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Past weeks of political primaries in Imo have been so challenging for the state.The political landscape was so tensed with virtually all the political parties embroiled in one controversy or the other. Just as political pundits prognosticated, the governorship primaries of All Progressives Grand Alliance {APGA), witnessed implosion that threatened the party to its fabric.

All Progressives Congress Party {APC} was not left out of the tumultuous primaries. It got enmeshed in controversies of different dimensions. Factions sprang up within same political party with factional primaries each claiming to be authentic.

The Peoples Democratic Party {PDP} unexpectedly organized seemingly free and fair primaries that saw the emergence of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as the party’s governorship candidate. It became a pleasant surprise to some observers who are not ignorant of the nature of the PDP primaries in the past.

Just as the party was coasting home in the euphoria of success and finding its way in the hearts of Imo people, who applauded its free and fair elections, Sen. Samuel Anyanwu {Samdadday}, Ihedioha’s rival in the contest, cried foul. He alleged high wired manipulation in the exercise. He is currently challenging the outcome of the poll at the law court.

While the parties battled with these challenges, the question of who becomes the next Imo deputy governor was also brought to the fore. This so because no matter who emerges from APGA, APC, PDP or any other political party, the choice of running mate, or deputy, becomes an issue of critical consideration.

A credible deputy is a dependable ally, a strong base and a co-worker with the governor in the vineyard of economic salvation of a comatose state like Imo.

It is therefore absolutely expedient for political parties, especially Peoples Democratic Party {PDP}, the only party that seemingly conducted a free and fair primaries in Imo, to turn its mind properly to the kind of character that will deputize Rt Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as a running mate.

The issue was thrown up recently by a state based Newspaper, Announcer Express, in one of its publications when it directed my mind and that of other Imo people to the reality of scouting for a credible deputy governor in spite of the uncertainties that have enveloped our political space.

The local tabloid did this in its Oct 15th edition titled:” Imo APC Crisis Delays Ihedioha’s Choice of Deputy Governorship Candidate?” The newspaper mentioned possible running mates to the governorship hopeful and hinted on their chances and limitations.

Such names include Hon. Juliet Obasi Akano, a former House member, Hon. Oyibo Nwaneri who was also former law maker in Imo State House of Assembly. Others are Hon. Nkeiru Ibekwe and Hon Joan Nzeribe, wife of revered Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe. These are credible women in their own right.

But I must not fail to remind Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha of PDP and other governorship candidates of the major political parties in the state that the task ahead is herculean. It is far from the usual.
The state is in shamble with a debt portfolio estimated above N190 billion. Experts said that the future of Imo has been expended. It therefore calls for urgent need of uncommon governance strategy that requires a combine creative thinking of the governor, superlative intelligence of the deputy and carefully assembled economic team.

In making a choice of deputy, the governorship candidate must not be cowed by the superfluous considerations of appointing women in governance for the mere fact of doing so. It should also not be hinged on unnecessarily on political considerations to satisfy certain political bigwigs but, rather such appointment must be based on superior needs of salvaging the state from economic quagmire.

From records deputies can make or mar a government. For instance, the success President Obasanjo recorded during his reign within his first 4 years, before the issue of third term agenda cropped up, cannot be devoid from the viability of his deputy, Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

Vice President Abubakar was a dependable ally that gave his boss all the support, suggestion, insight and back up required to build a solid economy for the nation. It is on public domain that he was instrumental to the gathering of the best economic brains whose acumen, exposure, connections and contacts freed the nation from various international debts. The ilk of Okonjo Iwuala, Prof Charles Soludo and many others were among the bright team he assembled.

Imo is in a more terrible situation than Nigeria was 11 years ago when Atiku was Vice President, therefore requires a superlative deputy governor. This is the type of deputy we must strife for. Imo is not lacking in such men of competence.

I must at this point mention Prof Protus Nathan Uzorma, a man from Orlu zone, whose acceptability cut across people of all age grades. He is in the mould of deputy Imo needs now. Although, I do not have his mandate for this publication, but I am professionally bound to set the agenda and to suggest what I consider best for our dear state, irrespective of how the subject feels. After all I am a critical stakeholder in Imo Project.

It is my candid view, therefore, that the years of bartered Imo economy need a deputy as Prof Protus Nathan Uzorma who has enormous competence to bring expertise, intellectual capacity, political sagacity and the needed loyalty to set a new direction for the state. His wide support base which extends across people of various ages will help to deepen acceptability for the party and any governorship candidate that chooses to run with Prof Protus. It is not for nothing that Imo youths, which constitute the largest chunk of our voting populace, came together and crowned him Mayor. He has their command and obedience. This, I consider a huge political value addition.

Same can be said of the pensioners. This class of suffering Imolites, who he dubbed senior citizens, is so dear to him that he ensured they benefited from his philanthropic gesture. They will surely shed their blood to give back to a man who thought of them when the government they worked for abandoned them. Professor Protus took a strategic move to reduce the rising death rate of the pensioners by establishing a fund scheme that takes care of the medical bills of all certified sick pensioner.

He launched the scheme during his birth day celebration which he usually organize to celebrate the down trodden. I was emotion laden on the day the scheme was launched as I watched the elderly men and women who expended their active life for the state rained down prayers on him. Though this gesture has no political motive, but I can assure you that the beneficiaries will back their benefactor when the chips are down.

I do not intent to compare Prof Protus with other mentioned by Announcer Express newspaper as likely deputies to Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, but I sincerely think Imo needs Prof Protus Nathan Uzorma as deputy considering that the state is almost a pariah state now. There is need to tap in the immense deposit possibilities of this youthful global citizen who has proven in the past to be a strong support base to his principal. He will definitely become a catalyst that will usher in a new Imo.

The Reformer as he is fondly called has become a household name and friend of the class and the classless. His copious writings, decisive actions and word s of mouth when necessary, has charted a new course for thousands of Imo people scattered in Orlu and other Zones of the state.

He is arguably the strongest voice for ‘Owerri Zone for governor’ even though he is the Chief Scribe of Orlu Elders Council. His political relevance knows no bounds. Prof Uzorma has metamorphosed into a bridge that connects the old and the young in Imo.

He is indeed, the kind of deputy governor that Imo people require at this critical period of our lives as a state when only innovative and creative thinkers can successfully drive the governance of the state. But there is a snag. Will Prof Protus Nathan Ozorma accept the offer if consulted?

“I must at this point mention Prof Protus Nathan Uzorma, a man from Orlu zone, whose acceptability cut across people of all age grades. He is in the mould of deputy Imo needs now. Although, I do not have his mandate for this publication, but I am professionally bound to set the agenda and to suggest what I consider best for our dear state, irrespective of how the subject feels. After all I am a critical stakeholder in Imo Project.”

Ifeanyi Onyekachi is a journalist and Public Affairs analyst.

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