It was fanfare as the people of Ngor Okpala Local Government Area trooped out en masse to welcome their own Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, in continuation of his statewide consultation visits ahead of the gubernatorial election in 2015. It was not an accident that the deputy speaker had to round up his tour of Owerri zone in Ngor Okpala LGA by paying special homage to party faithfuls and leaders of the LGA.
The Ngor Okpala visit was significant in many ways. It was clearly a thank you visit to the constituency he has held their mandate for nearly twelve years at the National Assembly. It was therefore an opportunity to say a big thank you to them for keeping faith with him and for contributing to make the light of Imo, the Southeast and the entire Ndi Igbo shine at the National Assembly and Nigeria in general. The emergence of Emeka Ihedioha as the representative of the federal constituency brought the area into the limelight by producing the No. 6 citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This was made possible because the electorate of Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala embraced merit and competence above all other considerations by sending in their best to the National Assembly.
But what some people may not know is that Ngor Okpala is indeed Ihedioha’s maternal home. No wonder he enjoyed the rare privilege of representing the federal constituency for a record three times. Every Igbo man understands the custom regarding reception usually accorded a maternal son. Under the Igbo custom, a maternal son is held highly. It is a taboo to hurt a maternal son. And if a maternal son is chased away or his head is being sought by his native land, his maternal home becomes his automatic place of refuge and no one would conspire or try to give him out. Those considerations reflected in no small measure as a consultation visit meant primarily for PDP delegates, leaders and stake holders turned into a political carnival. Youths, women, the elderly and artisans all trooped out in their numbers to receive their own despite the short notice and lack of publicity for the visit. The elders and array of Okenze’s in Ngor Okpala drawn from different political parties gathered and waited patiently for the deputy speaker and his train to arrive.
The host, Okenze S. I. Obinna paid glowing tribute to their maternal son whom he said had made them proud. He also assured him of their unalloyed support. After his speech, the Ngor Okpala leaders took turns to endorse the declaration of Okenze Obinna. The highlight however was the traditional wrapping of the deputy speaker with the traditional “Akwa Judge”, signifying the covering, protection and good wishes of his maternal people in his quest for the Imo guber seat come 2015. That ritual is of great significance to any well meaning and discerning Igbo man. It was an out of the box programme by the Ngor Okpala elders to tell their maternal son that there was more between them than mere seeking their support for the elections. It was a message that was brief, succinct but weighty.
Being a party occasion, the political rituals were bound to be observed. The PDP LGA Party Chairman announced to the august visitor that he had virtually all the PDP delegates for the 2015 Imo guber primaries for Ngor Okpala LGA present at the venue. The ward party chairmen were called out one after the other and they came out declaring their willingness to go wherever Ihedioha goes. With all that done, the Ngor Okpala people sent the deputy speaker forth to go and conquer Imo and take support from his maternal place for granted.
Then came the moment when the deputy speaker took the center stage to the joy of his admirers and as usual sweeping the sand off the feet of any cynic at the occasion. Dressed like an Ijele masquerade following the customary wrapping by his maternal uncles, Rt. Hon. Ihedioha started by stating how many Ngor Okpala sons he helped secure appointments at various levels in government. The first in that respect was the man who contested the PDP primaries with him and whom he rewarded with an appointment. Hon Emma Nwaogu was on hand to bear witness to Ngor Okpala people that Rt. Hon. Ihedioha helped him secure appointment as Federal Commissioner representing Imo State at the National Population Commission. Detail by detail he went ahead enumerating the projects he had been able to attract to Ngor Okpala LGA since he began representing them. Notable amongst them was the Ngor Okpala-Igwuruta Road linking Imo and Rivers State, valued at N4 billion, appropriated, awarded and ongoing by the federal government.
He also mentioned the Imo River Jetty and the nearly completed power sub-station. Attention was drawn to other federal roads which were ongoing in Ngor Okpala LGA and which the people had been wrongly appropriating to other tiers of government. There was no time to enumerate the school renovations, boreholes, transformers etc. The deputy speaker was not unmindful of the devices of his detractors in Ngor Okpala, hence he published the list of the 52 projects both completed and ongoing in the various wards of Ngor Okpala LGA for the people to see and verify for themselves.
By the time he concluded his address the people of Ngor Okpala became enlightened and better educated about the impact of his representation at the National Assembly. It became clear to them that those who had been spreading falsehood regarding Ihedioha’s score card, were doing so for their own selfish reasons. The proverbial saying that “no matter how far lies travel; truth will surely overtake it” manifested in Ngor Okpala, where a negligible and malignant minority had gone ahead with messages of hate and envy against a man whose appointed time was ordained by God.
The occasion was well attended by the Ngor Okpala apex political leaders including the Host, Okenze S. I. Obinna, Hon Emma Nwaogu, Hon. Kizito Onuoha, Hon. Obinna Egu, Hon. Enyinnaya, the State PRO of the PDP and Hon. Lawrence Achunihu (former Special Assistant to Governor Ohakim) among others. The highlight of the occasion was the surprise appearance of Hon. Barrister Soronadi Njoku (the immediate past Attorney general/Commissioner for Justice under Governor Rochas Rochas Okorocha and the major contender who lost to the deputy speaker during the 2011 Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala House of Representatives election who was present to openly show his support for the deputy speaker’s project.
On the team of the deputy speaker were members of the House of Representatives PDP Caucus including Hon. Jones Onyereri (representingNkwere/Isu/Njaba/Nwangele Federal Constituency), Hon. Ezenwa Onyewuchi (representing Owerri North/Owerri Municipal/Owerri West Federal Constituency) and Hon. Gerald Irona (representing Oguta/ Ohaji Egbema/Oru West Federal Constituency). The Imo House of Assembly PDP caucus was represented by Hon. Samuel Anyanwu. With the array of persons in his team, there was no doubting the next political direction of Imo State after the period of misrule and bad governance by the politically flip-flopping government currently in the Imo Government House.