By Henry Ekpe
The foundation of Owerri, Imo State Capital, was on December 17, 2022 shaken as the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP received its Presidential candidate, and Vice in the February Election, Chief Atiku Abubakar and Dr Ifeanyi Okowa to the State.
The event which took place at Hero’s Square (Ndubuisi Kanu Square) New Owerri was tumultuous, as it afforded the PDP the opportunity to rave its structures in the grassroots into action, since the campaigns has not yet properly commenced, except the Presidential Rally.
The planned visit of Atiku was left in the hands of Imo State Presidential Campaign Council PCC which a former Governor of Imo State, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha is the chairman and Hon Greg Egu, a former member of House of Representatives the Director-General.
However, it would be recalled that the composition of the Imo PCC was put into scrutiny by a Group within the Imo PDP calling for the removal of Ihedioha as the chairman.
The Group even went further by asking that the entire Imo PDP State Working Committee, SWC, led by Engr Charles Ugwu be sacked from office and replaced with a Caretaker Committee.
This request caused an uproar within Imo PDP, which led the party hierarchy to relocate to Abuja, for a deliberation with the National Body who intervened, and made some adjustments in the PCC for peace to reign.
Therefore, the little hitch in the process delayed the inauguration of the Imo PCC. However, it did not take long after the inauguration that the Presidential Campaign Train which already had billed December 17 as “Imo Day”, insisted it would storm Owerri as scheduled months earlier.
Indeed, many had felt that the PCC should have been given time to settle its Internal rifts before the Presidential visit.
Even at that, the Fift Columnists had engineered another storm by circulating fake news that Atiku had changed his mind in visiting Imo State.
It was not more than Twenty Four hours to the occasion that it became clear that the Progressives within the party in Imo and Abuja had triumphed over the saboteurs. Immediately, devoted members were instructed to swing into action for the coming of the August Visitors on a Saturday in December.
Those who Love Imo PDP, who luckily are in majority, moved into the hinter lands and started mobilization over night, even when funds meant for the event had not reached them.
Therefore, it was a shock to purveyors of doom inside Imo PDP, and the opposition parties in the State when they noticed a stream of human traffic trooping into Owerri as early as 8am that Saturday.
For starters, PDP is the oldest political party in Nigeria and remains dominant in Imo. So, all that was needed to be done was to ignite the already existing structures in the hinterlands and members started rolling into town seamlessly like Soldier Ants.
While the “Big Men” were waiting for the Special Visitor, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, at the Sam Mbakwe Airport, the venue was beaming with a massive crowd eagerly waiting for the Presidential candidate and his entourage.
The crowd was a sight to behold!. It proved that Imo State remains on the clutch of PDP, and only needs the party to consolidate its goodwill among the masses, by not taking them for granted.
The Sea of human Heads scared all the political parties in the State as could be noticed in the quietness that has enveloped the State since after the visit.
The usual fault finders, detailed to live and sleep on what transpires in Imo PDP have since found it difficult to pen anything negative on the Atiku visit.
They are all shocked, and have remained mum, even as their pens have refused to flow again because what happened at Hero’s Square was not an “Indoor Game”. It was an open Event recorded by both the Electronic and Print Media.
Therefore, it was difficult to twist such a monumental Event that vibrated even outside the shores of Imo State.
Those who thought that Imo PDP had been decimated through poachings by the ruling APC, and dangling of Carrots, including PDP’s intentional lull, now have the authentic result on their Tables.
From the deepest villages in Orlu, and the remotest places in Orsu; areas hitherto defined as volatile spots in Imo State, had Buses loaded with PDP members storming Owerri in their droves.
Ohaji/Egbema, Oru East and West and Oguta LGAs all made it to Owerri for the PDP Carnival. The defied the dangerous terrains in those Areas and found their way in Owerri to see Atiku.
All the LGAs in Owerri Zone emptied into Hero’s Square that whoever had invaded those LGAs would not have met any able Bodied Men and Women to repel them.
It is on record that Owerri Zone is the heart Beat of PDP in Imo State and that has not changed.
On sighting Atiku and his entourage, the crowd that has waited patiently went wild with jubilation.
The atmosphere was too charged with joy as Imo PDP followers showed a desire for more of such “Carnivals” because the hardship in the land compounds their problems in staying at home doing nothing and hungry.
It was as if the crowd would want the ceremony last forever. Do you blame them! It afforded most PDP members who have not seen each other for years since the eruption of insecurity in the land to meet each other ones again.
The occasion momentarily boosted the Economy of Imo State, as Food vendors, Souvenir makers, hawkers of assorted Drinks, emergency Boutique owners, and smiled to the Banks.
Many people spoke at the Carnival: Dr Mrs Kema Chikwe did First, followed by Chief Charles Ugwu (Imo PDP Chairman) Senator Sam Daddy Anyanwu (PDP National Secretary) HE, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha (former Governor and Chairman Imo PCC) Dr Ifeanyi Okowa (PDP Vice Presidential Candidate) Senator Iyochia Ayu (PDP National Chairman) and then the Iroko himself, Chief Atiku Abubakar. He commenced by challenging Imo PDP Leaders to eschew bitterness and work together as one Body for the success of the party in all the elections.
He promised that Imo State will be handsomely rewarded if he emerges the next President of Nigeria, with the State pouring in humongous votes for him.
Atiku made it clear that Imo State is like his second home, because he frequented Imo State during his younger years as a politician.
He also admitted that Imo State was the first place he took a Chieftaincy title in the whole of Southeast: the Nwanne Dinamba of Ngor Okpala.
However, the Presidential hopeful maintained that Imo State has remained a PDP State, mentioning that the likes of Senator Rochas Okorocha, a former Governor of Imo State, were all “PDP Mades”.
And speaking about those PDP made in Imo State. It includes the present Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, with nearly all those that spear-head his policies in the State today.
Uzodinma was a two-time Senator under PDP and member of Board of Trustees BoT of the party.
The Secretary to Imo State Government, Chief Cosmos Iwu is first of all, made in PDP. He served under the Government of Chief Achike Udenwa as Executive Assistant EA and was SSG under Governor Ikedi Ohakim PDP Government.
The Chief of Staff, Government House Owerri, Chief Nnamdi Anyechie was a former State Chairman of Imo PDP.
The Special Adviser SA, Political and incharge of Political Bureau, Chief (Barr) Enyinna Onuegbu was a former Publicity Secretary, Imo PDP and Chairman of Ngor Okpala LGA, under PDP and doubled as Secretary of Imo ALGON, when Mrs Rubi Emele was Chairman of Isiala Mbano LGA. Mrs Emele is today the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
The Commissioner for Information, Hon Mbadiwe Emelumba was member of Imo House of Assembly under PDP, Chief Ralph Nwosu, Commissioner for Works, was in the same position during Governor Ikedi Ohakim’s PDP Government.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Bar C.C Akaolisa was a former Legal Adviser, Imo PDP. They are many. But let me stop here.
So Atiku was right when he said Imo is a PDP State. What changed was time and nomenclature. The Big Men may have moved on to another political platform in search of fame and power, but the ordinary people in the villages did not follow them. They are, and remain PDP compliant.
The PDP Presidential Candidate knows that there exists a squabble within Imo PDP. It is normal in political parties. It is the usual fight for power.
But, the Leaders must work in harmony for the sake of the party and the teeming Imo PDP followers.
What is certain is that no individual is bigger than Imo PDP.
Soldier go, soldier come, Imo PDP still remains strong.