The sons and daughters as well as all socio-cultural and other groups in Owerri zone met on 11 November, 2017 in Egbu, Owerri under the aegies of Coalition for Owerri Re-awakening to deliberate on the worsening economic, social and political conditions facing people of the zone. The summit was attended by Owerri leaders , elders, academia, captains of industries, business men and women, professional bodies, public servants, artisans, as well as various women and youth organizations.
The summit deliberated on the over-riding importance of unity of the zone as a critical tool in the re-awakening of leadership and followership from the long spell of what has been aptly called ‘sleepy eyeness’ or political lethargy which has now made Owerri zone look more like a conquered territory than an equal partner in the Imo State project.
The Summit observed:
(a) That Owerri zone which is an off-shoot of Owerri District was created in 1906 before the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria. Owerri District later became Owerri Province following the splitting of Calabar Province in 1914. Owerri Province was made up of Aba, Ahoada, Bende, Bonny, Brass, Degema, Okigwe, Orlu and Afikpo districts. Owerri, the capital of the province then covered today’s Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Rivers and Bayelsa States. Port-Harcourt Province was created out of Owerri Province in 1947 and later in 1959, Umuahia Province was created.
(b) That Owerri people in spite of their historical advantage have continued to make sacrifices for others. The host indigenous communities of Owerri Municipality, Owerri West and Owerri North Local Government Areas have lost most of their ancestral lands thereby rendering their future generations landless and homeless. The profound negative implications of this demographic cleaning for the future can be better imagined than told. An Igbo proverb says that one man’s corpse is another man’s piece of wood.
(c) That, while appreciating that the status of a State Capital comes at a cost, the summit noted with dismay that there seems to be a deliberate policy to render Owerri people homeless by this wantom grabbing of lands by successive administration since 1976, which has now reached a crescendo in the last few years. Most worrisome is that most lands taken from Owerri people under the abuse of the Land Use Act for overriding public interest are later converted to private uses.
(d) The summit noted with regards the ceding of Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area (which historically and geographically has been part of Owerri zone) to Orlu senatorial zone.
(e) The summit noted with disappointment the destruction of Ekeukwu Owerri ancestral market, the subsequent death of Master Somtochukwu Ibeanusi and the destruction of Government approved properties in and around Owerri municipality without reasonable notice given and any compensation made.
(f) That, the most valued democracy dividends, namely, rule of law, due process and separation of power are now things of the past in Imo State.
(g) The summit viewed with pains the mounting poverty in Owerri zone, especially from non-payment of pensions, loss of commercial stores and loss of agricultural lands.
(h) The summit viewed with shock and disappointment the lack of appreciation of the sacrifices made by Owerri zone in the election of Governors from other zones, especially the election of Governor Achike Udenwa in 1999.
(I) The summit condemns the lack of patriotism by some persons and organizations of Owerri zone extraction who specialize in partnering with outsiders to frustrate aspiration of Owerri to governor Imo State because for now, we have played enough “boys quarters” or second fiddle politics.
(j) Finally, out of enormous historical significance and challenge, the summit noted that Owerri zone is the only zone in the entire South-East geopolitical zone of Nigeria that had not produced a Governor in the current political dispensation that began in 1999.
In the spirit of Igbo brotherliness and unity, we hail the monumantal selfless efforts made by incumbent Governors in the other South East States to ensure that the Governorship rotated to all zones.
The Summit therefore resolved as follows:
1. That equity demand that the next Governor of Imo State should be an indigene of Owerri zone.
2. That all political parties should choose their Governorship candidates from Owerri senatorial zone.
3. That voters in Imo State should vote for only political parties that choose their candidates from Owerri zone in the interest of equity, fair play and unity of Imo State.
4. That a committee of eminent sons and daughters of Owerri zone be set up to reach out to Okigwe and Orlu zones to convince them of the need to support Owerri zone come 2019 to produce the next Governor of Imo State.
5. That political leaders and followers from Owerri zone should be united on the governorship aspiration of the zone come 2019 and to desist from being used to the contrary.
6. That Imo State Governor should stop the demolition of properties and markets in Owerri zone in view of the prevailing harsh economic realities.
7. That Imo State Government should emabrk on commensurate compensation for those whose properties have been destroyed or demolished.
8. That the Government of Imo State should without delay commence payment of all outstanding arrears of pensions and gratuities in Imo State to mitigate the sufferings of beneficiaries.
We believe that whatsoever that is good for Orlu and Okigwe zones should be allowed to be good for Owerri zone. “Erizuo oke, ogbu alaa”. There should be a brotherly rotation of power as the unity of Imo State should not be taken for granted.
The zone will remain grateful to the other zones and political parties for heeding this demand as it is in the interest of the Imo State and in the interest of justice, equity and fair play.
Coalition for Owerri Reawakening
11 November, 2017