MAKING OF THE IMO GOVERNOR

Truly, "there's no easy walk to freedom" as opined by the most revered African, Dr. Nelson Mandela. The struggle for a liberated Imo was not an easy one as prices were paid for its actualisation. Progressive minded persons fought from different fronts to realise this nobel dream. In this concise piece, I will give an eye witness cum participants account that led to eventual liberated Imo through emergence of Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma as duly elected Governor of the State. 

Imo Equity Movement was the first pronounced movement formed for this singular course of liberating Imo, though for purposes of a Governor of Owerri Senatorial Zone extraction. The pioneers of Imo Equity Movement which was launched in 2017 at country home of Dr. Uzoma Obiyo, Uguri-ike Nneise Ikeduru LGA Imo State includes, Dr. Vitals Orikeze Ajumbe, Barr. Kingsley Ononuju, Dr. Uzoma Obiyo with Barr. Uche Onyeaguocha as spokesperson, amongst other personalities. It was at the launch of this Equity Movement that the idea of erecting billboards in all strategic positions in the state which enlightened and refreshed memories of the masses on marginalisation of Owerri Zone in governorship of the state was initiated. This awareness created by proponents of Imo Equity Movement reawakened the consciousness of Imolites especially the people of Owerri Zone for a liberated and entrenchment of people oriented government. It might interest the reading public to note that while Imo Equity Movement gained wider acceptability within Owerri Zone and beyond, no governorship aspirant from Owerri Zone supported this move except Barr. Uche Onyeaguocha at the time of its inception. 

During the formation of Imo Equity Movement, through act of providence, all her founding members belonged to All Progressives Congress (APC). Prior to APC Congresses and Convention, some illustrious sons of Imo State within the ruling party mostly from Owerri Zone showed interest to aspire for Imo governorship seat. After a critical look at the possibility of wrestling power from Gov. Rochas Okorocha who was hell bent in putting his son in-law, Uche Nwosu as successor, another strategic meeting was held at same country home of Dr. Uzoma Obiyo, this time with prominent sons of other zones. In that meeting, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, Senator Osita Izunaso and Dr. Uzoma Obiyo formed an alliance with sole aim of deflecting political popularity of Gov. Okorocha within and outside Imo State. In a bid to have a formidable alliance, notable politicians within and outside APC family were co-opted into the three man alliance in their second meeting held at country home of distinguished Senator Osita Izunaso, Ohakpu, Oru West LGA of Imo State. At that meeting, it was agreed that the only way to defeat Gov. Okorocha and his son in-law is for the three gladiators to declare their intentions to run for governor of the state from their respective zones. 

As the alliance gathered momentum within the APC family, another strategic meeting was held at Owerri residence of Senator Izunaso that birthed a ten man Imo APC Stakeholders Forum with Dr. Uzoma Obiyo as Chairman. Other members of the steering committee includes; Dr. Vitalis Orikeze Ajumbe, Nze Elvis Agukwe, Chief Cosmas Maduba, Hon. Stanley Nzekwe, Barr. Emma Nwosu, Sir. BA Ejiogu, Hon. Longers  Anyanwu, Hon. CC Ubah. Upon inauguration, this committee held several strategic meetings both at the Chairman's country home in Uguri-ike in Ikeduru LGA of Imo State and his Maitama Office, Abuja. In one of the meetings at Abuja, it was agreed that Imo APC Stakeholders Forum should as matter of necessity hold it's First Press Briefing in Owerri. Agunwa Emeka Nzeribe as image maker of the Forum was mandated to lead other members of the Forum on this task of First Imo APC Stakeholders Forum Press Briefing. The Press Briefing which was successfully held on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at Lodan International Hotels, Owerri Imo State had in attendance all National and Imo State based media (both print and electronic) in attendance. 

After the successful Press Briefing led by Agunwa Emeka Nzeribe for and on behalf of Imo APC Stakeholders Forum, Dr. TOE Ekechi led sister group organised a Press Briefing tagged "Imerinwe Declaration" all geared towards ensuring that Gov. Okorocha didn't succeed himself by proxy. As the stage became hotter with many political gladiators showing interest in *'Project, No Third Term By Proxy'*, another strategic meeting was held in Owerri this time around all inclusive and it birthed Imo APC Coalition. Chief Okey Ikoro was nominated as Chairman with Barr. Kingsley Ononuju as Secretary. Imo APC Coalition swung into action and galvanised all that has been gained by similar outfits of same intents and purposes. 

