About the Author
No doubt, Chief Emeka Ihedioha is one of the biggest political exports from the South eastern part of Nigeria in present history. No matter what reservations anyone may have against this Mbutu, Aboh Mbaise born politician, you cannot take it away from him that he has made an indelible mark in the political landscape of Nigeria, in over two decades that he has being around in the national political sitting room.
Cutting his political teeth in 1992, when he was appointed by the then Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Doctor Iyorchia Ayu as a press officer in the third most politically powerful office in the country at the time, Chief Ihedioha went on to become an aide to the then Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Albert Legogie, he also served another cerebral politician cum political philosopher, in the person of the late Senate President Chuba Okadigbo. Ihedioha ended his political apprenticeship in the office when he served as one of the close aides to the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, from where he was first elected to represent his federal constituency of Aboh Mbaise/ Ngor-Okpala federal constituency in 2003.
Ihedioha is so adept at political strategizing that I was earlier tempted to describe him as a democratic coupist in this article. In fact the original title of this article was; THE LIFE OF A DEMOCRATIC PUTSCHIST AT 51, but I had to change the title because I did not want to spoil a good man’s birthday celebration. I cannot remember any democratic coup that has ever taken place since 1992 that Ihedioha is not an integral part of. Even the most recent coup against President Goodluck Jonathan would not have been possible without the involvement of Chief Ihedioha. In fact, Chief Ihedioha is a chief actor in the entire drama that pulled Jonathan out of power. It is possible he regrets his roles now, but he cannot run away from accepting responsibility for that. The formation of the ruling All Progressives’ Congress would have hit a dead-end, had Ihedioha not led the rebellion that torpedoed the PDP’s zoning arrangement in the House of Representatives’ leadership in 2011. The eventual ousting of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as the Chairman of the PDP was the ultimate death knell to Jonathan’s second term ambition, and there are few people who aren’t aware of Chief Ihedioha’s roles in that putsch. Some people will argue that whatever role Ihedioha played in that was simply for his personal political survival, as he might not have succeeded in ‘clinching’ the PDP ticket in 2015, if Alhaji Bamanga Tukur had remained the Party’s national chairman.
He has headed lucrative and sensitive committees of the House, being a deputy chief whip of the Federal House of Representatives, chief whip, deputy Speaker and served for two weeks as an acting Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, making him the fourth most powerful political office holder in the country at the time, albeit in acting capacity. Chief Ihedioha’s candidature of the then ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party in the governorship election in Imo State was not without controversies as there were credible allegations of rigging, vote-swapping and over-voting. However, his name was eventually, albeit, controversially submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission by the Party’s NWC as the authentic candidate of the Party for that election, hence, the defeat of the Party in the governorship election after the Party had recorded eighty percent success in the National Assembly elections that held two weeks earlier was blamed on the Mbutu born legislative guru’s non-acceptability by majority of the people.
The 2015 general elections marked the first ever time that Chief Ihedioha is losing out in an election, and some people argue that that was the closest he came to contesting in a free and fair election. Some analysts believe that Ihedioha’s strongest political asset is his ability to control the bureaucratic and elitist factors that determine electoral victory. He has being severally accused of being aloof with the people and not investing so much in ensuring that he gains the confidence of the ordinary people.
However, for those in Ihedioha’s political school, Ihedioha remains the Imo politician with the mindset to salvage the ordinary people of the State, as he is projected as a friend of the masses, by his image makers. During the campaigns for the 2015 elections, most of Ihedioha’s media aides went scratching everywhere in search of the most suitable words to diffuse the propaganda of aloofness which was seriously sticking on the person of Chief Ihedioha. Whatever defences they were able to come up with then, the reality has dawned on their principal that he must really work on that aspect of his life, if he must continue to soar, politically.
The adage that ‘A fool at forty is a fool forever’ tends to foreclose knowledge after forty years of age, but Ihedioha has shown that for a man that wills, age is no barrier to any knowledge and or attainment. Born on the 24th of March, 1965, Ihedioha has learnt or wants us to believe that he has learnt to take the ordinary people as seriously as he takes the elites at the age of 51.Recently, the man who liked to hangout only with his fellow big men, has found time to attend functions organized by younger and not very powerful of the society. He now poses for picture sessions with dirty-looking children on the streets and he now appreciates the value of being seen around the lowliest of the society. So many people still find it difficult believing that our own Omenkafurunanya now relishes selfies with students and some unknown youths. This lesson is surely a great attainment for this intelligent and tactical political bulldozer.
No matter how old he gets, there is one quality of Ihedioha’s that I will not like him to change; the quality of not being too fast to commit to anything. No politician can do without lies, but the much I know of Ihedioha, he tries as much as possible to keep away from any promise, he is not so sure of keeping to. The allegation that he deceived a certain politician from Ideato North with the promise of making his choice candidate his running mate in the governorship election, which led to the moneybag commandeering all Ideato delegates to vote for him in the primaries is hard to believe, because Ihedioha is not very fast in committing to what he is not sure of keeping to. This quality has cost him friendships and also earned him fans.
Place the battle for any political position on a chess board and Ihedioha will most likely grab it before anyone else. This is what anyone who understands the thinking of Ihedioha will tell you about him. Ihedioha understands power game. This would have been a commendable political quality, if not the way he goes about his political gaming. The current crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party in Imo State today, is mostly as a result of Chief Ihedioha’s deftness in politics of exclusion or what some people may call; ‘divide and rule’ tactics. While, a lot of leaders in the Party are still trying to recuperate from the disappointments of the last elections, Ihedioha is already strategizing on how to fully pocket the Party machinery in the State, and a lot of leaders in the State are resisting this by every means possible.
Ihedioha is a politician and no one should begrudge him of any legitimate political strategy he decides to adopt for his political survival, however, it should be a matter of serious concern when one man thinks he can hijack the entire machinery of a political Party, that boasts of people like HE, Ikedi Ohakim, Achike Udenwa, Senators, Hope Uzodimma, Samdaddy Anyanwu Athan Achonu, and other top political players in the Southeast without securing the confidence of these leaders.
As much as I do not take seriously to the toga of clannishness which many of his political opponents desperately dress him in, Chief Ihedioha and his handlers will be deceiving themselves if they go on to think that the people are not taking this seriously. Ihedioha has helped many people from outside Mbaise to gain lucrative political favours, but the ones that seem loudest are the favours he has done for his people of Mbaise.
Fifty one years of age is not a mean feat to attain for anyone. For Ihedioha, it is not just the age, it is the attainments that have come with the age. God has indeed showered Omenkahurunanya with great favours and it is my earnest prayers that He continues to bless him more and more with more years and greater attainments. HAPPY 51ST BIRTH ANNIVERSARY TO OMENKAHURUNANYA!