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Okorocha, can one retire his father? asks Agunwa Emeka Nzeribe

By News Express on 17/05/2018

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•Okorocha (R ), paying homage to Arthur Nzeribe in the past. Photo:
•Okorocha (R ), paying homage to Arthur Nzeribe in the past. Photo:

There is time for everything, and a season for all things here on earth. Human beings on earth are in transit. We are just passing at a glance. We can only maximise our youthful age for the future.

In politics, just like in any other noble profession in the world, every dispensation has its gladiators. The likes of Nzeribe, Iwuanyanwu, Udenwa, etc came, saw and conquered. A brief insight into the lives of the afore-named persons will demonstrate that they had stamped their mark on the Nigerian, nay Imo, political landscape even before Gov. Rochas Okorocha was introduced to the Imo political scene in 2011.

Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu is a politician of note. In the present day Imo State, politicians who underwent tutelage under him are still making waves. For over two decades, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu was a household name in mainstream Nigerian politics. Chief Iwuanyanwu has been a determinant factor in politics of Nigeria and Imo State in particular. He has produced some notable politicians in the state, ranging from Councillors, Local Government Council Chairmen, State House of Assembly members, Federal House of Assembly members, Senators, as well as appointees at Federal, State and Local Government levels. “Ahaejiagamba” was a front line Presidential aspirant in the country under the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), before he was disqualified alongside other politicians. As a philanthropist, he has helped to sustain many families; and as a home builder, he has facilitated the employment of numerous sons and daughters of Imo origin into both Federal and State establishments. In a nutshell, Chief Iwuanyanwu was not retired by anyone, not least, Rochas Okorocha; he was affected by the present CHANGE of government in the country, as it is not possible to retire someone whose political son is a serving Senator of the Federal Republic. Presently, Chief Iwuanyanwu is still a member, Board of Trustees of the PDP, on merit.

Chief Achike Udenwa came into political limelight through the defunct Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN). As a man destined to rule, he contested the gubernatorial ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1999, and although he came fourth in the primaries, through providence, the leaders of the party saw in him, the rare quality of humility, and therefore favoured him. He was elected Governor of Imo State in 1999 and was re-elected in 2003. Upon completion of his second term in 2007, he helped to enthrone new leadership in Imo West Senatorial District (Orlu Zone) that saw the defeat of Senator Arthur Nzeribe by Senator Osita Izunaso. Every human has his/her own flaws; so also does Gov. Udenwa. By reason of indecision, he was unable to enthrone a preferred  successor in the State, but his tenure as governor produced quality leaders who are still relevant in Imo politics today. (It is needless, delving into his achievements while in office as Governor of Imo state).

His appointment as Minister of the Federal Republic attracted very many petitions most of which were adjudged frivolous, though his reign as Minister was short-lived. In 2011, Dr. Udenwa entered into an alliance with the likes of Senator Araraume and Rochas Okorocha (now, governor) with the objective of unseating the then Governor, Ikedi Ohakim. In 2011, their Imo Alliance for Good Governance was absorbed into the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) when they failed to seize control of PDP in the state, and the gubernatorial ticket of the party favoured Senator Araraume. Yet again, the simmering tension over candidacy for the Imo West Senatorial ticket between the then Gov. Udenwa and Chief (later, Governor) Rochas Okorocha was later defused, and eventually resolved in the former’s favour by Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu; in anger, Gov. Okorocha  defected to All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and became the gubernatorial candidate. The Alliance of Good Governance in the state did not die off in Orlu Zone, however, as series of meetings were held between Gov. Okorocha and Gov. Udenwa in the country home of the latter at Amaifeke Orlu. On the strength of the prevailing indices and evidences, it was adduced that the gubernatorial election could be inconclusive with no clear winner in the first ballot, and an agreement was reached that in event of a tie, the “ONONGONO” members especially those of Orlu Zone extraction should align their support with Rochas Okorocha in the second ballot to enable him win. The rest is now history.

Still, Gov. Okorocha has recently been claiming that no heavyweight helped him to win in 2011. Presently, Gov. Udenwa has been appointed a member of Board of Trustees of PDP, a position reserved for elders in the party. How then can anyone describe such a man as “retired”, even when the so-called retiree currently occupies a befitting office as an elder.

