Africa’s most celebrated novelist, Prof. Chinua Achebe did posit in his book Arrow of God, that “there is no honour greater than the one bestowed on a person by his own people”. This axiomatic assertion by the late literacy icon, underscores and reinforces another age long expression that” east, west, north, and south, home is the best”.
In Igbo cultural world view, any person conferred with a significant honour by his community or one whose presence evokes a kind of volcanic eruption and joy among his people, is considered “a son of the soil”, meaning, an illustrious and worthy son. While fame could easily be acquired through any means by any desperate individual, love, honour and sincere respect from one’s own people, can only be earned and not bought like a goat off the market stall.
In all honesty, the story of the immediate past Deputy Speaker of Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, has persistently remained a reference point among leaders and leadership aspirants from his home state, Imo and indeed, the South East geo-political zone. This is because Ihedioha since his foray into politics, has exhibited exemplary selflessness in leadership, humility, honesty, panache and unwavering doggedness in the pursuit of populist agenda for the good of the common man in Imo State.
Ihedioha has demystified the belief that “a friend in power is a friend lost”. Rather, he has kept himself accessible to all manner of individuals, both the high and lower cadres. To him, all men are created equal before God and that it is only when one’s opportunity avails itself that it seems as if there is class stratification.
The presence of Ihedioha in a public forum always elicits passion and love from the enthusiastic crowd just as it was in the days of Julius Caesar in the ancient Rome as vividly captured by the immortal writer, William Shakespeare. Shouts of “Omenkeahurunya”, meaning, one who does things that are visible and the “Green Revolution”, referring to his splendid green cap, usually submerge any arena once Ihedioha steps foot into such a place.
This, no doubt , is very significant. It not only confirms acceptance of Ihedioha by the people but also indicates that he is trustworthy and sincere in his dealings with his own people. Nobody has ever accused Ihedioha of any act of corruption, be it embezzlement, misappropriation or diversion of funds meant for any institution or person, or any form of financial malfeasance.
Deductively, the acceptance of Ihedioha across the three geo-political zones in Imo State and the various political divides, bears testimony that he is the ideal man Imo needs to re-jig the state from 2019. This is the truth.
Of course, nobody is ever loved 100% by the people. There are bound to be a few, whose fastidious nature, will not even allow them to be at peace with themselves, talk more of another person.
The few who disagree with Ihedioha does so because of his devotion and insistence on honest dealings at any time. Ihedioha does not compromise the rules of engagement, rule of law or dexterity in the discharge of any given assignment. He is an unrepentant advocate of good conduct and decency in service and leadership and abhors greed or aggrandizement at the detriment of community service.
As Deputy Speaker, Ihedioha treated the three geo-political zones (Orlu, Owerri and Okigwe) as his constituency. The infrastructural projects he facilitated benefited the three zones. Ditto for his skills and empowerment programmes as well as educational scholarship to Imolites. He never discriminated against any Imolite on account of his political zone, though he represented Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency then in the National Assembly. He truly exhibited the idiosyncrasies of a statesman and broad-minded leader.
The name ‘Ihedioha’ means different things to different folks. According to Temple Okonji, a legal practitioner from Ohaji/Egbema L.G.A. in Orlu geo-political zone of Imo State, “Ihedioha is a model and leader to his generation and the generation next. His legacies and accomplishments earned him “Omenkeahuruanya”. It is a conferment and honour measurably earned by a boss to many and a principal to countless others”.
In corroboration, another business entrepreneur from Oru West LGA in the same Orlu geo-political zone, Chief Johnson Adimike averred that “I have taken time to study most of the people seeking to be Imo governor in 2019 and discovered that except Emeka Ihedioha, none of them has shown consistency and honesty in his deals with the people. They are seasonal politicians. We cannot afford to make mistakes again. Ihedioha remains our best option for now”. Adimike further explained that “I have not met Ihedioha on one-on-one, but I have carefully studied his actions and public statements even while he was in the National Assembly. The man is very simple and not corrupt and knows the terrain. He is neither hungry nor avaricious. He is the kind of governor Imo needs to fix the state back”.
More of this encouraging affirmations abound among several Imolites both at home and in the Diaspora. Imo people believe it is time to separate ‘Paul from Barnabas’. Christians who are atune with the Biblical scriptures would appreciate me here.
Do we need to bother re-emphasizing this vote of implicit confidence on Ihedioha by many others? Seventy percent of Imo populace already agree intoto with Adimike’s position. Imo people are wiser today.
Subsequent events after the 2015 governorship election in Imo State, have really opened the peoples eyes. They have now come to realize that “the sound of the bitter kola in the mouth is not how it actually tastes”. They have therefore, resolved to tag along with a man with proven track record of service, and who is tasted and trusted.
Ihedioha has today become the beautiful bride of Imo politics and is always the subject of discussion in virtually every political or quasi-political gatherings. Chinua Achebe did point out that “a man whose name is called again and again by those trying in vain to catch a bull, has something he alone can do to bulls.” Ihedioha is that man.
It is no fault of Ihedioha that he is loved by the Imo electorate despite pockets of campaign of calumny from the enemies of the people. The good news however, is that Imo people have vowed not to be hoodwinked again by any sweet coated mouth. They now know the harbingers of their socio-economic and political misfortunes which have given birth to gnashing of teeth, pains and had-I-known rhetorics.
A man who has consistently remained consistent in all his political life cannot be wished away by an infinitesimal group of sponsored blackmailers. Of course, such dirty gimmicks are to be expected considering the murky nature of Nigeria’s political waters. Their ludicrous tantrums notwithstanding, Imo people seemed resolved to effect a positive change in the leadership rung of the State in 2019 with Ihedioha, a quintessential, unassuming, erudite, focused and dogged defender of democracy and the common patrimony of Imo people; an icon and pride to Ndi Imo and his generation, at the driving seat.
In reciprocating this unbridled love by Imo people, Ihedioha have assured over 4.8 million Imolities thus: “I hold myself accountable to you. I have therefore, placed before you, my fellow citizens, our vision for Imo State, (our own home). I believe in elections and the power of the people not just to choose their leaders but to also define how they are governed. My word remains my bond”.
Without any scintilla of sceptism, this is a patriotic and statesmanly effusion of appreciation by a servant – leader, who is propelled by an inert humility and the desire to protect the interest of Imolites across board.
Already, reports indicate that the “Brutuses and Cascas”, deeply rattled by Imo people’s well thought out resolution and affection for Ihedioha, may have hurriedly ran back to their warehouse of infamy to search for a more potent missile to be hurled at Ihedioha ahead of 2019 governorship election. But they seem to forget that “One with God is with majority” and that “no matter how thousands of flies might hover over a mould of cassava, they cannot move it”.
The fact that artisans, bus/taxi cab drivers, traders, motor mechanics, the church and laity, the civil and public servants, the academia and business class and indeed, Imolites across all strata, have accepted and cued into Ihedioha’s vision for Imo’s revival, is an eloquent pointer that light has finally triumphed over darkness in the state. Imo people have resolved that Ihedioha is the man Imo needs at this critical time in her socio-economic and political life if the state is to be liberated from her near mendacious and hopeless situation; and so shall it be, because “the voice of the people is the voice of God”.