By: JAMES OKORIE
On Sunday, September 4, 2022, former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha shone like a million stars in the political firmament of Imo State.
He was hailed and cheered genuinely by the people of the state. The applause and jubilation that erupted at a thanksgiving service in honour of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu at the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, CATOL, Owerri on September 4 upon the announcement of his presence was truly out of this world.
Ihedioha simply stole the show. The priest had a tough time calming the jubilant congregation. No other person not even the state governor, Hope Uzodimma was accorded such a thunderous applause at the church service.
The love for Ihedioha was rooted on two premises: the stellar performance he put up during his short-lived governance of the state and the manner of his ouster from Douglas House, Owerri by the apex court in the land.
Ihedioha brought order and restored trust in government. Once again, Imolites began to trust their government. Orderliness also returned in the governance of the state.
Institutions of the state began to operate without unnecessary interference. Though he used interim administrators at the hinterlands, the local government system still operated without inhibitions. Councils recommenced execution of projects like stadia and council headquarters without contracts being awarded straight from Douglas House, Owerri.
Automation of pensioners was carried out and bank alerts began hitting the handsets of the retirees. Instead of having to queue under the scorching sun and torrential downpour to receive their pensions, pensioners were receiving notifications on the payment of their monthly entitlement into their bank accounts in the cool comfort of their homes.
Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, also ballooned not necessarily owing to the establishment of new and more industries in the state but due to honest collection and remittances of revenue to the Treasury Single Account, TSA introduced by the administration.
There was also the determination of the Ihedioha to recover assets of the state cornered by the crooks that served in the administration of his predecessor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. He set up probe panels and a recovery committee to recover both public and private assets confiscated by some state actors.
Coming out from an administration which threw order and decency to the dogs; an administration whose head gleefully declared that he bends rather breaks the law, Imolites got enraptured by the superlative performance of Ihedioha.
It was therefore not surprising when the people rose in anger upon his unexpected sack by the Supreme Court on January 14, 2020. Apart from Fr. Ejike Mbaka and the clique headed by the Omuma political chess player who knew of the impending ouster, many Imolites were in the dark of what the apex court had up its sleeves.
Protest rallies erupted spontaneously and simultaneously in Owerri and Abuja. Not many could fathom that a man who placed a distant fourth in a race could later outrun all to brace the tape in a Ben Johnson fashion.
But Tanko Mohammed, the then Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Supreme Court had dealt Ihedioha and the People’s Democratic Party the upper and most devastating cut. The infallible apex court had its way because its decision is final. It hardly overrules itself.
Until last week, many never thanked God for the judicial pronouncement of January 14, 2020 but a little faux pas of the protagonist in the political play has triggered a flurry of thanks to the Almighty God for sparing Imo State of the person of Ihedioha at the helm of affairs.
The Mbutu Mbaise-born former deputy speaker, House of Representatives and two-time governorship candidate of the PDP in Imo State has lost political relevance before the eyes of discerning members of the public.
His indiscretion of calling those in the South East who don’t support the candidacy of Atiku Abubakar saboteurs appears to have nailed his political coffin. Also saying that the 2023 presidential race is between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and PDP thereby excluding the Labour Party on which platform Mr. Peter Obi is contesting means he does not reckon with a man whose aspiration has garnered the largest support across the country; it exposes him as a man with dull political reflexes.
Granted he has tendered an apology but only few people have accepted it. Ihedioha has provided arsenal to his political enemies even within his party to bomb him out of relevance and reckoning.
The opposition within has already started deriding him as a man without balls. According to the opposition, if he is powerful, he would not have allowed Senator Hope Uzodimma to sack him from Douglas House, Owerri. In fact, his critics assert that he should have borrowed whatever money was required to settle the apex court jurists to keep him on the seat. They do not want to consider whether the loan would have mortgaged the future of the people.
As the 2023 gubernatorial race approaches, the camp which is fighting tooth and nail to ensure Ihedioha does not get the PDP ticket a record third time is going to put forward his smeared image and the perceived lack of balls to keep something in his kitty safe as reasons for demanding that the PDP tries another candidate for the poll. It indeed has a new missile to fire at all cylinders on why the ticket should elude the green cap man.
However, there is still time to make amend. Also, the result of the presidential poll in February next year will play a big role and determine the future of many politicians.