17th April 2024
Columns History Politics Viewpoint

Imo Charter Of Equity: Owerri, Okigwe Zones, Which Way To Go In 2027 (Historical Perspective)

Imo Charter Of Equity: Owerri, Okigwe Zones, Which Way To Go In 2027 (Historical Perspective)

By Mike Nwachukwu, Mpi Dike Egbelu

The Imo Charter of Equity was initiated in 1999 and later truncated in 2011. I’ll call it Imo Charter of Equity 1.0.

The Charter, adopted by the Imo State Council of Elders, aimed to facilitate a smooth transfer and rotation of the office of Governor among the three Senatorial Zones of Okigwe, Orlu, and Owerri. Also affected by the Charter by implication are the offices of the Deputy Governor, and Speaker of the House of Assembly.

The central theme of the Charter of Equity revolves around ensuring fairness and balance in the governance of Imo State. It seeks to address historical imbalances by promoting the rotation of the governorship seat among the different zones.

It would appear that in the run up to the 1999 Governorship Election Imo Political Leaders agreed that the implementation of the Charter of Equity would commence from Orlu Zone.

It was therefore, not for nothing that the two Governorship candidates of the two major Political Parties in 1999 – People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All People’s Party (APP) were from Orlu Zone in the persons of Chief Achike Undenwa and Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu of blessed memory.

At that time, an Owerri Son, Late Barr. Humphrey Anumudu won the Governorship primary of PDP, but was asked to step down for an Orlu Man for the sake of accommodation and sense of belonging. According to the purveyors of the then Charter of Equity 1.0, after Orlu had gone, it would be the turn of Owerri Zone to succeed Orlu, and then Okigwe Zone in that order. Chief Achike Udenwa went on to win the contest and was Governor for two terms.

THE 2007 GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION:

The 2007 election saw the eventual emergence of Chief Ikedi Ohakim from Okigwe Zone as Governor. This was not without drama as Owerri Zone keenly contested the office via Chief Martin Agbaso who ran under the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

Before Chief Ikedi Ohakim took the centre stage, the election was to be a straight fight between Chief Agbaso and Dist. Senator Ifeanyi Araraume whom the Supreme Court had declared the authentic candidate of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) after a contentious Primary in which Engr. Charles Ugwu who was nowhere near being in contention was declared the winner of the PDP primary regardless of the fact that he came a distant 10th.

For some reasons, the then National Leader of the Party (PDP) – then President Olusegun Obasanjo rejected Araraume as the candidate of the Party in Imo State and declared that the Party did not have a candidate in the election!

He flew down to Imo State to communicate that not only to the leadership of the Party in the State represented by His Excellency, Governor Achike Udenwa but also to the generality of the members of the Party. Since it was too late for the Party to have another candidate, they adopted Chief Martin Agbaso as their candidate in the election.

Chief Ikedi Ohakim was the candidate of the new Political Party, People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA). Nobody gave him a chance! In fact he was not in the equation.

On April 14, 2007 the combined votes of APGA faithful and PDP members gave Chief Agbaso an overwhelming victory at the polls as confirmed by the returns of the election at the various Polling Units, Electoral Wards and Local Government Areas across the State.

Whilst we were waiting for the State-Wide Collation of Results which would have culminated in the declaration of Chief Agbaso as Governor-Elect, INEC then led by our own Prof. Maurice Iwu from Okigwe Zone, brought down the hammer!

And an election that produced twenty – seven (27) members of Imo State House of Assembly became INCONCLUSIVE! Meanwhile, the two elections – the Governorship and House of Assembly ran concurrent to one another, but while one was concluded, the other was inconclusive!

If the election was not truncated by the Maurice Iwu – led INEC, Chief Agbaso would have in the true spirit of The Imo Charter of Equity served as Governor on behalf of Owerri Zone and by 2015 the Governorship battle would have been a re-enactment of the Udenwa / Izuogu contest because only Okigwe sons and / daughter would have emerged the candidates’ of the whatever Parties were holding sway at that time.

