilitated by connections to the Turaki, Emeka breached the political understanding and returned to the Green Chamber in 2007. The rigging that characterized the 2007 election and Ihedioha’s insistence on jettisoning the rotational arrangement flabbergasted the people of Ngor-Okpala.
Ever since that act of political betrayal, the man who was later to become the Deputy Speaker has been looked at as a harbinger of whatever is not of a good report! If the people of Ngor Okpala insist that Emeka Ihedioha is the epitome of electoral manipulation, his party, PDP, was to feel the pinch as the seventh plenary of NASS received proclamation.
Ihedioha, who was coming back for his third term in the Green Chamber, had to connive (read conspire) with other rebellious PDP legislators to upturn the zoning of positions. The gang up not only denied the South West its slot of Speaker but also ultimately joined to make PDP lose the 2015 election.
By the time Ihedioha emerged in camouflaged clothes as the Deputy Speaker, many people started wondering in hushed tones why he is always present in times of dubious planning. For instance, when the House of Representatives was being criticized for a financial scandal regarding the organisation of 10th democracy anniversary retreat for its members in Kano, Emeka’s name was mentioned.
Again when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) began investigations into an alleged embezzlement and inflation of contracts during the regime of Dimeji Bankole, the then Chief Whip was said to be in the know, which actually compelled him alongside his deputy, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, to disguise themselves as they sneaked into the legislature to become Speaker and Deputy in reverse order.
Even when the subsidy scandal broke out, a stunned nation heard tales of deep involvement of floor functionaries, including the member representing Aboh-Mbaise/ Ngor Okpala federal constituency.
Having come thus far with his buddy, Ihedioha aspired to be governor of Imo State like his partner in political gerrymandering, Tambuwal. But while Tambuwal waltzed his way to succeed Maigatakarda Wammako, whose confidence he enjoys; Ihedioha was not that lucky.
Despite the fact that his political mentors found their way to the All Progressives Congress (APC) Emeka’s calculations did not favour such a move. In his home state, where he is held in suspicion by a cross section of the voting population, the Deputy Speaker enjoys an adversarial relationship with the incumbent governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
Though there were tell-tale signals that Ihedioha planned to defect and join Ayu and Atiku in the APC after winning the governorship, the outcome of the supplementary election sounded the death knell to his calculating schemes! The primary election that gave him the PDP governorship ticket was fraught with controversies and allegations of duplicity and breach of processes.
Dogged by this burden, Ihedioha campaigned against Okorocha, who proved a stumbling block to his ambition to remain on the leeward side of political power. He claimed that while Rochas Okorocha “lowered the bar of governance in Imo State,” he was coming to reclaim it, stressing that with him as governor, Igbo would not be the first to play opposition in Nigeria.
“When I enter as governor, I will ensure that all our entitlements are received,” he boasted. But on April 11, 2015, Ihedioha and his empty talk evaporated into thin air.
His governorship aspiration effectively marked the end game of a scheming politician. And he would for a long time relish the truism in the Igbo saying that when a rat accompanies a lizard on a swimming spree, when they are done and water dries off the lizard’s body, the rat learns that all fingers are not equal.
And as the saying goes, all day is for the thief, one day is for the owner of the fish. Having nibbled at political fortunes of the people in the past 12 years, 2015 presented a day of reckoning for the Anglican Knight from Aboh-Mbaise.