Now, to the enigma named Francis Arthur Nzeribe. Ordinarily, Senator Arthur Nzeribe (Ogbuagu, Oshiji, Damanze, Oyimba of Oguta) would need no introduction. But for clarity, I will give a brief account of his political life. Ogbuagu Nzeribe till date is still accused of been the man that introduced *'Ghana-Must-Go* (cash-in-bags) into Nigerian politics. If Igbo leaders who are wealthy in those years saw what he saw then, the marginalisation of Ndigbo in Nigeria Project would have been a thing of the past. As an accomplished international businessman, he might have chosen a different pathway into politics, as most capitalists would do, but he chose and pitched tent with the *'Igbo Party'* known as and called, Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP). Through the instrumentality of his wealth, he made the Igbo and Zik of Africa proud as he was the major financier of Zik’s Presidential aspiration in 1983. There's no gain-saying on how he provided a private Jet that Zik used to tour the country on his campaigns, and how he sprayed down money from atop helicopters in and around campaign grounds. Ogbuagu was first elected Senator in 1983 alongside the likes of the late Olusola Saraki (father of current Senate President) but his tenure was short-lived due to the military intervention. (I wish to know how old Gov. Okorocha was in 1983 and role/roles he played in the politics of Imo State or Nigeria during the period).

After the interlude introduced by the military, and the introduction of a new republic, if not for selfishness of some notable Igbo leaders, what Senator Bola Tinubu is doing in South West Nigeria and some parts of the country is what Ogbuagu saw and planned for years back. Through CARIA, Ogbuagu tried to unite the South East and South South of Nigeria. The Northern elites saw the danger in unification of the two sister zones which made them to sponsor internal enemies that disrupted this noble plan of Ogbuagu. He ran for Presidential ticket of Social Democratic Party (SDP) before he was disqualified along the likes of late Major General Shehu Musa Yar'dua, etc. He formed Association of Better Nigeria (ABN) through which he got overnight judgement for the annulment of June 12 Presidential elections, as he claimed that late MKO Abiola used his friend Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) to disqualify him and others from contesting for the seat. In 1999, Ogbuagu became the Senatorial candidate of All Peoples Party (APP) while Gov. Okorocha was given the ticket of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It might interest readers to note that PDP won in other two zones of the State, precisely Owerri Zone through Senator Evan Enwerem and Okigwe Zone through Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, but lost woefully in Orlu Zone as Ogbuagu defeated Gov.  Okorocha roundly at the polls. His presence in the Senate was noticeable even as opposition member, he influenced and determines who gets what in the senate. He defected to PDP and was reelected in 2003. Due to skirmishes between him and powers that be at the federal especially the 3rd Term saga which has metamorphosed into present day 3rd Force, the then Gov of Imo state was used to ensure he does not get a return ticket to the upper chamber, thus emergence of Senator Osita Izunaso. Ageism is something every being must experience, and its a fundamental human rights and United Nations frowns at it. We MUST all age and become incapacitated some day. In 2011, even when his beloved political son was aspiring for Federal House of Representatives seat of Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta, Oru West Federal Constituency, due to health challenges, Ogbuagu wasn't in the country prior to 2011 general elections, still Hon. Alphonsus Gerald Irona political heir to Ogbuagu was elected and declared winner of the Federal Constituency seat. Many where of the opinion that had it been that Ogbuagu was home and healthy, that he could have used his political prowess to influence election results when Oguta LGA was amongst other LGAs to determine winner of the 2011 gubernatorial election. Ogbuagu is not getting younger and has lived and is still living a fulfilled life. He is an accomplished politician who made his mark in Nigeria politics whose footprints remains evergreen. He has reached his height and age is not on his side. Ogbuagu's first Uzoma Nzeribe died at the age of 40years in 1998, if he's alive today he would have been 59years old while Gov. Okorocha will be 56years in September this year. From the calculation, you will agree with me that Ogbuagu Nzeribe is a father to Gov. Okorocha. How could one claim to have retired a man that defeated him twice in a Senatorial contest? One cannot retire his father, rather, a father hands over to the son. Imolites should wait, and watch to see who will be politically inconsequential after 2019 and beyond.

Source News Express

Posted 17/05/2018 11:00:13 AM


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