In a recent media chat with a select team of journalists, the former governor of Imo State , Chief Ikedi Ohakim, said:”Okorocha’s succession plan will destroy equity in Imo State”. He went on to say: “Governor Rochas Okorocha wants to make another of his kinsmen from Orlu governor; that is at the top of his agenda.”But of course, an Orlu man can be governor in 2019; he can win the war but will he also win peace and stability in the face of injustice.” A cursory analysis of Ikedi Ohakim’s outburst against Okorocha and even his own party men in the PDP raises some fundamental issues which cannot be swept under the carpet. The implication of Ohakim’s diatribe and jeremiad on Governor Okorocha is that it is Orlu zone or Governor Okorocha that killed zoning in Imo State. Furthermore, the impression is created that it is Governor Okorocha and his Orlu zone that thwarted and truncated the efforts of DR. Ikedi Ohakim to win a second tenure in 2011 and even in 2015.
It is my wish to address the above issues here and now. This intervention becomes pertinent because of the wrongly held belief that “Ndi Orlu zone are greedy, avaricious, capricious and wily and that they are ever fomenting scams to hijack the governorship trophy to themselves to the exclusion of the other zones of Okigwe and Owerri. It is very distressing and perplexing that in spite of the risks and sacrifices of a cross section of Ndi Orlu to actualize the Okigwe or Owerri governorship agenda on various occasions, there are some misguided elements in these zones who hold the wrong notion that Orlu zone is the sole cause of their failed efforts to produce governor. There is a dire need to amplify the fact that a political zone that is interminably embroiled in a cesspool of fratricidal crises should not expect the governorship diadem as a prize. It tantamount to daydreaming for a political zone that is incapable of putting its political house in order to expect that it can win the governorship prize through intimidation, and harassment of the zones who work as a team. This misplaced thinking is incongruous with the age-old maxim “United we stand, divided we fall.” It is also incompatible with the Latin maxim: ”Ubi Concordia, ibi Victoria” which translates to ‘Where there is unity, there is victory.”
How Ikedi Ohakim killed zoning in Imo State: I want to state without any fear of contradiction that Governor Okorocha is not the person that killed zoning in Imo State. DR. Ikedi Ohakim was inaugurated Governor of Imo State on May 29th, 2007. On Monday, June 4th, 2007, he made his maiden Inaugural Radio and Television broadcast to the populace. In that broadcast, Governor Ikedi Ohakim said: ”Zones and zonism will disappear except as a means of electing senators to office and achieving a geographical spread in both the things we do and things we share. Preoccupation with where people come from is a disease that afflicts little minds. Henceforth, we will see Imo State as one people with a common destiny.”(Culled from The Statesman newspaper of Thursday, June 7th, 2007:13).This statement from Governor Ikedi Ohakim should be seen as the death knell on the issue of zoning template in Imo State.As a pronouncement from a state governor , and above all, made in a maiden inaugural speech, it is a policy statement until revoked by another governor or through other accords or covenants.
In the same vein, speaking to the press shortly after his victory in the 2007 governorship poll, DR.Ikedi Ohakim said: ”My emergence as governor should not be seen from the perspective of the zone I am coming from , but from the wealth of knowledge I share about Imo State and what is required to move it forward to a level beyond where it is now.(Please read Sunday Independent of 6th May, 2007).
SENATOR ARARUME also endorsed Ikedi Ohakim’s comment on the death of zoning .While speaking to the National Question newspaper in its edition of Monday 9-12th June 2014 page 6, senator Araraume said:”There is no zoning in Imo State.” In fact, he confirmed Ikedi Ohakim’s statement that zoning was dead when he said: ”Even if we want to zone now, a party in opposition does not do zoning because you are not sure; you don’t have the instrumentality of government to enforce what you want. Therefore, you cannot zone. All you do is to look for your best to win election.”Hear Araraume: ”But mark you that Ikedi Ohakim was not elected, if he was elected under the platform of PPA. Therefore, he couldn’t be said to be the governor of PDP. He joined PDP two years into his tenure. He was elected under the platform of PPA. There was no arrangement. He was not PDP. Therefore, he was not part of it. So, PDP in IMO State cannot say they have elected Okigwe son as governor……In any case, there was no zoning”.(Please read National Question newspaper of Monday 9th-12th June 2014:6).Once you read that viewpoint you will find out that senator Araraume is as vehement as DR.Ikedi Ohakim in rejecting zoning.