With the annulment of the April 14, 2007 Governorship Election by INEC on grounds of being inconclusive, a re-run was set for April 28, 2007. Regardless of the fact that Chief Agbaso had gone to court challenging the annulment of the election, he participated in the scheduled re-run and lost to Chief Ikedi Ohakim of the little known PPA who in the re-run was adopted by PDP.

What would have been an opportunity for an Owerri Zone son (who though was not supported by the Owerri Zone Political Elite who were majorly clustered in PDP save for the brief period he was adopted by their Party) to assume the Office of Governor and thereby run through the Owerri Zone “TURN” to produce the Governor of Imo State in the spirit of “The Imo Charter of Equity” was scuttled by one man – Prof. Maurice Iwu who’s desire to see an Okigwe Zone son become Governor led him to use his instrument of Office as INEC Chairman and with the concurrence of the then President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria to annul a perfectly conducted election that was won by Chief Martin Agbaso of APGA.

But who could blame him? He is from Okigwe Zone! He was the INEC Chairman! He took advantage of his office and secured the Governorship Seat for his kinsmen – nde Okigwe Zone. As the drama was playing out, nde Okigwe Elite rallied around “their own”.

And where were the Political Elite of nde Owerri Zone? From Aboh Mbaise to Ahiazu Mbaise to Ezinihitte Mbaise to Ngor-Okpala to Owerri North to Owerri West to Owerri Municipal to Ikeduru to Mbaitoli the whole of Owerri Zone Political Elite, the High and Mighty of Owerri Zone Politics all of who had access to President Olusegun Obasanjo.

With the exception of Ndaa Captain Emma Ihenacho, there was no politician matching his profile from Owerri Zone that stood by Chief Agbaso!

They simply looked the other way as Prof. Maurice Iwu’s INEC took very practical steps to install Chief Ikedi Ohakim Governor! Not quite a few of them Argued that the operational Imo Charter of Equity favoured Okigwe Zone. They therefore did not have any motivation to advance any argument on behalf of Chief Agbaso.

Indeed the story line at some point was that one of the Owerri Zone Leaders who had unfettered access to President Obasanjo, met and advised him that Chief Agbaso was the de facto Leader of MASSOB and that if he is allowed to become Governor he would give MASSOB their much needed base and accommodation to declare the Republic of Biafra and so Prof. Iwu did not need to speak too much grammar to convince President Obasanjo on the need to annul the election!
While it can be argued that what was meted out to Chief Martin Agbaso was a clear injustice for which he and his supporters remained in court for four years, with the benefit of hindsight, in participating in the re-run of April 28, 2007 he as we would later find out following the Supreme Court ruling lost the “Locus Standi” to challenge Chief Ikedi Ohakim’s ascendancy to office on the basis of the April 14, 2007 election!

Perhaps if he did not participate in the re-run, the story and whole trajectory of Imo Politics would have assumed another dimension to this day!

And so it happened that Chief Ikedi Ohakim became the Executive Governor of Imo State having been sworn in on May 29, 2007!

In becoming the Governor, Chief Ohakim commenced Okigwe Zone’s turn and in the spirit of The Imo Charter of Equity was supposed to do two terms in office and by 2015, Owerri Zone would mount the saddle for their own two terms that would have ended in 2023!

Had every projection as noted run its course, Orlu Zone would have been commencing their second round of running the affairs of the state in the true spirit of The Imo Charter of Equity! But this was not to be.

THE CHARTER OF EQUITY AND CHIEF IKEDI OHAKIM:

On becoming Governor of Imo State on May 29, 2007 Chief Ikedi Ohakim commenced the turn of Okigwe Zone in managing the affairs of Imo State following the completion by Chief Achike Udenwa of Orlu Zone his two terms of eight years.

As Governor, Chief Ohakim had three land-mark achievements viz: Establishment of the Clean & Green Initiative; The 10,000 – Youth Employment Initiative and the creation of Imo Rural Roads Maintenance Agency that was tasked with the maintenance of our rural roads amongst others.

