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Uche Onyeagocha And His Owerrinization Hyperboles

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By Ethelbert Okere

One big thumb-down for Chief Emeka Ihedioha as governor of Imo State was his involvement of Hon. Uche Onyeagocha (Onyeagucha) in his administration, more so in no less a position as secretary to the state government (SSG). To be sure, Hon. Onyeagocha was eminently qualified to hold that office once we are talking of academic qualifications and political exposure but not when matters like comportment and carriage come into play.

The main reason Governor Emeka Ihedioha got knocks for appointing Onyeagocha as the SSG (some say SGI) was what happened on the eve of his declaration as “winner” of the March 9, 2019 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The story is very well known but it is worth refreshing our minds on it. Onyeagocha, acting as an agent of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the INEC collation centre in Owerri on March 9, 2019, shocked the entire Nigeria when he grabbed a copy of a certified election result (Form EC8C) from Ideato South local government area of the state and tore it pieces. Hon. Onyeagocha ostensibly acted on the allegation that the result was cooked up in favour of one of the governorship candidates, Uche Nwosu, but particularly against his favorite candidate – and that of his party (PDP)  –  Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.

I watched the live coverage of that episode from my living room in London and I told the fellow sitting next to me that Onyeagocha (Onyeagucha) would surely pay for that. Shortly after, I put I call across to Nigeria and got the information that he was promptly dragged out by security agents and given a thorough beating. One account had it that he was made to frog-jump by the soldiers before being taken away for detention. He was subsequently arraigned in court but once the person he was “fighting” for was declared governor, it was not surprising that a nolle prosiqui (He has no case) was entered on his behalf and the case was dropped.

The next Imolites heard was that he had been appointed SSG (SGI), a development that kept many Imolites thinking. How could a fellow who was, or is, so unruly be appointed into such a sensitive office; a fellow who, by the action just described, showed that he had iota of regard to the rule of law – albeit his background as a lawyer and exposure as a law maker.

In the end, however, Imolites got somewhat consoled by the narrative that Ihedioha was “compelled” by sentiments arising from the argument that Onyeagocha “risked” his life in a bid to have him declared the winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship election. But Ihedioha, a gentle but crafty fellow, knew deep inside him that the likes of Uche Onyeagocha had no business being part of his administration. Of course, even the least discerning fellow in the state knew that Governor Ihedioha merely tolerated Onyeagocha throughout his seven-month stint as governor.

Perhaps, the most eloquent attestation to that was when Onyeagocha, without obtaining clearance from the governor, issued a statement declaring Ihedioha’s predecessor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, a persona non grata to the state, a claim which an embarrassed Ihedioha promptly repudiate. This writer was not an appointee of the Ihedioha administration but I was close enough to some of its insiders to know that Onyeagocha was quite discomfiting to the governor. In fact, his tendency to vitriolic, brashness and short temper was a major source of concern to members of the topmost echelon of that administration.    The only significant thing about Oyeagocha’s tenure as SSG or SGI was a white attire, a red cap and a white sandal.

Even so, the height of Onyeagochas’s perfidy against Imolites in general and the Ihedioha administration in particular was the day he took some hoodlums to ambush Chief Okorocha at the Sam Mbakwe International Airport (SMICA), Owerri to prevent the later from coming into the state. It was an act that again completely embarrassed his boss, Governor Ihedioha, who, as a seasoned politician, knew that there was no basis for such a thing. But Onyeagocha, who throughout that regime went about with the impression that he couldn’t care a thing about how the governor felt, even overstretch the drama.

After waiting for Okorocha – with the hired thugs – till about 5 pm without the latter’s arrival at SMICA, Onyeagocha, sensing that Okorocha might have changed route to either Port Harcourt or Asaba Airports, commanded his ‘troops’ back to the Imo International Conference Centre, IICC, –  built by Okorocha – for debriefing.

Thereafter, a consignment was sent towards the Owerri-Port Harcourt route and another to the Onitsha-Asaba axis. At the end, Okorocha did not show up and Onyeagocha went home unsure of what to do next but with continuous knocks from well meaning citizens of the state who saw his action as senseless.

While narrating the events that surrounded Ihedioha’s election in his recently published memoir, entitled SECOND CHANCE, Chief Willie Amadi, a frontline politician in the state and a leader in the PDP wrote: “…We returned to Tony Chukwu’s house and once there, I called Ihedioha to alert him that action would soon commence. I however used that opportunity to express my disappointment in Uche Onyeagocha for tearing the result sheet from Ideato South local government area while we were trying to resolve the impasse. He agreed with me but pleaded that it should distract us” (page 172).