Again, senator Araraume condemned zoning when in another chat with the press in Abuja, he said:” …Right from the word go, there has never been zoning in Imo State and therefore those who are clamouring for zoning should get their facts right”. Please read Nigerian Pilot of Wednesday, October 22, 2014 page 22 in order to read Senator Ararume’s thesis on zoning in full.The viewpoint was entitled: ”There is no zoning in Imo “–Senator Ararume.
Furthermore, senator Ararume was vehement in condemning zoning when in another chat with the press, he fumed:”Zoning in Imo politics, a ruse.” Giving a bird’s eye view of the PDP Gov. primary of 2007, Senator Ararume said:”I won the primary that was keenly contested. It was never left for Okigwe. Now, that we are talking of 2015, somebody says it is their turn. Who made it your turn? It is said that he who must go to equity should go with clean hands. If you are following political events in Imo, you would have seen that we have never had any zoning.” Please read The Niche on Sunday newspaper of November 16th, 2014 page 14.
SIR TONY EZENNA: It is pertinent to emphasize that the multibillionaire business man and President of Orange Drugs Business Empire, Sir Tony Ezenna, also joined in condemning zoning in Imo State. Hear Tony Ezenna:”Democracy is not a turn by turn thing; it is rather a process through which the best candidates with the best track records should be elected to lead his land. When you talk about zoning, there is nothing like zoning in Imo State. Everybody is allowed to contest and after all, we all stand behind the victor. There has not been an election in this state where people met and said it should be the turn of this zone or that zone. I decided to contest based on the fact that things have gotten so bad and we cannot sit back and watch it happen.”.Please read Daily Champion newspaper of Wednesday, November 15, 2006:39. Read and get the mind of Chief Tony Ezenna on the issue of zoning in Imo State.
HON Emeka Ihedioha: He was the governorship candidate of the PDP in the 2015 Governorship election. Prior to his emergence as the flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP in Imo state, he had served as a member of the Green Chamber, House of Representatives(HoR) for three terms from 2003-2015. In 2011, he was unanimously elected Deputy Speaker of the HoR. When the Speaker of the HoR, HON. Aminu Tambuwal, was sworn in as Governor ,Sokoto state, on the 29th, May, 2015, Hon Emeka Ihedioha was unanimously adopted as Speaker of the Green Chamber, HoR .He officiated on this office until the new House was inaugurated in the first week of June, 2015 .When asked his opinion on zoning, he said that he was asking the populace to vote for him as governor of Imo State on the basis of his track record as federal legislator from 2003- 2015. It was on the basis of this performance that culminated in his being chosen as the governorship candidate of the PDP in the 2015 governorship poll in Imo State.
On the basis of the above analysis, it becomes clear that long before Governor Okorocha emerged governor of Imo State, the issue of zoning was not settled . As stated above, in his inaugural speech on the 4th June 20o7, the then governor announced the scrapping of zoning when he said that “zones and zoning will disappear except as a means of electing senators to office…” It is therefore wrong to say that it was Governor Okorocha who killed zoning. Governor Okorocha’s opinion on zoning is not different from those of senator Ifeanyi Ararume, Chief IKEDI Ohakim, Chief Tony Ezenna and other political chieftains in Imo State. It is my opinion that although zoning is not recognized in the constitution, politicians should find a means of enforcing it in the interest of equity and tranquility in the political ambience. Until this accord is signed sealed and delivered , it will not be feasible to stop anybody from participating in the governorship race. The interminable finger pointing at Orlu zone as the cause of the political challenges of Okigwe zone and Owerri zone in producing governors is not sustainable. It is provocative to tar everybody with the same brush, more so, since there is abundant empirical and cogent evidence to prove that a large body of Orlu populace worked tirelessly and assiduously on the side of either Owerri or Okigwe zoning e in each election. On the 2015 governorship poll, there is concrete and verifiable evidence that Orlu zone analysts /media professionals wrote more viewpoints in support of HON Emeka Ihedioha than all the analysts and journalists from Owerri zone. A content analysis of the records will confirm this assertion. Therse people who worked as volunteers were not on anybody’s pay roll, they simply believed in the ability of the PDP ,HON. Emeka Ihedioha.So, it becomes provocative for such volunteers to put up with the incendiary and toxic comments made about Orlu zone by some misguided elements.
