Lingering tense atmosphere and ominous signs of political violence, especially in the oil bearing communities of Imo State drew the attention of eminent persons from the area early in the week and compelled them to assemble politicians from the area seeking elective offices in this year’s general elections to sign a peace accord. The areas in question constitute the Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema and Oru West Federal Constituency.
Leading the initiative was former Inspector-General of Police and the immediate past chairman of the Police Service Commission, Sir Mike Mbama Okiro, who is now the National Leader of Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema Socio-Economic Development Initiative (OOESEDI). Okiro flew into Owerri from Abuja last week to convene an emergency meeting of stakeholders from the affected areas, including the affected politicians, to point the way forward and formally commit themselves to peaceful conduct before, during and after the general elections coming up on February 16 and March 2, 2019, respectively.
The meeting was held last Sunday at the former IGP’s at his country home in Obiakpu, Egbema in Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State. Four leading candidates contesting the elections were invited to the meeting, namely: Goodluck N. Opia of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a House of Representatives’ candidate for Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema and Oru West Federal Constituency. Opia is the incumbent Rep. member from the constituency. Others were Henry Okafor, the House of Representatives candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Uju Kingsley Chima, the immediate past Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Rochas Okrocha of Imo State, who is contesting for House of Representatives on the platform of the Action Alliance (AA); and Gideon Meffor, vying for the Imo State House of Assembly slot under the umbrella of APGA.
A communiqué issued after the emergency meeting and signed by the National Chairman, Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema Socio-Economic Development Initiative, Dr. Mandy E. Okechukwu, said the objectives of the peace accord were as follows:
To stop hostilities, violence and threats to life across the constituency by the candidates and their supporters before, during and after the 2019 general elections.
2. To uphold decency, focus and the pursuit of issue-based campaign by the aforementioned contestants.
3. To make the candidates commit themselves to peaceful conduct before, during and after the 2019 general elections.
4. To ensure that the candidates do not, either through body language or directly, instigate their supporters to intimidate or bully voters; as well as indulge in the violent snatching of sensitive electoral materials, including ballot boxes.
5. To ensure that the candidates do not make available to their supporters any form of arms and ammunition throughout the campaign period, as well as during and after the 2019 general elections for the purposes of forcefully or violently securing victory at the polls, recrimination and vendetta.
The candidates said they were aware of; and had consented to the content of the peace agreement/MOU; and accepted that it would be binding on them; and would bear the consequences of any infraction of the pact as outlined in the MOU in the interest of peace, progress and development of Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema and Oru West Federal Constituency.
It would be recalled that Sir Okiro is the National Leader of the Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema Socio-Economic Development Initiative, a non-political organization saddled with the responsibility of developing the oil-bearing communities of Oguta and Ohaji/Egbema, which has the following prominent people as members: former Comptroller-General of Customs (rtd), Dr. Benard-Shaw Nwadialo, Brig.-Gen. K. Egwuagu (rtd), Ogbuefi Mrs. Lucas, Prof. Jason Ossai, Prof. Victor Nwugo (National Chairman, Egbema Forum), Dr. Mandy E. Okechukwu, (National Chairman, Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema Socio-Economic Development Initiative), Prof. Victor Koga, Prof. Inyanga, Prof. VC Nwulu, HRH. Eze Willy Uwakwe, Hon. Enyia Dimpka, Hon. Goddy Obodo (Secretary), Arch. Paul Uzor, Mr. Ifi Francis Igwebuike, Hon. Ethelbert Nnanna, Hon. Henry Adimelechi, Ogbuefi Laurentia Ndupu, Arch. Alex Okenwa, Hon. (Mrs.) GC Okenwa, Engnr. Tony Okanne, Engr. John Ottih, Engnr. Cliff Ariaga, Chief Ezire Godwin Chukwukere, Hon. Tony Okere and Barrister Golden Nwosu, among others.