By Barr. Emperor Iwuala
In this write-up, the term ‘Ndi Owerre’ refer to the people of Owerri Federal Constituency comprising Owerri Municipal, Owerri North and Owerri West local government areas of Imo State. These areas habour the major parts of Owerri Capital Territory and Owerri metropolis.
Interestingly, Ndi-Owerre have always been major stakeholders in determining who rules Imo State. For example, during the 2011 general elections, they contributed greatly to victory of Governor Rochas Okorocha who is from Orlu Senatorial Zone. They also stopped their daughter from picking the only senatorial slot from their Senatorial Zone which they gave to a two-time Senator Senator Chris Anyanwu from the Mbaise clan. At the end of the day, Ndi Owere could not be placed at any political advantage unlike the Mbaise people that got the senatorial seat, the only ministerial slot for the state and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Regrettably, what Ndi-Owere got in return from Governor Okorocha for helping him into power was forceful take-over of their various ancestral lands, blackmail of his former Deputy Jude Agbaso (an Owerre man) and unjustly sponsoring his impeachment/disgrace from office, relocation of Imo State University out of Owerri, illegal demolition of ancestral homes, business outfits etc. belonging to Ndi Owerre, embezzlement of local government allocations meant for the development of the three local government areas in the place, etc.
Recently, some acclaimed elders of Owerre led by one Rtd. Justice Duke Njiribeako went on a macabre dance at the Government House Owerri. Therein they called on Governor Okorocha to seek for a second term come 2015.
Unfortunately, this is coming at a time every Imo man is clamouring for the 2015 Governor to emerge from Owerri Senatorial Zone.
The 2015 elections are fast approaching and every political clime in Imo State is strategizing. Therefore, the question is what is the way forward for Ndi Owerre? Will Ndi Owerre continue to be suya, vegetables and pepper soup to others as usual?
‘Onye Owerre wuru Governor na 2015 eligwe O ga-ada’?
For a little while now, some Owerrri Federal Constituency sons have declared interest to contest the governorship seat in the state come 2015. For now, the ones that are pronounced are the former Minister of Interior Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho from Emekuku, Barr. Bethel Nzimako from Orogwe and Chief Jerry Chukwueke from Awaka.
Regrettable, rumour has it that on the 2nd of November, 2013, Eze Emenyonu Njemanze of Owerre Nchi Ise (Municipal) and Eze Okoro of Emii Owerri in North, in conjunction with some other yet-to-be-identified traditional rulers are to confer a ‘special’ chieftaincy title to Chief Jerry Chukwueke. It is also being said that this conferment is an opportunity for Chukwueke’s adoption as the 2015 governorship candidate by the people of Owerri Federal Constituency. Rumour also has it that the above named traditional rulers were given =N=10 million each for the occasion to hold.
However, it is even an irony that the two traditional rulers in question left their different domains to organise the said event in Emekuku. It is also being said that the reason why Chief Obi Memorial Secondary School Emekuku was chosen as the venue for the event was a strategy to slight, ridicule, stampede and unjustly ‘outwit’ Captain Iheanacho who incidentally hails from the same Emekuku.
However, this provocative act is already causing ripples in many quarters. Tongues have also started wagging on why the traditional rulers in question who are supposed to be apolitical, neutral, men of honour, integrity and fathers to all have debased themselves. Many Owerre people and the public in general are shocked and have condemned the proposed event saying that it is very wrong for the said traditional rulers to have cheaply descended into the arena of full time politics because of what is described as a mess of potage. Many are of the opinion that it is also unfair and an unduly over-reaching act for the duo to have taken sides with Chief Chukweke whom they say, has not done anything tangible for Ndi Owerre or the state sufficient enough to warrant the proposed honour he is slated to be given. The pertinent question which now arises can be framed as follows; When has conferment of traditional honour become a ‘cash and carry’ affair, reserved only for the highest bidder in Owerre?
This could be likened to the historical travesty where Igbo traditional rulers of old were reported to have wickedly sold their able bodied men and women into slavery for selfish interests.
However, it has been speculated if the conferment of such extraordinary customary title were indeed worthwhile, it is even a person like Capt Iheanacho who gave employment to many persons from Owerre and the state in general, who additionally maintains a stable of genuine businesses that employs many youths in the state and the nation and has also served as an Honorable Minister that should be so honoured.
Interestingly, the preponderance of informed public opinion is that Ndi-Owerre should properly gear themselves up to occupy their proper place in the leadership of Imo State. If so, it means that this is no longer the time to gamble, joke or play to the gallery. The people must now face reality because other climes are also strategizing.
Therefore, they should not queue behind a governorship aspirant who is neither tested nor can boast of any tangible score-card in relation to the business of efficiently managing the affairs of Imo State. Now, it is time for the people to present their best. I mean an Owerre person that has political pedigree, prowess, integrity, marketable image who has been entrusted with responsibility and he did the people proud.
It is only when this is done that Ndi-Owerre can regain their rightful place in the political leadership of Imo State and the right time to do so is now because ‘a stitch in time saves nine’.
(Iwuala can be reached on: 08037247295)