In the true spirit of The Imo Charter of Equity the expectation of the its architects and Political Leaders across Imo State who were mainly in the ruling Party (PDP as Ikedi Ohakim had since joined the Party) was that he would do a Second Term after which the Governorship Seat would in 2015 head to Owerri Zone.

If that had happened we would not have had Rochas Okorocha in 2011 and the current Governor, Dist. Senator Hope Uzodinma may well have become Governor, but not in 2019 as 2019 would have marked the commencement of the Second Term of the Owerri Zone Governor that would have ascended the office in 2015.

But in an unfortunate twist of history Rochas Okorocha, another Orlu Zone person muscled himself into office having secured the Governorship Candidacy of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and with the active support of the Catholic Community in Owerri Archdiocese who had accused Governor Ikedi Ohakim of flogging a Catholic Reverend Father – Rev. Fr. Eustace Okorie.

The negative momentum arising from that accusation led to a groundswell of opposition to Governor Ikedi Ohakim from nde Owerri Zone which literally hounded him out of office!

This was in addition to a couple of unforced errors he had made in the PDP’s nomination process for various offices such as Owerri Zone Senatorial Candidacy, Aboh – Mbaise / Ngor – Okpala House of Representatives Candidacy, Owerri Federal Constituency House of Representatives Candidacy and Owerri North House of Assembly Candidacy.

These led to an internal revolt by a good chunk of Owerri Zone Leaders of his Party who joined forces with the rampaging APGA mass movement and the full weight of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri to oust him from office.

Yes! Those were unforced errors but suffice it to say that some key Owerri Zone Political Leaders goaded him on and advised him on the direction he took as far as his Party’s nomination process was on.

While these events were going on, nde Owerri Zone did not sit back to think through the alarming consequences of truncating The Imo Charter of Equity which was gradually taking form, shape and root in Imo Politics. They (we) thus threw their (our) support behind Rochas Okorocha.

If Governor Ohakim committed the sacrilege of flogging a Catholic Rev. Father and must leave office, could it not have been possible to find another Okigwe Zone son or Daughter who could have stepped in to continue from where he stopped (for one term) so that the true spirit and letter of The Imo Charter of Equity as conceived in the run up to the 1999 Governorship Election would remain in place?

THE DEMISE OF THE IMO CHARTER OF EQUITY 1.0:

And it so happened that Owelle Rochas Okorocha with the full – throttled support of nde Owerri Zone became Governor of Imo State in 2011 thus leading to the demise of The Imo Charter of Equity 1.0.Okorocha who had committed to a one – term of office, reneged on his promise to those that led the charge for him in Owerri Zone and those that confirmed he had sworn before the Blessed Sacrament to do one term and hand over to onye Owerri Zone and proceeded to muscle himself to a second term.

He had abandoned APGA and was headed to making his son-in-law Uche Nwosu (a beneficiary of Chief Ikedi Ohakim’s 10,000 Youth Employment Initiative that he had scrapped upon assumption of office in 2011) the Governorship candidate of his new Party All Progressives Congress (APC) but he was resisted by a faction of the Party with notables like his own Deputy Governor Chief Eze Madumere, Dist. Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, Dr. T.O.E. Ekechi, the present Governor, H.E. Dist. Senator Hope Uzodinma and others too numerous to mention.

In the “political razzmatazz and pin-pong” that ensued, Dist. Senator Hope Uzodinma became the ultimate beneficiary of that resistance thus becoming the authentic APC Governorship candidate in 2019 Imo Governorship Election.

Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha had been declared Governor – Elect and sworn in on May 29, 2019 but Dist. Senator Hope Uzodinma who came a distant fourth in the election challenged the outcome of the election in Court, proved his case and was declared Governor-Elect on January 14, 2020 by the Supreme Court.

And so Dist. Senator Hope Uzodinma – another Orlu Zone son became Governor of Imo State after the combined sixteen (16) years of Chief Achike Udenwa and Owelle Rochas Okorocha!

He is now in his second term by which end Orlu Zone would have ruled Imo State for twenty four (24) years, Okigwe Zone, four (4) years and Owerri Zone, seven (7) months in this present democratic experiment which commenced in 1999.

