BY OKECHUKWU OKEKE
-From projections and statistics, the next election is expected to be a herculean task mostly in Imo state.
There is no gainsaying that Senator Uzodinma, since his assumption as governor of the state has brought back prudent management of scarce resources which has eluded the state. Senator Uzodinma within one year in office has restored confidence in governance which has endeared the good people of Imo State to his government and party.
This popular saying, the more, the merrier most times in the political landscape of this country is misconstrued. Some people with inordinate ambitions defect to a government in power to destabilise it, while others join to add value.
However, as politics is an inclusive business, it behoves the prime leader of any given party to assign responsibilities to whosoever he dimes fit. Before entrusting such enormous responsibility to a person, the antecedents of such a person must be taken into consideration.
In Imo State, Owerri Senatorial District could be likened to a pivot upon which the State stands. The zone is the epicentre of the state and also houses the headquarters of the state. The zone with nine local government areas, three less than the Orlu zone has more numerical strength than other zones of the state in terms of registered voters. In this concise piece, I will try to x-ray the characters and antecedents of some notable leaders in Owerri Senatorial District of Imo State.
Note, the x-raying of characters and antecedents of some leaders of APC in Owerri Zone, Imo State will be done in no particular order:
Chief Martin Agbaso – Chief Agbaso is a prominent and active politician from the zone. As a young man, he aspired to represent his people in the senate but was asked to step down for another. It is on record that he almost became a governor in 2007 but for the institutional conspiracy of President Olusegun Obasanjo and the then Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu.
After his defeat at the polls in 2007, Chief Agbaso defected back to PDP from APGA. He has remained notable in the politics of Imo State. He is a man who believes so much in himself, probably, due to his handsome outlook making people to misconstrue his dispositions as a man, full of himself. He is an entrepreneur with visible means of livelihood.
Prince Lemmy Akakem, an employer of labour is a well-known man in the zone and state. He is an old politician who passed under the tutelage of revered Engr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu. Since he left Chief Iwuanyanwu, his popularity has dwindled. He is presently floating and hovers around to perch on any standing political tree. He has lost focus and about to crash land.
His private life is nothing to behold.
It is on record that Architect Amaugo Ugorji in every election year defeated him during elections at his Orji Ward of Owerri North LGA. His political downfall started with his inability to manage his family which made the Catholic Church to excommunicate him after several attempts were made to reconcile him with his estranged wife who is a pillar of women in the Catholic parish and diocese.
Chief Marcellinus Nlemigbo – Marcon as he is fondly called is a household name in Imo politics. He was a former state chairman of the PDP in the state. Presently, he is the state chairman of APC. As a man who started life very early, Chief Nlemigbo made his mark in business under his moribund Marcon Group of Companies.
It is on record that Chief Nlemigbo was the state chairman who led Senator Hope Uzodinma and APC to victory in 2019. He has been a trusted and reliable person until some persons with queer characters infected his mindset with their negative antecedents. As an open-minded man, Chief Nlemigbo welcomes everyone even his enemies. No wonder Chief Charles Amadi was able to control him like a robot.
It is true that we need money to survive but not to our own integrity. Chief Nlemigbo’s alleged penchant for kickbacks has taken a toll on him and caused much havoc to his reputation. His actions are now questionable as people view them as financially induced opinions. The only way for Chief Nlemigbo to get back his confidence is to liberate himself from over-dependence on others for financial assistance.
Chief Henry Njoku – Chief Njoku who is also known as Harritex is a popular politician in the state. As a young politician, Chief Njoku was at a time, Sole Administrator Owerri North Local Government, during which he was elected the Vice-Chairman of ALGON. He was also a former Commissioner in the Imo State Oil Producing Development Commission, ISOPADEC. At present, he is the Vice-Chairman, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, CRFFN, a Federal Government Agency.
