By Chidi Nkwopara
About 48 hours after the Supreme Court upturned the gubernatorial victory of Chief Emeka Ihedioha, the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese, Most Rev. Professor Godfrey Onah, called Saturday Vanguard to ask how Imo people were “managing the unexpected development”.
The telephone conversation went on fine for about five minutes before an international call hit his end. He promised to call back after taking that call. He did, as promised, and the discussion continued for 15 minutes.
The Catholic cleric said a few things that eventually turned prophetic, before saying good night that evening.
His words: “I will not be surprised if, in the days ahead, a political party that could not win a single seat in Imo State House of Assembly, will turn out to be in the majority! Ours is a country, whose politicians do not know what it means to have an ideology. For them, anything and everything is fair, so long as they get the cash they expect. I pity this country. Honestly.”
Bishop Onah also disclosed that he has a paper he prepared on the characteristic Nigerian politician, which he promised to make available to Saturday Vanguard, whenever he finds where he kept it. The promise is still subsisting.
Now, less than two days after this telephone chat with the Catholic Bishop, Chief Regis Uwakwe called a press conference in Owerri. He not only announced his exit from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, but also told journalists that they should expect more defections in the coming days!
The waiting game started, but not long after. On January 25, 2020, the State PDP Chairman, Chief Charles Babatunde Ezekwem, announced his resignation and immediate exit from the party. This was followed Tuesday, by the exit of eight Assemblymen, including the Speaker, Chiji Collins, who had earlier switched from All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, to PDP and finally to All Progressives Congress, APC.
The other lawmakers that equally defected with the Speaker included Dominic Ezerioha for Oru West state constituency, Chigozie Nwaneri, Oru East, Kanayo Onyemechi, Owerri West, Kennedy Ibe, Obowo, Uche Ogbuagu, Ikeduru, Eddy Obinna, Aboh Mbaise and Crown Michael, Isiala Mbano.
As the development kept unfolding, a former member of the State Executive Council and chieftain of the APC, Chief Longers Anyanwu, told Saturday Vanguard that “the PDP loss is APC gain and we expect more defections”.
If people managed to appreciate the defection of lawmakers from Orlu senatorial zone, the home zone of the incumbent Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, a lot more were against Uche Ogbuagu and the member representing Chief Emeka Ihedioha’s Aboh Mbaise constituency, Eddy Obinna.
Comrade Franklin Ibe was so pissed off with Ogbuagu that he tweeted: “We, Ikeduru youths nearly lost our lives because of you. The party that set bomb in the collation centre has become your refuge. Ikeduru PDP youths protected your votes with our last blood. What could have been our fate and the fate of our unborn generation?
“Politicians are not worth dying for. Everyone ordinarily, would have thought that Uche Ogbuagu was going to be the last man standing, taking everything into cognizance, but how wrong we are. Truly, all that glitter is not gold.”
When contacted for his reaction, the Anglican Bishop of Ohaji-Egbema, Rt. Rev. Collins Chidi Oparaojiaku, said that Imolites were overwhelmed with the defection galore, within a very short time after the change in government.
“What actually were we expecting from political marketers? Nigeria has very few ideological politicians. Very few number of them can stand political unemployment for few months. Anyone building his political trust on Nigeria politicians is naive”, Oparaojiaku said.
The Anglican cleric equally reasoned that politicians of Igbo political extraction are the worst of political partners.
“Ndigbo, by cultural heritage, are profit and loss partners. Even in their marriage proposal, they incline to profit and loss. Hence, the defection and advanced reasons for defection, are all in one skirt of political survival”, the Bishop said.
Reacting also, the Anglican Bishop of Okigwe South Diocese, Rt. Rev. David O. C. Onuoha, said the current spate of defections being witnessed in the Imo state legislature, was a reflection of the fact that the politics being played in Nigeria is one devoid of ideology or principles.
His words: “Politics has in recent times, become for many, not an opportunity for service but the fastest means to wealth and fame. It is a fact of life that he who cannot stand for something can fall for anything. It is not surprising that our representatives have displayed, by this act that they are out to serve their personal interest and not that of the people they represent.
“It is a dishonorable act not to stand to be counted in defence of our democracy when time beckons. It takes only men and women of courage, honour, integrity and character to stand in times like this. Only time shall tell if they will not gravitate again should the tide change. Only God will deliver this nation from the hands of those who play politics without character.”
While Evangelist Ekwueme urged the electorate to critically reflect on the type of candidates they bring up for public offices, Elder Ahanonu from Ngor Okpala local council area of the state, lamented that politicians of this day and age, are self seeking people.
“They are only after their stomach infrastructure. They forget that they are carrying people’s mandate and if they stumble upon unforeseen circumstances, they ought to clear from the electorate before jumping ship. They don’t do any such thing”, Ahanonu said.
For Dr. Nma Olebara, democracy will be meaningless if there is no credible opposition.
Her words: “We cannot kill opposition in this country because their roles are indispensable. We all cannot belong to one political party because if we do, who will then question the government of the day and hold it accountable? If everyone joins one political party, who will check the excesses of the ruling party? Who will act firmly on behalf of the common masses and fight for their common interest and grievance.?”
A good number of people, who were contacted for comments on the defection of the lawmakers, were unanimous that people should be slow in believing politicians whenever they give reasons for their defections. While reasoning that what played out in Imo State House of Assembly was all about personal interest and gains, even as they also agreed that defection was not bad in itself, but defecting without your sense and conscience, is totally bad.
Those still standing on the side of PDP, at press time, were Solomon Anukam, Owerri Municipal, Samuel Otuibe, Ahiazu Mbaise, Frank Ugboma, Oguta, Philip Ejiogu, Owerri North, Okey Onyekanma, Mbaitoli and Anyadike Nwosu, Ezinihitte. Whether there will be more defections in the days ahead, remains any person’s guess. For now, PDP has been moved from a majority to minority status.