THE ASCENDANCY TO OFFICE BY DIST. SENATOR HOPE UZODINMA IN 2020 MARKED THE FINAL NAIL IN THE COFFIN OF THE IMO CHARTER OF EQUITY 1.0!

THE IMO CHARTER OF EQUITY 2.0:

Against the background of The Imo Charter of Equity 1.0 and the recognition of the need to inject equity, fair play and justice back into Imo politics, the incumbent Governor and his “Key Advisers and Operatives” re-enacted The “failed” Imo Charter of Equity 1.0 in the run up to the “off-cycle” November 11, 2023 Governorship Election in Imo State.

It was re-launched with plenty of fanfare and pomp and not a few seasoned political operatives in the state saw it as a strategy to rein in the support of both nde Owerri and Okigwe Zone for his second term agenda.

It worked, as virtually all nascent socio-political groups in Owerri and Okigwe Zones fell over themselves “parroting” the need to support him for his second term so that in the true spirit of The Imo Charter of Equity (2.0) he will hand over power to them (with both Owerri and Okigwe Zone claiming the trophy though it would appear that Owerri Zones claim had more pungency and urgency to it!).

Their respective positions were underscored by the fact that being the sitting Governor who “understands power” and how to deploy it in addition to humongous resources at his disposal, the perception was that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to shove him out of office.

This position was given added impetus by the fact that the main opposition Party – PDP was so fractured to the extent that its key leaders in the lineup of H.E. Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha left the Party and headed the direction of Dist. Senator Hope Uzodinma’s APC. Those that didn’t formally join APC were sold into the second term agenda of the Governor “hook, line and sinker”!

And so it happened that PDP had no bite in the election. Mr. Peter Obi’s loss at the Presidential level did not help the Governorship prospects of the Labour Party in the State. And so LP did not as well have any bite in the election.

The Governor did not just win his re-election, he won big! – twenty seven (27) Local Government Areas. He had a whopping 540,308 votes against Senators’ Anyanwu (PDP) and Achonu’s (LP) 71,503 and 64,081 votes respectively.

OUT OF THE 540,308 VOTES HE GARNERED IN THE ELECTION TO COAST HOME TO VICTORY, OWERRI ZONE WITH NINE (9) LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS GAVE HIM 98,600 VOTES; OKIGWE ZONE WITH SIX (6) LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS GAVE HIM 101,690 VOTES AND ORLU ZONE WITH TWELVE (12) LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS DELIVERED A WHOPPING 340,018 VOTES!

In the absence of God saying otherwise, H.E. Dist. Senator Hope Uzodinma will serve out his second term and the Governorship Seat will eventually move away from Orlu Zone and head to either Owerri or Okigwe Zone.

I have assumed that our compatriots from Orlu Zone will in the spirit of EQUITY, FAIRNESS & JUSTICE encapsulated in

The Charter of Equity give way to either Owerri or Okigwe Zone in the coming dispensation after which they will alongside which ever Zone that emerges victorious in the coming dispensation give way to next Zone in line.

WHICH WAY TO GO – OWERRI OR OKIGWE ZONE?:

Owerri Zone with her nine (9) Local Government Areas CANNOT ALONE produce a Governor. Okigwe Zone with her six (6) Local Government Areas CANNOT ALONE produce a Governor. Even Orlu Zone with her twelve (12) Local Government Areas CANNOT ALONE produce a Governor.

To produce a Governor, Owerri Zone must either work with Okigwe Zone (which will give her 15 LGA’s) and then seek out 3 LGA’s from Orlu to give her the mandatory required 2/3 of 27 LGA’s (18 LGA’s) to be able to meet constitutional requirements to produce a Governor. Alternatively, Owerri Zone may well say to Okigwe Zone – “GO TO HELL” and form an alliance with Orlu Zone to secure not only the majority of votes cast but also an overwhelming 21 LGA’s.

Similarly, for Okigwe Zone to produce a Governor, she has to work with Owerri Zone to secure 15 LGA’s and then shop for 3 LGA’s from Orlu Zone to secure the required 2/3 of 27 LGA’s.

