Posted by Collins Chibueze Ughalaa | 15 June 2017 | 3,797 times
Hon Nick Opara-Ndudu, FCA
Former Chief Economic Adviser to IMSG and Honourable Commissioner
Ezeogba Emekuku, Owerri
Re: Rotation/Zoning of Imo State Governorship – An Advisory: You cannot eat your cake and have it back
No doubt, this is a season of letter writing in Imo State. Since former Governor Ikedi Ohakim opened the new vista of writing letters to Governor Rochas Okorocha, wherein he drew the attention of the governor to issues of bad governance in the state and called on him to redress his steps and turn a new leaf, other leaders in the state have taken that path. The latest letter came from you, to the governor on the Democracy Day, when he was dancing on the podium, celebrating his sixth-year of clueless leadership in the state.
However, something struck me so hard after I read your letter over and over again, for a record ten times. I wondered what has come over our leaders for some years now. You used to be known as an upright and intelligent man, but your letter only convinces one that all one thought about you were just media creations, after all. Nevertheless, I must thank you for coming up to admit that you and other prominent sons and daughters of Owerri zone you listed in your letter produced Governor Okorocha. It is also heart-warming to read that you admitted that you and the people you listed truncated the zoning arrangement that was put in place by the elders of the state, just for personal reasons. And six years after, you want the same zoning arrangement back to your bosom, without first of all atoning for your sins. This is why I remind you of the idiom: You cannot eat your cake and have it.
It is incredible how you have continued to twist the facts and play emotional games. Your claims on zoning, particularly that the debate on zoning favours Owerri zone, where you come from, is hogwash. I need to tell you that Owerri zone is yet to present any compelling argument on zoning, and as far as the zoning or rotation argument goes in the state, it does not favour Owerri zone one bit.
Again, before I go into the statistics you provided to hoodwink the gullible in your well-crafted mind-game, let me say this: If you so much believed in zoning, as you claimed, why did you fund heavily the truncating of zoning arrangement in 2011, just because you were not offered a commissionership? Your argument that Orlu Zone had had eight years on the zoning template through Chief Achike Udenwa should also have convinced you that Okigwe zone should have got their own eight years on the same template, culminating in 2015. Why then did you spend huge sums of your money, alongside others from your zone, and offered Orlu zone another eight years? Why are you complaining now? In legal parlance, judges would say you have no locus standi, because you gave up on zoning voluntarily and selfishly, just for Senior Special Assistant (SSA) and commissionership position. Now, you have had both and you think Governor Okorocha does not remember all you did for him; you now want to climb on zoning to become governor? This is why leaders should not allow their selfish ambitions and ego becloud their good sense of judgment and fairness. If your argument on zoning should be sustained, you must bring in the equity and clean hands components of zoning.
Your mind game on zoning
It is alarming that you are yet to come to terms with the fact that no one can travel with falsehood for a long time. This is why you are still holding on to dishing out deceptive statistics on the governorship template of Imo State, as far as zoning is concerned. No doubt, Orlu zone would have been governor for 16 cool years by 2019, but the gullible could believe you that Okigwe zone has been governor for eight years and three months, under late Barrister Sam Mbakwe, who was governor (of old Imo State) between October 1979 and December 1983; and Dr Ikedi Ohakim, who was governor for four years between May 2007 and May 2011.
In your desperate bid to misinform and whip up sentiment, you did not reckon with the fact that between October 1979 and December 1983, when Mbakwe was governor, there was no zoning arrangement. More importantly, you ignored the fact that Mbakwe was not the governor of Imo State as we have it today. It is safe to state that Mbakwe was not governor of Imo State because, strictly speaking, he was governor of Imo, Ebonyi and Abia states. Therefore, it is mere deception to force on us the sentiment that Mbakwe was governor of the present Imo State and, thus, equate his tenure to the present Okigwe zone; whereas he was not from that zone when he was governor. This is against the fact that the first person to become governor of Imo State, as we have now, was an Owerri man.
Moreover, you did not state the obvious: that Owerri sons have been governors elsewhere. For example, Capt Onyearugbulam from Ikeduru was the military administrator of Ondo State. Air Commodore Ochulo from Mbaise was military administrator of Delta State, while Acholonu was military administrator of Katsina State. If you factor these into your argument on zoning, you would see that Owerri zone has not been marginalised at all. But you did not reckon with the fact that the zoning arrangement you are laying claims to was put in place decades after Mbakwe had ruled both present Abia, Ebonyi and Imo states. Can Abia people then argue that the people of Uturu had produced a governor of the state in the person of Mbakwe? Would Ngwa people in Abia State argue that Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu had been Governor of Abia State for Abia North Central Zone? Or would Ebonyi count that Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, who comes from a particular zone in that state, had been governor and thus had served their turn? And, if you also factored in the fact that laws don’t take retrogressive effect, you would see the futility in dragging Mbakwe’s regime into your claim.