Chief Njoku has remained visible in the politics of Imo State since he showed interest in politics. As an astute businessman, Chief Njoku has what it takes to be entrusted with any form of leadership position. As a former PDP leader, he ensured his party came victorious in his Polling Unit, Ward and LGA. Throughout his stay in PDP, his actions were visible and progressive, geared towards inclusiveness and victory for the party.
As a man of vision and believer in good governance, Chief Henry Njoku upon the inauguration of Senator Hope Uzodinma as governor of the state defected to APC. His defection has greatly troubled the fortunes of PDP in the state. His defection has created much vacuum in PDP. Though Chief Njoku is viewed as a gentleman politician due to his soft-spoken, gentle and peaceful disposition, however, he has a strong character and political will.
He is a successful businessman who believes in helping humanity. His entry into APC has added values to the party. As a grassroots man, his coming on board the party opened spaces to many because of his large-heartedness and inclusiveness. He has within the short period, strengthened the support base of the governor in Owerri Zone. As would be expected, his towering profile in the APC has continued to draw ill feelings in the minds of some people who wrongly believed that Harritex has come to take over from them.
However, one can recall his speech at the State Executive Council Chamber when the Governor welcomed him into the party. He declared that his entry into APC was to support the Governor whom he was convinced of his honesty to change the poor narrative in the state. He said, he joined APC not to struggle for a position with any. A good team leader and player, he is loved by people across all works of life.
Dr Iyke Njoku – Dr Njoku is the present Commissioner for Environment in the state. He is an old supporter of Senator Uzodinma from the Mbaise axis of Owerri Zone. He has been very upright until lately when he allegedly teamed up with some persons with questionable characters to blackmail progressive leaders in the zone. As an appointee of the present government, Dr Njoku should concentrate himself on his primary assignment as a commissioner.
As an agent of Shared Prosperity Government, Dr Njoku should as a matter of necessity engage himself meaningfully with the mantra of the 3R government and ensure he contributes his quota to the success of the government. Dr Njoku should not allow himself to be a toll in the hands of household enemies to destabilise the zone. As a Commissioner, Dr Njoku should be seen as an open-minded person who welcomes and accommodates progressive-minded politicians into the party for future elections.
Chief Alex Mbata – ABM as he is called is an astute politician. He has made his mark in politics and business. As an entrepreneur, he has empowered many and is still empowering more. As a Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of Imo State University, Owerri, Chief Mbata helped to turn around the academic fortunes of the University. His entrant into APC has been an added advantage to the party.
As a show of support to the present government in Imo State, Chief Mbata singlehandedly constructed a 1.1km dual carriageway with street lights and a good drainage system within the Protea Hotel axis in Owerri municipality. The road is there for all to see and has been named after him. Chief Mbata wouldn’t have done this road if not for the love he has for Senator Hope Uzodinma. Chief Mbata in his bid to have a united APC has convened several peace meetings for leaders of the zone. He is a grassroots politician and his act of charity attracts people to him.
Chief Charles Amadi – Chief Amadi, popularly known as Charvon needs no introduction. He is known for gate crashing and assuming undue leadership. In a desperate bid to assume leadership of the Owerri zone, Charvon with others formed the ill-fated OZOPOLF. He tried to use this forum to destabilise Owerri leadership under Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu. He used OZOPOLF to get favour from Gov. Rochas Okorocha.
Chief Amadi was one of those who played prominent roles during the ill-fated Rochas Okorocha administration. After he was unceremoniously booted out by Gov. Rochas Okorocha as Chairman, Governing Council Imo State Polytechnic Umuagwo, he was appointed the Director-General of Mr Uche Nwosu Governorship Campaign. He was alleged to be the person that led thugs that attacked members of the Imo State APC Coalition during the June 23rd, 2018 National Convention in Abuja.
Charvon only joined Senator Uzodinma after APC primaries when it was allegedly rumoured that Mr Uche Nwosu refused to provide the Two Hundred Million Naira he demanded from him. It is on record that Charvon did not deliver his polling unit to Senator Uzodinma in 2019.
