By Kelechi Nwaeze
Prof Jude Ejike Njoku has become a prime target in the print and social media of late, since he declared his interest to run for the governorship of Imo State in 2019. Prof Njoku made his declaration in a well attended meeting with the leaders of Orlu Zone at the residence of former Governor Achike Udenww at Amaifeke in Orlu Local Government Area on Saturday, April 7, 2018, reminding them to use their numerical strength well as they have prominent roles to play in who becomes the PDP governorship candidate. With benefit of hindsight he had warned the leaders of Olru Zone not to fall for the booby trap of some moneybags who would come to buy them off like commodities on the shop owners shelves and later turn around to ride roughshod on the when he eventually becomes Governor, but to carefully select the leader they want.
Since that monumental declaration there is hardly a day that some people who feel that their governorship aspirations are threatened with Prof Njoku in the governorship race not saying or writing one trash about him. From what are available in the media it is clear that Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha is one of those who have become justifiably threatened with the presence of Prof Njoku in the governorship ring.
Imo people, particularly the members and leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) should be reminded once more that the 2019 governorship is not about those with the greatest appetite for wealth, neither is it for the highest bidder. The race, as the Holy Bible says, is not for the swift, but for those who have the demonstrable capacity to deliver the most tangible services to the people, and on time. To get this kind of Governor Imo people need a man with both the requisite experience, competence and integrity. Such a man must have demonstrable or attestable humility and must be a man of the people who must not be the lord over the people; a man whose doors are always ajar and receptive of fresh ideas.
Prof Njoku is such a man Imo people need. The PDP in Imo State also needs him if they really want to return to power. But as noted above, there are some people who think that though Prof Njoku has all the qualifications, and perhaps beats them silly, but he should not be allowed to fly the flag of the party in 2019. According to one Ogubundu Mwadike, one of the political jobbers of Emeka Ihedioha, Prof Njoku should keep away from the prized trophy, thereby denying Imo State and the PDP the opportunity they need at redemption. Such thinking is most puerile and runs counter to the collective interest of the people.
To drive the matter home, here is Ihedioha’s summation on Prof Njoku as captured by his media lackey: “In one or two sentences, let me state that both Prof. Jude Njoku and Dr. Sam Amadi are erudite scholars of repute. But they are too academic inclined and too politically detached to be able to fly the big flag of the PDP in 2019. They may be good at university senate or faculty but certainly they are misfits in the political battle that the 2019 election will be. They may be good in the boardroom politics of national corporation but that is a far lower politics than the brawl with Governor Rochas Okorocha that 2019 with witness. That may account for why despite the vamvum intimation of their will to run, they have remained at the so so consultation stage. As such both Prof. Njoku and Dr. Amadi are pretenders in the permutations of concerned pundits.”
There are tissues of lies in Ihedioha’s summation and faulty hasty generalization. Prof Njoku is not a pretender to the governorship and he is not someone anybody can sum up in one or two sentences. Such derogatory remarks smacks phobia for Prof Njoku. He does not pretend about anything. His governorship ambition is practically beyond the level of consultation but at the point of actualization as he has got the needed buy-in from the people to whom power actually belongs. Those who believe that their nauseating and empty media presence or caustic remarks on others qualify them above others should therefore have a rethink. And I think Ihedioha should quickly have a rethink of what he thinks about himself and others. It is high time he divested himself of the mentality that he has become some god and now possesses the Omniscience quality to read the hearts and intentions of all men and to know the outcome of tomorrow. If he really possessed this attribute one wonders why he did not see that he would lose the 2015 governorship election no matter what.
The false claim that “boardroom politics of national corporation… is a far lower politics” is an indication that some people trade in deception and can go to any length in deceiving the party and Imo people in general. The truth is that boardroom politics is one of the highest levels of politicking. Boardroom politics also equips one to know about the rules and to follow the rules very strictly. When a person with huge boardroom experience becomes Governor he would make a fantastic one because he would acquaint himself with the nuances of governance in line with international best practices, including the high level of discipline that goes with it. Such a Governor would have mastered the acts of negotiation and team spirit, knows the essence of carrying everyone along after painstakingly convincing them. In a multi ethnic country like Nigeria where Igbo people feel marginalised and underdeveloped, Imo State needs a Governor that can gainfully engage both the federal authorities and his colleagues, including foreign donor agencies or development partners, investors, etc, to bring the desperately needed development in the state. A Governor with boardroom experience would be a man of his words who keeps agreement. That is what the people need. That is what the PDP needs, and Ihedioha and his ilk should not twist the truth in order to deceive the people.
In a party where you have people like Prof Njoku it is foolhardy to claim that he cannot step up to “the brawl with Governor Rochas Okorocha that 2019 will witness”, moreover when Ihedioha had been tried and he failed to step up to “the brawl with Governor Rochas Okorocha”. The PDP cannot continue to run around a man who did not win the governorship at his first attempt, because the PDP is not his inheritance. The investment risk with him is much higher.
It is pertinent to state without equivocation that Prof Njoku is not a misfit for the office of the Governor of Imo State or any other state for that matter. He is more than fit for the job, mentally, morally, socially, academically, experientially, etc. And anyone who knows Prof’s record fairly well will only conclude that he is more than fit for the job that needs to be done.
Humble, approachable and harmless, Prof Njoku comes from a family of academics. Starting from his father who was a teacher, there are about four professors in Prof Njoku’s family. Interestingly, he is not the first nor the second. Prof Njoku’s academic career began as a Graduate Assistant at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1977. He transferred his services to the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) in 1983, six years after. He rose to the rank of Professor of Agricultural Economics in 1995.
Working very hard in FUTO he became Head of Department between 1990-1992; Dean of Students’ Affairs between 1992-1997; Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) between 1997-2000. Prof Njoku became Vice Chancellor for five years, 2,000-2005, where he was elected Best Vice Chancellor of the Nigerian universities by the National Universities Commission (NUC) in 2004. As FUTO V.C. he presided over the affairs of the students and took decisions that effected their life and future.
As a result of Prof Njoku’s boardroom experience and negotiation skills, he was able to keep FUTO lectures and non academic staff away from the nationwide industrial strike action that ravaged that era. Thus, FUTO did not go on strike and did not lose any academic year. He ran the most peaceful, stable, secure and infrastructurally developed university, and he was able to hold series of meetings with stakeholders who responded to the infrastructural needs of the citadel of learning.
It therefore amounts to unnecessary phobia and throwing mud at an innocent beautiful bride, to falsely claim that Prof. Jude Njoku though an erudite scholar of repute is “too academic inclined and too politically detached to be able to fly the big flag of the PDP in 2019.” It is equally nonsensical to even think that though Prof Njoku “may be good at university senate or faculty but certainly [is a] misfit in the political battle that the 2019 election will be”.
Prof Njoku’s emergence as Imo State Governor would fill the gap lacking in the governance of the state by bringing intellectualism to governance. This will not only ensure that Imo State is run in line with best international governance practices but would also ensure that Imo State is elevated from pedestrianism and the joke it has been for close to eight years.
Truth be told, Prof Njoku’s tenure as V.C and his regular engagement in the university Senate means that he was on daily basis dealing with Doctors and Professors, students and others, and he was making decisions that impacted the futures of both the Professors, Doctors, students and others layers of the workforce in the university, including taking decisions on investment opportunities in the citadel of learning. This is obviously lacking in Ihedioha who does not have the executive experience needed to bear on the governorship seat but would be a neophyte and could become a bad workman quarrelling with his tools.
When Imo leaders and the masses talk about a seasoned technocrat and matured administrator, they refer to Prof Njoku’s background, not Ihedioha’s, because he lacks the kind of résumé a man for the prime job must possess.
Prof Njoku’s administrative competence has been demonstrated over the years. He was appointed Hon Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Urban Planning (2007-2009) and Hon Commissioner for Education (2009-2011), during which period the state government successfully handed over schools to the missions, paid salaries of the affected teachers for two years and provided grants. He has also demonstrated competence outside government appointment. He was a consultant to the World Bank, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the United States Agency for Integrated Development (USAID), the USAID MARKET, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. He was also consultant to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), etc.