Alternatively as in the Owerri Zone situation, Okigwe Zone can say TO HELL WITH OWERRI ZONE and go into an alliance with Orlu Zone and secure 18 LGA’s which is the exact number of LGA she’ll require to meet the constitutional requirement to produce a Governor.

We thus can see that no matter how hard it is for us to swallow, Orlu Zone clearly holds the ace in the whole equation and calculation!

Yes! In the true spirit of The Charter of Equity 2.0 they will not field a candidate for the 2027 Governorship Election as Owerri and Okigwe Zones’ expect, they are in a pole position to however, decide who and which Zone becomes.

This is without prejudice to who or which Zone the sitting Governor wants and supports. After all, no outgoing Governor in Imo State has produced his successor! This is A VERY IMPORTANT FACTOR that has to be definitely factored into the succession calculation and equation!

THE CASE FOR OWERRI ZONE:

Nde Owerri Zone have put forth several compelling arguments in their quest for the Governorship Seat of Imo State and this has revolved around the following key issues:

· Equity and Fairness:
Owerri Zone contends that it is only fair for the Governorship position to rotate among the three major political zones in Imo State: Owerri, Orlu, and Okigwe. Since the return of democracy in 1999, Owerri Zone has not had the opportunity to govern the state, despite its contributions to the political landscape. Advocates argue that adhering to the Charter of Equity—which emphasizes rotation—would promote justice and balance among the Zones.

· Historical Context:
They argue that in the Second Republic (1979), Okigwe Zone had Dee Sam Mbakwe from Obowo LGA for four years and was headed for his second term before the military struck.

In the Third Republic (1992), Evan Enwerem, from Ikeduru LGA became Governor on behalf of Owerri Zone and served for just 21 months + 2 weeks having been sworn in as Governor on January 3, 1992 before Gen. Sani Abacha toppled the Interim National Government of Ernest Shonekan and truncated the Third Republic.

Enter the Fourth Republic (1999), when the nascent democracy began, some younger elements from Owerri Zone felt that Owerri Zone should start from where Evan Enwerem stopped when Gen. Sani Abacha staged a palace coup and put a spanner in the wheels of the Third Republic.

Late Barr. Humphrey Anumudu put up a very strong showing in the ensuing PDP Primary and was said to have won it before the Leaders of Owerri Zone and indeed PDP in Imo State caused him to cede the ticket and awarded it to Chief Achike Udenwa, a political newcomer at that time who came a distant 4th position in the PDP nomination contest.

Late Barr. Anumudu indeed made a significant sacrifice by giving up the nomination to the candidate from Orlu zone, Chief Achike Udenwa, in order to maintain equity and adhere to the principles of rotation among the political zones which the Political Leaders at that time thought it was right for it to head to Orlu having started from Okigwe (Dee Sam Mbakwe) and gone Owerri Zone (Evan Enwerem).

His decision no doubt reflected a commitment to fairness and the unwritten Charter of Equity in Imo State’s politics.

· The Martin Agbaso Episode:
With the winding down of the Achike Administration in 2007, Chief Agbaso stepped out and ran for the Governorship Seat under the platform of APGA.

A combination of factors led to PDP withdrawing her support from her candidate – Dist. Senator Ifeanyi Araraume and filing behind Agbaso and his APGA (for the Governorship).

Agbaso clearly won the election but it was declared inconclusive by the Prof. Maurice Iwu – led INEC. A rerun saw the emergence of Chief Ikedi Ohakim as the elected Governor.

It needs to be placed on record that NO “POLITICIAN OF NOTE” in the caliber of Ndaa Capt. Emma Ihenacho from Owerri Zone apart from the said Ndaa Capt. Emma Ihenacho supported Chief Agbaso’s quest to become Governor of Imo State on behalf of Owerri Zone because they believed it was Okigwe Zone’s turn under the failed Imo Charter of Equity 1.0.

They only came home to Agbaso when the Leader of PDP in Nigeria at that time, then President Obasanjo declared that PDP did not have a candidate (in Dist. Senator Ifeanyi Araraume) in the 2007 Imo State Governorship race.

