In this interview, Prince Elias Odoemena, national leader, South/South-South/East Development Group (SSSEDG) and chairman, Advisory and political committee of Ideato Peoples Assembly, speaks on the emergence of Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as governor of Imo State and his achievements in office so far, the failed bid of the South-east to have additional state and other issues affecting the geopolitical zone. Excerpts:
Who is Prince Elias Odoemena?
He is a true son of Isiekenesi in Ideato in Imo State. He is a member Nigeria Institute of Export and Commodity Broker. He is a shipping consultant, publisher, national leader South/South-South/East Development Group (SSSEDG), a commentator on national issues and chairman Advisory and Political committee of Ideato Peoples Assembly, Administrator Njaba State creation and member of civil society
Have you served in any political position?
It depend on what you mean by political position. If I can answer you straight, my answer will be no and yes. No because I have not been appointed in any government and be collecting salaries. Yes I have many political appointments.
(Cuts in) Like which one?
I was SA to Douglas Acholonu the former Deputy Governor that served Imo State with Chief Evan Enwerem, I was SA to Hon. Dr. Ambrose Iwuchukwu, former member of Federal House of Representatives that served with Agunwa Anokwa as Speaker. I can proudly say that I am one of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu boys.
What is the work of Ideato People’s Assembly?
Let me first of all tell you about Ideato for you to know where I am coming from. You cannot write the complete Nigeria political history without mentioning Ideato sons, the man who brought in the phrase ‘by cut all by cutable’. The man is Mazi Mbonu Ijike. You cannot also write the history of Nigeria without mentioning the name of the man who brought ‘timber and caliber’ into Nigeria’s political lexicon and the man was Dr. K.O Mbadiwe, Rt Hon. Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere the spoke person of CUPP, Chief Collins Obi the former Managing Director of African Continental Bank and Governorship candidate of National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in Imo State in Second Republic, Eze Nnadi Duru the then traditional ruler of Isiekenesi that visited Queen Elizabeth of England in the early 60s, Engr. Ezekiel Izuogu the man that produced first made in Africa car, Hon. Dr. Ambrose Iwuchukwu, Hon. Dr. Ben Ibe, Hon. Raph Kanu Obioha, the son of Mazi LN Obioha, retired generals and serving generals, federal permanent secretaries and even the immediate past governor of Imo state, all these men are sons of Ideato and they have in one way or the other contributed to the development of Nigeria’s political/administrative history.
To answer your question on the works of Ideato peoples Assembly, we are one of the most busy and viable pressure group. Our security committee works with all the traditional rulers in Ideato to address the security and welfare of Ideato, that is why Ideato is a peaceful place and if there is any one going against the order of our traditional rulers, that person will be fished out immediately. In politics we are playing high level politics that will favour Ideato people. It is important to let you know that Ideato People’s Assembly hosted Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha in Abuja and gave him our hundred percent support which we replicated by going home during the governorship election and we gave him more than eighty five percent of our votes and he won convincingly in Ideato without rigging.
Have you been in contact with the past governors in Imo State and how is your relation with them, have you render any service to them?
Yes when the Administration of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo who accused Rochas Okorocha the then chairman of NAMA of stealing $1m from Radar contract in NAMA at the Federal Airport Lagos, I took it upon myself because Rochas Okorocha is a younger brother from Ideato. I issued a press release in newpapers and in City People Magazine, with this my move the then House of Representatives came into the matter and freed Rochas Okorocha.
When our proflic writer Mr. Maximus Uba of blessed memory was on Chief Achike Udenwa, I brought him to Dr. Douglas Acholonu who stopped him from attacking the then Governor Achike Udenwa and issued many press releases for Achike Udenwa’s administration free of charge, I can produce some of my write ups on Chief Achike Udenwa. When Mr. Maximus Uba was rubbishing and fighting Chief Ikedi Ohakim I brought him to Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyawu who told him that he will settle both of them. Chief Iwuanyawu told Maximus that he should be doing more of constructive criticism instead of writing almost every time. I have done a lot to chief Ohakim in the areas of protecting his image and personality of which I cannot start mentioning here but he never said thank you.
It is also important to let you know that I issued a press release in favour of Sen. Ifeanyi Godwin Ararume when the former President of Nigeria was rubbishing him and I gave a copy of the release to him and he was surprised that it came from me. I have done a lot to our famous female minister and I am doing same for our incumbent Governor Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihechioha.
How would you rate Governor Ihedioha and his achievements so far?
First of all this is the first time Imo people are very happy because of the Ihedioha’s open hand and open mind in sharing the top executive positions. He gave Owerri SSG, he gave Okigwe Chief of Staff and Orlu Deputy Chief of staff, which showed that he divided the office of Chief of staff into two as against which it used to be in the past. Governor Ihedioha just changed a bad omen. There is an ancient proverb that said if bad omen clocked one year and the elder refused to talk with the one year the bad omen automatically becomes the tradition of the town. Imo people are still thanking him for that change. If not for that change, in future a governor can give the office of Chief of Staff to his son. Governor Ihedioha has just liberated Imo state.
Some past governors gave it to their younger brother, their kinsman, their son in-laws etc. What surprised Imo people was Hon. Ihedioha have younger brothers, in-laws, cousins etc and that his singular action will stop the office of chief of staff from being pocketed by future governors because in the coming elections Imo people will like to know how the incoming governor will share the SSG, chief of staff, etc. Concerning Ihedioha’s achievements, as you can see the raining season is just ending and no meaningful and serious construction will go on successfully during the raining season in Nigeria, not only in Imo State. Hon. Ihedioha has mapped out the first major road construction that will start in all the local government areas.
