2019: Breaking The Graveyard Silence In Orlu Zone – By Collins Ughalaa
“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” James 4:17.
One of the tragedies of heroism is that heroes are often locked up in themselves and need someone to save them. They are ever powerful but ever weak to themselves. Thus the greatest service to preserve them is the brave act to rescue them from the clutches of themselves, not from others.
Despite his power and prestige, self-made Okonkwo became a tragic hero because his Umuofia Community could not save him from himself, in Chinua Achebe’s classic – Things Fall Apart. For him, he needed to be saved from the fear of failure and being called a weak man.
Apart from saving them from themselves, heroes like Okonkwo need to be stopped from destroying the family and society because of their wrongly set values and goals.
It is only the kinsmen of the strong man that can tame him in the spirit of “umunnawuike”. That is why it is believed among the Igbo that no one, no matter how highly placed or positioned, is stronger or bigger than his kinsmen; that no matter one’s position in the society, under the spirit of “umunnawuike” and “okuru anaghi aka onye nwe ya”, the Igbo community can control their sons and daughters and save them from self-imposed ruination or perdition.
Like Okonkwo of Things Fall Apart, Governor Okorocha has been impulsive, acting before he thinks. This attitude has upset a lot of people in the state, and instead of enjoying the love of his people, the Governor has become a man whose name reinforces sad memories, with many asking if God no longer exists, or if He is keeping a distance from Imo State which was put in His hands in 2007.
The need to save Imo State from what seems the grip of Governor Okorocha has become very urgent task that requires those with the capacity to do so not to stay away or keep quiet, like the people of Umuofia did to Okonkwo. Imo State should be saved from ruination, balkanization and bastardisation that the Okorocha’s government represents.
No one who has been to Imo State or knows the State very well in the last seven years would reject the call to save the State. This is why the leaders and politicians in Orlu Zone should rise to the occasion to redeem the State. It has become their lot to do so now.
No one needs to engage in fisticuffs in order to save Imo. What the politicians in Orlu Zone need to do is break their cold silence in relation to the governorship election in the State in 2019 and throw their hats in the ring. The long contemplation of whether to run or not to run should stop. What we need is a united front led by the people of Orlu Zone to redeem our dear State and rebuild its broken fortunes.
Orlu Zone is not in short supply of credible politicians that can stop the continued rape of our State in the form of handing over to an in-law and the pain that has been unleashed on the people over the years, the establishment of a ruling Dynasty and wasted opportunities and resources.
And as a matter of fact, the leaders and politicians from Orlu Zone will share much of the blame if the plan to enthrone Uche Nwosu as Governor, so that he can in turn hand over to Okorocha’s son after 8 years, succeeds.
But why should Orlu Zone be interested in becoming the governor of the state again in 2019? Have they not been in power for long? Some people have even gone as far as likening the Imo situation to the claim of marginalization of Ndigbo by the North, where for decades the region has not produced the president of Nigeria. This premise is built upon the false assumption that Chief Achike Udenwa who became Governor in 1999 did not win the governorship primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1998, but that it was merely handed over to him because the leaders of Owerri Zone believed in zoning and therefore selflessly denied their son, Barr Anumudu, the opportunity to have become Governor in 1999.
Nothing can be further from the truth as Chief Udenwa won the PDP governorship primary election, so much that the leaders only had to do the right thing by standing by the truth. Since then governorship election in the state has not been done based on zoning, as Governor Udenwa won his second term solely on his performance, political sagacity and power of incumbency, even though that election was keenly contested by politicians from the three zones, even in his party, the PDP. At some point politicians from Owerri and Okigwe zones ganged up against him and formed what they called The Abuja Group, leading also to the formation of the Ononganono Group. This was done in order to wrestle power from him, in clear disrespect to anything called zoning. Is it then proper to change the goalpost in the middle of the game or make different rules for different people on the issue? Should people be encouraged to blow hot and cold at the same time?
