The 6th Edition of Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines a democrat as a person who believes in or supports democracy.
His Excellency Chief Achike Uzoma Udenwa became a Governor in Imo State in 1999 by providence. Providence in the sense that he was a product of zoning arrangement in the Peoples Democratic Primaries (PDP) Gubernatorial primary election that preceded his election as a governor in 1999. Stories also have it that prior to becoming a Governor, the former accountant in Monier Construction Company (MCC) was not part of what K.O. Mbadiwe would call timber and caliber in the then political clime of Imo State.
For me today, I do not want to talk much about Udenwa’s Administration because that might not properly suite the subject of our discourse. However, I want to look at Udenwa’s political activities from the twilight of his administration to his recent statement condemning Rochas Okorocha’s administration.
Success without a successor is no success. It is being said that one of the biggest blunders Chief Udenwa committed as a governor was his inability to nurture and produce a successor from both his former party PDP and his political structure called Redemption. Many of Udenwa’s apologists give myriads of reasons for this. But no matter what the reason or reasons may be, I see that as a very big political absurdity.
For the 2007 Governorship Election in Imo State, the fact was that Udenwa was completely beaten in his party then because of the influence of the so called ‘Abuja’ group of Imo politicians led by Senator Ifeanyi Ararume. Therefore, Udenwa decided to work against his then party PDP. Engr. Ebere Udeagu was said to be very loyal to Udenwa and people thought it would have been easier and better to hand over to Udeagu. But till today, nobody knows the crime Udeagu committed that made Udenwa betray him. Further, it was said that Udenwa’s successor would be Ike Ibe and later others but all to no avail.
During the PDP primaries for the 2007 governorship election in Imo State, Udenwa’s arch political enemy then, Senator Araume emerged as the party’s flag bearer but Ararume was substituted with Engr. Charles Ugwu courtesy of Udenwa’s political antics. Incidentally, the Supreme Court declared that substitution unconstitutional and returned Ararume as the PDP Governorship flag bearer in that election. At this juncture, Udenwa got involved in anti-party with Ex-President Obasanjo. He was ‘directed’ to shop for a candidate outside his former party PDP.
Therefore, Udenwa got Martin Agbaso from All progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). Consequently, Udenwa’s Redemption group ‘delivered’ Agbaso in the first Governorship Election that was held on 14th April 2007 in Imo. After that election of Martin Agbaso as Governor, Udenwa came with a counter that it was no longer going to be Agbaso. Agbaso’s election was cancelled and Udenwa again went into shopping for another candidate to ‘deliver’. Came Jude Nzeakor and finally Ikedi Ohakim of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA).
In one of my write-ups titled ‘The Real Reasons why Ohakim lost to Rochas’, I among other reasons, succinctly said as follows: ‘…I think Ohakim was outwitted during the 2011 gubernatorial election in Imo State because of the kind of political atmosphere the Ex-Governor found himself as at the time he ruled as Imo Governor. One of such factors was the issue of Senator Godwin Ararume’s governorship agenda. Having lost the 2007 Imo Governorship contest, the two-time Senator for Okigwe Senatorial Zone of Imo State wanted to win the 2011 Governorship Election in Imo State ‘by all means’.
Therefore, the Senator saw the then Governor Ohakim who was already in power as the only obstacle in his way. The Senator started from day one to put in all his arsenal so as to bring Ohakim’s regime to disrepute. This he started immediately Ohakim was sworn in 2007 and continued till in April 2011 when it dawned on him that that ambition would no longer be a reality. Unfortunately also, Chief Achike Udenwa fell out with Ohakim and formed an alliance with Ararume against Ohakim. Unfortunately also, Chief Achike Udenwa fell out with Ohakim and formed an alliance with Ararume against Ohakim. It is a fact that Chief Udenwa then had formidable proper gander machinery when he ruled as a governor in Imo state from 1999 to 2007. And with some of his ardent followers who were more experienced in governance and politics led by Dr. Alex Obi, Udenwa joined Senator Ararume and unleashed an unquenchable campaign of calumny, deceit and blackmail against Ohakim’s government…’
It is an unequivocal record that it was Udenwa and his political structure that facilitated the emergence of Ohakim as Governor of Imo State in 2007. It was said that before that was done, Udenwa and his group gave Ohakim series of grave stringent conditions including using members of Udenwa’s Redemption group to form government. From the look of things, I am aware that Ohakim used many of Udenwa’s Group to form his government and many of them served till the end of Ohakim’s administration.