Consequently, as 2018 APC Congresses and Convention drew nearer, no fewer than 7 governorship aspirants from Owerri Zone declared interest for the coveted seat. As a lover of his people Dr. Obiyo who had been nursing ambition to run for the number one seat in the state declined interest. Dr. Obiyo didn't abandon the idea of a new Imo he birthed, rather he played a more prominent role during and after the Congresses and Convention of APC. He made judicious use of all monies contributed by members of Imo APC Coalition for the purposes of Congresses and Convention as trusted custodian of Imo APC Coalition finances. There is no gain saying how Dr. Obiyo used his managerial capabilities in ensuring the landslide victory the group recorded during the Congresses. The success story of Imo APC Coalition will be incomplete without mentioning the role played by Hon. Casmir Ohamara led Imo APC LGA Chairmen known as 'G16'. This group played a formidable role in opposing the then high handedness of Gov. Okorocha within APC. It might interest you to note that the G16 couldn't have functioned affectively without the backing of Hon. Ugochukwu Nzekwe who was the Deputy Chairman of APC. Hon. Ugochukwu known as the Chairman of the Coalition faction of APC used his wealth of experience in political party management to ensure that no member of the G16 left for the Ndi-Agburu faction. Many thanks to distinguished Senator Ifeanyi Araraume who ensured that this group *(G16)* never lacked financially or intimidated. Its sad to note that late Senator Ben Uwajumogu who used his position as a serving Senator and member of APC National Executive Committee to provide privileged information to the Coalition could not live to enjoy the dividends of a new Imo which he laboured for its actualisation. Its very unfortunate that death cut short the political prowess of Senator Uwajumogu when we needed him most. Adieu Ben, as God knows the best. Pride to mention, its widely believed that Mr. President has a 'godson' in Imo State in the person of Rt. Hon. Emeka Nwajuba who used this rare link to consolidate the gains of the Coalition with the Presidency. Not only did Rt. Hon. Nwajuba use his contact for the victories recorded by Coalition, he contributed financially as he single handedly paid for the aircraft that conveyed members of the Coalition from Abuja to Owerri for the Congresses. As silent achiever, Chief Tony Chukwu played an underground roles technically, for the success recorded by the Imo APC Coalition. 

After the National Convention of APC where Imo APC Coalition through Senator Izunaso lost the National Organising Secretary of APC to Barr. Emma Ibediro of Ndi-Agburu extraction, in a well attended meeting of Imo APC Coalition at Uguri-ike, distinguished Senator Ifeanyi Araraume announced his decision of defecting from APC to APGA for actualisation of his gubernatorial dream. This decision of his came to members of Imo APC Coalition as a surprise, and with mixed reactions, Dr. Obiyo, other leaders and all governorship aspirants from Owerri Zone rejected the move but swore to remain and pursue their collective dream in APC. Several meetings held to ensure that Owerri Zone goes into APC intra party election with a consensus candidate proved abortive, thus making it easier for distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma who joined APC and Imo APC Coalition after Ali Modu Sherif faction in the PDP lost at the Supreme Court to Senator Makarfi gruop. As a serious contender with much connection and capacity, Senator Uzodinma emerged victories at the APC Governorship Primary election conducted by Alhaji Ahmed Gulak led Election Committee. 

As a party man, Dr. Obiyo in conjunction with other Imo APC leaders and unsuccessful gubernatorial aspirants supported the candidature of Senator Hope Uzodinma of APC at the March 9, 2019 governorship election. Upon the declaration of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as winner of the election by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Senator Uzodinma with other aggrieved candidates and political parties filed petitions at the Imo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Owerri. The Election Petition Tribunal upheld the election of Rt. Hon Ihedioha as duly elected Governor of the state. Not satisfied with the ruling of the Tribunal, appeals were filed by dissatisfied candidates and parties but the election of Rt. Hon. Ihedioha was still upheld by the Appeal Court, however, this time around, a minority ruling was in favour of Senator Uzodinma which added his votes excluded by INEC from 388 polling units across the state. With this ruling, Senator Uzodinma with two other agrevied candidates and parties filled appeals at the Supreme Court. After hearings and adoptions, the Supreme Court upheld the minority ruling of Appeal Court which declared Senator Hope Uzodinma as the authentic winner of the 2019 Imo Governorship Election.

It's on record that while the court processes lasted, Dr. Uzoma Obiyo as a notable leader from Owerri Zone didn't abandone his party APC and candidate who were in court. Irrespective of high powered delegations from the people of Owerri Zone urging him to join his brother in PDP and support him as the governor. Dr. Obiyo kept faith in APC candidate believing that they shall get victory from the court as it remained the last hope of the common man. 

My joy knew no bound as I saw all the political gladiators of our great party coming together and rejoicing for this singular victory. It showed that Imo is indeed APC and I urge them to sustain the tempo. I wish to congratulate all APC members in the state especially our Governor, Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma and wife, the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku and wife, Prince Marcon Nlemigbo and his Deputy, Hon. Ugochukwu Nzekwe, all members of Imo State Executive Committee of APC for this victory. In the same vien, I congratulate Dr. Uzoma Obiyo for his steadfastness, Rt. Hon. Goodluck Nana Opiah, the reputable leader of the oil region of Imo State, Sir Cosmos Iwu, the SSG, Barr COC Akaolisa, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehie, the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Oguike Nwachukwu, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, all devoted Leaders and LGA Party Chairmen in the state.

My special greetings goes to the leader of APC in my LGA, Dr. Gideon Uche Nwaeze and his able lieutenant, Prince Eugene Dibiagwu, Hon. Casmir Ohamara, the Chairman of Oguta LGA and the man at the center of this success, Barr. Soro Ohanyere, the Cordinator of CampHope, Oguta LGA and every leader and members of our great party from the LGA. 

According to the Bible, "there are different gifts of the spirit but of one purpose and same source". Imolites spoke in different language and directions but of same purpose. The victory of Senator Hope Uzodinma should be dedicated to the good people of Imo State. Its a victory for all and we owe it as a duty to pray and support his administration to succed if we believe that truly, _Imo Bu Nke Anyi_. 

_*Maka Uzo Di Nma, Hope Is Our Governor*_, while all Glory Goes To God Almighty. 

Agunwa Emeka Nzeribe is an eye witness and participant during the struggle and moral rearmament of Imo State, 2017 - 2020.

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