Imo 2019: N-PDP and Owerri Zone Governorship. By Henry Ekpe.

On Monday, November 26, 2018, some members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Imo State chapter, met in a Hotel in Owerri, where they formed a pressure Group called New Peoples Democratic Party N-PDP and issued a mandatory two-days ultimatum to the State Executive Council of PDP led by Chief Charles Ezekwem to meet their demands or else they pull-out of the party.

Unfortunately, the men behind the N-PDP in Imo State are mainly the campaign team members of Senator Samuel Nnaemeka Anyanwu representing Owerri zone in the Senate.

Senator Anyanwu (Samdaddy) is a distinguished son of Owerri zone, who contested the PDP Governorship primaries, but lost to Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, a former Speaker of House of Representatives, who was declared winner of the exercise which took place on October 1, 2018 at Kanu Nwankwo Sports Stadium, Owerri, Imo State.

Senator Anyanwu at the venue shook hands with Ihedioha and embraced him as the winner. Other Governorship Aspirants present at the venue also accepted defeat and issued press releases congratulating the winner. Senator Athan Achonu and Prof Jude Njoku who participated in the primary today are Chairman and Co-Chairman respectively of Imo PDP Reconciliation Committee.

But days later, Senator Anyanwu declared the Imo PDP Governorship primaries as being dominated with irregularities and went to Court to seek for justice. And since then, the matter has been going on at the Federal High Court, Owerri.

However, many who believe in peace and progress for Owerri zone to produce the next Governor of Imo State have been expressing their sincere views regarding the PDP Governorship struggle between Anyanwu and Ihedioha.

The reason for this is that if Owerri zone is serious to produce the next Governor of Imo State, it must put its house in order, which includes making sacrifices, because not all Owerri sons and daughters would be made Governor in the midst of plethora of qualified personalities from Owerri who are good to lead Imo State at any given time.

Having said that, it behoves that every Owerri man or woman must be ready to show patriotism and togetherness for them to realize the long and elusive dream of producing a Governor of Owerri extraction in this dispensation.

And from all indications, there is no other better time for Owerri zone than now.

The reasons are in the public domain, as wherever you go, sincere and peace-loving Imolites preach equity and justice for Imo State to live in peace and development.

It is on record that as Governor Rochas Okorocha leaves office next May 29, 2019, Orlu zone where he comes from would have ruled Imo State since 1999 the new civilian administration arrived, for sixteen years.The eight years of Chief Achike Udenwa and the eight years of Chief Rochas Okorocha.

Already, Okigwe zone had done Eight years between Chief Sam Mbakwe and Chief Ikedi Ohakim. It therefore leaves only Owerri zone that has lagged behind in the Leadership calendar of Imo State, with just Eighteen months of Senator Evan Enwerem under a diarchy.

But despite this glaring truth but short of equity and justice, Owerri should not feel that power would be thrusted to her on a platter of Gold, since power is taken but not given.

However, in an organized arrangement as today found in other States like Enugu, Anamabra, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Lagos State etc, each ethnic or political zone is given the chance to run the States after each zone has gone.

Unfortunately in Imo State, such an arrangement was on even though in principle, in the PDP, but it was truncated with APGA gaining power in the State through Owelle Rochas Okorocha in 2011.

Before then, Udenwa had governed Imo State for eight years, after an Owerri man, Humphrey Anumudu was asked to bury his ambition during the 1999 PDP Governorship primary to allow Orlu zone a sense of belonging since Enwerem from Owerri zone had ruled the State before, and Mbakwe from Okigwe zone had too.

Therefore, as Udenwa was leaving office in 2007, it was primed for Okigwe to take over, after which Owerri would commence another round.

But because the powers that be then were not comfortable with Senator Ifeanyi Araraume to succeed Udenwa, the lot fell on Chief Ikedi Ohakim also from Okigwe zone. And for Okigwe zone to complete a second term PDP did not conduct Governorship primaries in 2011 but asked Ohakim to continue, but he lost in the main election.

It must also be recalled that Chief Martin Agbaso in 2007 was already coasting home to victory, before the result was stopped, for Chief Ohakim from Okigwe to be drafted in, while Agbaso from Owerri lost out.

Therefore, whether anybody agrees or not, Imo PDP believes in zoning and has gained dearly for sticking to that choice in Imo State.

