2019 Guber; Why Owerri Zone May Lose Again

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I don’t need to embark on any spiritual abracadabra to engage in a prophesy about the shape 2019 elections, especially that of governorship will take in Imo State, but as a keen observer of political developments and having watched carefully the trend of events in the state, the people of Owerri Zone may once again turn the “Weeping Zone” after next year polls.

Before I will be mistaken to be a “Prophet of Doom” against the wishes and interest of the people of Owerri Zone, to occupy the Government House, Owerri, suffice it to note that Imo State stands on a tripod of Senatorial districts, comprising Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe Zones.

With 27 LGAs, Orlu zone boasts of 12 Councils while Owerri and Okigwe share nine and six respectively. Owerri zone is made up of Owerri Municipal, Owerri North, Owerri West making up the Owerri Federal Constituency. The whole of Mbaise land, blessed with three LGAs of Aboh, Ahiazu and Ezinihitte remains part of the zone as well as the Ngor Okpala and the Mbaike Bloc of Mbaitoli and Ikeduru LGAs.

Proponents of the Owerri Zone for Governor, which became prominent in 2015  election and is gaining ovation ahead the 2019 election have always employed the noticeable imbalance in the number of years, persons from the zones have stayed in Government House, to canvass for support and claim of being entitled to be allowed to produce the governor.

It is an established fact that based on number of years the state has witnessed democratically elected governors, Orlu zone has fared better than Owerri and Okigwe in terms of number of years politicians from the areas have been at the helm of affairs. Since the nascent democracy debuted, the two zones are entitled to agitate to be granted the chance to produce the governor.

Before the nascent democracy arrived in 1999, Late Senator Evan Enwerem was the governor. Enwerem, now late, came from Ikeduru in Owerri Zone. In the new era, it was Achike Udenwa, of Orlu zone, who opened the floodgate to merit two terms spanning eight uninterrupted years. He was followed by Okigwe Zone born Ikedi Ohakim that failed to secure another missionary journey in office. His second term was cut short by an Orlu man, Rochas Okorocha, who has a year to vacate office.

As hostilities for 2019 election commence, aspirants and socio-political groups from both Owerri and Okigwe zones are upbeat about having the chance to produce the next governor in 2019.

Against the backdrop of the intention of the incumbent governor, Okorocha, to produce his successor, Uche Nwosu, from the ruling APC, the quest of the two zones has become more intensive and vociferous. Despite being the Chief of Staff and the son in-law to the governor, Nwosu, from Nkwerre LGA, is also from Okorocha’s Orlu zone.

The ambition of Nwosu has become the needed stimuli for the two zones to ask for a chance to produce the next governor. However, Owerri zone, as usual appears to be more vocal but without antecedents of the usual esoteric process that leaves the public guessing what went wrong after the polls.

I stand to be challenged that certain shenanigans orchestrated by political leaders from the zone remain the greatest albatross of Owerri Zone to produce a governor than the excessive of other zones. This scenario is likely to repeat in 2019, acts similar to what transpired in the past is about to re-occur. Unarguably majority of those canvassing for an Owerri Zone governor can be said to be sheer political merchants suspected to be engineering the cause for personal interests that are unconnected to the general feeling for an Owerri zone for governor.

A cursory review of the agitations show that the agitators only wake up when election year approached and remember it is the turn of Owerri zone when their preferred choice or aspirant who would protect their interest in office is in the race.

Except the advocates want to be economical with the truth, they would note that Owerri zone started losing its right to govern the state in 2011, no thanks to the coming of Rochas Okorocha who braced the odds to stop Ohakim’s second tenure.

Though, no written agreement to the best of my knowledge was made public to cede the 1999 Governorship ticket to Orlu zone, but there is serious contest in several quarters that those who contested the PDP ticket with Udenwa like Humphrey Anumudu from Owerri zone had to be “dropped” to enable the former governor who is from Orlu zone go ahead in the spirit of the said “Charter of Equity”, that allows for a fair share of the seat to all zones.

Despite that aspirants from all the zones joined to contest the 2003 before Udenwa dusted their challenges for a second term, it was believed that 2007 was for Okigwe zone to balance the equity after Orlu zone had gone for 8 years under Udenwa.

In 2007, Okigwe zone came on board through Ohakim but when it was time to complete a second term like Udenwa of Orlu, an obstruction occurred stopping, Okigwe zone second term that would have made it a fait accompli for Owerri zone to occupy government House in 2011 occurred.

Several Owerri zone political gladiators who lost out in the PDP arrangement and those of other parties, for the sake of personal gains joined forces to stop Ohakim’s second term interest, oblivious of the fact that the end of Ohakim’s stay in 2015 would have guaranteed them Government House ticket. And by this 2015, it would have also been discussion for another tenure for the zone.

