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OPINION

2019: Imo On The Path Of Rediscovery

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The 2019 governorship contest in Imo State promises to be the most intriguing, most enthralling and most captivating. There are obvious reasons for this.

The eight years of Owelle Rochas Okorocha as Governor of the state has witnessed unmitigated political savagery, unprecedented economic doldrums and the vicious plundering of a peoples’ goodwill.

In 2011 when Imolites, gouged on and guided by the church, decided to throw away the regime of Ikedi Ohakim to the trash can, Okorocha came in hoodwink, armed with oratorical prowess, rhetoric and rhapsodies. His trademark gap-toothed smiles were charming and infectious. His seeming simplicity and populist revolutionist mantra of a Rescue Mission seized Imo citizens on the jugular and quickly spread dangerously like fire on dry harmattan patch.

But eight years down the pathway, Imo State has become a caricature among other states. The economy of the state has been totally and mindlessly destroyed. Over N3.5 trillion has been lost to the state’s much-touted urban renewal programme.

Our celebrated heartland has become harsh-land. Everywhere, you are confronted with indelible marks of decay and depreciation. Bad roads, uncompleted and abandoned projects, environmental degradation; in every street and road you are encountered with heaps and heaps of refuse oozing out putrid, offensive stench. Statutes and effigies that have nothing to do with the wellness of the citizens have become the landmarks of a people.

Imo roads are the worst you can get anywhere in Nigeria. Whenever it rains, the entire state, particularly the major cities are submerged. In Okorocha’s eight years of rudderless leadership, more jobs have been lost in all the four former regimes added.

Millions have been impoverished, as his administration embarked on a drunken spree of destroying markets, pulling down residential buildings of perceived enemies and forcefully taking over ancestral lands of the people without compensation.

Perhaps the worst atrocious transgression committed by Owelle Rochas was his attempt to foist his political dynasty on the people. After handing over the state apparatus to his family and acquaintances, he snookered surreptitiously to continue the pilferage by attempting to permanently take over the state and hand over to his family. He rode roughshod on the goodwill of a people. He never cared about any other person’s opinion or feelings. He saw himself as the be-all and end-all.

But as William Shakespeare says in Julius Caesar, ‘there is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries’.  And so courtesy of Okorocha, Imo citizens became united by shallows and miseries. They became bounded by grief and suffering. Then they decided, without dissenting voices, that Okorocha and his hold on the state must be broken.

Whether in All Progressives Congress (APC) or the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), what mattered was that a new blood should be injected into Douglas House Owerri.

These and many other infractions gave rise to the high number of aspirants jostling to rule Imo State. According to the final list released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 68 aspirants would slug it out for in the 2019 governorship election. This is the highest number since the creation of the state.

Considering the political base, the frontline candidates include Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP; Senator Ifeanyi Ararume of APGA; Hope Uzodinma of APC and Uche Nwosu, Okorocha’s anointed successor who decamped to the Action Alliance (AA).

A look at the major candidates reveals that all have what it takes to rule Imo and give the citizens the best governance. However, Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha appears to have an edge over all other candidates.

If the people’s will is not sabotaged, it will take a miracle to stop Ihedioha from becoming the next governor of Imo State. There are obvious reasons for this.

One, he has been the most loyal, dedicated and consistent in the pursuit of his ambition among all candidates. Of all the major governorship aspirants, Ihedioha is the only one that has not jumped ship. He has remained a loyal and committed member of the PDP right when he joined the party at inception.

Even when he lost the 2015 election to Okorocha, he did not succumb to pressure to join another political party. Any candidate who has remained loyal and committed to a course desires to be elected the governor of Imo State. It is only Ihedioha that has met this criterion.

His wealth of experience in governance and public administration is unmatched.

The other reason why Ihedioha will become the governor of Imo State in 2019 is that the Imo Charter of Equity favours him. This charter of equity is a political arrangement by the forefathers of Imo politics who felt that to ensure peace, justice, equity and fair-play in the sharing of the highest level of political offices in the state, especially the governorship seat, must rotate among the three senatorial zones of the state: Orlu, Okigwe and Imo.

Though this arrangement has been desecrated for some time because of the greed and selfish ambition of some, at no time is the relevance of that arrangement reinforced than now. All the senatorial zones have unanimously agreed that the governorship should go to Owerri zone. Ihedioha is from Owerri zone and the only notable candidate as such.

He is widely accepted among the zones. In fact in 2015, it was believed that because of his general acceptance, he clearly won the governorship election but was rigged out by the powers that be.

–Nwamadi is a public affairs analyst

 

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