The nation is in frenzy at the moment. Politicians are making consultations on their next moves preparatory to the general elections in 2019. More political parties have emerged and new alliances formed, including former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s coalition.
Fractured political parties are mending fences. The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has even appointed its national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to head its reconciliation committee though Tinubu himself needs to reconcile with the party chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, whom he had accused of sabotaging his assignment. This confirms that the party is pulled in different directions and unless Tinubu succeeds, danger lurks ahead.
This is also the case with the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which emerged from a crisis that almost destroyed it after prolonged legal battle for the soul of the party. It has sunk into yet another crisis that may seriously affect its outing next year. As the PDP oscillates and prevaricates, APC seems to be getting its acts much more together than any other party.
However, as Imo State gears up for the elections next year, one area of keen interest remains Okigwe South Federal Constituency. Already, the Imo State former Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Frank Ibezim, has expressed his interest in the position and has received constituency-wide endorsements, as he goes about consulting with key constituents. Even the state governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has given Ibezim tacit support when the aspirant informed his former boss about his intention. The governor had given him the green light to go and prove his worth in the ring.
One intriguing fact about Okigwe South is that historically, the people have a tradition of not returning their representative to the House of Representatives for second term. This has worked well with the constituency because of the gentleman agreement to rotate the position among the three local governments, Ehime Mbano, Ihitte Uboma and Obowo. The current occupant, Hon. Chike Okafor, hails from Obowo Local Government Area.
Ibezim is no mean contender. He comes with intimidating credentials, having run for the same office before but was schemed out by the notorious impunity of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on which platform he ran. He was the former Managing Director of Imo Poultry and Commissioner for Agriculture in the state. His sterling performance while he occupied both offices attracted much accolades.
For instance, when he got to Imo Poultry, the entire edifice was run down and turned into a forest without access roads. Being the go-getter that he is, Ibezim did not even wait for the release of allocations trapped down in bureaucracy but deployed his personal funds to the task even before official allocations were released. Within a short period of time, he revamped the outfit in readiness for private investors. That was before he was appointed commissioner where he again excelled. As Commissioner for Agriculture, Ibezim started production in moribund Adapalm, which was concessioned to an overseas company. He also restored the relationship between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the state’s FADAMA project as well as reinvigorating Imo Agricultural Development Programme and was able to grow pilot projects of hectares of tomatoes and cucumber, thereby proving that such products did not need to come from the North but could be cultivated locally. Ibezim had also served as aide to the Minister of State for Education.
After his first attempt was bungled in 2011, he still desires to bring his vast experience to bear on the national scene via lawmaking. He believes that part of our national malaise stems from poor legislations and feels he needs to make his own input to that aspect of our national life. Of course, Hon. Chike Okafor occupies the seat Ibezim is aspiring to. Nevertheless, what is uppermost is to enthrone justice, equity, fairness and the sustenance of established tradition whereby no representative of Okigwe South goes for a second term. It has been rotated among the three local governments and it is the turn of Ehime Mbano to produce the next representative and must not be denied that opportunity.
Added to this is the fact that the senator, representing Okigwe North Senatorial Zone, Ben Uwajumogu, is from Ihitte Uboma, also in Etiti division with Okafor’s Obowo Local Government. With that, Etiti has held the senate seat four times in a row. It would be most unfair for Etiti to continue to occupy both the senatorial and House of Representatives seats, as Uwajumogu must be supported by all to return to the senate for the interest of Ndigbo, being the only APC senator elected from the South east and stands a good chance to get one of the principal offices in the senate in the next dispensation.
That is why the idea of Okafor re-contesting should be forbidden. It is not just mere delirious fantasy but also an aberration for Etiti to hold everything, leaving Ehime Mbano with nothing. Good enough, political leaders in Okigwe South, including women and youths, even from Obowo are all agreed that Okafor’s aspiration, though still latent, is unjust and must not be contemplated. Only fickle minded meddlers would seek to disturb the amity and cohesion the constituency has enjoyed over the years by insisting on Okafor’s reelection because that dream bodes evil and is dead on arrival.
It will be in Okafor’s best interest to run for governorship if he has the balls. In matters of this nature, courage is all that matters. Despite Governor Okorocha pushing the candidature of his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, Okafor should walk up to the governor and declare his ambition to run for governor or scheme for deputy. You never know what Okorocha may decide to do, especially as his son-in-law is a hard sale, considering that he is from the same Orlu Zone as the governor, who scattered the agreement in the zone by contesting and emerging governor soon after his kinsman, Achike Udenwa. Many are of the view that Okorocha is only looking for a lackey to cover his mess in Imo hence his insistence on Nwosu. However, it is now the turn of either Owerri or Okigwe zone to produce the next governor. The two zones will not likely accept Orlu to have its way this time around.
I heard that Okorocha just said that his deputy over the years, Prince Ebere Madumere, had no political value. I doubt that the governor said that because it is strange that he only realised that just because the man wants to succeed him. If Okafor plays his game well, he could even join forces with Madumere or another formidable contender, Jude Ejiogu.
And in any case, nobody who is worth his onions needs Okorocha’s validation to gun for any office in Imo State. Of course, Okorocha has a right to support any candidate of his choice. What he does not have, however, is the right to impose any candidate on the people, whether as governor or representatives in the national and state assemblies; that is the prerogative of the people to decide.