It is unfortunate that some critics are criticizing him on the present state of many dilapidated roads in Owerri municipal. My question to them is: Did Hon. Ihedioha come to power with all those bad roads? Didn’t we have a governor before Hon. Ihedioha? It is also important that as soon as the rain stopped, his excellency has a team now that are working on channel and they have started opening blocked drainages and started constructing and reconstructing bad roads not only in Owerri but in all the zones in Imo State. There is a lot of good work going on which you people will see very soon. However, I am saying boldly that Imo State governor is being under marketed by those handling him and his administration, many people outside Imo State don’t know the good work his excellency is doing even those in Imo State are not well informed about the development strides of the government. As a professional public commentator on national issues, I can say they are not marketing the governor well. They should increase their strength in the area of media relations and informative journalism.
Are you canvassing to be added to the governor’s media team?
No, No, I have a lot I am doing for myself, you can see that my magazine needs my attention. Please note that my support for Governor Ihedioha is not because I want a position in his government. If he is not doing well we will also tell the whole world. What every Imo person should know is that it is not about Governor Ihedioha, but Imo in general. If Emeka succeeds, it is all Imo people that succeed, and if he fails, it is all Imo people that fail. So what we will do is we will not let any wounded solder die again, we should be committed to his administration and together we can move Imo state forward.
What is your take on Governor Ihedioha and those challenging his election in court?
In as much as I am not the spokesperson of the governor and all those that are in court with him, but Imo people is very happy with Senator Hope Uzodinma because if not that he entered APC when some other people were running out of the party and others were tired, as soon as Sen. Uzodinma took the party’s ticket the rhythm of the political music in Imo state changed and every other governorship candidate changed their dancing steps and styles, Imo people is grateful to him. If not for the emergence of Sen. Uzodinma as a governorship candidate, the hawk could have hijacked Imo governor and Imo will be forever be in trouble. Imo is peaceful and there are some people who specialise in attacking government in Imo state and when they were given a job they will stop attacking the government and start singing another tune, the governor should not mind those charlatans.
Let’s talk about creation of state. You have issued many press releases in the name of your group, South-South/South–East Development Group, How far has your group followed the creation of additional state in South East.
Thank you for this your question. The killers of additional state creation in South East are the people of South East. It’s unfortunate that the Njaba state creation committee paid a courtesy visit to our son Sen. Ken Nnamani when he was the Senate President. Sen, Osita Izunzso, Rt. Hon. Jeff Ojinika, Dr. Douglas Acholonu, Elder Barr. Peter Ngbewelu, Chairman Orlu Elders Council and other prominent men from both Anambra and Imo states were in the delegation. The Senate President, Sen. Ken Nnamani, welcomed us and collected our state creation proposal and at the back of his mind and inside his pocket he had the proposal for the creation of Adada State from Enugu State.
On October 2, 2007 on page 14 of THISDAY Newspaper Vol 12 no 4564, I challenged, cautioned and faulted the then Governor of Enugu State, Mr. Sullivan Chime, for his inauguration of 24-member committee for the creation of Adada from the present Enugu State. I told the then Governor Chime that “it is very unfortunate, embarrassing and shocking that the governor of Enugu State does not know the history of state creation in the South East”. I reminded him that the Imo State and Anambra State were created from the old East Central State, Anambra state gave birth to Enugu while Imo State gave birth to Abia, Enugu State and Abia state jointly gave birth to Ebonyi State and the next state creation from the south East will come from the Anambra and Imo State and that state will be Njaba state from the present Orlu Senatorial zone with twelve local government areas and some local government areas from Anambra South.
It is important that I told the world that Senator Ken Nnamani failed to give the people of South East an additional state because of his selfish plan for Adada state. I can tell you, with all humility, both governor Chime and Sen. Nnamani and their press team refused and failed to reply me because they knew that I was saying the truth. With what Sen. Ken Nnamani did it will be difficult for Ndi Igbo to present or support him to contest for president of Nigeria if Ndi Igbo is given chance because he cannot protect the interest of the people of South East and South-South.
You were right when you said that I have issued many press releases. I have issued more than one hundred and twenty press releases for the protection of South/South and South/East and many on president Jonathan and other national issues. It will also interest you to know that the press releases I used to caution Mr. Sullivan Chime and Sen. Ken Nnamani was the only thing our delegate to President Jonathan National Conference presented to the conference without them referring to me as the peacesetter of what they used. I am thanking the wisdom of former Deputy Governor of Imo State Dr. Douglas Acholono, the Chairman Orlu Elders Council Bar. Peter Mbewelu and others who visited me and thanked me for my press release against Mr. Sullivan Chime’s Adada committee.
What is your view on your state presenting the next Ohaneze’s President?
Imo People cannot fail the Igbo this time in bringing out an impeccable and trusted man. Ohanaeze president is all about trust and we cannot present any man who want to close his case in EFCC or an arrogant man or any ex-governor who will not respect our elders in Igbo land. Top on the list are our good Imo sons who we can present to the ndigbo to chose are Dr. Paddy Nkoku from Owerri Zone, Prof George Obiozor from Orlu, Nze Ozichukwu Osuchikwu from Okigwe, we await more credible people who can show interest in the job.
2023 is still 3½ years away, but there is so much talk about Igbo presidency. What is your take on Igbo presidency in 2023?
2023 is too far for now to discuss, let us be praying to the Almighty God to protect us and give us good health. Tomorrow is in the hands of God and tomorrow is too far.