By Collins Opurozor:
A reputable Imo news blog recently released the outcome of a survey it conducted about the 2019 Imo governorship election. It was the first in a series which the administrators said would aid a better understanding of those who seek to lead the State. The exercise was open and participatory and so its result deserves attention and analysis. More so, it came from a non-partisan platform that is genuinely committed to a better Imo State and which assiduously garnered the views of over fifty-three thousand people by means of online voting with a feedback mechanism that enabled the respondents express further views on the aspirants.
Of the 45 aspirants who have either overtly or covertly shown interest in the gubernatorial race, we have it on the authority of the result that Mr. Okey Ezeh of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) emerged one of the top three contenders. He secured 21% of the total votes, leaving the other 44 aspirants with 79% to share, which gives an average of about 1.7%.
The blog also went further to make some salient observations which are as analytically relevant as the statistics. Mr. Okey Ezeh, said the blog, going by the views of the respondents, is supported mostly by these categories of people: those who have worked with him in the past, those who have read something about him, those who have listened to him talk about his blueprint, those who know his track record in the corporate world and those who believe he is a stable party politician. One other interesting thing in the verdict of the blog on Mr. Okey Ezeh is that, of all the aspirants, he is more overwhelmingly supported by people from the largest senatorial district in Imo State – Orlu Zone.
Now, let us examine these issues one by one. Is it true that those who worked with Mr. Okey Ezeh in the past are still there to work with him again and why? First, it is very true and the reason is not far-fetched. There is something distinguished – even distinguishing – about Mr. Okey Ezeh. He is a team player and pays sincere attention to the needs of those he works with and loses sleep to ensure their welfare. On a daily basis, you hear people speak of his care and compassion during one misfortune or another, and how his philanthropy has helped them get established in life. And they see that as his changeless attribute, because it is often rare to
witness such from many politicians unless and until it is election period. Therefore, the faith of this category of people in Mr. Okey Ezeh stems essentially from the awareness that a man of great altruism will certainly give up even his personal comfort to make Imo great again.
Secondly, as the blog’s verdict revealed, those who have read something about Mr. Okey Ezeh are very much enthusiastic about supporting him. They know he comes with something sorely lacking and urgently needed in Imo State: a seasoned administrator, tried and tested in value creation, imbued with refined values and conversant with global best practices in financial engineering and prudent management of men and materials. And because they know that the big question now in Imo State is economic, the answer is surely an economic expert.
Again, those who have listened to Mr. Okey Ezeh discuss his blueprint for the socio-economic regeneration of the State are as well his avowed supporters. This is where you find those who see him as a thoroughly prepared leader that deeply understands the problem in the State and that
has a sustainable solution to it beyond quick fixes. They call him the Architect of the Imo Marshal Plan (I-MAP), and they trust that the I-MAP embodies the rebirth sought for.
Those who know his accomplishments in the corporate world are also confident in his competence, credibility and character. Mr. Okey Ezeh, who rose to senior managerial cadre in a multinational bank – Citibank – is revered and remembered in that sector for his innovations. The security of Cash-In-Transit (CIT) operations of Nigerian banks, being the brainchild of Mr. Okey Ezeh, is one of his legacies which the financial institutions in Nigeria will eternally remain grateful for.
As a party politician, Mr. Okey Ezeh has shown consistency, reliability and steadfastness to the admiration of all. People often speak of the material things given by him to grow his party, APGA. They talk of the 27 cars he shared to them. They talk of how he has been paying the rents for the state secretariat of APGA in the Owerri. They talk about his financial contributions to APGA through the years which helped the party get back to life. All of these are true and quantifiable. But there is one thing that is unquantifiable but no less significant – the love with which he does all these. A man sent this to my mailbox in December last year: “I will join APGA and support Okey Ezeh because I once overheard him talk to somebody he was giving a contract to make some purchases for him to donate to APGA. He told the man to deliver the best quality because anything he wants to do for APGA must be the best. I went home that evening asking myself, so it will be actually possible for Imo to have a leader who wishes to give the State the best in everything? It was that night I decided to help and enthrone that leader.”
Finally, the fact that the people of Orlu Zone are overwhelmingly rooting for Mr. Okey Ezeh who is from Owerri Zone reveals that his stewardship will be an inclusive one. He is not being seen from primordial, communal, parochial and ascriptive perspectives. He has shattered the barriers of identity politics. He, it seems clear to me, has become the only aspirant with nearly fanatical supporters outside his immediate zone and across the entire Imo State. This factor is of immense necessity in securing victory for APGA at the polls. We have a great opportunity to make Imo work again. Imo Rebirth is Now!