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Is It True That Owerri Zone Has Been Denied Opportunity To Produce Imo State Governor?


Is It True That Owerri Zone Has Been Denied Opportunity To Produce Imo State Governor?

By Collins Ughalaa KSC

There is the need to continue to interrogate false claims put forward by some vested interests in the polity. As the 2023 general elections draw closer, such false claims will abound. But we won’t spare them.

With the 2019 governorship election sealed by the Supreme Court in 2020, some interested politicians and commentators have come up with all kinds of subterfuge with the aim to create confusion and chaos. They are spinning the story that Owerri Zone is marginalised and has not been allowed to produce the Governor of the State. Some of them who want to be a bit honest postulate that Owerri Zone has not been allowed to complete their tenure. They forget that the only process that can produce an Executive Governor is politics. The wind of politics does not blow towards one direction alone, and it is capable of blowing away anything in its sight, even blowing away a sitting Governor.

Chief Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe became Governor of old Imo State on October 1, 1979. He contested for second term and won amidst stiff opposition from Owerri Zone, but he was removed by the military on December 31, 1983 when the wind of politics and power play blew against him. He actually had no one to blame. The military officers who plotted and executed the coup also wanted a taste of power. Mbakwe was from Obowo, present day Okigwe Zone.

In January 1992 Chief Evan Enwerem was elected Governor of present day Imo State but was removed from office by the military in November 1993, when the wind of politics blew against him. He could not actually blame anyone, because as Owerri people now claim – mmanu akara di uto, onye ratu ibe ya a ratu – the military officers who plotted and executed the coup in 1993 also wanted a taste of political power.

On May 29, 1999, Chief Achike Udenwa was elected Governor of Imo State. He was reelected in 2007. Though political winds blew against him, he was strong enough to contain them. In 2007, Chief Ikedi Ohakim was elected Governor of Imo State. Amidst strong opposition from Owerri Zone he was not able to get reelected for second term. He became a victim of the 2011 political wind. In 2019 we joined him to campaign for one more term – Otu Onu but that was not possible.

On May 29, 2019, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha was deorn-in as Governor of Imo State by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) amidst complaints of widespread irregularities. He was removed by the Supreme Court on January 14, 2020, having spent seven and half months as Governor. That was the wind of politics in action. It could blow someone in or out of office.

Is it fair to now claim that Owerri man had never been allowed to be Governor? We think it’s not true. And what do those pushing the false narrative want to gain? Clearly, they want to paint Owerri Zone as a victim of Imo State politics and cause chaos in the State.

Ihedioha was sworn in as Governor. He took decisions as Governor and enjoyed all the privileges available to a Governor. It is therefore unfair and untrue to claim that Owerri Zone had not been allowed to produce a Governor.

The number of months/years Governors from Owerri Zone spent is entirely a different kettle of fish. In the first place, Enwerem was removed by the military, after spending a year and ten months in office, same way Mbakwe was removed. It was not anybody’s fault. In 2020 Ihedioha was removed from office by the Supreme Court after spending seven and half months in office. It was not an unusual event. Ihedioha himself had gone to Court against a sitting Governor. Tuokwa nu ogu!

If we now accept that anyone who did not complete his term in office should be allowed to do so, then we have to do it well, because what is worth doing at all is worth doing well. We should allow Ikedi Ohakim to complete his term first. If we cannot do that, then we have agreed that whether you spent one day as Governor or four years or eight years, once you have been sworn-in, you have done your turn. When you attend a village meeting and meat is shared amongst you, all the pieces of meat are not equal. But once you dip your hand in the bowl and pick one, whether it is a bone or flesh, whether it is smaller or not, you have picked your share.

Also, the comparison that Owerri Zone is asking for what Ndigbo are asking for in Nigeria is false. The two are different. As stated above, Owerri Zone had produced two governors between 1992 and 2019. No Igbo man bas been President – not even for seven and half months or one year and ten months.

Owerri Zone should stop behaving as if Uzodimma committed a crime by going to court to challenge the outcome of the 2019 governorship election. In 2015 when Ihedioha lost the governorship election to then incumbent Governor Rochas Okorocha, he went to the Tribunal, up to the Supreme Court. Earlier in 2007, Ifeanyi Araraume wrestled his brother, Ikedi Ohakim, in Court for years over his governorship victory. In 2011 when Ohakim lost to Okorocha, he went to Court, up to the Supreme Court. It is an established political culture for aggrieved participants to approach the Court for redress in electoral contest. The laws provide for it. Therefore, nobody committed a crime by exercising his right to seek legal redress in any electoral contest in which he took part. This is better than seeking to be declared winner under duress, or setting the State ablaze because you lost power.

That Ihedioha lost the governorship to Uzodimma is insufficient – in fact, infantile ground – to preach hate and heat up the polity.

Rather than play the victim card and consequently creating division in the polity, Owerri Zone should reengineer their politics based on current political realities and look for better options, which abound in the Zone. In 2015 when Ihediiha went to court against Okorocha, he lost from the Tribunal all the way to the Supreme Court on very laughable grounds and primary school pupils errors. He got a second chance in 2019 and blew it also.

Instead of venting their anger or spleen on Orlu Zone or Governor Hope Uzodimma, Owerri Zone should rather vent their disappointment and frustrations on their brother. It is uncommon for your kinsmen to send you on a specific errand twice and on the two occasions you blew the opportunities. Such a person does not deserve to be celebrated. He deserves to be whipped and taught bitter lessons. Such uncanny, careless conducts do not deserve any awards – and definitely not with another chance at the governorship.

We were told that football clubs often field their best eleven for very critical matches. If a team is notorious for losing critical matches, it would be foolhardy for the coach to continue to field them, wouldn’t it?

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