On the 9 of June 1991, at the Iwuanyanwu Glass House, Ugwuorji, Owerri, elders of the State of the time with honour and integrity recommended that for equity, fairness and justice, democratic processes regarding to the office of the Executive Governor of Imo State shall be by rotation.
Some notable elders from Owerri zone who appended their signatures to the agreement included Chief Engr. E.C. Iwuanyanwu, Chief Evan Enwerem, J.C. Odunna, Barr. B.S.C Nzenwa, Chief Onyenso Nwachukwu, Chief R.O. Onyenobi, Chief B.A Nwanne, Prof. Roland Anyanwu, Dr. F.U Ukoha, Barr. R.C Azuatalam, Chief Engr. R.O Ugorji. Dr. A.C Ohashiegbula and Chief Mrs. Maria Eke.
Okigwe zone had Chief Sen. Emeka Echeruo, Chief Sir T.I Ozoemena, Dr. E.J.K Onyebuchi, Chief Tony C. Emeruom, Sen. B.C Agunanne, Chief Zeph Philips Nwosu, Chief Frances Anamekwe, Hon. Amaefula Ikoro, Mrs. Pat Ogueri, Prince C. Orike, Chief C.C Iwuala and Sir. O.U Ugochukwu.
Those from Orlu zone at that extra-ordinary convention were Chief Dr. B.U Nzeribe, Sen. N. Maduagwu, Chief Walter Ofonagoro, Chief Anyaim Acholonu, Chief Greg Mbadiwe, Chief Peter Mgbenewelu, Prince S.O Ukadike, Chief S.B.N Emejuru, Sir Obed Umelo, Chief R.O Ofoma, Nze Laz Ohakwe, Dr. Otuokere Njaka and Chief R.O Okoro.
The Charter of Equity as agreed resolved that power and ascendancy to the position of Imo governor be rotated among the three zones of the new Imo (Abia State was just carved out then), beginning from Owerri zone by “merit”. “Merit” as quoted in the understanding implied that every zone be allowed to serve out its tenure and allow the next to start on “merit” without aspirants or contenders from other zones.
This was the understanding and premise on which the new Imo was built, with the sole aim of reducing heat, pressure and unnecessary crises as are currently the case in Imo during guber elections. The agreement resolved that Owerri be allowed to start while Orlu and Okigwe followed, respectively. Owerri actually took its turn till the end of that political era through Chief Evan Enwerem albeit for 22 months until military rascality cut its tenure short.
Since then, how come owerri zone has only mounted the saddle twice 22 +7 months while Orlu zone has recorded almost 20 years and sworn in 5 times 4 years x 5 and okigwe zone thrice 4 years x 2 + 8 months?
Would it be fair, just and equitable to allow Orlu zone to take another term albeit that our current governor is constitutionaly empowered to do so? Where is the equity fairness and justice?
Notwithstanding the commendable achievements of the current Orlu zone governor, would it be fair for Orlu zone to be allowed to extend its stint in power to 24 years? Where are the people of Owerri and okigwe zones? Are they asleep?
Other States in the South-East have to the best of their abilities addressed the issue of equity and social justice in the governance of their states. It is noteworthy to acknowledge that Enugu State has a gentlemanly standing zoning arrangement for the office of the governor. Yes, the three governors that have presided over Enugu State so far hail from three different zones. While Chimaroke Nnamani is from Enugu East, Sullivan Chime and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi are from Enugu Central and Enugu North zones respectively.
Anambra State also applied the same equity principle in her guber decisions and elections. Former governors Chinwoke Mbadinuju and Virginia Etiaba hail from Anambra South, Peter Obi and Chris Ngige are from Anambra Central and Willie Obiano is from Anambra North. Just recently, owing to the fact that Anambra South through Mbadinuju was not able to complete its constitutionally allowed eight-years of two tenures, all major parties in the last elections mostly gave their tickets to candidates from Anambra South in an election which has now produced former CBN governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo as Governor.
Similarly, Ebonyi State as we all know has a long standing zoning arrangement for the governorship position. Governor Sam Egwu from Ebonyi North zone governed the state from 1999 to 2007. He was succeeded by Martin Elechi from Ebonyi Central who presided over the State from 2007 to 2015. The incumbent Governor, Dave Umahi, who took office in 2015, hails from Ebonyi South. Already, most of those eyeing the 2023 elections all point to the inevitable reality that the office of the Governor will return to Ebonyi North in 2023.
Finally, not even Abia State is left out in the zonal/equity arrangement for the office of the Governor. Between 1999 and 2007, former governor Orji Uzor Kalu, from Abia North governed the State. He was succeeded by Theodore Orji from Abia Central from 2007 to 2015 to accomplish the 8 years for his zone. The incumbent Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, who hails from Abia South has been on the seat since 2015. As it stands, all political pointers agree with the fact that in 2023, despite attempts by desperate politicians to be unfair, zoning would be respected eventually.
It is pertinent to understand how equity, justice and fairness has maturely and democratically taken root in all the States of the South-East except in Imo state, where despite the shameful long standing wide gap of unjust, unfair and inequitable imbalance, unsanctioned sycophant politicians are at it again, decietfully and self servingly distracting our current governor Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma and urging him to further marginalise and dominate other zones, by running for a second tenure, thereby extending the Orlu zone tenure on the saddle so far to 24 years whereas Owerri senatorial zone has only governed for 7 months since the advent of the 4th republic in 1999. Not even one full term of 4 years like Okigwe zone. It is an unfortunate and shameful testament to the destructive activities of an ungentlemanly clique of selfish, greedy and self serving politicians, devoid of any integrity or honour and who do not have the interest of our state and its Image and perception at heart.
In Imo state, it is noteworthy to point out that the Owerri senatorial zone (Imo East) is the only senatorial zone in the entire southern Nigeria that has not participated in the governorship of its state for up to one full term since the advent of the 4th republic in 1999. This is a state of affairs that should not only be discouraged but also condemned and stoutly resisted by the other marginalised zones if we are to continue to co-populate peacefully as a state.
The balance of equity, although not easy, cannot be wished away.
Given the delicate nature of our democratic realities and a subtle winner takes it all mindset, any State that relegates zoning principles, does so at her own peril.
The only thing that can sustain the unity of Imo State as it stands, is when people of honour, integrity and conscience across the three zones of the state and the multi partisan political populace just like in 1991, come together to agree to re-entrench a zoning formula by supporting either Owerri zone (Imo East) most preferably or Okigwe zone (Imo north) to govern the State from 2024, a move that will correct the political imbalance and uphold the greedily and self servingly discarded doctrine of equity in the State.
Duruebube Uzii na Abosi