As the power play and tussle for vacant Okigwe senatorial ticket hot up, the female aspirants are strategising on how to break the chains of ancient Igbo cultural ethos that gives men the upper hand in the affairs of state.
Since independence, male politicians from Okigwe zone have unscrupulously used this vicious unwritten law to cage Okigwe women to their injury. Apart from Hon Princess Onuoha, whose tenacity and goodwill to Okigwe indigenes recently earned her the Federal House of Representatives seat, the undue manipulation of this anachronistic law has empowered the men to unfairly shortchange, thwart and block the election of women from the zone to the state House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senate. Unfortunately, the scores of men who represented Okigwe in the past have performed abysmally, except for the late Benjamin Uwajumogu.
Their uninspiring era is incomparable to the democracy dividends, which their colleagues from other senatorial zones bequeathed to their constituents. When Mrs Comfort Ozicukwu Chukwu, the suave London-trained educationist and outstanding former Imo commissioner tried to break this unwritten law, Okigwe male political mafia contrived an unholy conspiracy that gave the ticket to Ambassador Nwagwu, whose outing in the Senate was very appalling and colourless.
These uncanny acts of male colonialism and lack of respect for the rights of their blood sisters and wives in Okigwe zone call for a timely change. The Okigwe new generation believes that the only panacea is a paradigm shift through able female representation, especially in the apex legislative house.
This makes Dr Chidimma Uwajumogu imperative. Her candidacy is paramount because Okigwe has remained like a stagnant pond under past male representation for almost 40 years until late Ben Uwajumogu came on the saddle. Moreover, Dr Chidimma has the wherewithal to fundamentally address the zone’s multifarious developmental challenges and other nagging issues.
As an outspoken and visionary politician, she stands a better chance to pragmatically confront the zone’s infrastructural underdevelopment; unemployment and equally restore restructure her decaying architecture and socio-political needs of the people.
Okigwe’s new generation is highly optimistic their noble agenda will attract more support from major interest groups within the zone. Their optimism is anchored on a recent public opinion poll (POP) by Movement for Okigwe Renaissance (MOFOR) which gave 80 per cent support for a female senator and mere 20 per cent for male representation. Most of those interviewed complained bitterly of the past underrepresentation and low performance by male senators. They denigrated the previous male orchestrated political dogfight and night of long knives that helped to reduce the zone as the most marginalised in Imo State.
According to a former state legislator (name withheld), Ndiokigwe are tired of the unpalatable mantra of some inordinately ambitious Okigwe leaders, who desire to be continually hero-worshipped, adored, feared and dreaded as undisputable godfathers and lords of the manor.
Must we continue to tolerate their egocentric whims and caprices of perpetuating and entrenching themselves as numero uno leaders without positive result for Okigwe renaissance? Since anyone who refuses to pander to their undemocratic Machiavellian orthodoxy becomes persona non grata, the time is ripe for Ndiokigwe to end their unrestrained power intoxication, intimidation, blackmail, antagonism and backbiting.
This was openly demonstrated during the 2015 governorship elections when petty jealousies and cutthroat politics with bitterness made Okigwe leaders dance naked in the market square. As this ugly scenario balkanized the votes of Okigwe people to enthrone Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the zone lost the chance of concluding her mandatory two terms of eight years. Today, where is the fate of Okigwe in the political equation of Imo State? Is Okigwe zone not one of the most underdeveloped senatorial zones in Nigeria? Your guess is as good as mine.
In view of the above political shenanigans, the noble agenda of Okigwe new generation to enthrone Dr. Chidimma Uwajumogu, as the Next Level Senator for Okigwe, should not be obstructed by the Mafioso politics of some Okigwe politicians who challenged Obasanjo’s third term as aberration only to scheme of doing a third and fifth term in the senate.
Beloved Okigwe kinsmen and women, we cannot continue to keep our hands akimbo. Our survival lies on a clarion call to our male aspirants to hang their political gloves and the politricks that produced only male distinguished senators like Agunnanne, Ifeanyi Ararume, Sylvester Anyanwu, Amb Nwagwu, Athan Achonu that kept our zone in limbo.
For Okigwe to escape from her backwater, these primordial traditional taboos and unwritten law that Okigwe women should not go to the senate should be discarded for posterity. What is good for the goose is equally good for the gander. Nwayi bu ihe Nwayi chitukwanu (Women are vital, let women also rule.) For sleeping dogs to finally lie, Okigwe male leaders must obliterate all past cultural inhibitions against women liberation and emulate civilized Owerri zone, which respected the rights of women and elected Senator Chris Anyanwu for two result-oriented terms.
His Excellency, Chief Hope Uzodimma, the able governor of the heartland state, has a fatherly role to play towards the transformation and empowerment of Imo women to the higher echelon of power. As an urbane, civilized and educated Washington University graduate of International Studies/ Diplomacy, Onwa-Netiri Oha of Umunwoke na Umunwayi is well abreast of the positive United Nations Charter on women liberation and empowerment. Thus, the ball lies in his court to apply the Change mantra of the of All Peoples Congress (APC) in Imo State, to resolve the Okigwe question from old male to new female political order.
This is in line with his maiden inaugural speech that: “Under my leadership as governor, our administration shall be purpose-driven and anchored on the following 3 Rs – Recovery, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation of (both men and women).
Records abound that the governor has been in the forefront of advancing the cause of women as a topflight businessman, philanthropist extraordinaire, pragmatic politician and peoples oriented senator. During these memorable years, millions of women benefitted immensely from Onwa Oyoko’s multifarious empowerments, magnanimity and humanitarianism. It was Chief Hope’s gender balance compliance that made Mrs Stella Obasanjo lead the crème of Nigerian women to grace the burial of his beloved mother, Ezinne Rose Uzodinma (née Nneoha) in Omuma.
Since he was sworn in as governor and leader of APC in the state, several women are still benefitting through appointments as commissioners, board members and juicy civil service posts. With the emergence of Hon Justice Ijeoma Agugua as the acting Chief Judge of Imo State, the sky will not be the limit but the starting point for women renaissance in the heartland state.
More grease to your elbows our pragmatic governor. It is our fervent prayer that this gesture will be extended to other strata of power like our plea to have Dr Chidimma as Okigwe’s first female senator.
Now we have Hope as Governor, Okigwe high hopes for a female senator can never be a hopeless cause. With Almighty God on our side, our hopeful hope, Governor Hope Uzodimma will not allow our high hope to be hopeless. We equally beckon on the first lady of Imo State Mrs Chioma Ikeaka Uzodimma not to abandon this hopeful wake up the cry from Ndiokigwe. The timely intervention of our gender-friendly Imo first family to enthrone Dr Chidimma as Okigwe’s senator will indeed endear the APC-led government to the hearts of millions of Imo women at home and Diaspora.
Odokara Nwosu is a Port Harcourt-based public affairs analyst and businessman