Okigwe South Federal Constituency is fast gaining popularity as the nation prepares for next year’s general elections. This popularity derives from the meddlesomeness of Governor Rochas Okorocha, who, not being satisfied with his vile endorsement of his son in-law as his successor, has traversed the entire landscape of the state, dictating who gets what post and who does not.
Looking at this from a narrow prism, there is nothing wrong in what Okorocha is doing. He is entitled to his choice, especially as a survivalist strategy, considering the mess he had made of the state’s fortunes. What is, however, wrong, is the overt attempt to impose his will on the people as if democracy now operates a different template from what it is and ought to be.
Okigwe South is one of the victims of the governor’s overbearing gambit. He has decreed the return of the current representative of the people in the House of Representatives, Hon. Chike Okafor, much to the chagrin of the constituents, who have cried foul. The people find the idea not only repugnant but also insulting because, historically, no Rep had gone back to the House on two consecutive terms. It would be ‘impudent’ of a stranger (which Okorocha is to the constituency), even if he is a governor, to now destroy the long held tradition of the people.
Moreover, though the people are not really rejecting the candidature of Okafor because of non performance, they are trailing their eyes on higher stakes, which neither Okorocha nor Okafor can achieve. That is why pressure is mounting on Honourable Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, HCN, to take a shot at the Okigwe South slot. The youthful Chairman of Tertiary Education Trustfund, TETFund, first represented the constituency in the House between 1999 and 2003 and honoured tradition by voluntarily opting not to re-contest his position when his term elapsed. Is it not surprising that Okafor wants to dare this established tradition since the nation returned to democratic rule almost 20 years ago just because Okorocha is goading him on? Even Hon. Frank Ibezim, former Imo State Commissioner for Agriculture, who had declared his intention to run, has indicated his willingness to sacrifice his ambition to see that Nwajiuba steps in. That is only possible because of obvious potentials of HCN. He would be a ranking officer and qualified for any of the principal offices, including the speaker. He has the reach and clout across borders, such that no Igbo politician in the current dispensation enjoys. He is humble, unassuming, caring and sharp brained, a man of ideas.
It is known that of the 41federal house seats in the South East, only Ideato and Okigwe were able to elect Reps on the platform of All Progressives Congress, APC. Aguleri and Ahiazu decamped from Peoples Democratic Oarty, PDP, to join. They as ranking members known by many PDP Rep members from the South East/South South and are close to the current house leadership are also seeking reelection.
Aguleri and Ideato may have issues, as governors are domiciled there. Current Ahiazu and Okigwe South members are being propped by Okorocha, both of whom he has promised to make speaker. Whether he can do that when he is no longer governor, having not been able to deliver on same promise to Chike Okafor in 2015, as APC sole South East governor is a gamble no reasonable person should take, and we will never get to answer.
At 80% composite viability, in Hon. Nwajiuba, we indeed do have only in Okigwe South, out of the 41 seats, a candidate that represents the premise established for engagement, having brought home the bacons consistently from 1996/99/2003/2007/2011/2015… still counting, in or out of office in various packages of projects, positions, policies, etc… He also enjoys a relationship that will help cement a place for the South East at the worktable.
We must do everything to harvest him and send him forth with our mandate. Every other permutation falls below even a 50% viability. One romantic idea that 40% of current members will return (even though not supported by returns in the last four cycles) and that these 144 members will elect a person, who has been consistently accused of scamming them (check the padding allegations of Hon. Jubrin). The votes for speaker are held at caucuses, as it is the first order of business upon resumption of the House. It, therefore, requires a measure of acceptability across country wide voting blocs.
Again this parameter is one, which HCN has no equal in the South East. Votes also follow alignments in the senate leadership and which other zone is poised for the deputy speaker..majority leader, etc. Even with the way NASS and Presidency have sparred thus far, handlers of government are, of course, going to try to reach their individual members to forge their own input. Again this is a parameter where HCN is unassailable. Even if 144 are returning members, that means 216 will be new; thus name, recognition, political reach, resources, relationships, personality, political baggage, etc., would be another parameter. HCN is clearly light years ahead.
The Okigwe South advantage is that it has the best bride for Nigeria, who has a chief bridesmaid in town and other bridesmaids to make the Nigerian marriage fruitful. So, we should have all of this in mind to begin our stage one, which is the party ticket.
The APC party ticket is key to the matter. PDP is dominant in the South East but has not recovered one bit of ground in the vote-rich North West or North East. Whoever gets the APC tickets in those zones are likely to be the House members. These two zones produce 42% of members.
Second stage is the election proper. The PDP and All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, will be sending candidates. Therefore, the APC Okigwe South ticket must go to a person, who will not carry the existing baggage into a volatile ground. It is important to recognise that the local temperament is key.
The third stage is after the two stages had been navigated, is for the entire South East to weigh into the matter to secure a foot in the decision making kitchen of the country, which the area currently lacks.
Now, these are the three main stages to getting the south East onto the political worktable. The political worktable of any country at anytime consists of mainly influence levers wielded by key individuals on the decision making process in governance. What the public sees and discusses or reacts to is the fallout of the acts of this political worktable. Participation at this table is based on either relationship to a position or on a position occupied in the system… Or best still based on having a position and a good relationship at the same time.
To be continued