Kema Chikwe and the vanishing Owerri value – Ethelbert Okere

In the realm of politics, the Owere man or woman is known for his or her steadfastness, resilience, reliability, incorruptibility, firm, patriotic etc. Perhaps nothing presented a better opportunity to test the alienation of the Owere fellow with these hitherto cherished values than the last general election. Nearly one year after that election, the way Owere people went about it has remained an enigma to even the most knowledgeable and deepest political analyst.

 

The steadfastness and cohesion for which Owere people are known flew over board and in their places took over envy, pettiness, jealousy, greed and even avarice. To some analysts, it was the overt and covert attitude of the people that cost the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the governorship seat at that election. For many observers, if Owere people (mostly of Owerri North LGA and Owerri Municipality) had remained steadfast with a party that gave them two Ministers and an Ambassador, the manipulations that denied the PDP of its victory on April 26 2011 would not have been possible. According to pundits, it was because the manipulators, who were recruited mostly from outside the state, saw that Owere people had compromised that gave them impetus to carry out their acts of perfidy.

 

 

 

 

One of the indigenes of Owere that was thrown up between 1999 and 2011 is Dr. Kema Chikwe, former Minister of Transport and Aviation and who, in fact, doubles as the only Ambassador ever produced by the entire Owerri zone. But Mrs Chikwe lost a senatorial election in which her (native) Owere people constituted the major determining factor. Aunty Kema, as she is more popularly known, won in the whole of Mbaise clan (three local governments areas), Ngor Okpala, Mbaitoli and Ikeduru LGAs only to lose massively in the Owerri Federal Constituency. 

 

 

The reason for that loss, which is still in dispute though, is not because her people did not want her. Her purported defeat was part of a grand master plan by the external manipulators to deny the PDP of its victory in Imo State. In fact, Aunty Kema’s election was a mere testing ground for a grand macabre dance between April 26, and May 6, 2011. Once the perpetrators succeeded in scaring, Nde Owere with the `defeat’ of Kema, the stage was set for the command performance on April 26, 2011, that is at the governorship election.

 

 

Back to the people of Owerri Senatorial zone, they are today having their worst political experience since the creation of the state 36 years ago. They are the first and worst victims of that machination that gave rise to a dispensation that is fast turning them into second class citizens right on their own soil. I disagree with those who say it serves Owerri zone people well with the purported uprooting of the state University, which it has hosted for upwards of thirty years, from their soil to elsewhere. I would rather say it is an eye opener, a big lesson on the imperatives of political originality. In what is indeed a big irony for Nde Owere, the fact that one of their own, their own son, was thrown up as second-in-command in the current dispensation makes their condition even more pitiable.

 

 

When this second-in-command was made to double as the overseer of pouring red sand on roads, not a few commentators noted that the arrangement was as bizarre as it was belittling of an office whose occupier is, in fact, referred to as Number Two citizen. When news later came that this second-in-command had been removed from that adjunct duty and queried by his principal for attending a town hall meeting of his kinsmen, the point was well made.

 

 

 

 

But enough of the lamentations. There is a silver lining in the horizon for not only Nde Owere but also the entire people of Imo State. There is yet another opportunity to recover from the big slumber induced from an over dose of avoidable internal pettiness which was dully exploited by outsiders to put the entire state where it is today.

 

That opportunity is the imminent ascendancy of Mrs. Chikwe as the PDP National Women Leader. Mrs. Chikwe’s acceptance by the entire political establishment in the South East should be a thing of joy for the people of the state to the effect that regardless of the perfidy of the other time, Aunty Kema remains one the best to come from their part of the country.

 

 

 

There has been the trite talk as her (Mrs Chikwe) having been in government since 1999. That is the crux of the matter. It is the very reason why she is the most suitable for that position.To re-launch their state into national consciousness, Imo people need experienced hands like Kema; people who have earned the respect of other national players from across the country. As they say, a prophet is not recognized in his home. Imo and indeed the entire South East need their first eleven, in terms of experience and exposure, to reposition the state and the zone politically.

 

 

At the moment, the entire Owerri Zone has found itself in a wild speculation over whether or not it will be allowed to take its turn in producing the governor in 2015. Interesting, a frontline governorship aspirant from Owerri zone and a kinsman of Mrs Chikwe is currently expending huge renounces, time and energy trying to alert the rest of the country of the looming injustice should the zone (Owerri) be denied the governorship seat in 2015.

 

 

But before May 29, 2011, Owerri zone’s ascendancy to gubernatorial power in 2015 was taken as given, a fait accompli, thanks to the IMO CHARTER of EQUITY which rotated the governorship position between Okigwe, Orlu and Owerri zones. Orlu, after taking its turn for eight years yielded the position for Okigwe which was supposed to do its eight years to give room for Owerri in 2015. But, Orlu (zone) again, returned to the seat after the charade of April/May 2011, with the active collaboration of some native Owere indigenes who had personal axes to grind with some leaders in the PDP.

 

 

 

Today, not only are such people running up and down in search of political relevance in their own state, their other less privileged siblings have lost the opportunity of enjoying some leverages that would have come their way had Imo continued to be part of the national consciousness.

 

 

 

Going by the body language of the principal beneficiaries of the April/May 2011 charade, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) offers little no hope for Nde Owere. The morning, they say, shows the day. If an Owere second-in-command could be queried and even have an impeachment notice served him for attending a town hall meeting of his own people, heaven knows what will happen in 2015 or even before it.

 

 

Owere people should have learnt their bitter lesson by now and return to their cherished norms. Similarly, the entire of Imo people should not miss the opportunity now being offered by the biggest political party in Africa to launch their collective into national consciousness by throwing their weight behind Ambassador Chikwe.

 

 

Ethelbert Okere writes from Owerri

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