WHY Okigwe lost 2011 gov poll: It is a very easy task to prove that Orlu zone is not the cause of the defeat of Okigwe zone in the 2011 governorship election. Now let’s do the political Arithmetic of the 2011 governorship election. In that election , there were three main candidates: the governorship candidate of PDP, Chief Ikedi Ohakim; the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliace( APGA), Owelle Rochas Okorocha, and the governorship candidate of the All Congress of Nigeria(ACN),Senator Ifeanyi Ararume. According to results released by Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), Owelle Okorocha polled 336,856 votes; DR. Ikedi Ohakim polled 290,496 votes while Senator Ararume polled 107,068 votes. This means that Okigwe zone polled a total of 397,564 votes .If the two candidates from Okigwe zone had the interest of their zone in mind thereby fielding a single candidate, they would have defeated Owelle Okorocha from Orlu zone with a total of 60,708 votes or even more. On the strength of this analysis, does it make sense to overdramatize the propaganda that it was Orlu zone that denied Okigwe a second tenure in 2011.The inescapable fact is that Okigwe zone committed political suicide on that poll; it should not pass the buck to NDI Orlu. Fact is that most of these politicians who hide under the canopy of zones to get political mileage do not really have any regard for their zones, otherwise why should Ararume and Ohakim who hail from the same Local Government Area(Isiala Mbano-Okigwe zone) not subsume their personal interests for Okigwe group interest in order to grab victory for Okigwe zone in 2011. Rather than put their political house in order, they incessantly point fingers at Orlu zone for their political travails. This is also what happens in Owerri zone but the case of Owerri zone will be taken up in the second part of this analysis.
The 2007 Gov poll: There is a need to also take a casual peep into the 2007 Imo Governorship election in order to exonerate Orlu zone from the travails of Owerri and Okigwe zones. But for the fact that Dr.Achike Udenwa and other prominent politicians in Orlu zone kicked against the idea, Orlu zone would have produced another governor, back to back, after Chief Achike Udenwa served out his tenure in 2007. In fact, Chief Tony Ezenna from Orlu zone was already given a green light by the National Working Committee(EXCO) of the PDP to run as the PDP candidate in the 2007 governorship poll. Chief Achike Udenwa who had just completed his second tenure protested vehemently thus making the PDP top management to withdraw Sir Tony Ezenna in preference to Engineer Charles Ugwu of Okigwe zone. However, senator Ararume from Okigwe zone dragged the case to the court where the Supreme Court on the 5th, April, 2007 declared him, Ararume, as the authentic governorship candidate of the PDP. There is a need to amplify the fact that in the 2007 PDP governorship primaries, there was no clear winner, even though senator Ararume bagged the highest votes(2061) followed by senator Hope Uzodimma from Orlu zone. The PDP rules at the time(I don’t know about now) demanded that a clear winner must score a simple majority of votes; this means that the winner must score at least 50% of the votes. Since none of the contestants scored 50% of the votes, Senator Hope Uzodimma would have proceeded to the court to demand that a supplementary primary should be held to choose a winner between him and senator Ararume. Senator Hope Uzodimma did not go to court to challenge the nomination of senator Ararume, probably because of the mood of the Orlu zone. It was very clear that the political leaders in Orlu were not in support of an Orlu governor, so soon after Chief Udenwa served out his tenure. This is a sacrifice on the part of Senator Hope Uzodimma in particular and Orlu zone in general, but nobody appears to have taken judicial notice of that noble act from Orlu zone. If a rerun governorship primary was conducted between Hope Uzodimma and senator Ararume, the search for the winner would not be far to seek. In spite of these facts, most analysts do not recall that somewhere in that 2007 governorship primary, NDI Orlu zone backed down in order to allow the other two zones to contest for the governorship diadem.
