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SHOULD IHEDIOHA ACCEPT HOPE UZODINMA’S OLIVE BRANCH?

By Kizito Duru

It is no longer news that Gov Hope Uzodinma displaced Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha as the governor of Imo State almost two months ago. The decisions of the apex court on January 14 and March 03 are unarguably the most controversial decisions taken by the highest court in the country. The reality however uncomfortable it is, is that Gov Hope Uzodinma, bar death, will dictate proceedings in the state, at least for four years.

Since the rulings of the Supreme Court, Gov Uzodinma has extended olive branch to Chief Ihedioha. While it is left to be seen whether the Mbutu born legislature would accept the offer or not, opinions have been divided between analysts. One divide are of the opinion that Ihedioha should embrace the offer, partner with Uzodinma and bring his noble ideas for the overall interest and development of the state, whereas the other divide have advised Ihedioha to pay no attention to such offer, labelling it a Greek offer. Those on this side have argued that if Hope Uzodinma saw something good in Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, he would have withdrawn his case from the courts and supported Emeka Ihedioha while he reigned as the governor of Imo State.

Ihedioha’s Press Statement on January 15, wherein he admonished his supporters to support the new government is a big pointer that it may only but a short while before Ihedioha accepts the olive branch. The statement read in part, “We can always have different parties, but we would have only one Imo State. In the same vein, I urge you to extend to my successor, the same support you gave to me. It is my wish that he will continue on the path we had set for the rebuilding of our state as well as consolidate on the progress and milestones we achieved.”

To Hope Uzodinma’s credit, since his assumption to office, he has concentrated on the business of governance. Another person would have come against Rt Hon Ihedioha and those that worked closely with him. Gov Uzodinma has continued the construction of roads awarded by his predecessor. He has not also taken to the media to berate Ihedioha and his team as Ihedioha did to Okorocha. It is either Uzodinma is more concerned with other serious issues to engage in such vindictive style of leadership or that he genuinely wants to work with Ihedioha, hence his resolve to accord the former deputy speaker some respect.

Many believe that Ihedioha would win more souls for himself should he decide to accept the verdict of the Supreme Court and work with the governor of the state. This they said would portray him as a man who puts the interest of the state first, before self interest. Truth is Ihedioha impressed not a few with quality governance but reality check insist that he cannot be the governor of Imo State until the next four years. Therefore should he want the noble ideas and programs he has for the state to materialise, he may consider working with Uzodinma.

However those on the other side, especially supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party are firm with their opinion that it would not be in the best interest of Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha and the umbrella party to work with Gov Hope Uzodinma. They argued that one cannot beat a child and expect him not to cry. I align myself with those on this side. Ihedioha was not just beaten, he was maimed with legal daggers, leaving him weeping uncontrollably. It is insensitivity to advise a man in such a state to dine with architects of his misery. Ihedioha should not do it and hopefully would not do it. Twice, after his victories and the Tribunal and Appellate courts, Ihedioha beckoned on Hope Uzodinma to join him in Rebuilding the state, twice Uzodinma declined the offer and pushed his case to the Supreme Court. If anything else, Ihedioha’s decent government would have encouraged Uzodinma to drop his case for the interest of the state.

Ihedioha would only validate the Supreme Court judgement which he has condemned should he accept the olive branch. In the latest Press Release by Ihedioha, he still bemoaned that the mandate of Imo people was stolen. The statement read in part, ” I therefore feel a sense of pride and gratitude for the wonderful energy and commitment that we deployed together to secure the mandate that has now been brazenly stolen from us.”

Ihedioha further referred to the decision of the learned Justices as a miscarriage of justice, “Whatever may be the personal injury I suffer as a result of the miscarriage of justice, my main concern in this whole tragic episode is not about me.”

Futhermore, Ihedioha would be betraying thousands of his supporters who stood by him before and after the election and throughout his travails at the Supreme Court. He enjoys massive sympathy not just in Imo but across the country. It would not be an exaggeration to say that, Ihedioha, though not a governor, is more popular in the state and country than Hope Uzodinma who is the governor. The same could be said between the APC and PDP in the state.

Ihedioha knows this, he knows his goodwill is on the high and would always be as long as he continues to strategically use the media. He has dropped a hint of having another go at the governorship in the state. He said, “On a personal note, I accept trials and difficulties as part of life as they enable one to become wiser and more sympathetic to the plights of others in similar circumstances. But I am firmly resolved NEVER to give up on the struggle for a better Imo State. And for a better governed Nigeria.”

With the alleged expulsion of senator Samuel Anyanwu from the Peoples Democratic Party, a move political analysts have claimed that it was to guarantee Ihedioha’s total control for the party, it is difficult to see another person become the standard bearer of the party for gubernatorial election in 2023. Even in an event where Ihedioha decides not to give another shot at ruling the state, he can contest to represent Owerri zone in the senate. However you picture the political future of Emeka Ihedioha, he is more assure and secure in the PDP than the APC.

The PDP no doubt will be a darling and an enticing option for politicians and the people as 2023 approaches. If Hope Uzodinma does not deliver dividends of democracy and quality leadership within the next three years, Ihedioha chances of coming back as the governor would be brightened. Most supporters of Ihedioha are still with him and some of them are ready to stick with him till the next election. Simply put, Ihedioha has nothing to loose by rejecting the offer of working with Hope Uzodinma. The offer itself does not seem genuine.

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