By: Sam Onwuemeodo
In my open letter to Chief Emeka Ihedioha, dated May 27, 2019, two days to his inauguration as the Executive Governor of Imo State, I solemnly told him, not to be carried away or be intoxicated by the avalanche of accolades and beautifully worded Congratulatory Messages that had greeted his governorship. I reminded him that, there was no humiliation or criticism or attack or disappointment Rochas Okorocha experienced that he would not experience. Afterall, Okorocha had received accolades or Commendations and fantastic Congratulatory Messages, perhaps, more than those before him. I was very frank. I didn’t speak in tongues. I didn’t soliloquize. I was sincere. I had also told Governor Hope Uzodinma, a similar thing, in my open letter to him, on March 27, 2020.
Today, Ihedioha can tell better. In less than three months, after he was Sacked as governor, by the Supreme Court, he has become a toy in the hands of the same elements that had held him in a very esteem, when the tap was running. Some key officers of his party, the PDP in Imo, have resigned, both their Positions in the Party and their memberships, respectively, claiming to have done so because of him. And the governor, Senator Uzodinma, was reported to have received the defectors personally at the Government House, and by so doing, giving them the honour they never deserved. All things, being equal. Onwa Oyoko has also become the first Executive Governor of the State to receive defectors from a Political Party in the State, at the Sam Mbakwe, Exco Chambers.
What were the reasons for their defections? They said, they had left their Party because of Ihedioha’s high-handedness. They also claimed that, they were coming to add Value to APC. And Value that only existed in their imaginations, which they could not add to PDP. Just follow me closely. We are migrating.
In 2003, the Imo PDP and its members gave Ihedioha the ticket, for the Aboh Mbaise/Ngor-Okpala Federal Constituency Seat. He was successful in the main election. He went to the House of Representatives. In 2007, the same Party gave him ticket for the same Position. He went back to the Green Chambers of the National Assembly. In 2011, the Party equally gave him ticket. He was in the same House for another four years. Add the tenures, you have twelve years he had spent in the House of Representatives, sponsored by the same Party. The Party, made him Chief Whip and Deputy-Speaker respectively, at different times.
In 2015, the Party in Imo gave him the governorship ticket. He Contested against Rochas Okorocha and came Second, in the election. In 2019, the Party again gave him the governorship ticket. And, either by Omission or by Commission, INEC declared him winner. He held sway as governor till January 2020, when the Supreme Court sacked him. From 2003 to 2020, a simple arithmetic would give Seventeen years. For the Seventeen years, these PDP defectors didn’t see Ihedioha’s high-handedness. They only needed the Green Cap man to lose the governorship, to see his high-handedness. I do not believe them. They can tell their disjointed stories to the marines. None of them resigned, either as an official of the Party or its member. They stayed put until the man left as governor.
And Babatunde Charles Ezekwem in Particular, did not resign as the Chairman of the Party even when the man he had supported in the PDP Primary lost out. I am talking about Senator Samdaddy Anyanwu. He didn’t resign at any Stage. Ihedioha gave him the Chairmanship of Heartland, Football Club. He Collected. Or, took it. He didn’t see the man’s high-handedness. Ihedioha Created Imo Sports Commission, with one Fan Ndubuoke who is his kinsman, as Chairman, to Checkmate Ezekwem, he never resigned even out of frustration. He held on until Ihedioha was sent Packing as governor. Then his resignation. I do not know how we reconcile some of these pranks. The same story with Hon. Ahanonu Chibueze Williams, who was the Party’s Youth leader. Again, Damian Opara and Barr. Jerry Egemba, who were the Publicity Secretary and Legal Adviser of the Party respectively. And of course, Chief Ekwegh Chijioke, who was the South-East Publicity Secretary of the Party. They are all fickle minded fellows. Elements like them, can’t build a nation. They can’t be models in an ideal democratic setting or environment. Even in an age-grade scenario. The governor should have asked his Special Assistant on Protocol, to take them to a fun centre like IBARI OGWA or UWAMGBEDE bar, at World Bank Road, to go and drink to Stupor, in lieu of taking them to the Sam Mbakwe Exco Chambers. I feel for them.
