Few days after the Imo State Council of Elders formalised and adopted the State Charter of Equity for rotation of power among the three Senatorial zones, a cross section of the society has lauded the move.
Among those applauding the action of the elders are labour leaders, traders, civil society organisations and students, who have backed the Imo Charter of Equity “unanimously adopted” by the Imo State Council of Elders to clear the way for smooth transfer and rotation of the office of governor among the three Senatorial zones of Okigwe, Orlu and Owerri.
Also, they have endorsed the reelection bid of Governor Hope Uzodimma, who they said has done so well to deserve reelection.
Chairman of the Elders Council, Eze Cletus Illomuanya, presented a copy of the Charter to Governor Uzodinma last week, describing it as “a panacea to rancour and heat usually associated with the quest for the governorship seat of Imo State.”
The Council disclosed that the Charter has programmed power swing such that having completed a second term in 2028, Uzodimma would hand over to a successor from Owerri Zone, while Okigwe Zone takes over after eight years.
The three Senatorial Districts in Imo are unevenly distributed.
Okigwe consists of just six Local Governments Areas, Owerri Nine LGAs, while Orlu has 12 and therefore has an unfair advantage of winning the governorship.
But under the Charter, Owerri and Okigwe zones, too, can produce the governor with unprecedented ease. Some labour leaders are already applauding the Charter, insisting it suits the realities in Imo and must not be disturbed.
“Quite alright, I believe in the Charter of Equity, but the Charter of Equity does not replace a performing governor,” said Nzenwata Francis Iheanacho, former Chairman, Joint Health Sector Unions.
“It is always good for power to rotate but it has to be properly arranged. So that Charter of equity cannot displace the person there now who is performing very well. After his second tenure, another zone can take it up,” he added.
Richard Eze, State President Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, Imo State, stated: “On the issue of Charter of Equity, we are also in support that after his (Uzodimma’s) eight years, by the Grace of God, the power should shift to Owerri Zone, and when Owerri Zone takes care of their eight years, it should also go down to Okigwe Zone.
“When it rotates that way, it will stop what we call bickering and acrimony. It will also reduce the cost of campaigning so that every zone where the governorship is zoned will go in and get their best. So, that is why, on behalf of local government employees in Imo State, we are also supporting this Charter of equity endorsed by the Imo Elders Council. We are also endorsing it on our own.”
For Ifeanyi Nwanguma, Chairman NUJ, Imo State Council, the Charter of equity is in order, “but the governor is doing very well. So it is wrong to change a good player in the middle of the game. Let him complete his second term, then the power shifts to the Owerri Zone as stated by the Imo Elders Council. So I think they should encourage him to have a second term. Then the power will go to Owerri Zone, after Owerri, it will come to Okigwe.”
Uche Chigaemezu Nwigwe, Chairman, Nigerian Civil Service Union shares a similar view.
He said: “I totally align myself with the understanding and resolution taken by the Imo State Council of Elders that the position of governorship should rotate among the three zones in Imo State after the tenure of His Excellency, Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodimma that it should go to Owerri which I believe if you go through the history I think Owerri has been the least which has produced the Governor of Imo State.
“I think it will be better that after the Orlu Zone tenure of eight years through the leadership of Governor Uzodimma, the next zone that should produce the governorship of Imo State should be Owerri Zone. If that will be done, I think the other zones like Okigwe will now not create more issues.
“I am from Okigwe Zone, at the end of the tenure of Owerri, it automatically goes to Okigwe Zone so that Owerri and Orlu people will not start scouting to contest the position. Then what we need to do is to pick the best among all the candidates from Okigwe Zone likewise Owerri Zone so that we all move forward.”
Mrs. Ngozi Nnani, Chairperson, National Union of Hotel and Personnel Services Workers, Imo State was categorical.
According to her “For the elders to take this decision simply means we should allow His Excellency, Governor Hope Uzodimma, to complete the good work he has already started these remaining four years, then now give a chance for equity so that there can be rotation.
“Every zone in Imo State will now have a feel of the governorship. I am adopting it, I am giving it kudos, it is a plus. It will give a chance for equity.”
Umukoro Marvis Udechukwu, President, National Association of Imo State Students commended the Imo State Elders Council “for resuscitating the Charter of Equity in Imo State because the people of Imo State have been clamouring for that,” just as he applauded Governor Uzodimma for listening to the Elders Council.
Philip Nwansi, Acting Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Imo State was rather direct: “Another term of four years should be given to him (Uzodimma) so that he will be able to finish other things he has started,” he said.
They were all in agreement that Governor Uzodimma has done well to deserve the massive support of Imo people in November, 2023.
The Point recalls that prominent businessman and an elder statesman, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, had said it was the Owerri zone’s turn to produce the next governor of Imo State.
He said this barely 24 hours after some Imo elders purportedly endorsed Governor Hope Uzodimma for a second term.
While faulting the decision, Iwuanyanwu insisted that the Imo Charter of Equity favours the Owerri zone in 2023.
Iwuanyanwu, while answering questions on a live television programme on Wednesday night, described those claiming to have endorsed an Orlu person for a second term as “ignorant of the principles of the controversial Imo Charter of Equity”.
While tracing the history of the Charter, the Chairman of Champion Newspapers, said that the late Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe from Okigwe zone governed the old Imo State for over five years, a few years before Ikedi Ohakim from the same zone ruled for another four years thereby giving the zone nine years and some months in the state’s leadership.
He said, “Achike Udenwa, an Orlu man was elected governor of the state in line with the charter of Equity in 1999 to 2007, Rochas Okorocha, another Orlu man got elected into office as governor in 2011 and stayed till 2019 before the present Governor Hope Uzodinma also an Orlu son took over and he is completing his first four years in office.”
The elder statesman expressed annoyance that Orlu zone alone has governed the state for 20 years put together while the Owerri zone’s chances to retain power through the nine and seven months of Senator Evans Enwerem and Emeka Ihedioha respectively were truncated.
“Those suggesting an Orlu person continue after 20 years in office do not have the interest of the state at heart,” he said.
He urged the entire Imo people to unanimously vote for an Owerri man to justify the potency of the Imo Charter of Equity.
Iwuanyanwu further advised Uzodimma to step aside after completing his tenure, adding that the massive support garnered from the Owerri zone should encourage him not to stretch his ambition beyond 2023.