You have no locus standi
If there should be anybody from Owerri zone who should make the case for zoning on behalf of Owerri zone, that person sure should not be you, because just like others like you in Owerri zone, you cut your nose in 2011 just to spite your face. This is why you lack the legal and moral pedestal to make the case on zoning for Owerri zone. The reason for this conclusion is simple. As you admitted, you are one of the major financiers of the Rochas Okorocha campaign in 2011. This act truncated the zoning arrangement you now lay claim to.
This is your confession on the roles you played to scuttle the zoning arrangement, and it is now used as evidence against you: “As a major supporter of your 2011 governorship bid and significant fund-raiser (if you still remember), I can rightfully claim to have projected your interest at that time and, thereafter, even as I served at your pleasure in your administration.”
You went on to list your collaborators in the effort to scuttle zoning, and to my mind, it was a carefully calculated scheme just to feather selfish ambitions. You wrote: “Aside from providing you the platform, they (90 per cent of Owerri sons and daughters) rallied round you, even when your kith and kin from Orlu failed to see any ray of hope or possibility in your ambition. If one may ask, who remembers Chief Martin Agbaso, Chief P C Onuoha, Dr S O Amaeshi, Chief Henry Megwa, Senator Chris Anyanwu, and motley of other contributors, including Chief C Y Amakor, Dr Obi Njoku, among several other Owerri indigenes who made sacrifices in order that your dream of becoming Imo governor in 2011 was realised.”
Leaders from Owerri zone like you have made the zoning debate in favour of Owerri zone so ridiculous. I have always asked myself: since leaders from Owerri zone like you had the power and funds to make someone governor, why did you not make someone from Owerri zone governor in 2011 and 2015? Why did you not fund and support your brothers, Capt Emma Ihenacho and Mr Ken Ojiri, who are from the same local government as you? It is frustrating to think that eight years ago, when Owerri had the wherewithal to make someone governor or lay claim to the zoning arrangement, you refused to heal thy own wounds or remove the log in your own eyes, first. You blew your chances. This makes your recent recanting mere ungodly politicking. And this is dangerous.
The accident of 2011
Let me quickly inform you that zoning is like an ivory. Once it falls and breaks, mending becomes a huge problem. Having said that, let me also correct your supposition on the accident of 2011, and state that contrary to your position, there was really an accident. And it is unfortunate you did not know about this accident.
You wrote: “Your Excellency, when you ran for the governorship in 2011, over 90 per cent of the key personalities around you were from Owerri. God forbid, if there was any calamity in the course of the campaign, a majority of the casualties would have been Owerri indigenes!”
For obvious reasons, you did not want your brothers to see that there was a fatal accident in Imo State in 2011, and that the first casualty was the zoning you now labour to heal. The accident of 2011 that brought Governor Okorocha consumed the opportunity Owerri zone would have had to produce the governor they so desire in 2015. And by now, Owerri zone would have been talking about their second term. The 2011 accident is consuming Eke-Ukwu Owerri, and has consumed Owerri Ancient Kingdom, as it has been balkanised into five autonomous communities with five rulers.
And, of course, as you lamented: “Owerri people’s apprehension appears to have been exacerbated by the rather unfortunate encounters some sections of the zone have had with your administration since 2011. They point to the experience of the Owerri Nchise indigenes who have been progressively dispossessed of their lands through an official land acquisition policy that has seen them not even spared some land for cemeteries to bury the dead. Add to that, an urban renewal programme that sought to disposes them of their ancestral market, without extensive consultations.”
This was all your fault, and of those who were with you in that voyage to scuttle the “Imo Charter of Equity by which provisions it was agreed that the governorship position be rotated among the three senatorial zones.”
Repent and do the right thing
God is a merciful God, and he exhorts us to repent and turn away from our sins. God exhorts us to show enough contrition for our sins. After all, 2 Chronicles 7:14 states: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Instead of engaging in political rendezvous, you should show enough contrition and take proper actions that would resolve the governorship dilemma of Owerri. You can find strength in the biblical provision in Psalm 51:17: “The sacrifices to God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
The adequate contrition by you and others of your ilk in Owerri zone is very crucial for the atonement that would follow, because back in 2011, I remember being with you in the country home of one prominent Orlu man who is an oil magnet, and you bragged so much about your exploits in making Okorocha governor. You even went as far as bragging that even Col Lambert Iheanacho, who was sent to deliver Ngor-Okpala for Rochas, did not do anything, that it was you who did the magic. In the Roman Catholic Church, your sin in 2011 is called the mortal sin, njo ogbugbu.