Chief Amadi who has vowed to stop at nothing in getting hold of the party in the Owerri zone was rumoured to have perfected plans to unseat Chief Marcellinus Nlemigbo as state chairman of APC. He is equally said to be working underground to depose the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku through the State House of Assembly and recommend his wife as a possible replacement. Chief Amadi is fronting his 28-year-old son, Akarachi Amadi as the candidate of the party for Mbaitoli/Ikeduru Federal Constituency for the next election.
Hon. Tony Umezuruike – Hon. Umezuruike is a Commissioner in the present administration. He equally served as commissioner under Owelle Rochas Okorocha administration. He is one of those blocking opposition members from joining the party because of the inferiority complex. It is on record that he did not deliver his polling unit and ward during the last election to APC. He is a very unpopular politician in Owerri North LGA of Imo State.
As a serving commissioner, his interest should be on how to deliver his polling unit, ward and LGA in the next election. Hon. Umezuruike should be reminded that the only way to achieve such is through the identification of true leaders that swing votes in the state and lure them into the party. As a Commissioner, he should devote more time to his primary function and not to join those causing disunity in the zone.
Dr Uzoma Obiyo – Dr Obiyo is a business mogul, a successful entrepreneur and a philanthropist. He played a prominent role during the moral rearmament in the state. He was Chairman of Imo State APC Coalition, a body that championed the defeats Owelle Rochas Okorocha camp (Ndiagburu) and their candidate Mr Uche Nwosu, suffered at the APC congresses held in 2018 and the governorship election of 2019.
He was a trusted friend of Senator Hope Uzodinma before he became governor. He was at the forefront during the 2019 APC electioneering campaigns in the state. As an ally of the governor, he used his grassroots base to mobilise support for Senator Uzodinma. His goodwill amongst his people is second to none. He was the face of Senator Uzodinma in Ikeduru LGA and beyond. His philanthropy is an added advantage to APC. Due to his very busy schedule and as a resourceful businessman, many idle politicians gallivanting in the state saw it as an opportunity to gossip and blackmail him before the governor.
Dr Obiyo is a calm and humane politician, not over-ambitious. He is a grassroot politician who believes in an act of benevolence which is evident through his foundation, Samuel-Mary and Dame Emily Obiyo Foundation, a reputable charity organisation in Nigeria.
Rt. Hon. Kelechi Kennedy Nwagwu – Rt. Hon. Nwagwu needs no introduction. He was Speaker, Imo State House of Assembly during the second tenure of Dr Achike Udenwa administration. He is a founding member of APC and has remained in APC. He supported Senator Hope Uzodinma from primaries to the main election. He is a grassroot politician whose membership is an added advantage to the party. He believes in the unity of the Owerri zone as a panacea to attract democratic dividends to the people. He is a grassroots politician.
Hon. Mcdonald Ebere – Hon. Ebere is the General Manager of ENTRACO in the present administration. He is an acclaimed leader in Owerri Municipality but lacks grassroot support. He claims to be an inlaw to Senator Uzodinma but adds no meaningful value to this administration. He was alleged to have joined some traducers to blackmail new entrants and even old friends of Senator Uzodinma. He is naive and sees the entrants of notable household names from other political parties to APC as a threat. He is seen to be afraid of losing grip of his purported leadership in Owerri municipal with this array of defections. He lost woefully to his opponent during the last general election due to his lifestyle and unpopularity.
Barr. Kingsley Ononuju – Barr. Ononuju is a serving commissioner under Senator Hope Uzodinma administration. He is a focused politician and served as secretary of Imo State APC Coalition between 2017 to 2019. He was one of the vocal politicians in APC that contributed immensely in stopping Mr Uche Nwosu from succeeding his father-in-law.
