Undoubtedly, the echoes of the 2019 political drumbeat are getting increasingly louder as Nigerians begin to warm up for the next election cycle. Nowhere is the echo more strident than in Orlu Senatorial Zone because of the perceived lack of dividends of democracy in the zone.
Some groups in the area are consumed with angst concerning what they generally considered as a failure of the elected and appointed officials to carry out their responsibilities. As a result, the indigenes of Orlu are compelled to schedule the Pan Orlu Summit is scheduled on August 12, 2017 in Nkwerre to discuss some important topical issues of concern.
In any case, the onus is on the organizers of the high-level meeting to prune the political frills and focus on substantive issues considering that Orlu as a group may be lacking homogeneity due to high level of education and political savviness. Fortunately, the organizers of Pan Orlu Summit assured the public that it has no political undertone and it is primarily a leadership conclave with no partisan leanings. I may be pollyannaish about the conclave being devoid of political screed.
Before getting to the issues the organizers are planning to discuss, it is pertinent to underscore the sentiments of the people based on the chatters on their internet platform. They strongly believe that in the face of miasma of incompetence, corruption and nepotism, it is within the ambit of the political power of Orlu people or groups to design ways to hold accountable all elected and appointed officials of Orlu.
In addition, all appointed officials in both private and public sectors, as well as community/organization leaders, should be accountable to the people of Orlu. Nevertheless, the Orlu people have no grounds to blame the federal government for the ills in Orlu Senatorial Zone.
However, it is the prevalent opinion of the people that their elective and appointed leaders lack any air of gravitas that would have attracted gong and respect to them due to their antecedents and particularly dereliction of responsibility.
Lurking fittingly behind the foregoing, Engr. Emma Ihenachi opined, “We shall establish a ground panel and create a neutral environment to evaluate any political office-seeker willing to represent us in any level….we shall create and align with the media for such debate so the people get the awareness that we are indeed screening out lack of representation and under-development; we can’t allow each party to run their selection process on us anymore….where we only see the name of the aspirants after INEC publication…..any representative must align with Orlu ideologies.”
In the same vein, Nze Ebubeagu Ekenulo said, “I am waiting for such a time when we shall call upon or urge men and women with character and integrity laced with credible antecedents and competence to participate actively in politics to save our people from the shackles of bad governance powered by rogues!” “In Orlu zone, we are blessed with the finest brains, we are blessed with people with the basic education and decency to be good leaders, not just good leaders literally but deliver practically on good leadership, responsible and credible leadership that will set the tone for a new Orlu—the Orlu that our kids and children unborn can be proud of! It is time to stop the mockery,” he shared.
Yes, granted that the evidence of marginalization of the Igbo people in Nigeria abounds, exacerbated by the structural inequities in relation to the number of local governments and states, the states in southeast zone are led and being represented by Igbo sons and daughters. Additionally, many Igbo sons and daughters have been appointed in various positions at both federal and state levels without delivering any tangible dividends of democracy with the exception of a very few individuals. Therefore, the condition of things in the southeast states are entirely as a result of the leaders of the zone. Perhaps, the same thing could be said about Orlu Zone.
While the Orlu people are claiming marginalization in Imo State, the zone has the governorship. In light of the eventual end of Gov. Okorocha’s term, Orlu people are scrambling to have a unified position.
Thus, the convener of the Pan Orlu Summit, Nze Elvis Agukwe shared, “Ahead of 2019, stakeholders and political pressure groups from Orlu are coming together to discuss the future of the zone after Governor Okorocha.”
To bolster the importance of the conclave, Nze Elvis Agukwe asked, “Will Orlu surrender power to Owerri or Okigwe zone come 2019?” “As a people with strong literate population, do we set up a public debate committee for would-be representatives to the State House of Assembly, House of Reps and Senate so as to promote effective representation in our zone?” Agukwe further asked. He continued, “How do we ensure that those to represent us have the capacity to attract strong projects to our zone?” “If you watch closely, Orlu has no serious federal appointments or projects”. He continued, “Owerri and Okigwe have them in abundance and what do we do to remedy this bad situation?
Thus, Agukwe alarmed, “The urgent need to congregate as a people to discuss the political direction of our zone, resulted in the planned convocation of the summit.” According to Elvis, “The summit will bring together major stakeholders from a cross the zone under one roof, irrespective of partisan divide; brotherhood, love and unity of purpose will guide the summit.”
Nze Agukwe further stated, “All federal institutions and projects are located outside Orlu zone; most critical federal appointments are not existing in our zone.” “If we have been lucky in winning the governorship, how do we use it to attract real development to our zone?” he asked with disappointment.
Similarly, Okigwe and Owerri zones are jostling for political advantage come 2019. Based on my information, Okigwe zone is united in its quest to “complete its tenure,” but the zone appears very apprehensive about a possible internal implosion at the late hour.
Unfazed by the possible internal friction, Chibuzor Innocent Awurum from Okigwe zone narrates the sentiments and position of the zone this way: “From Okigwe point of view in general, they insist on completing their tenure in government for equity and fair sharing hence Owerri zone will enjoy their full support for eight years.”
He continued, “Internally, Okigwe needs to produce a candidate that will guarantee only four years governorship to reduce fear of tampering into the next four years meant for Owerri zone.” “If this could be achieved, majority of the elites and commons of Orlu zone will buy into the idea,” Awurum hopes.