In every clime, there is always a shining star that makes a great difference even in the midst of difficulties. Emeka Ihedioha, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, is one such persons, writes Amby Uneze
In todayâ€™s Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Emeka Nkem Ihedioha fits into the shoes of our political fathers and gladiators such as the Nnamdi Azikiwes, Obafemi Awolowos, Ahmadu Bellos of the first republic. These nation builders no doubt established the robust political system which made Nigeria a leading black race in the world today.
One cannot open up on this political iroko without first attempting to trace his political journey to stardom. Ihedioha began his political carrier in 1992 as a Press Officer to then Senate President, Chief Iyorchia Ayu. Barely a year later he was appointed as Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Senate President, Senator Albert Legogie (late). Following the military incursion in November 1993, Ihedioha returned to his communications practice as Chief Executive Officer of First Page Communications. However, by 1995, when the whistle for transition to civilian rule was blown, he readily returned to the familiar waters of politics. He promptly connected with the mainstream and like a golden fish that has no hiding place, he became the Director of Publicity of the newly formed Peopleâ€™s Democratic Movement (PDM), which was later transited to the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party (PDP) in 1998.
Ihedioha has been on the national political scene for about two decades during which period he has made his mark. All this time, he has played politics of consistency, loyalty and commitment to his party, the PDP. As a core party man and one of its founding stalwarts, Ihedioha joined forces with other prominent politicians to resist military incursions into the polity especially after the botched Third Republic where he played an active role.
He has always served the PDP faithfully since then including being prominent in the presidential campaign organization that brought President Olusegun Obasanjo to power in 1999.
In the 2012 National Convention of the PDP, he served as Chairman of the National Screening Panel that screened and certified the qualifications of aspirants to the various National Offices of the party. In the following year 2013, he also served as Chairman of the Publicity Committee of the Special National Convention of the party. In that capacity he ensured that the proceedings of the Convention were well publicized in both local and international media. And only in September 2014, he was appointed into the National Integration Committee of the party for North-Central.
At the state level, Ihedioha has been a major bulwark and one of the major financiers of the PDP in Imo since the party lost the gubernatorial office in 2011. In his capacity as Deputy Speaker, he rallied other party stalwarts, members and supporters to rebuild the PDP in Imo State to make it a formidable force. He has ensured that party members and others receive federal government patronage and facilitated employment of party members and other qualified citizens.
The role played by Ihedioha during the upheaval of the PDP which was recently settled by the Supreme Court is a clear testimony of this man who had not known any failure in his political life. His decision to remain in the PDP mainstream even when some people who are today struggling to come back and some also remained aloof while Ihedioha and his likes were busy taken the bashing is a lesson to many.
Ihedioha is a pro-people and development-oriented legislator who consistently used his position as leader and driver of the budget passage process of the House of Representatives to push for actualization of democracy dividends to his immediate constituency, Imo State and the South East geo-political zone at large.
These include interstate and intra city roads such as; the Owerri-Omanelu federal highway, dualization of Owerri-Aba highway, power transmission/injection stations, vocational/training centres, healthcare facilities, schools, sporting facilities, etc. It is noteworthy that in the area of capacity building, Ihedioha used personal and official contacts to facilitate the aggressive empowerment of several women and youths through skills acquisition, scholarship and trading support.
Ihedioha has remained the only elected official in Imo State who has brought meaningful development through infrastructure, youth and women empowerment and capacity building to the Mbaise Nation.
Ihedioha is a detribalized Nigerian who will always insist on the best without considering tribe, religion or place. While so many projects were sighted outside the Mbaise nation while he was in the House of Reps. Such projects were cited in Oguta, Ikeduru, Ohaji Egbema, Okigwe, Ihitte Uboma, Owerri West, Ngor Okpala, Mbaitoli, Orlu, Ideato Nation, Isu Nation, etc. The Ife/Chokoneze Akpodim Road, Ife/Lorji/Nri road, Sign Board/Ibeku/Aboh Mbaise Road, Enyiogugu/Mbutu/Uvuru Road, Mbutu Chokoneze Road, Mpam Umucheze Road, Ahiara Junction round about, Nkwogwu/Amuzi Road, the famous Mbaise ring road and many others are signature projects that cannot be wiped away from the annals of history of the entire Mbaise.
Not satisfied with his numerous academic feats, Ihedioha delved into practical post-graduate training as a communications and public relations specialist. As a communication expert, he worked with various top-rate organizations and consultancy firms before responding full-time to the call of is natural love and vocation, which is politics.
He played very crucial roles in the emergence of the President Obasanjo administration in 1999. Accordingly, Ihedioha was appointed into key positions in the growing democratic dispensation: first as Special Assistant to the Presidential Adviser on Utilities (July 1999); later, as Special Assistant Media and Publicity to the President of Senate (November 1999); and eventually Special Assistant on Political Matters to the Vice President (September 2001). It was from his last assignment in the office of the Vice President that he contested and won as Member a seat into the House of Representative as a member representing Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency of Imo State in 2003.
Between 2003 and 2007, he served as Chairman, House Committee on Marine Transport, where he brilliantly coordinated legislative oversight functions over Nigeria’s maritime sector. The passage of the Cabotage Law, a key legislation which reformed the maritime industry to allow for increased participation of Nigerians in that sector of the economy, is generally credited to the sterling, committed and determined efforts of Ihedioha. He re-contested and won back his seat in 2007 where he served as Chairman, House Committee on Cooperation and Integration in Africa before he was elected Chief Whip of the House, a position he held till the expiration of that term.
He was elected the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives in 2011, a position he discharged with excellence as he exhibited goodwill, candour, accommodating spirit and above all accessibility to his colleagues till 2015. Renowned for his legislative dexterity, Ihedioha played notable roles as a stabilizer both in the House and his party the PDP.
These achievements made Ihedioha to develop a reputation for competence, leadership and to become a man that can be relied on to deliver on difficult assignments. He was clearly marked out as a man who could be entrusted with higher responsibilities of state. He epitomizes a rare brand of legislative excellence and is generally seen as a man who would spare no effort to improve the lives and living conditions of people.
His emergence as Deputy Speaker was therefore not surprising that on the 6th day of June, 2011, Ihedioha was elected unopposed as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives by his colleagues. The principled stand of the House members was seen as an affirmation of implicit confidence in the leadership credentials of Ihedioha.
His emergence as deputy speaker, brought inspirational, rancour-free and dynamic leadership to the Green Chamber, where he displayed maturity in the conduct of official business.
Throughout his tenure as deputy speaker he enjoyed the trust and confidence of his colleagues across partisan divide.