The 2007 Gov poll proper: There is also a need to state at this point that the winner of the 2007 governorship poll which held on April 14th, 2007 was Chief Martin Agbaso from Owerri zone . However, the national chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC ),Professor Maurice Iwu, who is a kinsman to Ikedi Ohakim unilaterally annulled the result in order to appoint an Okigwe governor. In spite of this barefaced affront on free and fair election, the two politicians who dragged Ikedi Ohakim to court were his kinsman, senator Ararume and, of course, the winner of the poll, Chief Martin Agbaso . So, why do people still point fingers at Orlu zone as having played a negative role in the 2007 governorship poll? The April 28th 2007 poll which produced Ikedi Ohakim as governor was a Kangaroo poll which a prominent cleric in Imo state once described in a finger-wagging and lectern thumping homily as “ a selection exercise for the allocation of votes.” It is sad to note that rather than support their brother, Martin Agbaso, whose victory was stolen, ndi Owerri zone asked him to withdraw his petition against Gov. Ohakim’s victory. They said that his petition against Gov Ohakim’s victory was embarrassing to Owerri zone This abandonment of Chief Martin Agbaso by his Owerri kinsmen is traceable to the fact that some sections of Owerri zone always see the governorship election as a platform to make as much money to last for another four years. This betrayal repeated in 2015 poll when the so-called OZOPOLF which claimed to be working assiduously for the emergence of a governor of Owerri zone extraction, abandoned the idea at the eleventh hour and asked the voters to adopt Governor Okorocha. This is a betrayal which cannot be ruled out in 2019. When it happens, NDI Owerri zone will point fingers at Orlu zone as the cause of their failure to win the election. This incessant betrayal from Owerri zone will be discussed elsewhere.
PDP Gov primary 0f 8/12/2014, 2014:Lamenting his defeat in that primary election, DR.Ohakim said :”Emeka Ihedioha and Ifeanyi Ararume rigged the elections against me.They brought people from Ihiala in n Anambra State to rig me out.” This is a dangerous propaganda which purpose is to disseminate falsehood and hoodwink the unwary. According to the result of that primary poll which held on 8th December,2014 at the Grasshopper stadium, Owerri, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume polled 336 votes; Dr Ikedi Ohakim polled 225 votes while Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha emerged winner by polling 346 votes. The implication is that if both Okigwe aspirants, Ararume and Ohakim, had partnered in the interest of Okigwe zone, Okigwe zone would have polled 561 votes to defeat HON. Emeka Ihedioha of Owerri zone with a margin of 215 votes or more. This would have produced a governorship candidate of Okigwe extraction. Such a candidate might have gone ahead to win the poll. So, is it the fault of Orlu zone that the two politicians from Isiala Mbano LGA competed away their victory to Rt. HON.Emeka Ihedioha? How could anyone blame the innocent people of Ihiala in Anambra state as the master riggers who truncated the victory of DR. Ohakim? There was no Orlu aspirant in that pack, yet some groups complain that it was Orlu zone that caused the defeat of Okigwe zone. Senator Hope Uzodimma who had earlier planned to join the race later opted out on the grounds of pressure from political chieftains in Orlu zone. This is yet another sacrifice on the part of Senator Hope Uzodimma of Orlu zone.
So, it was less than satisfactory for DR. Ikedi Ohakim to start accusing some people of stealing his victory in that governorship primary poll which he described as a 419 exercise. This is unfair, more so, since the poll which brought him to power as governor in 2007 cannot pass through the scrutiny of due process. It was a classic case of a 419 election, He also warned that should Orlu zone produce governor in 2019, she would not be able to manage the crisis that would trail the victory. It is pertinent to state that no zone holds monopoly of civil defiance. Issues that border on who produces governor are better handled through lobbying, compromise, exhortation and moral suasion and not by intimidation or harassment of other interested groups. Rather than pointing fingers at real or perceived enemies, the PDP and indeed, the political parties in Imo State, should use this free season to discuss the modus operandi or modus Vivendi of governorship succession in Imo State. As already stated in the opening paragraphs of this analysis, there is no such issue as zoning of governorship in the constitution , more so, as senator Ararume and other politicians opined that there is no such issue as a sealed and signed zoning formula in Imo State.
Now that the PDP is planning to conduct a congress, it is advisable for them to put in place some factors that will help them to have a seamless governorship primaries or a sort of managed zoning template for the 2019 governorship poll. It is my candid opinion that the party should make it clear that any zone that produces the state chairman must not participate in the governorship primaries in 2019. Of course, this affects only the PDP. So, if there is any zone you don’t want to produce governor in 2019, you zone the chairmanship of the PDP to them. If PDP cannot actualize this simple advice, it will be difficult to stop any willing member of the party to participate in the 2019 governorship poll. Perhaps, for the umpteenth time, there is a need to repeat myself on the need for the zones to work in harmony since a zone that is mired in the cesspool of fratricidal crises and recriminations may not be in a position to produce a governor in an ideal democracy. This is why I am obliged to repeat my earlier caveat in regard to a Latin maxim which posits:”Ubi Concordia, ibi Victoria” which translates to ‘Where there is unity, there is victory.” A stitch in time saves nine.
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