The race is on for the next occupant of Imo seat of power, otherwise known as Douglas House.

At the forefront of this race is Senator Athan Nneji Achonu, SANA, who is the flag bearer of the Labour Party, LP.

The frontline contender is well known for his ‘Aku Ruo Ulo’ philosophy, which is an idea that the Igbo should invest their wealth at home.

Achonu is not just a talker; he is a doer and exemplifies his preaching by actually setting the pace through his humongous investments in Imo State; even in his hometown.

A formidable socio-political group that has thrown its weight behind Achonu’s aspiration, Concerned Imo Influencers, CII, led by its Convener, Ambassador Theo Chibueze, is leaving no stone unturned to see that this dream comes to fruition. It deploys mass education on Achonu’s antecedents and to convince the people that the One-Arm General, as Achonu is fondly called, is the right person to free the state from the recent four blighted years of the current administration.

Expectedly, many other groups have emerged to support the ambition of this idea whose time has come. Of course, the Achonu phenomenon has set the state buzzing with frenzy, as several groups and people are rooting for him. Like Kenneth Kaunda’s epic book, Zambia shall be free; everybody now prays that Imo shall be free through indefatigable Achonu – free from the multi-faceted evils.

Consequently, panicky opponents have begun flooding the media space with bland curriculum vitae that neither shows evidence of how they had impacted the people nor points to what they could or would do to improve the lives of the people. As a matter of fact, the resume is a rehash of a career path that, as far as governance is concerned, is actually worse than the Governor Hope Uzodinma they wish to dethrone.

At least, Uzodinma has embarked on reverse progression by rebuilding federal roads in Imo while leaving his mandate to suffer. Nobody knows why the governor has left deplorable rural roads to concentrate on federal roads instead of using his touted influence in Abuja to get the concerned authorities to do their roads.

Nigeria’s local lingo says, ‘shine your eyes wella’. Indeed, Imo does not need itinerant politicians, who have got high on inordinate ambition to rule Imo State without commensurate credentials to do that and so run from one party to another, seeking elusive shelter. These are people that were roundly trounced at their parties’ primaries now courting the backing of others that would certainly lead them to more crushing defeat.

Achonu is the tonic Imo needs to come off its limpness occasioned by fair-weather purported leaders and desperadoes around the corridors of power because, Achonu, unlike his traducers and dithering opponents, has VERIFIABLE hands-on proven credentials.

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We are talking about a man who made his first $1m before the age of 25 through contracts to supply currency counterfeit detector machines in Nigeria. We are talking about a daring investor. How else would one describe a man who, in pursuit of his Aku Ruo Ulo mantra, sunk over a whopping N5bn in mammoth Numo farms in his native Umunumo village, Ehime Mbano.

Also, his uncommon philanthropy, and other investments in key sectors have elevated many and saved lives. Achonu’s microfinance bank is among the most capitalised in the country. Much of the loans given out are never even repaid but he is still undeterred because his concern is about the wellbeing of the people. That is an attribute of a leader; someone, who has the milk of human kindness in his veins, as opposed to the callousness that has been on parade in the state.

He owns a farm in Kuje, near Abuja, with 50 greenhouses, a cattle stockade, and an artificial flowing river with the capacity to produce 150,000 catfishes monthly and export them to the international market. His other farm in Imo State has 260 greenhouses, a hatchery, a feed mill, cattle stockade that can accommodate 5,000 cattle, with capacity to produce over one million catfish monthly. His eyes are fixed on building a poultry, piggery, and slaughterhouse in order to have a full cattle processing value chain for the local market.

Achonu has a track record of creating jobs across major sectors of the economy; the impact these have made on the people is unquantifiable when translate into employment opportunities.

The governorship hopeful intends to open up the rural areas and turn them into cities, by setting up factories and housing, schools, and hospitals for workers. He also intends to build power plants that will support all industries and factories. This will engender reverse migration. Is that not what Imo needs?

Long before the Dangote Refinery in Lagos, visionary Achonu had come up with the idea in Imo State and launched it. However, his efforts were thwarted by official malfeasance, especially by the Rochas Okorocha administration, which the current Hope Uzodinma government has sustained by not only failing to pay an N100 million judgment debt against the state but going ahead to balkanise a prime property that Achonu bought in pursuit of his dreams to make Imo a tourist destination. The envy-driven disruptive acts of the government have cost the state a lot.

He told a national newspaper in a recent interview: “I had a licence to operate a refinery. I bought 47 hectares of land from Ohaji Egbema. We were looking for about 100-200 hectares so that when we build the refinery we can have an industrial park beside it, such that the same power firing the refinery can power the industrial park. With lots of gas deposits in that area, we can have 24-hour electricity. The idea went into the cooler because Rochas was attacking me over the hotel, so my partners pulled out.

“When I go to convince people to invest in the South-east, they ask me what of the ‘aku ruo ulo’ I took to the South-east 20 years ago, and ask where I am with it. Truly, how can I ask them to come and invest when I have not realised my investment? So, they said, if I am serious with this ‘aku ruo ulo’ mantra, I should go and contest governorship because they know I am development-oriented. They trust and can vouch for my integrity. So that when I become governor, they know there is an enabling environment to bring their money, and their investments are safe.”

In this Imo gubernatorial election, the fear of Achonu is the beginning of wisdom. That is the reason for the vile propaganda against him exclusive of others as if he is the only opponent Uzodinma has.  The preponderance of roadside rag sheets on the newsstands and emergency ‘media teams’ for queasy opponents are laughable because in this race, what Imo needs is a man who understands the needs of the people and knows how to tackle them. That is what sets Achonu apart from the madding crowd.

Again, as is traditional to them, political merchants and vultures are congregating to continue feasting on the cadaver of our much-deprived state. Stragglers have invaded the political landscape for the scramble for Douglas House. However, there is no better opportune time than now to prise Imo from the vise grip of coarse handlers that have manacled it to retardation and backwardness over the years. Agu Otu Aka is here to pull this beleaguered state out of the boondocks.

Nevertheless, the choice is before the people. Nobody needs to tell Ndi Imo that falling for the government’s spurious N10,000 grants in exchange for their PVCs is tantamount to inviting many more years of darkness, bloodbath, and stagnation. Not even the amalgam of evil forces could stop a people, who are determined to be free. And, yes, like Kenneth Kaunda’s epic book, ‘Zambia must be free’, Imo MUST be free!