Owelle Philips Anyakudo, former Secretary, Orlu Constituent Assembly (ORSCA), the umbrella body of people from Orlu Senatorial District has said that though Orlu zone has not benefitted much from the almost 16 years that their two sons; namely Achike Udenwa and Owelle Rochas Okorocha have governed Imo State, equity and justice demand that governorship should rotate to Owerri zone.
In this interview he also said that the Atiku/Obi ticket is the surest way for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction to emerge ,adding that any Igbo man or woman that betrays Peter Obi must expect the same thing anytime he or she seeks Igbo support.
He spoke on other burning issues in Imo State and Nigeria. Excerpts:
As a prominent Orlu son ,what is your take on the March 2, Imo governorship election?
Well ,fortunately or unfortunately ,most of the key actors in the Imo governorship election, namely Emeka Ihedioha, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, Senator Hope Uzodinma and even the governor himself, Owelle Rochas Okorocha are my very close friends .We all are on first names .In fact, I was one of those who encouraged Owelle Okorocha to stop vying for the presidency and run for the office of the governor of Imo State. In 2011, we all came together as friends of Rochas to mobilize resources and other logistics for him and he won. You know those of us from Orlu have this mindset that no other zone in Imo State can compete with us because we have the highest number of local government areas in the state. Therefore ,we believe that we have both the knife and yam as far as Imo State governorship is concerned and that we would always do as we want.
But how has this translated to development in the last 16 years that Orlu sons have been in Douglas House?
This is a very good question .For me as an individual and any sincere Orlu son or daughter ,it is a disaster. Achike Udenwa cannot point to any legacy that he left in Orlu as a two term governor. His own case was charity begins at away .In one occasion at Concorde Hotel, Owerri where prominent Orlu sons were gathered, I told him to his face that his administration had failed Orlu people, that he had not done anything for Orlu people. I told him that Orlu had no roads ,no hospitals ,no good schools. In short that there was dearth of infrastructure in Orlu as a whole. After saying that his sychopants in the hall, including Eze Ilomuanya himself swooped on me. I had came into the hotel with a tape recorder. I read criminology in the United States so tape recorder is one of my working tools. But they said that I wanted to record the proceedings of the meeting and send it to the opposition. They seized the recorder. The case dragged from Owerri to Lagos and they almost ex-communicated me because then I was the secretary of Orlu Constituent Assembly, the apex body of Orlu people. Later, some of them realized that I was telling the truth and wrote letters of apology to me. On the part of Okorocha, when he became governor, he told me that in appreciation of my support that he would construct Orie mkpu Ekwe, Umudibi Ekwe, Uburu Ekwe to Amucha road and also build a bridge to link Uburu Ekwe,Okwuda to Amucha. I am a prince from the Ekwe kingdom so I was very happy for that. True to his words, he actually awarded the construction of the road to a very good friend of mine by name Chidi Iheanacho, but without giving the contractor mobilization fee. The contractor went to the bank and borrowed money to bring in earth-moving machines; bulldozers and caterpillars .He even went to the extent of demolishing people’s shops. But when he wanted to demolish residential houses, I told him to hold on till the governor show some commitment by way of funding the construction, if not he would have ended up bringing problem on himself if after doing all that and the road was not constructed. What I said happened because the governor did not bring a dime and one day I was going home and my vehicle got stucked in the mud on the road because the contractor had done some gradings. The members of the community almost lynched me because the governor and the contractor are my friends. They had told me since we knew that we were not going to construct the road, why didn’t we leave it as it was? So ,that was just an appetizer of the troubles that I went through because the governors are from my zone.
Why are you now calling on Orlu people to support Owerri candidate?
I believe in equity and justice. Though they said that morality has no place in politics, but we all are human beings with conscience. The good book says, do unto others as you would want others to do unto you. It is not right that Orlu which is one of the three zones in Imo State should govern for 16 years while Owerri, another zone has governed for only three months under Evans Enwerem. Both in the sight of God and man, this is not right, Again, we as Ndigbo have been crying that the Nigerian state has been marginalizing us. This means that marginalization is not right. If this is so, why should we be marginalizing ourselves in the state? Therefore, we should learn how to practice what we preach. Orlu people have ruled for 16 years, they should support Owerri that has not ruled. This is in the spirit of equity and justice the Igbo people are known for.
Owerri zone has more than seven governorship candidates, who in particular should they support?
Owerri has only one serious governorship candidate, that is Emeka Ihedoha. So, when I say that Orlu should support Owerri, I simply mean that Orlu should support Emeka Ihedioha`s candidacy. The other candidates just want to improve their profile. Ihedioha is the only Owerri candidate and I can vouch for him that if he is given the mandate, he would not disappoint the good people of Imo like my Orlu brothers, Achike Udenwa and Owelle Okorocha have done. You know there is always this thing that we say, Orlu for Orlu. This slogan has not helped us in the past and it will not help us now. We cannot continue to reinforce failure. Apart from Udenwa and Okorocha, we have had senators and other federal law makers who are from Orlu zone. What have been their achievements since 1999 till date, what have they been doing with the funds given to them for constituency projects. Go to all the nooks and crannies of Orlu, you would not see even sign-board of proposed site for a project attracted by an Orlu senator or federal law maker, let alone a construction site. So, what are they there for? He who is not faithful with small cannot be faithful with big.
What advice do you have for the people of Owerri in particular and Imo people in general?
The advice that I have for the people of Owerri is that they should try to unite. They should try to put their house in order because a people united cannot be defeated. The other governorship candidates from Owerri zone should shelve their ambitions and support Ihedioha because he has the brightest chance of clinching the coveted trophy. The other candidates must be made to understand that competing against Ihedioha is competing against their people. They are sabotaging the interest of their people. For the opinion leaders and masses of Imo State, I want them to know that 2019 is the turn of Owerri to produce the governor of Imo State and for sake of peace, equity and justice, they should be given the chance. Oweri has brought forward a credible, competent, experience and God fearing candidate in the person of Emeka Ihedioha and if given the chance, he would re-write the story of Imo for good.