Prince Eze Madumere and Chief Mrs Ada Okwuonu are two former deputy governors in the state. I decided to discuss both together due to their similarities in words and actions. The duo has uncommon dispositions.
They are calm and calculative and not over-ambitious. They have shown leadership expected of people in their class. They believe in the unity and progress of the zone.
Rt. Hon. Godfrey Dikeocha – A former Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly is a force to reckon with in the Mbaise clan, Owerri zone. As a grassroot mobiliser, Rt. Hon. Dikeocha has been a boost to his former party, PDP. He has grass-root support and delivers his polling unit, ward and LGA to his party. His defection to APC is a huge blow to PDP in Mbaise. His defection has added value to APC and with his likes, the party will make a huge impact in Mbaise come to the next election.
For want of time, let me at this juncture summarise this piece. Political party membership like any other association is to add value to such group of persons who have agreed to associate with common interest and purposes. The 2019 elections have come and gone with Senator Hope Uzodinma as Governor of Imo State. For the benefit of the doubt, it is only Senator Uzodinma and his God that knows how he emerged as Governor of the state.
Anyone claiming to have added value in the making of Senator Uzodinma in 2019 is not been fair to him or herself. As we approach the 2023 elections, we should be mindful of the fact that the next election may not be like the last election. Much work needed to be done especially in the Owerri zone having in mind that the zone is predominantly a PDP zone and most importantly, as PDP is likely to nominate a governorship candidate from the zone come 2023.
The unnecessary leadership struggles in the zone are likely to cost the zone the desired impact expected of her as the zone holding the deputy governorship of the state. The governor should call his appointees to order. As appointees of the governor, their primary aim should be on how to add value to the government they are part of. They should be at the forefront of identifying and welcoming prospective politicians who are desirous of joining the party.
Why are some of these appointees jittery in the defection of notable leaders with their supporters from other political parties to APC? Do they think that such leaders are coming to displace them? They should note that only the governor is saddled with the responsibility of choosing or appointing those to work with him. They should be reminded that their next appointments are hinged on their performances at the polls and ratings in their present positions by the governor.
From projections and statistics, the next election is expected to be a herculean task. And to ensure a successful outing in the forthcoming election, leaders with a proper grassroot base should be encouraged to join the party. The governor should ask those claiming leadership of the zone to subsume such desires for the good of the party. There are qualities expected of a leader. A leader must be accommodating, humane, tolerant and assessable. A true leader must be one that has been tested over time with visible means of livelihood and not a sole dependent on public and government funds. A scammer and one with questionable character should not be allowed to lead Owerri zone at this critical stage of the party.
It is unfortunate that those who claim to be close to the governor are not adding value to the government and party, instead, they are causing disaffection amongst leaders in the zone. Such bad elements in the Owerri zone are doing everything possible to displace Prince Marcellinus Nlemigbo as state chairman of APC. Barr. Nlemigbo should not fall prey to their antics through peanuts he gets from such people.
How could Barr. Nlemigbo listen to such a clique who has perfected plans in removing him from office only to turn around to tell him, NO SHAKING? How could any reasonable man at these critical stages of political struggle in the zone think of imposing his 28-year-old son on people with very many intellectuals and technocrats? Is such a man telling us that his Federal Constituency does not have any qualified man or woman other than his son for the forthcoming election?
The governor should be wary of politicians who have lost touch with their people. The likes of Prince Lemmy Akakem who loses in any given election in his Orji Ward to Architect Amaugo Ugorji and Chief Amadi who has lost connection with his people should be kept at arm’s length. I implore the governor as a matter of urgent importance to call these fellows parading themselves as leaders of the zone to order. The governor should be decisive in nipping this to the bud as such do not represent the interest of the zone but themselves.
I am very optimistic that when proper overview and consideration is taken in respect of the points enumerated above, Owerri Zone will be salvaged and become a full APC zone come 2023.
Okechukwu Okeke writes from Owerri, Imo State.
9News Nigeria (Owerri)
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