Golden age is one milestone usually celebrated by many with profound fanfare and passion because it marks a critical turning point in one’s life. To Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives , this long established aphorism is not any different as he attains 50 today. But then for someone who has accomplished so many enviable feats in politics and public service within a short life span Hon Ihedioha has a lot to cheer, celebrate and many red carpets to lay consistent with his towering accomplishments.
Ihedioha’s golden age commemoration is remarkable in various ways. It coincides with the period he is suitably contesting to rule Imo state. Ihedioha is the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship flag bearer in the state in next month’s general election with his chances of clinching the governorship brightening each passing day. His victory, predictably on the heels of this milestone would open yet another uncommon but largely striking chapter in his life
Born into the family of late Pa Green Ihedioha on March 24, 1965 at the idyllic Mbutu, Aboh Mbaise Local Council of Imo state, Ihedioha had a humble and regimented beginning. This was particularly so because he grew up under the tutelage of disciplined parents who held education and strict religious obligations in high premium. Thus, they brought young Emeka up to be a devout Christian, to have voracious appetite for education; growing thirst for selfless service and service to humanity.
These attributes have had a far-reaching effect in shaping Ihehioha, accounting for his astronomical growth and success in public service and politics. At 50, Ihedioha has amazingly held several strategic political positions through appointments and elections and now coasting home to be elected Imo state Governor.
Ihedioha began his political apprenticeship when Third Republic Deputy Senate President, Senator Legogie appointed him Press Officer in 1991. Following military interregnum that resulted in the demise of that Republic, Ihedioha returned to private practice, firming up his First Page Public Relations outfit. He later joined People’s Democratic Movement that merged with other political associations to form the People’s Democratic Party . This enabled him to be part of the team that designed the party’s publicity roadmap at inception.
He emerged in 1999 as the Special Adviser on Media Relations to the then President of the Senate, Senator Chuba Okadigbo. The tenure of his boss was short-lived and terminated in 2000 following his unbridled pursuit for the independence of the legislature which consistently put him in collision with the Presidency . Ihedioha was shortly after appointed Special Assistant Political Affairs by the then Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
It was from there his political career began to witness exceptional boost. At 50, Ihedioha has achieved so many rare feats with several legacies to attest to. He ran and won his first election in 2003 to represent Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala in the House of Representatives. The Selection Committee of the House headed by Aminu Bello Masari appointed him Marine Transport Committee Chairman. He pursued critical Acts such as NIMASA Act 2007 and other key legislations which revolutionized the maritime sector of the economy.
Interestingly, Ihedioha has won three consecutive elections, resulting in his 12-year stint in the House. Far more amazing is that his positions in the House have been on a steady progress . During his second tenure in 2007, South East House caucus elected him Chief Whip. Four years later, he was unanimously endorsed without dissension in 2011 as Deputy Speaker by his colleagues.
Ihehioha accordingly chairs the House Ad hoc on Constitution Review; headed the intellectual-based committee that designed House Roadmap for 2011 and 2015 and chairs the House Committee of the Whole that considers and passes all bills into law
As chairman Constitution Review Committee, Jhedioha enthroned a credible, largely novel constitution review process by painstakingly involving the civil society groups and broadening the participation base of Nigerians by seeking their inputs in the 360 federal constituencies in the country. Thus all the items of his Committee’s report were endorsed wholesale by the House. Some of the revolutionary recommendations made by his committee included; making basic health, free and compulsory education from primary to junior high, basic shelter for all Nigerians constitutional imperative.
His stint in the National Assembly has shown him to be development-focused and infrastructure-led. His pursuits for empowerment programmes resulting in wealth creation and employment boost have remained palpable and unassailable. These realities including his regular interface with his constituents are instructive of his dexterity for effective legislative governance.
Although this piece is not principally fashioned to compute the many projects Ihedioha has brought to the state and South East zone, the record of his road infrastructure, electricity projects, education facilities, water projects, hospital facilities is significant and verifiable. For instance, Ihedioha got NDDC to award contract for OKpala-Igwuruta Road, linking Imo to Rivers with the first phase costing N4.2b; facilitated award of contract for the dualization of Owerri-Elele (Omayelu) 35-kilometre road at N23b. He also attracted contract for the design of the famous 63-kilometre Mbaise Ring Road cutting across three local councils
Driven by the desire to build human capital to propel socio-economic development in Imo state, he has at various times organized empowerment programmes for Imo journalists, youths, women and even graduate engineers
His guiding principle is respect for the rule of law and frankness with his “word being his bond”. He has promised Imo people that one of his cardinal objectives when elected as Governor would be the restoration of rule of law in a state Governor Rochas Okorocha has unfortunately enthroned lawlessness, civil dictatorship and disobedient to court decisions as the order.