Initially, the pro-Okorocha supporters in Owerri zone were hypnotized by Okorocha’s claim of coming to salvage Imo from Ohakim on the premise that he would handover to a person from the zone since his capacity is higher than that of office of the governor.

But having tasted power for four years and enjoyed paraphernalia of the Executive Governor, Okorocha thought otherwise and felt having a second term in contrast to his earlier promise. And in 2015, he won to consolidate the Orlu zone hold of Government to further make a mince meat of the zoning arrangement especially the Owerri zone claims that it was their turn.

At this point, it is remarkable to point out that Owerri zone lost out in 2011 election, Okorocha won in six Owerri zone LGAs except the three of Mbaise while Okigwe zone was intact for PDP to keep the “Charter of Equity” going. Same scenario was witnessed in 2015 when Owerri zone people still asked the Orlu zone Okorocha to continue in office for another tenure.

Now that Okoroch still wants his son in-law from Orlu zone to continue, top politicians from the Imo Senatorial East zone, especially those of the APC are championing the cause. I remember early 2012 before the 2015 election approached, a group of politicians from Owerri formed a powerful social-political organization, (names withheld) with sole intent to ensure a person from the zone emerged governor. The group won many hearts from the zone and became prominent as a major group in the quest for a governor of Owerri zone extraction. Before the eventual 2015 polls, the leaders of the group, believed to be “anywhere belle face” politicians and working for their personal interests dumped the agenda of the zone to join Okorocha in the continued distortion of the so-called Charter of Equity. What is left of the said amorphous group that has gone comatose is a sad remainder of the unserious nature of Owerri zone fight to be granted the chance to produce the governor.

I was also a witness to a parley another Owerri zone socio-cultural group had to state reasons why their own must occupy Government House in 2015. The meeting was held at the country home of a chieftain of APC in Owerri North in 2014. When I was given a chance to ask a question during the “question and answer” session, I put it before the host that considering his position as APC leader in the zone and the desire of Okorocha to go for a second tenure, how would he have to balance the two in the context of asking for a governor of Owerri zone in 2015, the leader informed all present that his support to Okorocha will cease if he declares for 2nd term because it was not part of the agreement before they agreed to give him support during a meeting at the home of Martin Agbaso in Emekuku, Owerri North before 2011 election.

But how the leader who swore to stop anybody against Owerri zone turned 360 who degrees to champion Okorocha’s re-election in 2015 and currently spearheading the election of his Orlu zone born son in-law as successor, remains a sore point in the quest of leaders from the zone to make their dreams come true. The group, the APC leader was the pilot has already grown wings and flown into the waiting dustbins of history as one of the groups that once wanted Owerri zone to earn governorship slot in 2015 still in 2015, Owerri zone had a chance to come on board either to allow Okigwe zone finished up through Ohakim or Araraume who were major contenders in PDP, for a stress free contest in 2019. But not less 15 aspirants from the zone declared interest to be governor. Even when one of them emerged in the major party, the PDP, that had potentials to stop Okorocha, other contenders for the ticket and their followers looked another way. Rather than continue in the Owerri zone for Governorship battle, they shifted grounds to become Okorocha’s major backbone. Reason was that should any Owerri zone person become governor, it has blocked their own personal ambition to become the number one citizen of Imo.

As 2019 beckons, the tendency for Owerri zone to continue to ask for the governorship position in 2023 has shown with the leaders of the area, especially those romancing with Okorocha in APC giving Nwosu endorsements to continue from where he stopped. It is no longer news that the three House members of Owerri Federal Constituency; Owerri North, Owerri Municipal and Owerri West, joined by that of Ngor Okpala have publicly given the Orlu zone candidate of the governor to go ahead and continue from where Imo West senatorial District stopped. A major powerful broker in the field of politics, who was a onetime generalissimo of the Owerri zone for governor interest from Mbaike bloc, has become the landlord of “Orlu must continue” project.

Even as the stage is gradually getting set for 2019, the number of Owerri zone aspirants have started increasing greatly, an indication that the zone has no common front to operate. Should the choice of Okorocha succeed in 2019, and gets a second chance in 2023, the Owerri zone crusaders for the continuity of Orlu will now begin the campaign for Owerri zone in 2027.

It’s worthy to note that key political figures benefitting from the Okorocha regime from the zone have kept mute and maintained incriminating silence against the plans of the governor to continue the Orlu zone hold on to power in the state. Either for the promise of an elective position, appointment or juicy contracts, the people of the zone are willing to let go and perhaps wake up again in 2027.