IMO STATE is not the heartland of Eastern Nigeria. This I completely disagree. It is actually the valley or the low point of Eastern Nigeria. Truth must be told. Since the return of civil rule in 1999, Imo State is among the states not been privileged to be governed by a good and visionary leader. If anything, the state has made tremendous progress in the reverse direction. Unfortunately, illustrious sons and daughters of Imo, with excellent pedigree, have stayed away from the state’s political arena, thereby creating the space for reactionary forces and hirelings to bestride the political economy of Imo.
In the last retreat of top government officials: the president, ministers, aids, senior civil servants; President Bola Tinubu charged the officials to spend money and not to spend the people. The government of Imo State, in close to four years, has been spending money and the people. We have been deceived for too long to accept that democracy as practiced here is the government of the people. It is actually a struggle between the Western powers and their reactionary elements and stooges that help to protect their interests and the quest by our people for genuine emancipation. What we now noticed is that ethnic groups that were empowered to serve the Western powers, reached out to friends in other tribes who are spineless and amenable to political control to assist in the project of keeping Africa down.
Democracy will always create friction and naturally generate its own heat. That happens everywhere. What really causes big trouble is external interest. The real problem of Imo is that some powers just want a man who will help silence the voices of captives crying for emancipation. Till this moment, people of Imo, and in fact, the global legal community, are yet to come to terms with the Supreme Court judgment that nullified Ihedioha’s victory and declared Hope Uzodinma who came a distant 4th winner.
In the judgment delivered by Justice Kekere Eku, the learned jurist declared that votes cast in 388 polling units were excluded, and if they were counted, Hope Uzodinma will be the winner. The court did tell the world the total votes cast in those polling boots. The major fault in the hasty judgment was that when the results of the said 388 polling units were added to give the APC candidate victory, results polled by other candidates were not reflected. Is it that all the people that voted in those polling units are members of Hope Uzodinma’s family, who could not vote for any other candidate except him? The Apex court actually progressed in error.
Few years back, there was a press release credited to Governor Uzodinma’s Chief Press Secretary stating that Abba Kyari made his boss governor. That statement was denied by the Press Secretary. But in Imo State, the supplanting of the people’s will did not involve blackmailing of Esau; it was Jacob’s hand and voice that was detected.
Most Imo people have been saying that they are unfortunate when it comes to governance. According to them, since 1999 they have never had a dynamic government. The people contended with the deceit of Okorocha for eight years, as he embarked on projects that had no connection with the people. Previous governments of Ikedi Ohakim and Achike Udenwa had nothing on ground to show for their years in Imo Government House.
I sincerely sympathise with Ndimo (Imo people); the last time they had it good was under Dee Sam Mbakwe. A man who was so passionate about development. Apart from the numerous roads he built around the state which then comprised of present Abia State and Afikpo Division in present day Ebonyi State; Mbakwe built the Imo Modern Farms, Imo State University, Concord Hotel, Owerri, Enyimba Hotels, Aba, Owerri Airport, Aluminium Smelter Plant, Inyishi, a power plant at Amaraku, Ogwe Golden Chicken at Asa, just to mention but a few.
Today, Imo State has become a ghost of its former self. It has become a theatre of war. Killings upon killings are going on continually. No one knows the actual people doing the killings. Accusations and counter accusations – unknown gunmen. IPOB, Eastern Security Network (ESN), Fulani herdsmen are all being fingered. Some citizens believe that government is also complicit in the crisis. The governor is the chief security officer of the state, it is his responsibility to ensure that Imolites dwell in safety. The residents, mostly from three local government areas along Owerri-Okigwe Road, namely Okigwe, Ihitte -Uboma and Onuimo, have tested hell here on earth.
People have abandoned their homes, including traditional rulers. Some now live in Owerri. A former governor of the state, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, once described the increasing spate of insecurity in Imo as worrisome.
The November 11th governorship election has, in a great measure, contributed in deepening the ugly situation in Imo. The entire country, and indeed the world, watched the Oluomonisation of Imo politics (apologies to King Charles for the immolation of his language). It is all about Imo.
In the February 2023 general election, one Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly known as Oluomo, was seen in a viral video warning and threatening voters not to come out to vote if they are not voting for APC. Oluomo, true to his words, harassed, intimidated, scared voters away from polling boots. And because nothing was done to him, APC in Imo adopted the same approach. Few days to election, some boys with their Ogene drums and percussion instruments were seen dancing around Owerri municipality, telling people who had no intention to vote for Uzodinma not to come out.
Unconfirmed reports have it that the election was marred by massive irregularities. Voters were scared of coming out to vote. Few people who summoned courage to come out were beaten up. Thugs were dressed in police uniform and were busy harassing and scaring away willing voters. Some pictures of polling stations showed on social media were completely empty.
First, it was in Lagos, and it worked and then in Imo, it has again worked. How far can this idea of stay-away-if you-are-not-voting-for-our-party go? INEC has declared their winner again, but the people of Imo are aware that Jacob has come again undisguised – in his voice and with his hands. Another four years of darkness looms.
Comrade Amechi, a trade unionist and pro-democracy activist, writes from Lagos.