Orlu zone (Imo West, SD/047/IM) is the most populous zone in Imo State, populous in landmass, in electorates, in natural and human resources, and in dynamic unity. As we all know, Orlu Zone is made up of 12 LGAs, with approximately 137 Wards and numerous polling Units. It has also the highest number of citizens occupying the central positions of leadership in the State, and has very great impact on the booming populations of Owerri Zone (Imo East, SD/046/IM).
Though it could be rightly argued that the demographic demarcations of the three senatorial zones in the State were not equitably done, considering geographical affinity and cultural semblance, the deed has been done and irreversible perhaps. It is for this reason that Okigwe zone has only 6 LGAs and lesser number of wards, while Owerri zone has 9 LGAs and high number of wards, while Orlu zone tends to dominate in all.
Of a truth, Owerri zone has today the highest number of registered voters in the State, but if every Orlu zone citizens should be compelled to leave Owerri and return home to register for vote in their constituencies, Owerri zone will experience drastic fall in its population. This truth is practically lived regularly by politicians from Orlu zone who as inhabitants of Owerri land; join the land owners to play their politics, but return home to play their unifying dynamic politics of the zone.
This familiarity with the nitty-gritty of Owerri zone politics has made Orlu zonal politicians and elites to be versatile in the real stuff that the State needs, and these have made the zone since 1999 to be at the central and dominating part of the leadership of the State at all levels. But these are possible only with the friendly and hospitable environment of Owerri zone.
Orlu Zone has played crucial roles in the State leadership and politics, to the extent that it has virtually turned a conditio sine qua non in the State politics. As such, since the resumption of democracy in 1979 (shortly after the creation of Imo State in 1976), the Okigwe Zone (Imo North, SD/048/IM) has produced Governors that ruled Imo State from October 1, 1979 to December 31, 1983 (4 years, and 3 months into the Second Tenure) under Dr Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe (of Avutu, Obowo LGA), and from May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2011 (4 years) under Chief Ikedi Godson Ohakim (of Okohia, Isiala Mbano LGA), all making it 8 years and 3 months for Okigwe zone. It has also produced a Deputy Governor who stayed for 8 years (Chief Ebere Udeagu, 1999-2007).
On the other hand, Orlu zone (Imo West, SD/047/IM) has produced Dr Douglas Acholonu (1992-1993) as Deputy Governor of Imo State at the singular time Owerri Zone produced the State Governor. And thereafter, Orlu zone has produced Governors that ruled the State from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007 (8 years) under Chief Achike Udenwa (of Amaifeke, Orlu LGA), and from May 29, 2011 to May 29, 2019 (8 years) under Owelle Rochas Anayo Ethelbert Okorocha (of Okpoko, Ideato South LGA) and Gov. Hope Uzodimma (of Omuma Oro east LGA) who is presently on sit as the state executive governor of Imo state.
Owerri zone (Imo East, SD/046/IM) has on the contrary produced a Governor that ruled Imo State from January 2, 1992 to November 17, 1993 (22 months and 2 weeks) under Barr Evan Enwerem (of Atta, Ikeduru LGA) and from May, 29 to 15, January 2020 under Chief Emeka Ihedioha. Ever since then, Owerri zone has bred the best class of politicians in the State, but has not been allowed in the equity charter of the State to rule Imo, by either its previous frontline.
Before I continue, I wish quote my old article published in 2015 immediately after the 2015 election titled, “OWERRI ZONE AND THE POLITICS OF UGBA NA NMII.”
“Before now and during our campaigns, I thought that the sound of a bitter cola is how it tastes, alas I discovered otherwise-great pestilence for all Owerri zone politicians. It was Lao-Ise who inferred that, “He who understands others is learned. He who knows himself is wise. He who conquers others has muscular strength; he who subdues himself is strong. He who is content is wealthy; he who does not lose his soul will endure”. Following the above, and in line with what played out in the just concluded gubernatorial election, I saw almost all Owerri zone guber candidates as men who knew themselves but refuse to subdue themselves due to greed occasioned by selflessness. They do not fit into Lao-Ise Philosophy of great life hence they lacked understanding of the nature of Imo politics.