But some could argue that in 2007 the governorship slot was zoned to Okigwe Zone that led to the emergence of Governor Ikedi Ohakim. Anyone who knows about the incidents of 2007 in Imo PDP would know that the emergence of Dr Ikedi Ohakim was not related to zoning. One can safely say that God wanted it that way and Dr Ikedi Ohakim well positioned hinself to be used by God to do new things in Imo. The claim that the emergence of Ikedi Ohakim as Governor in 2007 was as a result of zoning is also one of the propaganda that have remained unchallenged for a decade. Imo people had the opportunity to make good case for zoning in 2011 with Ohakim running for a second term and preaching zoning, and if they had any respect for zoning they would have allowed Ohakim complete his tenure, in keeping with anything called zoning (and that is if we can be convinced that Chief Udenwa became second term Governor also based on zoning). But the in-song then was that there was no zoning. Is it not then better for those who now sing zoning as new love song to consider the truncated term for Ohakim as a demonstration that they mean their words? But since they seem not to be recincillable to this, is it not then proper to conclude that they are still holding strongly to their song of no-zoning, while publicly preaching zoning to deceive others?
Nevetheless, with the onslaught and propaganda led by politicians and top businessmen and women from Owerri Zone, Chief Ethelbert Anayo Okorocha from Orlu Zone became Governor in 2011. But while Owerri Zone led the campaign against zoning, majority of Orlu Zone came out boldly and made a fruitless attempt at ensuring that zoning of the governorship position became part of our political equation. But that fell on deaf ears and Owerri Zone had their way and gave back the governorship to Orlu Zone. It was not, therefore, Orlu Zone taking back power.
Like in every political environment, those who made Okorocha Governor from Owerri Zone in 2011 fell out with him before the 2015 general elections. They regrouped and began to rehash the music of zoning. The rehashed music was so strong and deafening that the political parties bought into it, and for the first time in the political history of Imo State more than four political parties gave their governorship tickets to Owerri Zone. But during the governorship election, both Okigwe and Owerri zones from across the political parties on their own went back to the issue of no zoning and openly worked to return Governor Okorocha for second term. While Owerri Zone worked against their people in 2015, Orlu Zone supported them and gave them running mates.
It is rather clear that from political developments in the state since 1999 Imo people have not voted based on zoning. It has been based on popular choice. Therefore, the argument that Orlu Zone is marginalizing the rest of the State is just propaganda to draw sympathy from the gullible. The true position is that even when the leaders of Orlu Zone made the case for zoning those accusing Orlu Zone now of marginalization kicked against it and rather preached no zoning, preferring to claim that the people needed credible leadership instead. Now credible leadership is more needed in the state and not even the youths would listen to the baseless zoning mantra as we head into 2019.
The people of Imo State having rejected zoning and preferred voting a preferred candidate based on credibility and competence have demonstrated that anyone can be voted Governor irrespective of zone. They have taken this position higher by also saying that they do not vote based on political party affiliation but based on the integrity and competence of the candidate. This position too informs the free movement of politicians from one party to the other, because they too believe that Imo people only consider their competence and not zoning and political party membership.
Another reason politicians from Orlu Zone should declare their interest in the 2019 governorship election is because Governor Okorocha who is their brother is no longer running for governorship election, as he would be leaving in 2019. Also, Imo people and the political parties should bear in mind that parties in opposition can really not do so much about zoning. Rather, opposition parties should be preoccupied with winning the election, and they can pick their candidates from the most strategic place irrespective of zoning. This is what the PDP at the national level has done, by keeping their presidential ticket in the North, not minding that President Buhari is from the North and that any other person from the North could do two terms in office. The political parties in Imo State, especially the PDP, should emulate the national leadership of the party. When they win they would have the opportunity to look at the issue of zoning and see how to get it implemented, if they consider it overwhelmingly important.
However, there is the urgent need to stop Governor Okorocha from establishing a ruling dynasty in the state by not keeping quiet and allowing him produce Uche Nwosu as his successor, or anyone else, in 2019. The best way to do this is not to leave the whole of the 12 local governments in Orlu Zone for Governor Okorocha to win as he did in 2015.
Giving the ticket of any political party to a candidate that cannot boast of winning his LGA like it happened in Okigwe Zone in 2015, or Owerri Zone where a governorship candidate only won three LGAs despite his claim of popularity, is like already writing the election result for the Governor ahead of the election.
Making this mistake again would mean leaving the Governor alone to play in an expansive football field and scoring as much as he wants. In fact, he would be having fun!
That is why qualified people from Orlu Zone should come up now and do something: be part of the governorship election in 2019 by declaring to run.
To sit down and do nothing and shout “Uche Nwosu cannot be Governor” is inconsequential. What will ensure that Uche Nwosu becomes Governor only in his wildest dream is that qualified politicians from Orlu Zone should throw their hat in the ring, and run!