The Shrinking Political Space In Imo

by admin


By the rumour flying about, it seems the Imo State Government led by Senator Hope Uzodinma, will soon hold Local Government Elections in the State.

Unconfirmed sources said the election may hold next month, July, claiming that the ruling All Progressive Congress APC, will commence sale of forms in the coming weeks.

But the question is; which Opposition party will participate in such election whose results are already known?

The essence of Democracy is to allow for various shades of opinion among the masses, since no single person has the monopoly of knowledge.

Democracy is commonly defined as Government of the people, by the people and for the people.

In a Democracy, the Minority are always allowed to have their say, while the Majority have their way. In this case, the people are given the space to at least speak out, vent their opinions, whether they matter or not. They Populace will be satisfied that they have spoken their minds.

But in a situation where the Majority of the masses are bottled up and pigeon holed in a constricted environment and enveloped with apprehension of uncertainties leading to muteness, political analyst define that as dangerous.

Pundits prefare a model where the people are even allowed to shout themselves hoars, while those in Government do whatever they like.

Studies indicate that a quiet and subdued population is like a Rattle Snake and very dangerous whenever the opportunity to strike beckons.

In other words, if you conduct any Local Government election today in Imo State, I doubt if any other party will participate except the ruling APC. And no other political party will dare win a seat, as APC will clear the Stakes.

The reason is simply because of the shrinking political space in the State. Most people are losing interest in participatory politics in Imo. The disillusionment among the Imo Political class is in the highest ebb.

For the first time in the history of the State, the Imo House of Assembly is populated by just one political party, APC, except for a single Peoples Democratic Party PDP member, and one Accord Party Legislator.

In such a scenario, how do you think the Imo Legislature that should be the centre of Politicking after elections function optimally?

The boisterous nature, and robustness of any given Democratic Government is gauged from the lively intellectual rumblings in the Legislative House through constructive debates in the Chamber that habours different Lawmakers from various constituencies representing different peoples and variety of peculiar entities.

Imo State House of Assembly as presently constituted will not give joy even to its members to go to the House every sitting Day. To do what?

This same Imo House Assembly at a time was a respected Chamber made up of Legislators from different Political Parties and ideological hews.

Then, a Legislator who missed sitting will crave to know what transpired because debates were not stereo type and monotonous like now. The House was robust and an unpredictable rainbow gathering of Imo Representatives.

You get Ezeadi O Ezeadi of PDP (0kigwe) standing toe to toe to arguments presented by CNC Onuoha (Isu) of All Peoples Party APP.
Debates then were fundamentally based on altruistic discourse and not how much the Speaker and his Deputy will take home as annual pay and severance Allowance.

As Young Newspaper Correspondents then we don’t miss Imo House of Assembly debates any day.

There were Men in the House: Stanford Onyirimba, Oliver Akpaka, Elder Onyeama, Oliver Enwerenem, Agwuocha Chukwukadibia, Gozie Nwachukwu, Enerst Ibejiako, Jeff Ojinika, Eugine Onyeji, Goddy Dikeocha etc.

There was mutual respect between the Executive and the Legislature. And the major beneficiary of such relationship was the entire Imo State, as all parts of the State got what was its due. Party affiliation was immaterial. IMO was the issue.

The Governor knew his limits and the Legislators same.
The entire scenario has changed now, where youthful Lawmakers we thought would emerge in the Legislature and change the worrying status quo have rather abandoned their duties and forgot the checks and balances that rule Legislative ethics of performance and occupy themselves with mundane and frivolous activities that have no relationship with their Constituents.

It was Governor Rochas Okorocha who started the erosion of Legislative practices that have today finally buried our Legislature.

Governor Okorocha, it was, who appointed our revered Lawmakers as chairmen of Task Forces, and some them made supervisors of rural road constructions going on in the State then.

And for Christ sake, these Lawmakers accepted these demeaning jobs and abandoned their Legislative duties in Owerri. One Lawmaker then was incharge of motor parks.

In Imo LGAs of yore, there were competition among the elected chairmen, who of course emerged from different political parties after a Local Government Election conducted by State Electoral Body.

For instance, Hon Uche Diogu of Isu LGA who that time constructed a mini stadium was of opposition APP, while the Governor was Achike Udenwa of PDP.

Cyril Okafor of Orsu LGA was of APP. Infact,the Opposition Council Chairmen were more committed in delivering dividends of democracy as a way of wooing PDP followers.
And LGAs executed big projects. It was Chief Livy Okereafor who brought electricity to Ngor Okpala LGA.

All these chairmen attended the monthly Local Government Fund Allocation Committee same day in the same Hall, usually at All Season Hotel.
Yet they were from different political parties and must go home with whatever goes to each LGA from Abuja, despite party leaning.

Today, Imo Politics is gradually degenerating to a situation where if you don’t belong to the ruling party you are deemed “enemy” and practically denied all that accrues to a citizen.

The Governor Senator Hope Uzodinma truly has done well in the area of Road construction. We can attest to the superior quality of these roads done on Orlu and Okigwe Roads and some others done within the State capital Owerri.

But these achievements are in one sector as there are other areas that yet need attention.
Much as all Sectors must not the tackled at same time, it necessary to mention Environmental Sanitation, Security, Youth Unemployment, Welfare of the People etc.

Obviously it is proper to have alternative voices that can spur the Government to do more. This is the importance of opposition in a civilized society.

It is the right of the citizens to Comment on how they are governed since they have the right to decide which “God to worship”.

While it is the right of those who chose to swim and drown with the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, as a Leader,the same opportunity accrues to others who think other wise.
That is the beauty of Democracy, as it allows and protects both the “Yes” and “No” Sayers.

However, as Imo State approaches towards another dicey election in the next few months, we may not enjoy the usual robust campaigns that comes from the “More the Merrier” situation.

The Political Space in the State keeps shrinking every day that many voters may not even bother any more, even as the political class gradually lose interest.

Most Imo Politicians are now inside a one Way Bus, while those outside have lost hope as many of them will before the November 11, 2023 Governorship election retire voluntarily.

The disengagements of some political power Blocks from the Imo Governorship election has automatically made the contest lose steam and splendour.

This is the reason many Imo politicians are now joining the moving Train than wait for Godot.

With this scenario, the Imo Political Space shrinks further as the Big Players make detour into other activities to keep themselves busy until 2027.

In politics, the player is free to enact every trick that is known in the books to outwit known opponents.

Uzodinma is a Smart politician, who has exhibited strategic gimmickry to dislodge his opponents. And he always keeps them on their toes by releasing fresh tricks.
Most of the Big Elephants have vacated the Imo Political Forest through deft moves orchestrated by the Grand master. It is a Game and allowed.

And quite unfortunately for Uzodinma’s opponents that are still remaining in the field, the Governor has too many Cards in his bag, and has proved difficult to be caught napping. At least for now.

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