Owerri zone did not manifest maturity and love for the highly trumpeted chatter of equity. I pity them so much! On page 21 of the forty Hadith, Tirmidhi: Nawawi, it states, “A wise person is one who watches over himself and restraints himself from that which is harmful and strives for that which will confront him after death; and a foolish one is he who gives rein to his cravings and seeks from Allah the fulfillment of his vain desire”. I will not in line with the Hadith of Prophet Muhammed call some Owerri zone politicians fools (because they are not) who only chase after the fulfillment or satisfaction of their belly and not after the collective efforts of equity, fairness and justices.
Some Owerri zone politicians are very wicked and senseless for Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha to loose in three to four Local Governments of Owerri (I don’t mean Mbaise Areas) is a bugaboo. Why should Owerri zone still uphold the philosophy of (Ntala Ugba nola Nmii, ndi uba na barama) in so far so as food and drinks are made available for my satisfaction riches are not my concern. Yes, Gov. Rochas understood this philosophy very well as a result he provided little money and drinks together with ugba (African Salad) to Owerri people, they sold their conscience to (Ugba and Nmii) African salad and drinks and voted for Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
Fools follow vanity, but the wise man prizes his thoughtfulness as a treasure. Owerri zone should not blame Okigwe zone or Orlu zone for whatever woe that will befall them in 2019 because the destruction of political equity in Imo State shall haunt them without mercy. Epicurean life of the majority of Owerri zone shall bring Imo State to the status –quo in 2019 where they shall continue to cry for marginalization and only to be given Ugba and Nmii for permanent satisfaction. What a shame! I took my time to prepare a paper which up till this moment remains a master piece that was presented at the Imo state holders political summit 2013 which positioned Owerri zone as the major beneficiary of the just concluded election. The paper became the watch word of every political interest in Imo state. At the appointed time, Owerri zone shut themselves on the leg by refusing to harvest the already ripped fruits, instead of harvesting them, they decided to continue with the antiquated ideology of Ntala Ugba Nolanmii which has kept them where they are today.
Though I am aware that no zone in Imo state is worthless they can always serve as terrible examples. Yes, the most valuable gift one can give another is good example. Owerri zone has become a good example of betraying themselves. In the word of Athanasius “ you cannot put straight in others what is warped in yourself” A good example is a lesson to those who want to learn while those who prefer Ugba and Nmii to standing out will always have their reasons for betraying their own”.
From the above one can begin to imagine how owerri zone will be out in unity to fight in order to reclaim the Government house in 2023.
On this backdrop, one is poised to ask: What impends Owerri zone’s aspirants from clinching the State leadership since 16 years past, which has witnessed constant massive outing of Owerri Zone politicians? Why has Orlu zone found it such a smooth sail to clinch the ticket of the apex parties and win the elections? Could it be alluded to the demographic composition of the Zone, which places it with extra advantage than others? Could it be that the politicians from Orlu zone are more unified and consistent in their political goals or that they are egoistic and thus exhibit insensitivity to the implications of thwarting the equity charter? Could it be that after being with Owerri zone as sojourning dwellers, the Orlu zone politicians return home to plot antidotes to their politics? Could it be that Owerri zone politicians lack dynamic unity and oneness of purpose and its pursuit, to the extent that Orlu zone takes advantages of the above to outwit them?
The doubts above are endless, and in all these Orlu zone has never gone unconstitutional in its dominating roles in Imo politics. Nonetheless, there are other remarkable features of Orlu zone in Imo politics such as: The strength, unity and oneness of purpose of its politicians and elites. The Orluzurume has virtually replaced the almighty Owerri Federal Constituency Forum, and the Orlu Elders Council has also grown in strength to reinforce the position of the zone in Imo politics. These have strong impacts on the fewness of aspirants from Orlu zone politicians that rush to apex parties to easily grab the tickets, while the other zones that feature multiple aspirants end up in intra party fracas.
In 2023 Owerri zone and her politicians still have another chance but they should be united and speak in one voice and in collaboration with other zones much can be achieved.