 The position of most Imolites was that granted that Governor Okorocha perpetrated a lot of subterfuge against the state and its people, his ‘trial’ had not yet gotten to the stage where he should be banished from the state. And to demonstrate that Hon. Onyeagocha did not understand the nuances of events during that period or chose to do things his own way, the various judicial panels set up by the very administration he was serving – as SSG (SGI) – were just settling down when Hon. Onyeagocha took laws into his own hands and began to met out punishment to Okorocha.

Even though the Ihedioha administration was brought to an abrupt end shortly after, Governor Hope Uzodimma, on coming on board, retained the panels. One after the other, the panels invited Chief Okorocha to appear before them but the ex governor rebuffed all, citing security reasons. Chief Okorocha might well have had other reasons why he did not obey the summons by the judicial panels but he could not be faulted for citing Onyeagocha’s move to ‘capture’ him, as earlier narrated, as one major reason. The result was that the panels wound up without Okorocha appearing before any of them and as such could not give answer to any of the many questions that were agitating the minds of the people over his conduct as governor,  no thanks to Onyeagocha’s exuberance.

Fast forward to sometime in July 2020 when Rt. Hon. Ihedioha came visiting the state with pomp and pageantry. Ihedioha rode in a motorcade from the Sam Mbakwe International Airport – where he was welcomed by a tumultuous crowd –through the streets of Owerri without anybody challenging him.

In an article entitled, Imo And The Metaphor Of A Roman Mob, published a few days after Ihedioha’s ‘triumphant’ entry into Imo, I drew the attention of Imolites to two things. One, that we now have a precedence whereby one ex governor could be banished from the state and another received with a rousing welcome,– only in Imo state. Two, I asked Imolites to imagine a situation where Governor Uzodimma’s administration had insiders who are as reckless as Onyeagocha and who, like him, would have thrown every caution to the winds to pronounce banishment on Ihedioha and then go ahead to line thugs along every route he was expected to pass, as Hon. Onyeagocha had done. I noted further that given the mood of Ihedioha, his party men and supporters then, the result would have been too grave to contemplate.

A few days ago, Onyeagocha was in his elements again with his uncouth, infantile idiosyncrasies. He was reported as saying that Senator Hope Uzodimma is not the governor of the state, described Professor George Obiozor as “expired drug” and Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu as a “serial betrayer”. Of course, Onyeagocha’s childish attitude to Governor Uzodimma is not new and I could remember that I had once cautioned him against his unbecoming utterances.

Although it is a mere waste of time to try to get even with Onyeagocha, having earlier situated him as both lacking in maturity and necessary comportment, I think there is need to disabuse the minds of some hapless Imolites, particularly the youths, who would innocently or naively see him as bold or courageous.  Hon. Onyeagocha is neither of the two but merely garrulous.  Some even go to the extent of describing him as “radical”. Hon. Onyeagocha is not a radical. He is a conservative to the core, who sees every issue from a primordial point of view.

Hon. Onyeagocha is said to be lawyer and I know for certain that he was once a legislator. So, for such meaningless utterances to come from a high profile politician like him is to make a caricature of the entire Imo collective otherwise known for its sophistication and fecundity. In other words, as childish as his utterances appear, their real implication is that they portray Imo state as a place where some of those who parade themselves as among its best do not even qualify for the third eleven of most of the less rated states of the federation. Is that what Imolites want? A lot of people had expected that after his primitive act of shredding election results sheets, as earlier narrated, and after his several misadventures while serving as SSG, Onyeagocha would have by now began to act more with the hesitance of age than the hastiness of youth.

The context in which Onyeagocha made his allusion to Governor Uzodimma had to do with the genuine argument by the people of Owerri zone that it has not had a fair share of gubernatorial power. Of course, that position becomes even more understandable with the sudden termination of Ihedioha’s tenure even while the people of the (Owerri) zone were still singing alleluia. Though a setback, the antics of the likes of Onyeagocha trivialize such an important matter and erroneously portray the people of the zone as lacking in the needed tact and candor to continue the pursuit of that noble objective.

Yes, I am an insider of the Uzodimma administration but I am also from Owerri zone and I can state without any fear of contradiction that majority of our people do not share in Onyeagocha’s pedestrian views on a lot of issues on the relationship between the zone and the rest of the state. Our people, generally, are too enlightened and politically exposed to wallow in the type of bitterness and naivety Onyeagocha and probably a few of his ilk in the zone find themselves in.

Hope Uzodimma is the governor of Imo state and not that of Owerri zone. Even so, or as a corollary, there are many indigenes of Owerri zone that voted for him at the March 9, 2019 election and even those who did not have since queued behind him. Hon. Onyeagocha could decide to forever live in the regrets of what happened on January 14, 2020 but a far great majority of the people of Owerri zone, irrespective of partisan affiliation, prefer to learn the lessons from that episode and with that go ahead with the pursuit of their collective destiny with greater enthusiasm and clear headedness, not with the type of animosity Onyeagocha champions.

Agreed, it is said that in politics there are no permanent enemies or friends but permanent interest but I dare state that Onyeagocha belongs to that category of politicians whose only interest is to plant rancor and bitterness in the polity. He has quarreled with every successive governor beginning from Achike Udenwa. Ikedi Ohakim was his biggest nightmare and though he romanced with Okorocha for a while, we all know how it ended up. What saved Ihedioha from Onyeagocha’s harmer was the mere fact that the former involved him in his administration. Even at that, Ihedioha ended up every day not sure of what to expect from his SSG. As a matter of fact, not a few believed that it was just a matter of time before the two would fell apart.

Similarly, Onyeagocha’s remarks on Professor Obiozor–again through the narrow prism of Owerri zone –is most unfortunate. He was most probably reacting to the former diplomat’s aspiration to be the next president-general of Ohaneze Ndigbo and the support he has gotten from a section of the Imo political elite. But it is not in the interest of the people of Owerri zone to allow anybody to Owerrinize the matter. The position of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo president-general is said to be zoned to Imo state, not Owerri zone. In any case, among the top contenders for the office and, indeed, one of the most qualified and suitable, is from my own local government area. But even as our people would do everything in their power to ensure that he gets there, we would not allow him to narrow down his aspiration to that of an Owerri zone champion. It is not even enough to be seen as an “Imo candidate” since delegates from the other Igbo-speaking states are also going to vote at the election.

Like in any other contest, people are free to pitch their tents wherever they choose but methinks that Imolites must be careful in their choice of language in canvassing their preferences for the Ohaneze president-general office. If we allow ourselves to be misled by the antics of the likes of Hon. Onyeagocha, we may be inadvertently demystifying and Imo-born Ohaneze President-General, whosoever it will be, even before he assumes office.

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Opinion

Traffic Congestion: Lawyer drums support for Ihezuo’s remedy, appeals with Govt to consider proposal

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Dr.Ihezuo‘s letter to Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma appears to have attracted reactions across board.

Barr Ihezuo, a chieftain of the APC in Imo had on Friday 14th may written to the Imo State Government on the difficulties which both Drivers and pedestrians go through in the state following abuse of Road signs by those he termed recalcitrant Drivers and other motorists.

Ihezuo in the said letter published in the Lead Express of the said date used the medium to pinpoint some measures which if considered by the state Government would not only solve the problems of traffic jam in the state but would also generate revenue to the state.

Supporting the said report by Ihezuo, one of the constitutional lawyers in Imo, Barr C.D Odumeh Omekagu, appealed with Imo state Governor senator Hope Uzodinma to give a trial the postulation of the said Ihezuo.

Omekagu who made this disclosure to the press in Owerri yesterday after attending the APC meeting expressed optimism that the difficulties which people go through at various junctions in Owerri would certainly become things of the past.

One of the chieftains of the APC in Imo and Orlu in particular, Dr. Ikenna Ihezuo had marshalled out ways to curb traffic jam in Imo.

This is even as he commended the efforts of the Government in the area of Road construction which according to him has given the State a new look.

In an open letter to the Imo State Governor signed by Ihezuo himself and made available to weekend Lead, Ihezuo who contested keenly for Orlu, Orsu and Oru-east House of Representatives seat in the 2019 elections urged the State Government to introduce what he termed Imo State Traffic Control Agency (ISTCA) and saddle the body with the sole responsibility of controlling the movement of human and vehicles in the State.

Ihezuo an American trained conditional lawyer further pointed out that the said Agency will see to re training of all the personnel for traffic control as well as the orientation of Drivers and motorists.

Describing a well controlled Traffic as a booster to the states IGR, Ihezuo revealed in states like Lagos, Rivers amongst others, the body saddled with the responsibility of traffic Control arrest and prosecute traffic offenders which after taken offender to psychiatric hospitals to ascertain the mental status of the offender charges him or her certain amounts as fine which goes to the State coffers.

Ihezuo who further called on the State Government to make an executive law,providing a particular time by which  Big Lorries will enter the cities in Owerri made it clear that their unregulated entrance to the cities of Owerri has led to series of accidents in the State and also results in traffic jam.

Describing a traffic free state as a booster to investments, Ihezuo disclosed that both foreign investors and local ones, invest where both human and material resources would not be stocked on hold up or traffic .

Ihezuo who finally appealed with Imo people, particularly the Drivers to always take cognizance of the Road signs and traffic and not the other way round.

Imo state Government has in the recent times removed some of the roundabouts in the Owerri Cities .

Read Also: Ihezuo condemns attacks on Imo

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Leadership

Do not renounce your citizenship, Perm. Sec. to Nigerians

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Do not renounce your citizenship, Perm. Sec. tells Nigerians

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Dr Shuaib Belgore, has advised Nigerians to desist from illegal movement out of the country including renouncing of their citizenship owing to some present challenges.

Belgore gave the advice on Tuesday when the national coordinator of SERVICOM, Mrs Nnena Akajameli, visited him in his office to make formal presentation of SERVICOM Compliance Evaluation Reports (SCER) of Federal Marriage Registries in Nigeria.

Speaking further, he expressed concern over the rate at which some Nigerians were moving out of the country illegally, to the extent of renouncing their citizenship.

Belgore noted that such act could also lead to avoidable death and missing of some citizens as noted across the nation.

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“Protecting citizens’ right is part of what we are saddled with to carry out, we handle marriages, and we handle citizenship issues, people trying to get citizenship into Nigeria, people who want special immigrant status.

“People who want to work in Nigeria, they need permission from us in areas such as expatriate quota, residents permit, and work permit, all that is within our power in the ministry.

“Unfortunately, once in the while some Nigerians want to renounce their citizenship and we don’t want them to do that, except through constitutional rights of such movement,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary, therefore, admonished Nigerians not to use the present circumstance being faced by the country as an excuse to move out illegally but through proper channels.

However, receiving the SERVICOM SCER reports, Belgore reiterated the ministry’s determination to collaborate with SERVICOM for quality service delivery to Nigerians, ensuring that Nigerians are well served across all the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

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Earleir, in her presentation, Mrs Akajemeli explained that the overall objectives of SERVICOM SCER was to ensure citizen-focused service delivery in MDAs, to identify gaps, making recommendation to the ministry to improve on those gaps.

According to Akajemeli, interaction with customers revealed Federal Marriage Registry is not established in all states of the Federation and this has caused a lot of inconveniences for the intending couples and those who stand as their witnesses.

“The Ministry of Interior should intensify its efforts to create at least one marriage registry in all the states to ease the problems of intending couple having to travel far to submit printout of their applications.

“This will create a relief and reduce service delivery gaps especially in the area of cost of transportation,” the SERVICOM national coordinator added.

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Opinion

The ungodly APC National Caretaker Committee gamble with All Progressives Congress – APC Southeast/Southsouth Youth Assembly

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 Love or hate His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, there’s no denying his rightful place as a nationalist per excellence especially on the political firmament of our beloved country Nigeria.

This is the man who led the dismantling of the second republic democratic regime of President Shehu Shagari at the point it became clear that the regime was drifting while Nigerians wallowed helplessly as the lessons and values of the civil war collapsed like a pack of cards under the watch of civilian players of that administration.

With his second in command, Brigadier General Tunde Idiagbon,he strove tirelessly to instill discipline, due process, accountability and uprightness as the culture in governance and general way of life in Nigeria.

 It was such that a few years after his regime was ousted in a bloodless coup in 1985, the world proclaimed that Nigeria had lost a golden opportunity of becoming great again as the nation wallowed ruderlessly in the hands of a self acclaimed “Evil Genius” for eight unbridled years (1985 – 1993)
According to Abraham Lincoln, the US leader of all time, what matters is not the number of times one lost elections, what rather matters, is the ability to rise again after failing an election. General Buhari suffered incarceration after being ousted from power in 1985, but he became a leading light to illuminate the political space from 2003. Three times, Muhammadu Buhari, the democrat contested presidential election and failed on different platforms with the concomitant bitter experiences and lessons arising thereof. In 2014, his party the CPC struck alliance with ACN to become the All Progressives Congress which delivered him in the 2015 presidential election.

PMB has fondly and jealously guided the All Progressives Congress, APC since formation in 2014. He curdles the party like a baby and has always intervened at critical points to save the life of APC. He stood in the gap to ease out Chief John Oyegun when it became necessary to pave the way for Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to galvanize the party for the 2019 general elections.

 He was also instrumental to the birth of the present APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) constituted in 2020 to avert a major rift in the party. In addition to the normal day to day running of the party, the Governor Mai Mala Buni led National Caretaker Committee was charged with the major assignment of bringing up to date and standard the party membership list as well as deliver a national convention within six months of its span.

But this was not to be, as the committee requested additional six months from December 2020 to conclude with the membership registration as well as conduct bottom – top congresses leading to national convention to elect substantive party leadership as stipulated by the constitution and electoral act as amended.
CHANGING PARADIGMS OF THE COMMITTEE
we of the All Progressives Congress Southeast/Southsouth Youth Assembly have maintained a studied silence, though with consternation as the uncharitable drama in the apex leadership of the party unfolds.
It can be said here without contradiction that the National Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee has continued to operate in isolation of the state arms of the committee. Decisions are made without consensus as if in a command regime.

The national convention which is supposed to be the highest organ of the party and indeed the primary assignment of the committee is now relegated to the background completely as it is not in any contemplation of the committee.

The committee has rather continued to change paradigms and request extension of stay through the advancement of flimsy excuses intended for nothing but a sit tight. In a recent meeting about a week ago, the committee under the watch of HE Mai Mala Buni sought for the approval of extension of the party registration exercise by a whooping eight weeks in total silence over urgent need for preparation for a national convention for which it was set up in the first place. Over two third of the state caretaker committees were outraged for not being carried along on major decisions to the embarrassment of the party as a whole.

The question begging for answer at various quarters is why so much time should be set aside for membership registration and validation against a continuous process as in other parties and indeed other climes?

Thus, it becomes clear that major cracks are appearing on the erstwhile cohesive matrix of the party.
We are pained that the major opposition parties, the PDP and others have consequently capitalized on the lack luster disposition and indiscretion of the CECPC to barrette the All Progressives Congress at any given opportunity especially on the mainstream national television networks and it is truly logical to assume that a party lacking in capacity, will and cohesion to organize itself as in national convention is apparently unfit to seek mandate to lead the nation.

THE 2023 NATIONAL ELECTION
The year 2022 is almost here with us whereas our great party the APC is yet in a rudderless sail through self contrived troubled waters.

Should it continue in the present indefinite motion ostensibly on the mission to reinvent itself, we of the APC Southeast/Southsouth Youth Assembly take the lead to bid it farewell over a great but messed vision at the behest of unserious party administrators and political quacks.

HE Mai Mala Buni should see himself as the luckiest politician in the entire universe. This is a man who from nowhere became secretary to a winning national party and in a straight wave contested and won the governorship of a state as important as Yobe.

This is the same man considered good enough to lead the National Caretaker Committee of the same winning party.

Like the proverbial Blackman’s leadership syndrome of ‘sit tight and never vacate office’ Buni is now cut in the web of high profile fog and trappings of high offices at national and state levels and he has forgotten his modest beginnings.

 I wonder why he should forget that an incoming Exco of the party would require time to get acquainted with the workings and flow of the party from bottom-top. What does it take for him to understand that a stitch in time saves nine. Are the challenges at Yobe not enough for him to contend with ?

Wouldn’t he have preferred a more robust APC delivered by his committee than a party in tatters and too disorganized and weak to run elections in 2023 should his committee insist on using the space of time between now and 2023 for a rollercoaster jamboree??

We use this medium to urge those in the  true spirit to lead the party beyond Buni to begin on their own to undertake familiarization tours of the States’ APC formations with a view to grasping the inherent challenges than wait for the vacation of the slow pacing Buni & Co.  

WELCOME MR PRESIDENT
Welcome Mr President, you are welcome our own PMB. In spite of ill-health for which the Almighty Allah has decisively intervened, you are an elixir.

You have always been the catalyst that quickens chemical reactions but in the human sphere of life, not in the labs.

As party faithfuls, we look up to you to step in and arrest the budding drift in our great party.

 Moses played a similar role in the Holy Bible when it became necessary to deliver Israel from the house of bondage.

We beckon on you to once again step into the shoes lest our party, the APC sink like the great titanic.

Read Also; Presidency 2023: We Can’t Zone Presidency, Others Without Buhari, Governors – APC

Hon Stanley Chuks Nwachukwu
PRESIDENT APC SOUTH YOUTH ASSEMBLY

Hon McDonald Ita Ekpenyong
SECRETARY APC SOUTH YOUTH ASSEMBLY

Hon Godspower Bennett Briggs
PUBLICITY SECRETARY

Hon Felicia Nene Akoma
WOMAN LEADER

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