When the April 14, 2007 election which Chief Agbaso had clearly won was declared inconclusive by the Prof. Maurice Iwu led INEC and PDP chose a new candidate to support (Chief Ikedi Ohakim) from Okigwe Zone they all raced back to the Okigwe Zone candidate!

· The Ihedioha Episode:
In the 2019 elections, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, the PDP candidate from Owerri Zone was declared winner even when he did not meet the constitutional requirement of 2/3 of 27 LGA’s.

That declaration was obviously made with the support of key members of the political class in the state, particularly all those that were against Rochas Okorocha’s attempt to foist his son-in-law on the state.

They were afraid that if a re-run was conducted between Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and Okorocha’s son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, Okorocha will muscle his way to secure victory for his son-in-law at all cost and by all means.

And so, for nde Imo who didn’t want Okorocha 3.0, it didn’t matter that Ihedioha did not meet the constitutional requirement to be declared Governor.

Interestingly, all those that went to the Tribunal to contest his victory – Dist. Senators’ Ifeanyi Araraume and Hope Uzodinma went to the Tribunal with other pleadings other than the fact that he was wrongly declared Governor.

Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha served as the Governor of Imo State from May 29, 2019, until January 14, 2020. His tenure lasted approximately 7 months and 17 days.

Sadly, he was removed from office by the Supreme Court of Nigeria, which declared the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Dist. Senator Hope Uzodinma, as the rightful winner of the 2019 Imo Governorship election.

In summary, Owerri Zone’s argument revolves around historical context and fairness & equity which The Charter of Equity seeks to address.

THE CASE FOR OKIGWE ZONE:

Nde Okigwe Zone have sought to put forward a compelling argument for claiming the governorship seat in 2027 and have marshalled out the following key points:

· Charter of Equity:
The Imo Charter of Equity, was initially established in the state’s early years, aims to ensure fair representation and power-sharing among the three senatorial zones: Okigwe, Owerri, and Orlu.

This charter advocates for a rotational system where each zone takes its turn in producing the governor.

Okigwe Zone argues that it has not yet completed its rightful term under this charter and deserves the opportunity to complete its turn to lead the state under the Charter of Equity.

· The Broken Charter & The Role of Owerri Zone Therein:
Nde Okigwe Zone have consistently argued that the original Imo Charter of Equity 1.0 was disrupted in 2011 by the coming into power in 2011 of H.E. Owelle Rochas Okorocha and that nde Owerri Zone were central to the emergence of Okorocha.

First they posit that Owerri Zone, via high-level negotiations, availed to Okorocha the Governorship Ticket of APGA.

Second, the Owerri Catholic Archdiocese levelled a malicious allegation of flogging a Reverend Father, Rev. Father Eustace Okorie against the sitting Governor – Chief Ikedi Ohakim which led to the galvanization of the groundswell of opposition to his second term ambition and by extension Okigwe Zone’s second term!

This allegation of Ohakim flogging Rev. Fr. Okorie was picked up by Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, a charismatic Preacher and Leader of The Adoration Ministry in Enugu who believing that the allegation was true amplified it and urged the people of Imo State not to vote for someone who had assaulted a Reverend Father.

He actively campaigned against Ohakim during the election to the point of composing a song against the Governor which was rendered at his crusades and church gatherings, emphasizing the importance of not voting for a candidate who had allegedly assaulted a priest.

It goes without saying that the Catholic Community rallied behind this clarion call and the protest vote ultimately swept Rochas Okorocha into the Douglas House whilst sweeping Ohakim and by extension Okigwe Zone out of power!.

By the time Rev. Fr. Mbaka realised that Governor Ohakim did not assault the Reverend Gentleman having confirmed from Rev. Okorie himself that no such thing happened recanted his stance on Ohakim the deed had long been done!

They underscore Owerri Zone’s central role by pointing to the fact that the election was lost and won in Mbaitoli & Ngor-Okpala LGA!

They therefore argue that Owerri Zone should show them some measure of recompense and support them to complete their second tenure in office as Governor of Imo state.

