Rochas may get Mbaise if…..

The Imo State Law No. 4 of 1981 made during the regime of Late Chief Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe in Imo State provided for five temporary campuses for Imo State University at the then existing five senatorial zones in the old Imo State. College of Business Administration and Legal Studies were sited in Ngwa High School Aba for the then Aba Senatorial Zone, Engineering and Environmental Studies at Comprehensive Secondary School Awomama for Orlu Zone and Arts and Social Sciences at Mbaise Secondary School Aboh Mbaise for Owerri Zone while the College of Agiculture and Vet nary Medicine was to be in Uzoakoli Methodist College for the then Umuahia Zone. Madonna High School in Etiti was the site for Okigwe Zone. It had the College of Medicine and Health Sciences and was also used as the university’s temporary headquarters. However, it provided that the permanent site for the university would be in a site the state government acquired at Uvuru in Aboh Mbaise and Ngopkala. Consequently, the foundation stone for the university was laid by Late Governor Mbakwe and a sign post erected in the area.

Unfortunately, the university was not built before Mbakwe’s regime was truncated by Buhari’s military coup. The school operated accordingly until in 1985 when Senator Ike Nwachukwu as the then Military Administrator of the old Imo State vide the Imo State University Edict of 1985 relocated the school to a lone campus at Uturu-Okigwe. However, during the creation of Abia State, Ike Nwachukwu made sure that Uturu was severed from Okigwe to form part of Abia State. Consequently, Imo State lost the location and all the structures of ImoState University to Abia State and the latter used them in establishing its own state university today known as Abia State University (ABSU).

Fortunately, Imo State did not lose the legal instrument establishing the school. Therefore, in 1992, Late Senator Evan Enwerem’s administration, through a legislative enactment, relocated the university to Alvan Ikoku College of Education in Owerri and later moved the school to its present administrative headquarters also in Owerri metropolis. This site was supposed to be a temporary site which originally belongs to Federal Government Girls’ Secondary School Owerri. Reports also have it that Enwerem proposed to relocate the school to an acquired site in Ogbaku Owerri in Mbaitoli LGA of the state but did not actualize this before he was booted out of office by another military coup. Interestingly, Ex-Governor Achike Udenwa established the university’s Teaching Hospital in Orlu and School of Engineering in Okigwe. During Ohakim’s regime, reports had it that the nature of the soil where the School of Engineeringwas sited in Okigwe was not conducive for a school of engineering. However, at the twilight of that administration, the then Ex-Governor Ikedi Ohakim announced the relocation of the university to that same Mbakwe’s site in Aboh Mbaise and Ngor Okpala.

 

Early this year, His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha decided to relocate university to his home town in Ideato L.G.A. of the state. This decision however caused a lot of anxieties and has also attracted a lot of criticisms from many people. Recently, the Governor seem to have dropped that idea as he announced that the said university would no longer be in Ideato but in a yet to be decided site in Owerri Senatorial Zone. Accordingly, he set up a committee comprising many stakeholders from Owerri Senatorial Zone and gave it the task of recommending a permanent site to locate the institution.

Incidentally, the Governor has decided to locate the proposed Loyola University to Ngor Okpala.

Be that as it may, the great Mbaise nation is made up of a population of over 1.2 million people. It is said that the place also parades a compendium of heavily gifted, educated, sophisticated and enlightened people, a galaxy of the finest brains and eggheads with all sorts of intellectual, physical and moral accomplishments. The people are also seen as a people bound by a common spirit of great and indomitable determination for dynamism, diligence, high level of responsibility, initiative and hard-work. Some analysts say that it is this demographic advantage and the above mentioned features of the people of the area that make the place receive great political considerations during elections. The place produced the immediate past state Deputy Governor. Also during the 2011 gubernatorial elections the state, two high contenders in that election took their running mates from Mbaise. Presently, the Deputy Speaker House of Representatives, Senator for Owerri Zone and the only minister from the state are all from Mbaise.

Nevertheless, it is a fact that during the 2011 governorship election, Governor Okorocha could not score the highest number of votes in any of the three local government areas in Mbaise. The reason is very obvious. Majority of stakeholders and opinion leaders in Mbaise are more affiliated to PDP than any other party. Even the few that went to Action Congress of Nigeria did that out of a reason and may be on their way back to PDP.

During the re-run election for the Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Federal Constituency on 25th of February this year, many people from that constituency voted against the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate as a vendetta to Governor Rochas Okorocha and his policy on the Relocation of the Imo State University. The people working for the PDP candidate tied their campaigns around that policy. They claimed that Late Ex-Gov Sam Mbakwe laid the foundation of the school in Mbaise. Also, they posited that Ohakim also decided to relocate the school to Mbaise but that the Okorocha APGA-Led administration took the school out of the place. This injected a lot of emotions in the minds of many Mbaise people that voted in that election. The rest is now story.

Be that as it may, as at the time of this write-up, there is no tangible state government presence or project sited in the entire Mbaise nation. Already, the people of the area are feeling alienated from the Okorocha Government and have retired to their fate for 2015 because they feel that the governor is punishing them accordingly for not giving him the highest vote during the last governorship election in the state.

Interestingly, it is becoming clearer day-in-day out that Governor Okorocha is likely to seek for second term or position somebody to succeed him. Unfortunately, he seems to be currently finding it very difficult to contain the influence of some political office holders from Mbaise who seem to have started asserting a lot of influence in the state with ‘federal might’. Therefore, it is humble view that one of the ways to seek the face of Mbaise people is by building the permanent site of the Imo State University in Mbaise. I think this will help to give the governor some breeder in the area and possibly help in dislodging some prospective ‘political uprisings’ currently trying to emanate from the area.

Barr Emperor N. Iwuala

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