Imo North Senatorial District, otherwise known as Okigwe Zone, is one of the three senatorial districts that make up Imo State. The other two are Imo West (Orlu) and Imo East (Owerri). From all indications, Imo North is the least developed of the trio.
It is noteworthy that the two others are not more developed because they have more men of means or intellect. Rather, Imo North has always failed to marry its blessings and turn them to gold. Although it is the smallest, with only six local governments, as opposed to 12 and nine local governments for Orlu and Owerri zones, respectively, there has always been a tendency for political infighting and mistrust, resulting in infrastructural Hara-kiri.
This brief piece, however, is not about the undue sharing of the state to the disadvantage of the zone but, rather, about why and how its proclivity to disparateness has more often than not set the people and area backward, while others move on.
Fortunately, with the emergence of Sir Frank Ibezim as the Distinguished Senator, representing the zone after the usual bitter contest, hope has appeared on the horizon. Truly, Imo North is looking beyond the valley of deliration into which it contributed in plunging itself because Ibezim is quality personified and comes fully wired for the role.
The question that should be on the concern of every patriotic son and daughter of Okigwe Zone right now is the way forward for the zone. The acrimony that characterised the last elections should be over by now, just as the election itself, and a substantive senator declared.
The zone requires building a bond between its three foremost politicians as at today in the persons of Distinguished Senator Frank Ibezim, the sagacious Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, HCN, and Senator Ifeanyi Araraume. My take is that these three gentlemen should cohere and make our zone proud.
Yours truly supported Ibezim and still do till tomorrow. My reason was obvious and still tenable. He was just the best and aptly suited for the office. I am so proud of him because during his brief stay in the Red Chamber, he has exhibited great potential, as a great representative of the zone.
The truth of the matter is that Imo North has been in the valley for far too long and must be rescued.
I did write in one of my articles prelude to the poll that “Araraume may not be the political vampire, as being tagged. He is simply fighting for his political life, and he has every right to do that. He is also entitled to whatever scheme he desires to achieve his goal. We must tell ourselves the truth that we are all as guilty; at least, all politicians do the same.
“Ugwumba, as his chieftaincy title denotes, is indeed the pride of his people, not just in Isiebu but also the entire Imo North. He deserves his respect. However, there is time to fight or retreat for the sake of desirable peace. And I believe strongly that having paid his dues in life, it is time Araraume set his eyes on nobler pursuits. He should no longer allow political jobbers to feed fat on his ego. He must not continue to be an ATM for hirelings lurking in wait to maim, kill and destroy.
“These are sycophants and flatterers with deception coursing through their veins. They have no truths in them. They are vermin, sucking life from their victim until they wreck him. I believe Ugwumba has fed homegrown hunger enough and should snap the string, attaching these hangers-on to him so that they can float away to irrelevance or perdition.”
As for Okewulonu, he said he was motivated to “run for the Senate is primarily hinged on my observation that Okigwe has been grossly shortchanged by the level of representation, or rather, misrepresentation she has been receiving from those we had hitherto sent to Abuja. Hitherto, our representatives have tended to forget the grassroots once they get to Abuja. I aim to change all of that.”
Of course, I agreed with him wholly but felt that Imo North would be better represented by Sir Frank Ibezim. Throughout the campaigns, Ibezim always enthused that he wanted to be the best senator of Okigwe extraction, and is already walking the talk. Even before his victory was sealed, Ibezim, who made it clear from the onset that he was in a hurry to develop the zone, came up with the idea of a rice mill. As a former commissioner for agriculture and natural resources, Ibezim has the key to unlock the agrarian potentials of the zone and turn it into the food basket of the state. The idea of the rice meal is to help Imo State to overtake its sister-states of Ebonyi and Anambra in rice production.
Ibezim stated this much when he visited the project site, saying: “Our goal here is to ensure the utilisation of our vast untapped land resources for unparalleled agrarian and industrial revolution. My mission is to spur in a greater dimension the development of the Okigwe zone through quality representation.”
With Ibezim, an untainted politician with no baggage, apart from the ones that were contrived for him, which, thankfully, failed to glue, Imo North is already looking beyond the valley and set on a rollercoaster ride to glory.
He came up with the electrification project. And no sooner had he taken his seat in the Senate on April 27 this year than he intensified his mission in the seat. He set up his constituency offices across the zone and employed many to man them. He launched the ambitious school library project, whereby he intends to revive the reading culture among schoolchildren. He also moved speedily to secure approval for the power substation in Okigwe that had been abandoned for close to two decades and has set sail to tackle the flooding menace in some parts of the constituency. He has also advanced the course of sporting activities among youths through sponsorship of the Okigwe football team. These obvious unflinching steps are geared towards Okigwe’s recovery from the years of the locust.
Senator Ibezim cannot do it alone. Add his laudable steps to the exploits of the minister, Nwajiuba, and the expected dividends from Senator Araraume’s appointment as new chairman of the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Believe it or not, is it unlikely that the president made consultations before appointing Araraume to his new office?
Does it not seem plausible that Senator Ibezim or/and Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba have blocked Araraume’s appointment? Even if these two likely scenarios were not actually the case, is Araraume’s appointment not a good compensation for what he had lost in the senatorial contest and hence foster peace?
These three eminent sons of Imo North have all it takes to pull the zone out of the brink, working in concert with other leading lights of the zone in politics, industry, the professions and academia, thereby shame those who believe that the hostility that bedeviled the last Okigwe senatorial seat must be endemic.
I also described that quest as a brotherly contest and now insist on understanding and cohesion. I did call on notable sons of Okigwe should wade into the crisis; this call remains more relevant even now. Indeed, this is the most auspicious time for all hands, including Chief Emmanuel Okewulonu’s, to be on deck for the good of our zone.
The Senator Ibezim I know is not a man given to frivolity, needless distractions or proverbially throwing stones at every dog that barks at his trail. He showed that quality during the campaign, remaining himself and has even resisted the temptation to gloat in victory
Let no one be deceived; Distinguished Senator Frank Ibezim is the man that Okigwe needs now and God has been gracious to allow His will be done in the zone.
These petty writers, stoking hate because of crumbs they pick here and there should rein in their greed. Ibezim has grasp and whatever is required to hoist Okigwe on the pinnacle of development and is already doing that. We all need to support him and encourage the bonding of our abundant gift of men for the glory of the zone. If we fail to pull the zone out of the dungeon of backwardness now; perhaps, we never will.