· Okigwe Zone’s Performance in the 2023 Governorship Election:
Nde Okigwe Zone in appealing to the emotions of H.E. Dist. Senator Hope Uzodinma have also argued that they did more for his second term return than Owerri Zone and therefore should be compensated accordingly!

They point to the fact that OWERRI ZONE WITH NINE (9) LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS GAVE HIM 98,600 VOTES whereas OKIGWE ZONE WITH SIX (6) LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS GAVE HIM 101,690 VOTES!

They argue that Owerri Zone’s performance in the election showed they had a rather lukewarm attitude to his second term ambition and should not be compensated with a shot at the Douglas House ahead of Okigwe Zone.

Those are the contending positions of Owerri and Okigwe Zones as we march forward towards the looming 2027 Governorship elections which may seem far today but is indeed very close because before you say jack Robinson we roll into 2025.

BUT, WHAT IS TO BE DONE?: MY POSITION

It is very clear to me that both sides of the divide has very compelling arguments that could sway the pendulum in their favour.

For Owerri Zone it is sad enough that since the creation of Imo State an Owerri Zone son / daughter has only ruled Imo State for a cumulative period of 29 months and 3 days as follows:

· Evan Enwerem: 21 months + 2 weeks (January 3, 1992 to November 17, 1993)

· Emeka Ihedioha: 7 months + two weeks + 3 days ( May 29, 2019 to January 14, 2020)

This is against Okigwe Zones 8 years + 3 months as follows:

· Dee Sam Mbakwe: 4 years + 3 months (October 1, 1979 to December 31, 1983)

· Ikedi Ohakim: 4 years (May 29, 2007 to May 28, 2011)

The above is without prejudice to the fact that Okigwe Zone argues that Dee sam Mbakwe was Governor of the Old Imo State and so cannot be brought in the calculation in the context of The Imo Charter of Equity.

Meanwhile with the current Governor expected to complete his second term in office Orlu Zone would have had it for 24 years as follow:

· Achike Udenwa: 8 years (May 29, 1999 to May 28, 2007)

· Rochas Okorocha: 8 years (may 29, 2011 to May 28, 2019)

· Hope Uzodinma: 8 years (January 15, 2020 to expectedly, January 14, 2028)

For Okigwe Zone, the true spirit of The Imo Charter of Equity demanded that just like Orlu Zone’s Achike Udenwa was allowed to complete two terms in office, Okigwe Zone’s Ikedi Ohakim should have been allowed the opportunity of being in the saddle for two terms of eight years. They argue that if Ohakim was such a bad experiment of a Governor in addition to assaulting an Ordained priest of The Church, and was therefore not worthy of being availed a second term in office, the very least that would have happened was to find another Okigwe Zone son or daughter that would complete Okigwe’s turn in the saddle, than Owerri Zone playing a central role in propelling to Office Owelle Rochas Okorocha. As noted elsewhere, that Governorship election was won and lost in Mbaitoli & Ngor-Okpala LGA, according to them, underscores the central role of Owerri Zone as a collective in scuttling The Imo Charter Equity 1.0.

They argue further that it is better for Owerri Zone to wait for another 4 years (which is around the corner) and take up a full 8 years and by so doing appeal to the sensibilities of nde Okigwe Zone who will appreciate the fact that they have shown to them a full measure of recompense for the role they played in hounding Chief Ikedi Ohakim out of office. This will in their view imbue a new sense of partnership between the two Zones and cement a long-term mutually beneficial working relationship between the two zones.

At a personal level I have after so much introspection come to the conclusion that it is in the mutual interest of the two Zones to understand themselves and work together in ONE ACCORD, otherwise they will without fail become a pawn in a political chess board Orlu Zone where Orlu Zone is the King, Queen, Knight, Rook, Bishop & Knight!

With the cohesion Orlu Zone has been able to achieve in the past years following their being at the helm of affairs in Imo State it is not difficult for them to play Owerri Zone against Okigwe Zone and vice versa even when I recognize the fact that they may be more attuned to aligning with Okigwe Zone than Owerri Zone.

