Imo Govt And The Opposition


By Henry Ekpe

The common definition of Democracy is “Government of the People by the People and for the People”.
It is seen as a type of Government which allows the people to speak out and even challenge policies of Government that do not go down well with the masses.
In the first place, whoever is a Leader in a democratic environment must emerge through periodic polls, where the electorate makes choice through voting or casting of ballots.
However, Democratic type of Government which was adopted by Nigeria from the United States of America USA had existed there for over centuries, and therefore grounded and accepted as a norm.
But Nigeria is gradually deepening its Democracy, which is the reason some times men and women who beg the electorate to vote for them quickly turn to Tiger the moment they assume office, believing that the Common Wealth of the people now belong to their Friends and family.
Unfortunately, most of the Institutions that ought to check the excesses of those elected into offices hardly exist, or have compromised due to the rot in the system.
Imo State joined other Nigerians in 1999 to vote in a Civilian Governor, after the Military went back to the Barracks.
The first in 1999 was Chief Achike Udenwa of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP.
His major challenger was Late Dr Ezekiel Izuogu of then All Peoples Party, APP.
PDP won that election through Udenwa, which placed APP as the major opposition party in the State.
In 2003, APP, now All Nigeria Peoples Party ANPP fielded Bar Humphrey Anumudu as its Governorship candidate, who lost to the incumbent PDP.
In 2007, the PDP ran with Senator Ifeanyi Araraume as its official Governorship candidate, but rather marshaled out support for Chief Ikedi Ohakim of Peoples Progressive Alliance PPA, who defeated PDP, but soon joined PDP after he was sworn-in, and abandoned PPA which later died a natural death.
In 2011, Ohakim squared up against Owelle Rochas Okorocha of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and lost after a second balloting called supplementary election.
Okorocha governed Imo State between 2011 to 2019 when Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha of PDP won the election, but was removed from office through the Court after seven months.
Ihedioha’s successor is the current Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressive Congress APC.
Since 1999 till date, Imo State has produced Five Civilian Governors.
Apart from PDP which has governed Imo State for twelve years and seven months through Udenwa, Ohakim and Ihedioha, APGA has done Four years under Okorocha, and APC through same Okorocha for four years while Hope Uzodinma has spent one year and six months still under APC.
In the spirit of Democracy, Udenwa, Ohakim, Okorocha and Ihedioha encountered heavy oppositions. And Uzodinma should not expect anything less.
Therefore, it will not be strange should the current Government in Imo State encounter, even more “opposition” because Imo State is deepening her Democracy following the number of educated persons in the State, and the general enlightenment across the globe occasioned by Information Technology.
Indeed, it has become a common thing that nothing happens in Imo these days without the current Government pointing towards “opposition”.
However, let us make it clear here that “opposition” in most cases is not the other political parties that lost power to the sitting Government. Far from it!
“Opposition” is the various forces, including Pressure Groups who are the alternative voices that scrutinize, monitor and checkmate the actions of the incumbent Government for the benefit of the electorate.
And the Law permits the opposition in a Democratic environment, because Humans change with political power. That was the reason it is said that you will see the real character of man when he has money and political power.
Because of this truism, it is said that “Absolute power corrupts Absolutely”.
Therefore in the case of Imo State today, there are three major political parties in the State. The ruling APC, PDP, and APGA.
While the PDP is easily identified as the major opposition party in the State now, APGA as usual remains moribund after elections, but usually dusted up and reinvigorated by politicians during election year.
But having said that, APC is also an opposition to itself in Imo State. This scenario has helped the PDP to operate as an opposition party in the State.
Most of the damages in APC are done by APC members in the State. In Imo State, you can leave APC, and still join another APC faction as a party and still remain in APC.
For the first months Uzodinma was in office, his major nemesis was his party APC, as he battled the heavyweights in his party, with which he joined  forces in an unholy political wedding, targeted majorly to undue PDP. Infact, APC still remains Uzodinma’s major headache.
When PDP was finally dislodged in January 14, 2020, after Eight months in office, it has been difficult for Governor Uzodinma to manage Senator Owelle Rochas Okorocha and Ifeanyi Araraume which has left the APC and the Government at logger heads till date.
Therefore, each time the Government points at “opposition” as the cause of its problems it would have been better for a clearer clarification for Imo people to understand whether it is APC, PDP, APGA or other “oppositions”.
The person who is known to have “opposition” as his common language is the Information Commissioner, Hon Declan Emelumba my Professional Senior and Friend.
Whatever happens in Imo State is linked to the proverbial “opposition”.
If the Government fails to pay workers salary or a new constructed drainage collapses, it is the “opposition”. As the Governor has dissolved his Executive and has been leading the State alone, it is caused by “Opposition”. All the Roads abandoned in the State, in this raining season, including mountains of Refuse in Owerri are caused by the “Opposition”.
Let me add here that the Uzodinma Government which blames “Opposition” at each turn could be said to even have enough respite when compared to what others before it saw in office.
It must be stated here that that it was through “opposition” that Uzodinma chased away an already constituted Government of PDP through the court and was sworn-in as Governor.
During the Ikedi Ohakim administration which I served as the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor  CPS, Ohakim  had Thirty Four (34) litigations that one even  challenged the hour he was sworn-in, praying  the Court that Ohakim was sworn-in an hour earlier than it ought to have been.
In the case of Udenwa, he faced so much “opposition” that he could not produce his perceived successor, and was left with no option than to handover and quickly went home to rest.
Rochas Okorocha was in a furnace to the extent that till date he is yet to come out of the problem and the “opposition” for being a Governor.
Therefore “Opposition” can never cease to exist in a Democratic Government.
And without opposition, which is the ingredient of Democracy, the power to question the sitting Government is lost, and it will lead to one party system, and autocracy steps in.
However, it is very disturbing in Imo State that immediately the election is over politicians will begin to fall over each other surging into the party in power, with useless excuses.
What makes a good politician? Is it that man that will remain in his politically and rebuild it for the next election, or is the man who jumped into the winning party scrambling for political appointments?
“Opposition” politics truly is difficult, but it helps to make the Government in power sit up and do the needful.
Those in “opposition” rather than been despised should be respected, because they too could as well abandon their parties and join the party in power in the sharing of “National Cake”.
In the days of yore party politics in Imo State was played by ideologies and party manifestos.
This was the reason those days we had respect for the likes of Hon Mike Ahamba and Hon Abrose Egu of National Party of Nigeria NPN, in Imo State that was a Nigeria Peoples Party, NPP State with Mbakwe as Governor.
In 1999 too, the PDP and ANPP made the Imo House of Assembly robust with each member staying put in his party. It was a delight to visit Imo House of Assembly and witness Debates in the Chamber.
The same thing happened in the LGAs where APP had some Council areas, and PDP had theirs.
It created competition among the two parties in developing the LGAs.
For instance the likes of Uche Diogu of APP built a stadium in Isu LGA, while Chief Livy Okoroafor of PDP concentrated on Electrification of Ngor Okpala LGA. Same happened across the LGAs.
All those are gone, as all that matter now is money with “Food is Ready Politicians” everywhere and not common interests any more.
Therefore, Imo “Opposition” today should be praised for remaining resolute in the face of denials and sacrifices in checking the sitting Government as the alternative voice for the masses.