Equity and clean hands
The fact that you and others like you led Owerri zone into committing a mortal sin in 2011 and 2015 calls to mind the urgent need for atonement. This brings to the table the issue of ofo-na-ogu. When we were children, our parents taught us that whenever we spoilt anybody’s things, either by acts of omission or commission, we should apologise, and where possible replace the damaged item. On some occasions, our parents took us to the home of some fellow kids and play-mates whose items were spoilt in the course of playing. This was done mostly when it was realised that the damaged or spoilt item was precious to the child, or was the only item of such; or, it did not actually belong to the said person but was in his/her possession at the material time. We grew up with this moral. Then, in the church, our Sunday School teacher taught us to always have a clear conscience towards God and man. We equally imbibed this.
It is this clear conscience, equity and clean hands, or ofo-na-ogu,that we expect to see from the people of Owerri zone. Doing this would make you see the need for you and your zone to take 100 per cent blame for the accident of 2011 that was repeated in 2105. We are now in search of a solution for the myriads of trouble cast upon us by the selfish actions of leaders like you, from Owerri zone.
Zoning in other states
Your reference to how zoning is being done in other states, such as Lagos, Enugu, Abia, Delta, Cross River, etc, could make children weep, because you toured the route to whipping up emotions among those not so knowledgeable with the issues. I would have joined those weeping for Owerri zone, if I had not realised that Owerri should rather wipe their eyes and brace up to you and ask you critical questions on your roles in scuttling their fortunes in 2011 and 2015.
I would want you to consider this scenario: In relation to the zoning as you referenced in your letter. Could you pause a bit and ask yourself what could have happened if - in Enugu, Abia, Lagos, Delta, Cross Rivers, etc - the people from the marginalised zones frustrated the efforts at zoning and, thereby, denied their people the opportunities they now enjoy? But, in your case, you did the opposite; and funded and led to truncate? You would stop crying wolf, if you realised that you played very bad roles in scuttling such opportunities. And you have yourself to blame. Owerri zone also have you to blame, because you cannot eat your cake and have it back.
Playing the devil’s advocate
It is pertinent at this time to warn leaders like you from Owerri zone not to continue to mess up possible bright chances for the zone, and thus continue to postpone their time of reaching the gleam. Whenever it would seem that Owerri zone is itching closer to the ultimate prize, people like you would spring up and frustrate it, making it difficult once more to reach the Promised Land.
It is in the best interest of Owerri zone to halt this drift and evolve a better strategy at reaching this political Promised Land, and I urge you to see the larger picture and act accordingly. You are very much aware that majority votes alone do not make anyone governor. Therefore, no matter the amount of votes garnered from, or domiciled in, Owerri zone, no one can be governor from Owerri zone without the collaboration of other zones. This is why the need to chart a fresh and better strategy towards realising the Owerri dream is more imperative now than ever.
I say this because something tells me that Owerri zone, by the way they are going, might push Okigwe zone to align with Orlu zone to produce the next governor. If Okigvwe zone does what Owerri zone did in 2011 and 2015 and another man from Orlu zone becomes governor in 2019, that would mean that Owerri zone would have to wait for another 16 years, because Orlu Zone would like to reciprocate that huge and uncommon gesture. If this happens, it means that the governorship of the state would rotate among Orlu and Okigwe zones for the foreseeable future. If Owerri zone means what they claim about zoning, they should mend fence with Okigwe zone, because, I doubt that any reasonable man from Okigwe zone would vote anybody from Owerri zone without first of all backing Okigwe to return and complete their tenure. Owerri zone should know that four years in the life of any state is a short time. And, as I have said in previous articles, Owerri zone should just forgo another four years, and that’s all the miracle they need.
I am aware that you may include me in the list of “individuals” who would take you up and throw their tirades on you. Interestingly, I am not. But like you, “I am not in the least bothered,” whether you add me in that list or not. I am only bothered about leaders like you in Owerri zone. I also hope that you look beyond the general characterisation of people that might pick up on you, and see the opportunities offered to you in this letter.
•Collins Ughalaa based in Owerri, wrote this Open Letter on May 30, 2017. He can be reached via email@example.com
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