By Innocent Onyeukwu
As a devoted student of political science, my journalistic journey has been intricately intertwined with the dynamics of politics.
From my early days as a reporter to ascending the editorial echelons and currently steering an online newspaper—the first in south-east Nigeria—I have steadfastly observed the political contours of Imo State.
Emerging from a lineage steeped in political engagement, my late father, Ikemba Owerre, Nath Onyeukwu, was a confidant, strategist, and ally to the late Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, also known as Marafa Sokoto .
He rose to become a major component of Shinkafi’s presidential team, THE CHOICE 92 .
Shinkafi was once the head of the Nigeria Security Organization, NSO, which is the present-day Department of State Security, DSS.
He was also a leading presidential aspirant in the botched Third Republic and was on the verge of clinching the presidential ticket of the National Republican Convention (NRC) before IBB canceled the democratic exercise.
An encounter with Shinkafi during one of his private visit many years ago during the course of his presidential campaigns left a lasting impression on me.
Even at my young age then, I discerned a crucial message in his speech—the imperative for then-President Ibrahim Babangida to identify a worthy successor.
Shinkafi harboured grand visions for Nigeria, and at all times, he was a strong advocate that IBB must have a successor who understands Nigeria like the back of his palms.
Fast forward 30 years to Imo State, where Governor Hope Uzodimma has laid the groundwork to produce a successor.
This prompted him to blow the whistle for the 2027 gubernatorial race, even though he has yet to assume office for a second term.
Those dismissing the discourse around Uzodimma’s succession plans and the 2027 election as premature are politically indolent.
Uzodimma understands the intricate dynamics of power, mirroring the strategic foresight of a top politician like Marafa Sokoto .
Recognizing that succession is a race requiring an early kickoff, the governor has embarked on a calculated journey to secure a worthy successor beyond his current and final term. This is why at several events in 2023, he openly said he will hand over to Owerri zone.
His pursuit of the “Special One” from Owerri Zone as his successor in 2027 is strategic. Announcing it four years before the end of his final tenure demonstrates his determination to realize this vision.
Despite some political actors’ opposition to the current Imo Charter of Equity, which Uzodimma was accused of single-handedly setting up with his political associates in the APC, the commendable aspect is its commitment to equity and fair play in the rotation of the governor’s office. This is where he and the Imo State Council of Elders earn a big plus.
And those who oppose the Charter are politically naive and seem to be part of the old order where political injustice and inequality have shortchanged Owerri Zone from the seat of power in the state for many years.
The search for the “Special One” from Owerri Zone is underway.Our finest must come forward to throw their hats in the contest.
Serious and solid contenders, not political featherweights or ‘Johnny Just Come or food is ready Politicians,” should join the fray.
The game of succession is not a tea party; it’s not for the faint-hearted. It’s for those who understand the nuances involved in the game of political power.
I encourage Owerri Zone sons who understand politics and power dynamics to step forward. They must not fear dancing to the rhythm of power.
To navigate the power dynamics ahead of 2027, it’s imperative for Owerri Zone to adopt a posture that unequivocally signals readiness for leadership.
Power rarely arrives on a platter, especially when contending with formidable political forces in Orlu and Okigwe zones.
Orlu Zone, despite Uzodimma’s promise to hand over to Owerri Zone in 2027, would not give up power easily. They will gun for it. Thus, Owerri Zone must assertively and strategically position itself by demonstrating its resolve to claim its place in the power chessboard of Imo State.
It should echo the spirit of the surugede dance—a dance not for the faint-hearted but for the rugged and the brave, and those ready to embrace the enormous challenges of leadership.