And so what happens if Okigwe Zone takes their case to Orlu Zone and request for support for now an 8 – year tenure (instead of 4) with a firm commitment to support them (Orlu Zone) for a return to power in 2036 to the exclusion of Owerri Zone.

It is also possible that Owerri Zone with their 9 LGA’s may well work out an alliance with Orlu Zone to the exclusion of Okigwe Zone.

With very aggressive players and hawks in Orlu’s OPOCA and their Orlu First Agenda “ANY BUSH CAN BE A MONKEY’S OWN” like my brother and kinsman Chief Henry Njoku, Harritex would say!

It therefore behoves on the key players in Owerri Zone and Okigwe Zone to come together, lock themselves up in a room advance all the arguments they can, and come up with a unified position and formula for working together whilst carrying the leadership of Orlu Zone along.

Between Owerri Zone and Okigwe Zone we have 15 LGA’s and so I propose the Convocation of Bi-Partisan 30 Wise Men & Women to x-ray the issues and come up with a position as follows:

· Each of the 6 LGA’s of Okigwe Zone will send in 2 delegate 12

· Each of the 9 LGA’s of Owerri Zone will send
in 2 delegates 9

· The 2 Federal Constituencies in Mbaise / Ngor-Okpala Will send in 1 additional delegate. Since the three LGA’s of Mbaise already, it is recommended that the additional delegate should come from Ngor-Okpala to give them another added sense of belonging and
recognition 1

· Owerri Federal Constituency will send in 1 additional delegate 1

· Mbaike Federal Constituency will send in 1 additional delegate 1

· Two members of the Clergy from Okigwe Zone (One Catholic / One Anglican) 2

· Two members of the Clergy from Owerri Zone (One Catholic / One Anglican) 2

Total 30

Notice that regardless of the fact that Okigwe Zone has 6 LGA’s they will have equal representation with Owerri Zone in the Committee of Wise Men / Women. This is very deliberate is intended to engender a feeling of inclusiveness and adequate level playing ground between the brother – zones.

After exhaustive discussions on the key question of which zone goes first they will if need be put the question to vote. I do not expect a unanimity of position but the majority will have the day.

To protect the integrity of the process, voting will be by secret ballot and will be organized and supervised by the members of Clergy there present who will not vote.

In the event that there is a tie (12-12) they will try again and again and again until there is a majority. If after four sessions there is still a tie we may avail the sitting Governor the benefit of casting the tie-breaker after each group would have exhaustively presented their arguments to the Governor.

At the end of the exercise the 30 Wise Men / Women will engage our compatriots from Orlu Zone and communicate them formally which Zone between Owerri and Okigwe is taking the turn to occupy our revered Douglas House!

There are two gentlemen to whom I will call upon to take up the responsibility of setting in motion the building blocks of this exercise.

They understand Imo state Politics and have plenty of goodwill and an excellent political network to leverage on.

When they meet they will be at liberty to co-opt a few good egg-heads to help them set in motion and organize this exercise.

They will need resources to function and so they will set up a platform and call on well-meaning Owerri and Okigwe Zone sons and daughters contribute to the exercise.

I did not consult with them ab initio, but I believe that being men of goodwill who have contributed in no small measure to the growth of the political in Owerri and Okigwe Zone they will certainly be interested in contributing their quota to the creating an enduring and sustainable political partnership between Owerri Zone & Okigwe Zone.

The two gentlemen are:

High Chief Willie Amadi, Ukwa Achi Aka Ya’agba Toom Toom Toom, Omeudo Owerri, and

High Chief Longers Anyanwu, Ebubedike Obowo!

Nde Owerri na’ Okigwe Zone, this is my honest and little contribution to the discourse.

A few persons and commentators may not agree with me.

The difference of opinion will be most welcome.

Kindly take me up on the issues I have raised or what you may consider factual errors.

I’ll welcome your observations, corrections and engagement.

I rest my case.

Thank you.

Mike Nwachukwu,
Mpi Dike Egbelu Obube wrote from Abuja.
March 5, 2024

About Author

NewsTrack Nigeria

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *