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By Elvis Agukwe
From Nsukka to Ngwa, Afikpo to Owerri and indeed all the capitals of South Eastern states, there is only one song, which lyrics and melody have put Ndigbo in an upbeat mood. Everybody is dancing to it because it is sweeter than any hit by FLAVOUR. It stirs at the heart and conscience of the Igboman and what he represents. It speaks truth. It speaks justice and equity. It believes that power should shift to the area which has not tasted it since the creation of the various states or most recently since the inception of the current democratic dispensation in 1999.
In Anambra state, power has successfully shifted to the North which hitherto had not produced the governor of the state. The credit goes to Mr Peter Obi, the former governor and the resilient people of the state. They shunned the money bags. They rejected the noise makers who believe in brute force. They cast aside the supposedly strong candidates and voted for justice and equity. That is what the Igboman believes in, equitable distribution of wealth, positions and what-have you.
In Abia State, all the movers and shakers in the state have agreed that power must move to the South, to the people of Ukwa-Ngwa who had been shut out of power since 1991 when the state was created. Abia North enjoyed the plum job between 1999 and 2007. Abia Central is completing its eight years in 2015. It is only natural that Abia South should take its turn in 2015. That is the spirit.
That is also obtainable in Enugu where the governorship has been zoned to the North, Nsukka, zone and Ebonyi where the political class had endorsed Ebonyi South, Afikpo as the next zone where the governorship will domicile.
Even our neighbours , Akwa Ibom , Rivers etc are not left out.
Like a telepathic therapy, the Charter of Equity, which originated from Imo State, is now sweeping through the entire South East and beyond because the message is not only salutary but aimed at cementing the unity of a people who are fighting the political battle of their lives in Nigeria.
Proponents of this power shift have never deluded themselves that it would be an easy battle with reactionaries and power drunk overlords who don’t give a hoot about the feelings of others in so far as they achieve their selfish aim. That is exactly why I am not perturbed over the name calling and insults being heaped on my person since the beginning of this campaign in Imo state. That is the burden of leadership.
All the people who made a difference in the world, be it in the field of religion, politics, medicine and even community service suffered the same fate. Those who resist positive change are never in a hurry to yield their comfort zone from where they profit from the sweat and sufferings of their fellow human beings. Unfortunately, time always razes the beneficiaries of injustice from the face of the earth, beginning with history. Again, because such people are driven by selfishness and pecuniary gains, they can never believe that patriotism and altruism flow in the veins of others.
When the Imo Political Summit was organised last year, it was made clear that it was purely a people driven initiative without the interference of government. It was an open affair and sponsorship was invited from Imo sons and daughters both within and outside the country. Prominent Imo citizens including Senator Chris Anyanwu who was then in APGA, former Interior Minister, Capt Emma Iheanacho now in APGA, Chief Jerry Chukwueke, IMO Reps in the House of Rep, engr Ben Ekwueme , Nze IMO Umunna and others made financial contributions towards the successful hosting of the summit. Others contributed in kind. These were all publicly acknowledged.
Champion Newspaper Publisher, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu was the chairman of occasion. He re-emphasized that the Imo Charter of equity which prescribes zoning among the three geopolitical zones of Owerri, Okigwe and Orlu was drawn up in his Glass House Office in 1998. There has never been any dispute about that. Our brothers from Okigwe zone who showed strong presence at the summit argued that they should be supported to complete their tenure which was abridged by an Orlu man in 2011. The participants had a robust debate and at the end of it all, it was resolved that Owerri zone should be allowed to produce the governor in 2015.
However it must be noted that in deference to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, nobody is barred from contesting the governorship election in Imo State come 2015. What Imo Stakeholders Forum has been advocating is a peaceful transfer/rotation of power among the three geo-political zones of Owerri, Okigwe and Orlu to engender peace, progress and development. Our goal is to ensure that we preserve brotherliness among our people devoid of violence and acrimony which characterize elections in some states. It is our belief that if we morally enforce the charter of equity, there would be political stability in our state.
In the pursuit of that goal, no single individual from Owerri is presumed to be the sole beneficiary. After all, all the political parties would hold their primaries after which the candidates would face the Imo electorate. Imo Stakeholders Forum has never arrogated to itself the power to make anybody governor. That is the prerogative of God and the electorate. No aspirant would also be that naïve to entrust his quest of Imo governorship on a non-partisan body which sole aim is to engender peace in Imo State in the build-up to the 2015 elections.
As we move to sanitize the political space in Imo State by flashing red cards to rapacious and unconscionable politicians who want to usurp the patrimony of others, it is very gratifying that other states of the South East are moving in the same direction of equity and justice. As Igbos, we cannot complain of marginalization and seek redress of same when among ourselves, we have refused to open the political space to accommodate those who have been denied entry and participation for a long time. It is a trite saying that those who seek equity must go with clean hands. This is a moral challenge to all those who are opposed to the Imo Charter of Equity which has zoned the governorship to Owerri zone in 2015. As Othman Dan Fodio declared, “Conscience is and open wound, only truth can heal it”.
Agukwe, former Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, is Chairman of Imo Stakeholders Forum
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