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Linus Okorie: Rising Profile of A Caring Heart

Linus Okorie: Rising Profile of A Caring Heart

Benjamin Nworie writes that 2023 general election presents an opportunity for a former Member of the House of Representatives, Mr Linus Abaa Okorie, as he jostles for Ebonyi South Senatorial seat

In Ebonyi State, Linus Okorie, has remained a household name in the polity. His Foundation, Caring Heart, has become life saver, succour giver and hope for humanity. It is a foundation that the people have benefited so much from.

Okorie’s political ambition for the third term in the  House of Representatives was trauncated by the State governor, Mr David Umahi in 2019. Before then, it was a movement and a popular campaign train.

As the third term bid couldn’t materialize, he has seen the forthcoming general election as a time to rise and strengthen his political projections. Many of his supporters are still intact and see his new political move as a rise of a caring heart. They are convinced that if Okorie can perform the way he did as a member of the House of Representatives, he would do better if he wins the senatorial position.

He is Ebonyi South Senatorial candidate of the Labour Party for the 2023 general election. Until his defection to the Labour Party, Okorie was a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in the State. His movement to the new Party was sequel to the fragmentation in PDP which has become a shadow of itself with stakeholders and leaders divided along two factions.

Based on the foregoing, Okorie abandoned the party and joined LP, from where he secured the ticket of the Party to vie for the Senatorial position. Without doubt, Okorie may have felt injustice from the national leadership of the PDP on how they handled the leadership crisis in Ebonyi State chapter of the Party, which spilled over to factionalization and division on the leadership and primaries of the party in the State.

With the waves of the LP across the country occasioned by Obidient movement of the presidential candidate of the Party, Mr Peter Obi, Okorie conceived that it remained a veritable platform to drive his aspiration and ambition to fruition. In Ebonyi state for instance, LP has come to stay and seriously making inroad and spreading its tentacles across the nook and crannies of the State.

Even as the Obidient movement is permeating the fabrics of the society, Okorie remains a leading light of the party in the State. This, nevertheless, has advanced the fortunes of the party and brightened its chances of wining elections in the State.

It was in 2014 that Labour Party attempted to make an inroad into the politics and governance of the State during the tenure of former Governor Martin Elechi when the former governor “conscripted” his foremost contractor, Edward Nkwegu, to fly the governorship ticket of the party as a second option. The party failed woefully and could not secure any seat despite the support of the incumbent governor then.

For 2023, another opportunity beckons on the Labour Party to play serious cards on the polls. With Okorie, Labour Party has become a major opposition party that may give other candidates a run for their money.

For Okorie, his senatorial ambition is a time to show his strength and test his political might. From 2011 to 2019 when Okorie served as a member of the House of Representatives, it was a milestone characterized with effective representation and purposeful leadership.

During his tenure, it was said in many quarters that every sincere and unbiased person from Ohaozara/IOnicha and Ivo federal constituency under Okorie, knew that they have not had such an astute, detribalized, vocal, goal-getter, performing representative as they had under him.

Okorie who was a two term member of the House of Representatives and Chartered Accountant has been a thorn on the flesh of the present administrationb of Governor David Umahi. Very blunt and courageous, Okorie has never hidden his thoughts and opinion for or against any government policies perceived to be inimical to the welfare and growth of the State.

The love lost between Okorie and Umahi could be traced to 2018 over what appeared to be a betrayal of trust by Umahi on Okorie’s third term bid to the National Assembly.

However, it appeared that Okorie was used as a sacrificial lamb to get the support of the former Senate President, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim. At a rally held at the headquarters of Ivo local government, Umahi announced that it should be on record that it was Senator Anyim that nominated Okorie’s replacement.

At many fora during the 2019 electioneering, Umahi clearly promised and adopted Okorie for third term bid. It was however surprising to many while the Governor surreptitiously dumped Okorie not minding that he was one of the strongest ally and popular aspirants in the State.  It was like a daydream for Okorie’s supporters who were prepared for all odds.

During one of the official flags off of free medical outreach and welfare programme organized by the lawmaker via his Caring Heart Foundation, the Governor stressed that Okorie’s performance would definitely earn him another term in 2019.

Umahi had said: “Men have been going to National Assembly before Hon. Linus Okorie but am sure they never brought these to your people. Linus Okorie is the only lawmaker that remembers that he’s coming from somewhere. I am also aware that he is not the only one that was sent to Abuja by the people of Ebonyi state but I am standing on the land of Akaeze to throw it as a challenge to all the members of the National Assembly from Ebonyi state, that we expect that from time to time, they will call us as state government to come and witness the programmes that they have developed for their people.

“I believe that what we are doing here is bringing down leadership and politics to the grass root that people may be able to understand why you are always enjoined to look for a credible candidate to vote for in election because when you vote them into power whether the chamber is green or red, they will remember that they are coming from somewhere.

“So, Linus Okorie, we are grateful to you and we are pleased that you are doing what you are doing. If we have our way, we will say you are already there in 2019.  We say so as state government but we will still leave you in the hands of your people who will determine your fate and say he has  related so well with us and deserves to go back to Abuja.

“Linus Okorie deserves our commendation not because he has invited us to this programme but he has been a loyal and supportive member of the National Assembly from Ebonyi state. Today, I say to you, he is worthy. Today, I say to you, he is trustworthy. Today I say to you, he deserves our commendation. Today I say to you, he deserves our nod. Today I say to you, he deserves a yes from all of you for whatever he says he wants to do”.

Umahi’s promise fizzled overnight and Okorie’s third term became a mirage. Analyst contended that Umahi may have disappointed Okorie for fear of 2023 election when it was suspected that the duo may clash over senatorial ambition.

It’s a battle of titan and radicals, but the popularity of Okorie is a threat to his challengers. A lot of factors will play in his favour. Already, his rivals including Umahi and the Incumbent Senator, Michael Nnachi, have litigations that may swell up sentiments against them.

With the Caring Heart Foundation, the former lawmaker has provided succor to widows, unemployed youths and vulnerable children. The Foundation has grown too wide in the State especially in Ebonyi South zone.

As Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Agricultural Colleges and Institution, it was every day training and skill acquisition for the teeming constituents. Many people were empowered with skills and manpower for small and medium scale enterprises.

If elected as a Senator of Ebonyi South, it is expected that Okorie may still revive his Bill for an Act for economic amnesty for treasury looters. He initiated this bill which he envisaged when passed into law would bring rapid return of illicit financial flows and other assets which would be invested in Nigeria to scale up development in the country.

Okorie said “while the move towards freezing, seizing and repatriating the assets involved is welcome, virtually none of the targets involved has ended up imprisoned or otherwise made to account for their crimes through asset forfeiture.  This is because sophisticated offenders take advantage of the slowness of the asset recovery process as well as their own ability to use illicitly acquired funds to hire top-notch lawyers to wage a long drawn out legal battle against the pursuing state”.

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