Imo 2019: Waiting for Frank Nneji
By Valentine Amanze
Since the creation of Imo State in 1976 poor leadership has been its bane; only the second republic, which began in 1979, was unique. Reason: The then governor, the late Chief Sam Onunaka Mbakwe, made the difference with his people-orientated leadership.
His legacy in a four-year tenure, which was truncated by the military junta then led by General Muhammadu Buhari, is yet to be rivaled by subsequent administrations in the state.
Recall that Mbakwe governed a bigger state, including the present Imo, Abia; and some parts of Ebonyi state, yet the governments after his; with only 27 local government areas, have failed.
With inadequate resources and poor revenue allocation from the then National Party of Nigeria-ruled Federal Government Mbakwe was able to industrilise, provide water and electricity with the Amaraku power plant - the first independent power project in the country.
He never owed workers; yet he set up the first multi-campus Imo State University in 1981 and other legacies, which were mismanaged by the governments after his.
Mbakwe was a politician built in the mold of a technocrat on the platform of Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP). He was a lawyer, who helped Ndigbo regain their belongings branded abandoned properties after the civil war. Like Mbakwe, another great achiever, philanthropist and employer of labour, Frank Nneji, has declared his ambition to rescue Imo from the grips of the wicked leadership. His pedigree and source of wealth are known unlike other pretenders. In fact Nneji is the owner of ABC Transport, one of the biggest employers of labour not only in Nigeria but West Africa. His company is the only from Imo State that is quoted on the stockexchange.
While Ndi-Imo are awaiting his emergence as governorship candidate, other parties are said to be wooing him to take their ticket.
His declaration is said to have put other parties in disarray, as their leadership crises continue.
For instance, while it is not yet certain when the various factions of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state will unite, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has become a laughing stock over who succeeds Governor Rochas Okorocha.
Public opinion appears to favour Nneji more if he gets APGA ticket. One: Nneji is from Owerri zone. The area that has not produced a governor since the latest dispensation.
Two: Nneji is from the private sector, who could manage the state resources prudently.
Three: APGA is enjoying the goodwill of ndi-Imo because of their love for its founding fathers and its grassroots acceptability and stability.
However, the case is different for the ruling party in the state - APC.
Okorocha is said to be having sleepless nights over who succeeds him.
The choice he made publicly to succeed him, his son-in-law and Chief of Staff, Uche Nwosu, is said to have caused a rift in the family, as other in-laws from Owerri zone are also claiming right to the exulted position.
Our source revealed that trouble was caused by the purported support of the wife of the Governor, Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha, for her son-in-law, Hon. Uche Nwosu, against the desire of other members of the family. It is said that the unfortunate development has polarised the once united family owing to Nwosu's alleged arrogance and disrespectful disposition.
It was gathered that against the will of the family members, the wife of the governor insisted on her son-in-law, the reason perceived as not only selfish but egoistic ambition of handing over to her daughter as the the next wife of the governor of the state.
This development has endeared enmity to the family from different quarters, bringing the image of the family to disrepute.
To scuttle and salvage the image of the family, sources said, some members of Okorocha's family decided to support Chief Chuks Ololo, the husband of Governor Okorocha's younger sister, Mrs. Ogechi Ololo, who is the Commissioner for Happiness and Purpose Fulfillment.
Ololo, who has declared his interest to contest governorship election, said that he was unstoppable.
He was said to have insisted that he was the senior brother-in-law who was there before Uche came around, and he is also from Owerri zone. He has vowed not to step down for anybody.
Okorocha is said to be confused as to how to get around the raging issue even as he is said to have threatened the Commissioner of Happiness and Purpose Fulfillment of sack, which seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
Also the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere, has declared interest in the position. He is also from Owerri zone. Senator Ifeanyi Ararume (APC) from Okigwe zone is also gunning for the same post.
The political calculation is that APC house in Imo State is collapsing in a rainy day.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Owerri Diocese of Catholic Church, His Grace, Archbishop AJV Obinna has cautioned Governor Okorocha over his intention to foist Uche Nwosu on Imo people, a resistance that has generated a lot of heat in the state to the extent of threatening the Archbishop for voicing out the stand of the faithful.
If the church and the masses support Nneji, Imo will enjoy good fortunes again.
Nneji is a graduate of University of Nigeria Nsukka.