This article was inspired by a recent write up with the title “Okigwe Senate By-Election: Araraume And The Desperate Measure! … The ‘Unkwatuable’ Logic!!”. whose author remains unknown. The author in the said article subtly ‘appreciated’ all those interested in the occupation of the vacant seat whilst he laboriously tried to impress on his readers the reason why Senator Ifeanyi Ararume is the deliverer of the poor masses of Okigwe Senatorial District. He further shared that if not for the former senator, Imo and Abia States would have lost out as they were not included as beneficiaries in the bill that set up the NDDC. The author went on to express his “unkwatuable logic” as to why Ndi Okigwe have no other credible option.

It is important to express sincere gratitude to Senator Ararume for his contributions towards the political development of Okigwe Zone and the nation at large. This article will not deny him of his deserved place in history as a political leader over the past 20 years. ‘Ekele onye akidi ya gwota ozo’ is a well-known adage that expresses the goodwill that arises as a result of gratitude.

Okigwe Ekulie believes that election is a contest of ideas for public good, therefore, a post Covid 19 Imo North Senatorial Election will not need archaic thinking such as being advanced by the unknown author mentioned above. The fact that the former senator in his official capacity stood for his constituents and lobbied for the inclusion of the state into NDDC, does not in any way constitute a basis for his continuous desire and push to be enthroned as a senator almost 17 years he left the red chamber. While he has the right to contest if he wishes to, it will be an insult for anyone to continue to shove his role in the bill that set up the NDDC (which he later became the Vice Chairman, Committee on NDDC) as the only reason for his election.

At this point, we must look beyond mere conjectures and ask critical questions. For instance we should confront all contestants from different parties with questions such as- what are their ideologies about leadership and followership? What are their thoughts towards adhering to party objectives, rules and regulations? What are their beliefs about staying in a party and ensuring that party grows and survives? Does political party simply mean any platform that offers a placard for contesting elections? What are their views about the current leadership in Nigeria and fate of the Igbo masses within? What is their view on the current state of political wilderness being experienced in the zone? What specific contributions will they make that will be different in the light of global advancements? These are pertinent questions the ‘unnamed’ author and indeed any discerning person should ask and address so that the intellectuals and the poor masses of Okigwe Zone will learn and move forward with the best choice.

Having said that, the quest for the next occupant of the Okigwe Senatorial Seat at the National Assembly is a very important discourse that is now beyond mere conjectures or latent rhetoric. It is a discussion that will no more be based on weak precedence as being advanced by our brothers. Unfortunately, ‘rented loyalists’ do no good to their bosses and that alone is a huge disservice to the political growth of Imo North.

In truth, I think it is time to boldly confront the ideologies that have weakened the peace and progress of Okigwe Zone, turning it into a petty kingdom struggling for power; high level deceit, bastion of thuggery, and indeed a lacklustre theatre for election riggers and result manipulators.

Oftentimes, one wonders, if this is the same zone that produced icons like Chief Sam Onunaka Mbakwe, PhD; Senator Emeka Echeruo, Gen Ike Nwachukwu, Bishop Anthony Ilonu, Prof. MJC Echeruo, Prof Martin Ijere, Late Eze (Justice) CBC UBA, a retired Chief Judge of Imo State, among many other distinguished personalities.

It must interest you to know that Imo North has become notorious for political instability in the political landscape of our dear nation. This is about the only senatorial zone that has a sinister consensus to shortchange itself. Imo North has, with the grand backing of its own political leaders, denied itself of pride of place in the current democratic governance.

Specifically, from 2015 to date, the good and wonderful people of Imo North have been forced to their knees by a few ‘big men’ and many gullible followers who are willing to trade their loving souls on a platter of ‘ji na ede’. We must not forget the treachery, thuggery, siege, claims and doom that has overcome our once peaceful zone.

In truth, what is leadership without a genuine ideological principle. We must look at the candidate’s ideology. The ‘ihe ejirimara’ (What you are known for) of those intending to contest any elections should be the focus of our discussion and should form our consensus on who to vote for or who to support. The concept of ‘ejirimara’ in Igbo land is the ‘kpim’ (nucleus) of political ideology as it showcases the precedence and the true spirit that guides a man- character, ethics, vision, beliefs and many more. We must apply the concept of ‘Ihe Ajuju’ (enquiries before marriage) which is usually done just before a young girl is married to ascertain the authenticity, the morality, character, virtue, and mental state of the bride/groom and that of their families. No matter how colorful or flashy a girl or boy is, failure to conduct a thorough ‘Ihe Ajuju’ may likely lead to a failed marriage.

In our opinion, Okigwe Ekulie believes that the senator, and indeed any elected leader we look forward to at this time must be a leader who is not hungry for power. We don’t need a deal broker, rather we need a leader with strong and unmingled ideology, with a desire for a better Okigwe Zone, and one who is a bridge builder. We need leaders that are bold, selfless and forward thinking, who do not easily align with the powers that be, just to be seen as nice or a team player. We are tired of rubber stamps who occupy positions and do nothing positive. We are now wise enough to know that the financial/project expectations from legislators are limited as their role is well defined.

Nigeria is at a major cross road and anybody we are sending to the hallowed chambers, or any elective position must understand the authentic dynamics of leadership, strategic partnership, resilience, and must be willing to share ideas that will translate to the advancement of our local communities into cities where research, agriculture, technology and knowledge can thrive. What about local acceptance and goodwill- so much more?

In the spirit of love, we advise Ndi Okigwe Zone that history must not repeat itself again as we must ensure that the overriding interest of Imo North Senatorial Zone should not be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, horse trading or narrow selfish agenda of those who operate in the levers of power.

Thank You.

Engr. Chibuikem Diala

This Article by Engr. Chibuikem Diala is a contribution to Okigwe Ekulie.

Okigwe Ekulie promotes credible elections, sustainable democracy, good governance and community transformation.

*Okigwe Ekulie… The Nerve & Bone of Okigwe Zone*

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