By Brown Chimezie
Independence Ogunewe was a two-term member of the House of Representatives. The former lawmaker, who represented Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Federal Constituency of Imo State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has described the agitation for the implementation of the so-called Imo Charter for the 2019 governorship election as defeatist.
The former Director-General of the Senator Ifeanyi Ararume Campaign Organisation in the 2015 election and a stalwart of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said he has never supported zoning because it was a recipe for mediocrity, adding that Ararume’s membership of APC has boosted the fortunes of the ruling party in the South-East zone. He spoke on this and other issues of national interest.
The clamour for zoning has been re-echoed in Imo State, especially by some politicians from Owerri and Okigwe zone, as 2019 guber election approaches, what is your position on zoning?
I want to state that I have never supported zoning because, if you look at what zoning has thrown up quickly, you will conclude that zoning is a recipe for mediocrity. You have mediocres riding into power through the whims and caprices of zoning but with nothing to offer when they get into power. At the end of the day, everybody gets worse for it. So, I don’t support zoning.
Orlu zone has been accused of benefiting politically more than other zones through its population, having produced the governor twice since 1999; what is your take?
The word ‘benefited’ is what I don’t know where to place, rather, if you ask me about my description of it, I would say Imo has had the privilege of being governed by Imo citizens from Orlu extraction. So I wouldn’t know how that would transform into saying Orlu has benefited more than Owerri and Okigwe. It could have been any other people. Of course, those who served as governor did not serve only the people of Orlu but the entire state.
Since Orlu zone has governed the state more than Owerri and Okigwe zones since the inception of the present political dispensation, why are you against zoning?
The truth of the matter is that power is not given. Power doesn’t come on the platter of agitation, power is something you decide you want and you gird your loins, go out there and fight to get it, if you can. Even the Bible supports that when it said, since the time of John the Baptist the kingdom of God suffereth violence and the violent takes it by force. It is not something you seat down and say ‘this is our turn allow us,’ it doesn’t work that way.
In your opinion, what stops Owerri and Okigwe zones from coming together to take power from Orlu?
Governor Rochas Okorocha did not come to power on the whims and caprices of zoning; he emerged on the wings of circumstances. When former Governor Achike Udenwa ran for the governorship of the state, he was not the only person who ran. People from the three zones contested and, eventually, Udenwa emerged winner. The intrigues that threw him up, to me, were immaterial; all I know is that Udenwa emerged as governor of Imo State by popular vote.
What it means is that he was able to walk the rope and found his way and emerged governor. So, if zoning was anything to go by, the person who occupied the seat of governor won’t have become governor. There are issues that are not being addressed, this zoning they are talking about, on which platform? Is it on the platform of the PDP, APC or APGA? They should define it properly so that people understand what they are talking about.
The body language of the two major political gladiators in Okigwe, Ararume and the former Governor Ikedi Ohakim, shows they may be heading for another governorship contest in 2019, is that correct?
I can comfortably talk about Sen. Ararume, who is my principal, and with good sense of judgment, it is obvious that Ararume has left nobody in doubt that he is going to run for the governorship in 2019. I don’t know where you picked the word “may” from, because he has not left anybody in doubt. He has been open about it and has continued with his consultations. So, it is open knowledge that the next governor of Imo State is Sen. Ararume, unless you are factoring in divinity to say, ‘please God allow Ararume to contest.’ Then I will accept the word may. But concerning Ohakim, if he deems it fit to run, he can, because it is his constitutional right.
What if, perchance, Okorocha may not want Ararume to succeed him?
Like I said earlier, I don’t want to go into the issue of discussing Okorocha or any other person, whether he wants Ararume to succeed him or not, all I want to say is that God will decide who succeeds Okorocha.
As one from Owerri zone, what is the collective decision of Owerri, concerning the next governorship election?
I’m not foreclosing the possibility of an Owerri man emerging as governor, but what I’m saying is that the zone should not approach the issue of wanting to produce a governor from the point of zoning, that is a defeatist’s expression. Any man in Owerri zone who believes he has what it takes to be governor, who believes he has something to offer, should seat down and count the cost and, if he is convinced, he should come forward and let us know.
The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Is there any man who wants to build a house without counting the cost?” Therefore, the person must count the cost in terms of courage, vision, finances and popularity and fight for it. If people see him as somebody who can articulate their common expectations, they will choose him. But for you to seat back and say “there is Imo Equity or Charter that says it is Owerri’s turn,” it wouldn’t make sense because, since 1999, there has never been a time people from the other zones did not contest. Even at the level of political parties, the zoning thing has never worked.
So, if there is an Owerri person that has the capacity, let him come out and the people will support him. But mounting billboards all over the place, shouting zoning, sounds childish and won’t work. Yes, I’m from Owerri zone and anybody from the zone who wants to contest for the position should come forward and the people will follow him. Is there anyone you know that has shown interest to run for governorship? Let him or her come out. That is my take on this matter.