‘The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born, that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” –Warren Bennis
The Supreme Court judgment that swept away Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as the governor of Imo State on Monday, January 13, came as a bombshell that may perhaps still leave him confused, if not devastated for a long time.
It was a judgment that left some of his colleagues who were yet to receive their own verdicts at the time in great panic and sleepless nights. There were reports that one of his governor colleagues, who was unable to bear his panic attack, was flown and revived in London before he could return to receive his verdict, which turned out to be favourable to him.
As Ihedioha admitted during the visit of the national executives of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by its National Chairman, Uche Secondus in his Abuja residence, he said:” I am calm out of shock”.
In the unanimous judgment of the seven-member panel, that turned the table against Ihedioha, read by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the apex court had agreed that results in 388 polling units were unlawfully excluded during the collation of the final governorship election result in Imo State. Justice Kekere-Ekun said that with the results from the 388 polling units added, Senator Hope Uzodinma, of the All Progressives Party (APC), polled the majority of the lawful votes and ought to have been declared the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Consequently, she voided and set aside the declaration of Ihedioha as the winner of the 2019 governorship election in Imo State.
The court ordered that the Certificate of Return wrongly or unlawfully issued to Ihedioha be immediately withdrawn by the INEC and a fresh one issued to Uzodinma as the elected governor of the state.
Ahead of the judgment, controversial Catholic priest, Fr. Ejike Mbaka, had prophesied that the Supreme Court verdict would see Ihedioha losing his position and Uzodinma replacing him.
Even Ihedioha and his supporters simply flayed Mbaka unknown that the doomsday prediction will come to pass. The judgment has left Ihedioha as the first of the governors elected during the March 9, 2019 governorship elections to be so removed.
It was a judgment that rattled not only the people of Imo State, but the entire Southeast, especially members of the PDP, and many others who have rejected the judgment, demanding its reversal.
PDP national leadership said that the judgment was a judicial coup, a ploy used by the ruling party, APC, to reduce the number of states their party is controlling.
Expressing their dissatisfaction that the judgment was a great injustice done to the people of Imo State and a slap on democracy, thousands of pro-Ihedioha protesters, most of them clad in black attire, ignored the olive branch extended by Governor Uzodinma and took to the streets of the state capital, Owerri, last Sunday in protest.
Pockets of the same protests have also taken place in Abuja, Aba and Ikot-Ekpene, all agreeing that the damning verdict remains a mindless assault on democracy and rule of law.
An Igbo group, Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, said in a statement that what the “Justice Tanko-led Supreme Court judges did on their on-the-spot conclusion is so bizarre that one wonders whether this is happening in normal human society or Alice’s Wonderland”.
While some lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to reverse itself, many others who spoke with Sunday Sun blamed the legal team of Ihedioha for a tactical error committed during their legal battle.
“The law deals with evidence before it, the legal team of Emeka Ihedioha should know this, so why did they ignore a critical part of the evidence, knowing that a technical error committed can be costly in law because your opponent will exploit it.
“The five-member Court of Appeal panel led by Oyebisi Omoleye that affirmed the victory of Ihedioha as the governor of Imo State on November 19 had a member that disagreed with the judgment report, why did the legal team of Ihedioha ignore the issues raised and tidy those areas?” one of legal minds who preferred anonymity told Sunday Sun.
Expectedly, Uzodinma has called for a truce, urging his opponents to join hands with him to move the state forward.
In his speech shortly after his inauguration in penultimate Wednesday, he has promised to run a government where every citizen of the state would have a say and be recognised.
Uzodinma had on Thursday attended his first National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, the first NEC for the year at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo presiding.
Some political analysts say there is no need crying over spilled milk, therefore Ihedioha and the Imo people should accept what has happened with a spirit of equanimity, as well as resolve not to destroy their state but to build it, ensuring that Uzodinma sustains and even raises the bar of the good works started by Ihedioha as he promised.
They insisted that destiny is supreme and that there is no armour against fate, just as they maintained that “there is nothing showing that Uzodinma as a governor may not perform, if not better than Ihedioha”.
With the exit of Ihedioha through the Supreme Court order, he has joined the league of governors who similar fate had befallen in the past such as: Celestain Omehia (Rivers State), Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun State), Olusegun Agagu (Ondo State), Prof Oserheimen Osunbor (Edo State), Chris Ngige (Anambra State. But for Ihedioha his legacy of turning Imo State into a huge working site will remain evergreen.
Emeka Ihedioha was born on March 24, 1965 at Mbutu, Aboh Mbaise local government area in Imo State. He had his secondary education at St. Ephraim’s secondary school, Owerrinta and his tertiary education at the University of Lagos, Akoka, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in 1988.
He undertook some professional courses from Stanford University, as well as Havard Kennedy School of Government, Havard University, both in the United States of America. In 1992, he was appointed press officer to then Senate President, Iyorchia Ayu.
On June 6, 2011, he was elected by his colleagues unopposed to the position of Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives.