Four Years to the 2027 Imo governorship election, Owerri Zone is in pole position to produce the next governor of Imo State in line with the Charter of Equity.

In this interview with INNONEWS, via Zoom from London , the President, Owerri Zone Awareness Coalition, OZAC, Chief Emmanuel Okwu, explained reasons why 2027 will not elude Owerri zone for guber. He also gave insight to other sundry issues._


INNONEWS: What is the take of OZAC, as regards the Imo Charter of Equity, and the quest for Owerri zone to produce the next governor of Imo State in 2027

OKWU: Thank you so much. Owerri zone is overdue to produce the next governor of Imo State in 2027.

Governor Hope Uzodimma, has said publicly, that he will hand over to Owerri zone when he leaves office in 2027. His statement was widely publicized.

It is against the grain of common sense for someone to oppose an Owerri Zone governor in 2027.

We are part of Imo State, a major tripod of the State and we cannot continue to be the weeping child of the Imo political family. We are not political slaves in the State.

It is only those who want to turn the truth upside down, those who want to continue to feed on the marginalization of Owerri Zone that would not support us from producing the next governor of the State.

Since 1999, we have only produced a governor for just seven months.Okigwe Zone had a governor for four years through Ohakim and had the opportunity to go for eight years, but Ohakim was rejected by the people of Imo State at the polls in 2007.

Whatever factors that are bandied about as reasons why Ohakim was not re elected are immaterial at the moment.

He simply lost re election and he is not the first governor in Nigeria not to be re- elected.

I hear some people say that Owerri Zone connived with Orlu Zone to deny Ohakim and Okigwe zone of a second term.

That is incorrect, what sacked Ohakim from office were interplay of various political and non political variables at that time which he could not withstand.

Owerri Zone is not to be blamed for the political calamity which befell him and Okigwe zone , because we in Owerri Zone, we are not blaming anyone for the manner our son, Emeka Ihedioha, was sacked as governor by the Supreme Court and another person from Orlu Zone, Senator Hope Uzodimma, took over.

It also baffles me that some elements in Orlu Zone are saying that Owerri zone governorship candidates in the 2023 governorship election challenging Uzodimma’s victory in the polls should withdraw their cases in court.

It is preposterous for someone to say so and sometimes, I wonder how some people reason that way.

Everyone has the right to go to court, to seek redress on any matter that he or she is not happy about.

We are not in a position to compel Senator Samuel Anyanwu, the PDP governorship candidate or any other governorship candidate from Owerri zone who took part in that election, to withdraw his matter in court against Governor Hope Uzodimma.

If Anyanwu or any oher participant in that election feels displeased about the outcome of the governorship election, nobody can stop them from feeling that way.

When Ihedioha was governor of the State, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume and Senator Hope Uzodimma, from Okigwe and Orlu Zones, went to court and they all challenged Ihedioha’s victory in the 2019 governorship election.

Did we in Owerri zone attack them? Is Owerri Zone not supporting Uzodimma’s government despite the fact he got the Supreme Court to remove Ihedioha?

Did Owerri Zone wield their sword against Orlu zone where Uzodimma comes from? Did Owerri Zone not give Uzodimma over 90,000 votes in the last governoship election?

INNONEWS: Are You Saying that OPOCA which called on sons of Owerri Zone to withdraw their cases against Uzodimma are playing to the gallery?

OKWU: Of course, they are. They are being funny. I think they are trying to convince the Governor to recant his assurance that his successor will come from Owerri Zone. It is just a cheap political gimmick.

And we are aware that some powerful forces in Orlu Zone are strongly opposed to the tenets of the Charter of Equity, which Owerri Zone, would be the biggest beneficiary in 2027.

But this time around, they are on a wild goose chase because there is nothing cast on stone that will make us abdicate the task of ensuring that Owerri Zone produce the next governor of the State in 2027.

INNONEWS: Aside Orlu Zone, Okigwe Zone is also making a strong case for the guber in 2027 on the guise that they had an incomplete tenure. How would Owerri Zone win the governorship in 2027 when key Zones such as Orlu and Okigwe are also making strong agitations?

OKWU: In every election cycle in the State, all the Zones do come up with governorship aspirants or candidates.

It is not strange to us and we know that in 2027, it would not be an exception.

But we in OZAC, are saying that it would be a waste of time for governorship aspirants from Orlu and Okigwe, to contest, because there is a Charter of Equity in place.

We rather call on them to see reasons with us, and support Owerri zone in 2027.

