BY Henry Ekpe
The People of Owerri Political Zone of Imo State have stirred the hornet nest. They have started something. They have provoked the Imo political environment to a frenzy. They have re-directed the Imo political discourse from the frivolous to the meaningful.
The Imo political firmament now is no more of stories of Insecurity, Bad roads, moribund LGAs, etc. It is now dominated by real issues of politics.
The matter now is Imo Governorship Seat, its sharing formula and who gets what.
All this started on Saturday November 13, 2021 at All Saints Anglican Cathedral Church premises in Egbu, Owerri North LGA, Imo State.
On that day, the People of Owerri Zone gathered, once again, to speak on Imo Governorship Seat. And it was the 4th Anniversary of the now annual event, where the People of Owerri political zone, the Landlords of the capital of Imo State, converge to deliberate their fate and the scheme of things as regards how the Zone will capture Governorship power.
When the idea of now famous “Egbu Declaration” was first muted four years ago by the likes of Hon Oliver Enwerenem and Bar Julius Onyenauchenya, not many people took them serious. But today, the Annual Egbu Declaration Event has become the signpost ceremony at where Owerri people kick-start their agitation for Imo Governorship quest every election season.
The Saturday’s event has generated uproar across Imo State never envisaged. The Egbu outing by Owerri people has attracted commentaries for and against from Youth Groups, Orlu Zone, even Owerri Zone too, Okigwe Zone and various Socio political Bodies in the State.
While one is not here to narrate what each Group said about the Egbu event, it is however to the advantage of the planners, as the deluge of reactions are indications that really, people paid attention to Owerri people and their now ritual “Egbu Declarations”.
Had it been the event was frivolous and baseless, interested parties, including promoters of the sitting Government in Imo State would not have dedicated all of this week to attack the Egbu Carnival. It shows apprehension and panic in some quarters, and concern to Owerri People’s call. It also shows that Owerri people are on course.
And what is the Egbu Declaration all about? It is about justice, equity, peace, Unity and development of Imo State. Owerri people are saying that what is good for the Goose is also good for the Pigeon.
The people of Owerri are acknowledging that the highest political office in Imo State is the Governorship. And the demand of it. But they believe in sharing. They are not saying that as the owners of the Land where the State capital is situated, they MUST be made Governor, and remain Governor. No. Owerri people are saying that let Okigwe rule, let Orlu rule, and let Owerri also occupy the Imo Government House, at intervals. This, to them, will engender peace, equity, love, justice and development in the State.
At the Egbu outing many Owerri sons and daughters across political leanings, although majorly of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, asked that Owerri should be given the opportunity to lead Imo State. It was a subtle plea, not harsh or domineering expression.
The Chairman was Maj. Gen. Collins RU Ihekire (Rtd) key note Speaker was the Orator and a fearless Political Trojan, Hon Bar Uche Onyeagocha, Chief Host was the Senator representing Owerri Zone, Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi, guest of honour was Sen Samuel Anyanwu SamDaddy, PDP National Secretary, and the Special Guest of Honour was Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha (CON) the immediate past Governor of Imo State.
All the Speakers were of the same tone; Owerri Governorship. They did not abuse any person or Zone, but sounded optimistic that Owerri shall produce the Governor of Imo State next election season.
The Special Guest of Honour, Emeka Ihedioha charged Owerri people to keep their eyes on the Ball. Which is the Imo Governorship Seat.
Senator Ezenwa even corroborated Ihedioha by saying that no Owerri son or daughter should go for “Deputy Governorship position” in 2023, but the main thing, the Governorship diadem.
Ever since then, Ihedioha has been at the receiving end of those who were apprehensive of his speech. Nothing has not be hauled at him. But he has spoken his mind, and what he intends to do in the 2023/24 Imo Governorship election.
Some even questioned his right to contest again as Imo Governor. The last time I checked, no court had barred Ihedioha from contesting even Nigerian Presidency.
Since Ihedioha is qualified to contest, it is only his party that will decide who to make its candidate through primaries.
If he wins, it will depend on the electorate to decide who to give their votes.
Therefore rather than whine like scared puppies, whoever is interested, should move into the Imo political ring and sort it out.
Politics is a contest, and have never been reduced to an emotional compelition.
Therefore, it is the choice of Owerri people to decide who among their revered children should get their votes in 2023/24 Imo Governorship Battle.
However, it must be noted that the Imo Governorship project is not dependent on Owerri people alone. All the other political zones of Imo State have stakes too. Certainly, Owerri people did not look down on their brothers from other zones, as they know that there must be hand shake across Okigwe and Orlu.
It must also be recorded that Owerri people are not arrogant in their quest for the elusive Imo Governorship position.
They are rather using the history of the Imo Governorship seat as a bargaining power across Imo State, as the records are there for all men of conscience to see.
Since the creation of Imo State, Owerri Zone, whose forbearers were among the pivots that fought for the creation of the State have only tasted the Imo top position in the Eighteen months of Governor Evan Enwerem, and Seven months of Emeka Ihedioha.
But Okigwe has done Eight years through late Dr Sam Unanaka Mbakwe, and Dr Ikedi Ohakim.
Mbakwe hails from Obowo LGA, and Ohakim is from Okohia in Isiala Mbano LGA.
It is Orlu Zone that has dominated the Imo Governorship Seat.
From 1999-2007, it was Chief Achike Udenwa from Amaike in Orlu LGA, then came Senator Rochas Okorocha from Ogboko in Ideato South. Okorocha was there from 2007-2011.
Infact, Imo people were not happy with Okorocha when he brandished his son inlaw, Chief Uche Nwosu, as his perceived successor.
And Imo people fought Okorocha to a standstill, even his own trusted allies, just because they saw it as an aberration and injustice for Okorocha from Orlu to handover to an Orlu person, after his Eight years in office.
Luckily, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Emeka Ihedioha, from Mbutu, in Aboh Mbaise LGA, Owerri Zone became the rallying point to douse the impending crisis erupting over the colonization of Imo Governorship by Orlu Zone alone, which did not seat well with a majority of Imo citizens.
However, after Ihedioha won the election, it was snatched away from Owerri Zone cum Ihedioha at the Supreme Court by Senator Hope Uzodinma from Omuma in Oru West LGA, thereby taking the throne back to Orlu Zone and off the head of Owerri Zone.
So, if you make a calculation of what each Zone in Imo political firmament has got, Orlu has scored sixteen years between Udenwa and Okorocha, in addition to Uzodinma’s first Eight years. That will be Twenty years for Orlu in 2023.
Okigwe has pocket Eight years between Mbakwe and Ohakim.
Owerri Zone has garnered twenty Five months (25) between Ihedioha and Enwerem.
Therefore, it is because of this scenario that Owerri people gathered at All Saints Cathedral Ground Egbu, shouting that they be heard. In politics if you don’t say “Here I am” nobody will notice you.
Late Regae maestro, Peter Tosh sang “I don’t need no peace, I need Equal Right and Justice.
He is correct. With Equal Rights, you don’t bother about peace. It comes naturally. Is Owerri people saying the truth?