Barr. Ezekwem is from Okigwe Local Government in Okigwe Zone. Barr. Jerry Egemba, another major defector, is from Ehime Mbano, LGA, also in Okigwe Zone and Chief Ekweghe who also answers “Pope” is from Isiala Mbano, LGA, equally in Okigwe Zone. Hon. Ahanonu is from Nkwerre while Hon. Opara is from Ohaji/Egbema LGA. They had also claimed that they joined Imo APC to add Value to it. Which Value? If they could not add Value to PDP where they had stayed for years, what is the guarantee that they would add any to APC? In the 2019 governorship election, Action Alliance (AA) won in Okigwe LGA with 8,469 votes. APGA came Second with 8,365. Then PDP, Ezekwem’s Party came third. And in election, third position is vague. Why didn’t he deliver the LGA to PDP? In Ehime Mbano, where Barr. Egemba comes from, APGA won with 12,410 votes, followed by AA, with 5,444. PDP also came third. In Isiala Mbano, where Chief Ekwegh comes from, APGA dwarfed other Parties with Senator Ifeanyi Araraume in-charge. In Nkwerre where Hon. Ahanonu comes from, PDP lost in all the elections. Also lost in Ohaji/Egbema where Hon. Opara hails from. So, where are they going to get the Value to add to APC? If Ihedioha had remained as governor, would any of them had imagined to leave the Party? Your answer is as good as mine.
In other words, they had neither believed in their Party, the PDP nor in Ihedioha. They were just there waiting for, food is ready announcement. This is feeding bottle Politicians. Their defections and their receptions are all rehearsals for Governor Uzodinma. If these PDP elements could desert Ihedioha they had carried on their shoulders for Seventeen years and nominated him for the governorship of the State for two times, and followed him till January 2020 when he lost the governorship at the Supreme Court, before leaving, then, they would also abandon Uzodinma who they have just come to meet in APC, three months after his Victory.
What is happening at the Panels set up by Ihedioha to probe Okorocha should also be another rehearsal for governor Uzodinma. Almost all those who had appeared before the Panels, both the Contractors and then government functionaries, big and small, have all denied doing the jobs and receiving payments, for which the Panels asked them to come. To them, they have finished with Okorocha. They have no more inheritance in him. It has become a matter of, to your tents, Oh! Israel. They want to run down Okorocha to gain acceptance from the new landlord at the Douglas House, Governor Uzodinma. One of them admitted that the bank account, money was passed into, is his own. But claimed that he didn’t know that such money was paid into the account. On cross-examination, he admitted that he got the credit alerts. These are the kinds of stories they tell to their audience. They are the bad losers and not Okorocha.
These defectors have not left PDP because of their love for APC or for Uzodinma, or because of their hatred for Ihedioha or PDP. The implication is that, if by tomorrow, Senator Uzodinma loses to APGA or UPP (that’s not my prayer), they will also move, giving reasons. They are always Confronted or threatened by the uncertainties of their personal Political gains. Which is one of the ugly indices of our kind of Politics. But that of Imo, is becoming disturbing. If you ask me, the manner with which they have defected, remains a mockery of our democracy and would remain largely, Counter-Productive. They never supported Muhammadu Buhari or APC. They never supported Uzodinma or any APC Candidate in their domains. Overnight, they developed Charity for the Party and all those Concerned. I have my doubts.
I tell you a related story. Rt. Hon. Acho Ihim was the deputy-governorship Candidate to Ugwumba Uche Nwosu on the ticket of AA. He saw nothing wrong in the whole setting or arrangement. He was there, until the election came and gone. He waited until the tribunal Confirmed Ihedioha’s election. Then he left as Nwosu’s deputy in the election and celebrated his exit. And also began to give reasons, he took such action. And nobody could ask him; would you have left, if Nwosu had won the election or won at the tribunal? My worry is that, they tell these sordid stories believing that we would believe them.
Let me further strengthen the debate, using some elders in the State, to make my point. There has never been any government or governor in the State that these particular Imo elders never praised from one radio Station to another. And from one newspaper House to another. Right from the time of Tanko Zubariru as the Military Administrator, to the time of Ihedioha. There is no positive or sweet thing they have said or would say about Uzodinma today, they never said about Achike Udenwa or Ikedi Ohakim or Rochas Okorocha or Emeka Ihedioha. Let me be Contradicted. At least, I have a functional library to lay hand on any past material I need. These elders in question are magicians. They know when to join a particular government and when to quit. Like I said, they are magicians or fortune-tellers. We are not and do not wish to be like them. Do you know or do you not know that, once a Chief, always a Chief. That is to say, I remain the Okangaoziri 1 of Mbutu Nwenkwo Autonomous Community, in Aboh Mbaise LGA, even when my traditional ruler, had wasted his time, when he wrote to say that, he had taken back the title he willingly gave to me, also because of this same Ihedioha. My traditional ruler was apolitical. A very nice man. He didn’t want to be left out in the scheme of things. And had wanted to use me to enroll. Echewodu, is an Igbo name. For me, We shall Continue to Clap for Jesus.
Sam Onwuemeodu is the former chief press secretary of Imo state Nigeria.