A couple of weeks ago, I discussed the issue of the Governorship come 2019 in respect of the Owerri People’s Political Summit held on 11th Novernment, 2017. The tittle of that article was “Owerri People, They came, they saw but can they conquer?” it is interesting to observe the plethora of responses which that article attracted. However, one of those responses which attracted my intellectual and analytical interest was one from one miss agnes onyeike who while commending my effort in writing the article opined that I fell short in answering the question if Owerri people can conquer. Honestly, that particular response compelled me to write on the same topic again in other to fill the gap which inadvertedtly was not stressed in that analysis.
In today’s discussion from a different but related perspective, effort would be made to address that issue more explicitly. The tittle of this discussion is very clear and needs no more dressing. Therefore, it is necessary to go straight to the issue at hand.
There is nobody in this state, nor in this country who is aware of the political trend that does not know that the people of Owerri Political Zone properly referred to as “Imo East,” in seeing it from senatorial terminology have been saying for years now that the next Governor of Imo State should as a matter of moral imperative, political expediency and social compulsion or to make it more succinct as a matter of equity and justice, must be a person of Owerri extraction.
In order to refresh the minds of those who may pretend not to know or tend to have forgotten, to refresh their minds on the issue.
Owerri people are not making claim to the governorship seat without overwhelming reasons and all of them justifiable in law or infact or to put it more mildly and in truth.
Many of those who would be reading this article are mostly younger than Imo state. When Imo state was created in 1976 by Murtala Muhammed regime, the then Imo state included today’s Abia State and part of today’s Ebonyi States. The creation of Imo was as a result of poltical lobbying of the founding fathers then. They included; Akanu Ibiam, Dr. Michael Okpara, K.O Mbadiwe, Chief Sam Mbakwe, Chief Collins Obi, Dr. Nwakanma Okoro, Eze Onu Egbunwo and many top active political leaders then. Through series of meetings and lobbying, they were able to succeed in getting the Murtala Government to create Imo state along with few other states bringing the number of states in the country to 19 then. Unfortunately, after creating these states, Murtala Mohammed was assasinated exactly one month after the creation. In fact, Imo state and Anambra were created by splitting East central State into two. Unknown to many one thing which would have robbed the people of the creation of Imo state was a kind of dispute as to where the headquaters should be sited, Owerri or Umuahia. However, Owerri was chosen due to the fact of the clumusy nature of topograph of Umuahia. The first Military Governor of Imo state was Ndubuisi Kanu, a naval officer.
Interestingly, in its 41 years existence, the matter was quietly settled in favour of Owerri because of the flat nature of its land and offered loss difficulties in future development.
Once created, Imo State began uninterrupted pace of development. It must be mentioned that in the creation of Imo state a flood of returnees as civil servants were most in majority those from today’s Abia State. Or the number of permanent secretaries considerd to be the hub of civil service were mostly those from Abia State.from that time until now, Imo state in general and Owerri the state capital have witnessed uninterrupted infrastructural development. Good enough.
The first major political activity in the state was the election of 1979. The focus on the election was on the Governorship race. Then, Imo state had five zones as follows:Owerri, Aba, Okigwe, Umuahia and Orlu. Although each of these zones had a good number of those eminently qualified to become Governor, through a carefully reasoned decision, Owerri, in view of having attracted the State capital did not push forward to produce the first Imo state Governor in 1979. Accordingly, there were few political parties, NPP, GNPP, UPN etc from the look of things the majority of Imo and Igbo electorate leaned towards NPP. In fact, the most prominent Governorship aspirants were Chief Mbakwe from okigwe zone and Dr. Nwakamma Okoro from Umuahia. Interestingly, in considering for the selection of Deputy Governorship slot The zonal balancing was strictly applied. And in spite of heightened sentiments, the people of Imo state voted for the Governorship candidate Sam Mbakwe whose running mate was from Aba zone beating Dr. Okoro. In fact, that tacity understanding by the political leaders ensured political stability in the state. Although Chief Sam Mbakwe along with the entire political setup in the country was trunketed by a military coup in 1983 led by today’s muhammadu Buhari.
But after many years of political zig zag, the next political civilian dispensation was set to be in 1992. The Governor elected then was Chief Evan Enwerem under the political party of NRC. Then it was only two party system then under Babangida regime. Unfortunately, just like Mbakwe Administration, Chief Evan Enwerem administration was trunketed after 18 months by Sani Abacha regime.
The next major political activity was in 1999. Then the popular party was PDP and the party had array of eminently qualified Governorship candidates in almost all the zones. But what appeared to be the most expensive political generousity extended to Orlu aspirant, Chief Achike Udenwa by the party’s leadership from both Owerri and Okigwe jettisoned the victory of Humphrey Anumudu who had won in the general PDP primary. This was to ensure that Orlu who has not tested the Governorship seat in the State produce the next Governor. Little did those freely minded political patriot know that Orlu would turn out to be Oliver Twist of Imo state brazingly dominating the Governorship seat for approximately now 16 years to the chagrin of other zones; Owerri and Okigwe.
TO BE CONTINUED..