However, not minding that Udenwa and his men were the greatest beneficiaries of Ohakim’s Government, it was an irony that Udenwa still led the greatest opposition that finished Ohakim and his administration. The reasons for this opposition is not yet clear to many till today.
As seen from the above, it was Udenwa and his men who made sure that Ararume did not enter Douglas House Owerri in 2007.
Be that as it may, Ohakim later re-joined PDP mid-way in his administration. Incidentally, after Udenwa fell out with Ohakim, he mended fences with his arch political enemy Senator Ararume. Afterwards, Ararume and Udenwa formed what they called Alliance for Good Governance. It was aimed at running down Ohakim’s administration and probably a frontier to actualize Ararume’s governorship ambition. When Ohakim finally outwitted Ararume and Udenwa in the struggle to control the PDP in Imo State, the duo carpet-crossed and joined the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). During the 2011 election in Imo State, Ohakim became the Governorship flag-bearer for PDP, Ararume became that of ACN while Udenwa ran for Orlu Senatorial seat under the same ACN.
Regrettably, it is said that during the 2011 Governorship Election in Imo, Udenwa betrayed his party flag-bearer Senator Ararume by working for the voting of Owelle Rochas Okorocha of APGA.
Recently, Udenwa was quoted by many print media of alleging that Rochas Administration has increased hardship to Imo people as a result of bad governance.
When I heard the statement, I was not sure that it was Udenwa that made the statement until I confirmed it to be true.
I do not want to dabble into the propriety or otherwise of Udenwa’s statement on the present administration in the state. My concern is more on the value Udenwa’s political activities have added to Imo State since he left the Douglas House.
During the eight years of Udenwa’s Administration in Imo State, it was said that Udenwa favoured his Senatorial Zone so much that his people loved him. However, it is an irony that the people of Orlu Senatorial Zone voted in Senator Hope Uzodinma Udenwa of PDP as against Udenwa. I am also aware that it was Udenwa’s Administration that raised zonal sentiments in the state.
Be that as it may, if politics is a game for the control of political power, how has Udenwa been able to control power since he left office in 2007? Does building a house and destroying the same house immediately after building the house make one a good builder? There is an Igbo adage that says that ‘a naghi eji akpata a tufuo aba ogaranya’.
Therefore, Udenwa’s regret for working for the emergence of Ohakim is a minus to his ability to project politically. Also his recent statement against Rochas whom he helped into the Douglas House is a puzzle to many.
As an elder statesman, will Udenwa continue opposing every government that comes after him? Why can’t he show consistent support for his successors at least for once and contribute his quota as an elder statesman. Why can’t he leave opposition for us the younger ones and remain a true statesman.
Udenwa is the only Imo man who has succeeded in ruling Imo State for eight unbroken years. After his eight-year reign, he was appointed a minister. However, looking at the facts as above elicited, can Udenwa be said to be of consistent political character worthy of emulation? Can he be described as a progressive statesman?
During the election that brought in Rochas, I worked and voted against Rochas but Udenwa worked and delivered Rochas in Orlu. Presently, Rochas is not paying Ohakim and his deputy their statutory pensions and other emoluments. Okorocha’s Government did not only collect my official car from me after serving the state as Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor for four years, but it also refused to pay me my statutory April and May 2011 salaries and my out of service severance allowance. But Ohakim paid Udenwa all his pensions and other entitlements and Rochas is also paying him accordingly. Therefore, I do not see the justification of this verbal attack. Instead, it is people like us that should cry.