In 2015, Okigwe zone filed Aspirants but they lost out to Owerri, who in principle were seen as those favoured to have the chance to file a candidate.

Yet again in 2018, Okigwe and Orlu zones did not show serious interest in the slot, may be to allow their Owerri brothers a chance to produce the next governor.

This was the reason Senator Sam Daddy Anyanwu and Hon Emeka Ihedioha were the major contenders in the last Governorship primaries. I am sure that if Orlu and Okigwe zones had thrown their weights into the exercise they would have provided stiffer opposition to Owerri zone by filling Aspirants that would have given Owerri Aspirants a run for their monies.

But to the shock and anger of most Owerri sons and daughters, an exercise which many lauded for its peaceful result has since turned out to be an ugly scenario due to the fight coming out from the Sam Daddy camp.

Unfortunately, if Owerri bungles this glaring opportunity to produce the next Governor of Imo State, it will take decades for the zone to near this chance again.

If Owerri zone loses 2019 Governorship, it should blame nobody but itself.

However, I see the berthing of N-PDP as a big plan and plot to stop Owerri zone from producing a Governor for Imo State come 2019. And the entire scheme is as a result of political selfishness on the side of our leaders.

Unfortunately, history will record it that it was on the wings of Senator Samuel Anyanwu that infiltrators invaded Owerri zone to deny them what rightfully is it’s their own, for he who goes for equity must have clean hands. And when history is recorded, it will even forget what may have been Senator Anyanwu’s grouse in the fight.

The general notion now is that some disgruntled politicians who want to settle personal scores with Ihedioha are riding on the back of Senator Anyanwu, a respected son of Owerri zone, to deny Owerri zone 2019 Governorship. I had early written a piece where I appealed to my brother Senator Anyanwu to sheath his sword and see Owerri zone as a factor in the entire scenario, as the issue now is beyond Emeka Ihedioha as a person, but Owerri as a people.

All the major political parties in Imo have decided on which zone to tilt Imo Governorship in 2019. APC is Orlu, APGA is Okigwe, and PDP is Owerri. Naturally, APGA, APC, DPP, ACCORD etc must have governorship candidates, but it is now left for Imo people to make a choice not only based on competence, but most especially on Equity and justice due to what has been obtainable in Imo politics since 1999.

The Leader of N-PDP is Dr Fabian Ihekweme a good friend of mine. He was the Governorship candidate of Democratic Peoples Party, DPP in Imo State in 2007. He hails from (Obowo) in Okigwe zone.

In the 2007 Governorship election in Imo, the logo of DPP was missing during the election which as a serious legal offence MUST have led to the total cancellation of the entire exercise. But Ihekweme, from Okigwe zone made peace with his brother, the Governor, His Excellency, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, and the matter was buried, and Ohakim became Governor from Okigwe zone.

But now in 2018, an Owerri Son, Senator Anyanwu lost a primary election, not main election, to his fellow brother, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, and Ihekweme, who was a Dove of peace in 2007, is now a warrior in 2018 egging Anyanwu on to destroy Owerri zone chances in 2019 Governorship.

Whatever be the issue, I advise my good friend Senator Anyanwu to please see beyond today as history beckons. He may have genuine reasons for his agitation, just as Ihekweme had against Ohakim in 2007, but yet made peace for posterity sake and Okigwe zone.

The 2019 Imo Governorship is beyond Emeka Ihedioha. He is not a saint, but under the present circumstance, Imo people see PDP as the authentic opportunity to redress the burning issue of marginalization among the three political zones of Imo State; Orlu, Okigwe and Owerri.

We may not know it now, but if the issue of zoning Imo Governorship is not resolved in our time, our children will face the truth that cannot be swept away under the carpet.

We all are aware of what is happening in Nigeria, where the Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, etc are talking about equity, Federal Character and Resource Control. It cannot be different in Imo State.

Let Senator Anyanwu be that agent of peace in Owerri zone. Owerri zone has done a lot for him, and this is the time to make that big sacrifice for his people. He was a Council chairman. He was in the House of Assembly for two terms before heading to the Senate.

One is not saying he has no right to agitate for whatever is his right. But I believe that in the process of getting at Emeka Ihedioha, Anyanwu may throw away the baby with the bath water which will spell doom for Owerri zone, and Anyanwu’s name will linger as the man who wished his own people Evil after using them to rise to his own political pinnacle. Do the needful and history will not forget you. That is what I think.

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