The Charter of Equity would be meaningless if it does not kick start from Owerri zone. We are the most marginalized. We have been short changed and it is time we correct it.

INNONEWS: But the Charter is not a legal document that will compel the aspirants irrespective of the zone he or she is coming from, from not contesting for governorship.

OKWU: We know it is not, but It has the force to bind all the three zones.

Across the South East States, it is only in Imo State, we do not have something that bind us, as regards rotation of the governorship of the State.

I m happy that the Governor has said he will use the instrumentality of his office to implement it. Majority of all the political stakeholders in the state, are willing to stick to it.

And I believe it will go a long way to put a stop to the dominance of one Zone of the governorship of the State.

And I remain optimistic that the Charter of Equity would not be truncated.

Owerri Zone has made so much sacrifice, more than Okigwe and Orlu Zones to have equity in the State, particularly pertaining to the knotty issue of the governorship.

In 1999, an Owerri Zone son, late Humphrey Anumudu, conceded the governorship ticket of the PDP, to Achike Udenwa from Orlu Zone to be governor.

In 2027, another Owerri Zone son, Martin Agbaso, who was governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, won the 2027 governorship election. That election was cancelled by Maurice Iwu, then Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, who rather manipulated the electoral process to favour his kinsman from Okigwe zone, Ikedi Ohakim, to become governor.

In 2019, another Owerri zone son, Emeka Ihedioha, won the 2019 governorship election.

He was sworn in, but after seven months, he was sacked from office by the Supreme Court, which replaced him with Senator Hope Uzodimma, from Orlu zone as governor.

Based on the foregoing, you can see that Owerri zone certainly needs to be compensated and the only way, this can be done, is to allow Owerri Zone, via the Charter of Equity, produce the next governor in 2027.We have suffered political bruises more than any other zone in the State. And this is the time for those bruises to be treated and healed completely.

INNONEWS: They say, power is not given, but taken. Do you think Owerri zone would be given power on a platter, on the grounds of sentiment and emotion?

OZAC: There is no basis for Owerri zone to be given power on a platter.

It is not about emotion or sentiments. It is about the truth. We will take what I believe, is overdue for us to have. And 2027 is the year; Owerri zone would produce the governor of the state in line with the Charter of Equity.

INNONEWS: Other major political stakeholders in the State believe that the Charter of Equity is not the creation of Imo people. Some say it is just a design by loyalists and friends of the governor in the APC for him to have a successor. How do you react to that?

OZAC: Those who say so are not in touch with political reality in the State. And if I may correct that notion, it is not Governor Uzodimma that created or designed the Imo Charter of Equity.

It was done by the Imo State Council of Elders. The Council is made up of men and women who are mainly apolitical.

INNONNEWS: But 90 percent of friends, loyalists and associates of the Governor make up the Council. The Governor was the one who constituted members of the Council and inaugurated them. Don’t you think they will do his bidding?

OKWU: It does not really matter who are in the Council as long as they are from Imo State.

Everyone cannot agree on one thing at a time. If the Council deemed it fit to come up with such arrangement, it is commendable.

What is important is the concept. Is the idea good? Would it work for the good of the State? These are what should agitate our minds.

We, in OZAC, we will encourage majority of the political parties in 2027, to field governorship candidates from Owerri zone. If the candidate of party A, as long as he or she is from Owerri Zone, is acceptable to the people of the State and he is voted for at the polls, we will accept it.

INNONEWS: We read in the newspapers that Capt Emmanuel Iheanacho, a former minister of Interior, had convened meetings, in Owerri, and other parts of the country, to galvanize support among Owerri zone leaders to champion the cause of an Imo governor of Owerri zone extraction in 2027. How do you react to that?”

OKWU: It is commendable. But we need to go beyond that. We in OZAC are going beyond that. We are determined to ensure the realization of this project.

Our approach is different and I believe it is high time; strategies and approach to such matters are changed to ensure the success of this project.

We cannot continue the same approach and always end up making the same mistakes, and cry foul at the end of the day.

INNONEWS: Does OZAC have anyone in mind from Owerri Zone for Imo governor in 2027

OZAC: Not at all. We are not projecting any one.This is not the time to project anybody.

At the same time, we should be careful how we are going about our agitation, because we have a governor, who is just barely two months old in his second tenure.

We are committed to giving him all the support he needs to succeed.

For me, it is premature for us to start convening meetings to discuss about how to take over from him, when he is barely starting his second term.

Like I said earlier, we have our approach to actualize this project, and it is going to an open and frontal approach, and where all the stakeholders in the Zone, beyond the political class, would be part of.


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