By Ethelbert Okere
It is difficult to say how often the media team of former Imo state governor, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, gets debriefed but what is not in doubt is that its members, whether singularly or collectively, believe that the best strategy for returning him to office as governor is to constantly paint his successor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, in bad light and discredit whatever he does. But this is a highly misplaced strategy for the simple reason that in his quest to return as governor, Rt. Hon Ihedioha will first have to deal with a formidable opposition within his party before proceeding to face the realities of the huge impact Governor Uzodimma would have made on the Imo electorate by the time the governorship elections hold about this time next year.
A member of the team once confessed to me that the main worry within the Ihedioha camp is that Governor Uzodimma has been able to successfully resist a well marshaled out plan to frustrate him. That was when I knew that these same people were (and still are) wallowing in sheer naivety because even a child would wonder how they could have succeeded in frustrating even a weakling of a governor let alone a Hope Uzodimma.
The best they could do was to feast on the spate of insecurity that followed the April 5, 2021 attack on the correctional facility in Owerri and the subsequent menace of the fabled unknown gunmen. Nobody, can, of course, argue that that saga was not a minus for the Uzodimma administration but it also brought out the best in it. Whether anybody likes it or not, the administration is weathering the storm. Conversely, it is on record that the Ihedioha camp kept clapping for the non-state actors who unleashed mayhem on their own people because for them, that was the most eloquent testimony that Governor Uzodimma was not doing well.
When Charles Chukwuma Soludo, during his campaigns to become governor of Anambra state, made the statement, “Anambra Aburo Imo” (Anambra is Not Imo)”, in a bid to get even with one of his opponents, members of the Ihedioha camp made a song and dance of it to mock their own kit and kin even when worse things were happening – and still happening – in Anambra state. Of course, a day will soon come when they will be confronted by the good people of Imo state to account for all that perfidy.
The camp’s main megalomaniac, Hon. Uche Onyeagucha, went from one television station to another struggling to convince the rest of Nigeria that it needn’t go elsewhere but Imo to locate the very root of insecurity that was becoming pervasive in the entire Southeast.
Onyeagucha centered his ‘advocacy’ on the April 5, 2021 attack on the Owerri correctional facility, as earlier mentioned, and the unfortunate killing of Ahmed Gulak on May, 23, 2021. In response to one of his outings on Arise Television via an article entitled, “The Uche Onyeagucha Arise Television Interview”, I pointed out that limiting the interrogation of the Southeast security situation to Imo state was a disservice to the people of the zone, indeed Nigeria as a whole. A day after, one of them glibly asked me whether I watched Onyeagucha on television when we met at a shop, in an apparent show of pride over the latter for a job well done.
A few months later, another member of the camp, Hon. Ray Emeana, took his turn on television to disparage the state and its people. During the interview, which was virtual, Emeana, a brilliant and eloquent fellow, displayed so much venom, his eyes bulging so frightfully that at a point, you were almost certain that he was going to jump out of the television screen, pounce on the interviewer and do him a deadly blow. Minus the hackneyed allusion to a court ruling that robbed his camp (party) of its mandate to govern the state, Emeana said nothing that gave his viewers any inkling that his camp (the Ihedioha camp) was concerned about the security situation in the state.
Then came the turn of yet another prominent member of the camp, Hon. Henry Nwawuba, member representing Mbaitoli-Ikeduru federal constituency in the House of Representatives. Hon Nwawuba displayed so much brilliance but not unexpectedly, he wallowed in the same sophistry. Nwawuba posited that Imo state had become the “epicenter” of insecurity in the Southeast, a claim that was at once cheap and shallow, to the extent that it again merely signified the frustrations within the camp.
In an article in response to that outing and entitled, “Hon Henry Nwawuba: Amazing Brilliance Polluted By Sophistry, I noted that even though Hon Nwawuba was not as uncouth and rambunctious as the duo of Onyeagucha and Emeana, he was unable to escape from the same emotional imbalance suffered by the former.
Now, however, and for reasons that are not difficult to fathom, the state is beginning to witness a gradual return to normalcy. Hitherto no-go-areas are beginning to witness a return to social activities such as wedding ceremonies, new yam festivals, religious activities etc. Even corporate organizations are beginning to return to Imo for their conferences, seminars and other forms of events. A couple of weeks ago, a body of professional accountants, nationwide, held a major event in Owerri.
As I write, Catholic Bishops in the entire country are holding a one-week conference in Orlu, one of the places that were said to be forbidden a couple of months ago. A few days ago, the clerics drove the entire 35-kilometer, completely rehabilitated, road from Orlu to Owerri and which was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari earlier. Their words on what they saw are currently trending, so that there is no need repeating them here.
But it will not be surprising if some intemperate members of the Ihedioha camp go to town to mock the Bishops for acknowledging that Governor Hope Uzodimma has done a good job in transmogrifying that road because they would never had in their wildest imagination believed that such a thing could still happen in Imo without their principal being on the saddle.
In twenty four hours after the president commissioned that road, along with a section of the Owerri-Okigwe road that is being similarly transformed, plus, of course, the House of Assembly Complex that was completely dilapidated before it was reconstructed by the current administration, the Ihedioha men went into a frenzy over who, between Governor Uzodimma and Rt. Hon. Ihedioha, should take the credit.
Led by Dr. Sam Amadi, some members of Ihedioha’s media team mocked the president for not only commissioning an uncompleted road but also the House of Assembly complex which they claim their principal had approved for rehabilitation before he was removed from office. Amadi even queried the legislators for dancing inside the rehabilitated chambers in celebration. And I ask: When did we become this sadistic? But such is the abysmal level to which the quality of public commentary has been reduced in the state.
The current tantrums over whether or not President Buhari should have first sought to know who started the rehabilitation of the complex before coming to Imo state is, as far as I am concerned, the biggest intellectual dishonesty that could happen among a people more so in a place like Imo, known for its sophistication.
Curiously, Amadi, who led the onslaught, had only a few weeks earlier and in three different instances, apologized for hurriedly making comments on Imo in the social media without first getting the facts. This very brilliant kinsman of mine – he hails from my mother’s maiden home stead – is quite well known for his robust contributions to debates on national issues but his penchant or preference to sound ordinary when it comes to matters concerning his home state, is at once an indication that he is under a brief and that like Onyeagucha, Emeana, Nwawuba etc, he is fixated over matters concerning the Uzodimma administration. But I pray that he sets himself apart because he certainly does not belong there. Of course, as a brother, I always feel quite uncomfortable over each gaffe.
Perhaps what finally gave out the team was a comment by another of its members, Ms. Ada Onyechere, during the Kaakaki show on the African Independent Television (AIT) a day after the president’s visit. Onyechere, who is fond of making negative comments about Imo, her home state, whenever she is on set, cajoled one of the guests on the newspaper review segment into mocking the president for coming to Imo.
She then concluded by saying that the commissioning of projects in Imo was mere window dressing because, according to her, it is a wonder how projects could be going on with the spate of insecurity in the state. And that’s the crux of the matter. How did Uzodimma do it?