By Greg Nwadike
First, to readers who may choose to mispresent this opinion to suite their selfish stakes I have no apologies, for according to the Distinguished Senator Dino Melaye, “if you speak the truth you die. And if you lie you die, so why not speak the truth and die?”
Second, the fact that I have only a single vote is nowhere in contention. This single vote may not make much impact in making, or otherwise the next Representative for my constituency. It is however intended that my views here must be made for posterity and for clarity purposes.
Third is that I have no direct beneficiary being projected for this struggle except for “Orlu” aspirants and for my few remaining discerning youths who have not been blinded with pots of porridge for their future. I sincerely swear that nobody has contracted me for this struggle therefore, the living God of host and the Conqueror of conquerors shall never allow any harm to befall me for standing on the part of truth, justice, righteousness and fairness. This is the covenant.
Hon. Jerry Alagbaoso
It goes that the name – Asiwaju Chief Jerry Alagbaoso – has been trending for me since my days in the secondary school. In those good days, the Ihitenansa in Orsu Local Government Area-born Customs Comptroller-turned politician and educationist was synonymous with everything generosity – charity, scholarship to indigent students, helping the helpless, helping Orlu/Imo businessmen and women, building churches, hospitals, roads, police posts, eatery, schools (including his International Secondary School at Owerre-Ebeiri) near my community, filling stations, etc. He was still then a serving Senior Officer with the Nigerian Customs Service and was indeed the most blessed in my reckoning. He was everything most of us younger ones wanted to be. We considered him a satisfied and worthy son of Orlu even though he hails from Orsu LGA. He was worthy of emulation.
So, when in the year 2009 that I was elected as the “Executive Governor” of my Club – the Orlu Zonal Youth Club of Nigeria (OZYC) in Abuja where I reside, I did not hesitate in contacting and nominating him as a Grand Patron to our club. I also invited him as a special guest to the inauguration of my exco and the club at the Agura Hotel, Abuja. Several calls I made to him with the introduction of self as “Executive Governor” aroused his curiosity, according to him, and he invited me over to his Aladinma residence in Owerri.
It was a dream come through as I was hosted with a bottle of Red wine in excess with his humour. He jokingly told me that he invited me over to personally see the fellow seeking to “overthrow” the then Executive Governor of the state, Dr. Ikedi Ohakim. We both laughed over the joke and he gave me, and for my club members some words of encouragements. He reminded me that their generation was looking up to ours for a better future Nigeria. He also gave me a cheque of N100, 000 which I insisted he should make in the name of my club and he did. I left his home satisfied that I had found a mentor and a teacher.
When a year or two after that I found myself as a Personal Assistant to the then Commissioner for Information and Strategies, Nze Elvis Agukwe in the Dr. Ikedi Ohakim’s administration the name of the Asiwaju came up for discussion as possible contenders for the Orlu/Orsu/Oru-East Federal Constituency, I was one of the many writers then who found myself indirectly promoting his aspiration. As a resident in the official quarters of the Commissioner at the Works Layout of Owerri, I witnessed, and somehow contributed to the few deliberations in consideration of his aspiration. I also witnessed the visitation of the Asiwaju to Agukwe in the pursuit of his dream. True, they must have disagreed to agree, but both tangled to make this dream a come-through by the end of elections 2011.
Part of my order as at that time (because I was writing for the system) was to justify the place of EQUITY in the projection of Asiwaju Jerry Alagbaoso as the next Rep suitable for our constituency. The Ikedi Ohakim’s administration was initially favourable to Hon. Jeff Ojinika but for conspiracies and counter conspiracies. At the end, EQUITY logic prevailed against the then incumbent Rep. Mayor Eze who had an eye for a return ticket while the Ojinika’s direction was permanently killed. Chief Jerry Alagbaoso became our man for Abuja.
At the return of democracy in 1999, political offices were shared amongst most people on the formula of Take-I-take. This was even enshrined in the constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for their presidential slots. In my Orlu LGA, the position of House of Assembly has been rotating between Orsu and Isu clans. It was also on this bases that in Imo state, some Imo leaders agreed to concede the slot of the governor to Orlu after it was agreed that Okigwe through the late Chief Sam Mbakwe, and Owerri through the late Chief Evans Enwerem had had their slots. In keeping with this unwritten gentleman’s understanding, it was reported that His Excellency, Chief Achike Udenwa had insisted on handing over power to Okigwe in 2007 instead of to an Orlu man who showed a dignified outing then.
It has been noted that when this formula was strictly adhered to, tensions and frictions have been reduced during elections until selfish, greedy, untrustworthy and unreliable mercantile politicians started thwarting the arrangement. The rest is now history.
So, in 1999 with the equity formula for the Orlu/Orsu/Oru-East Federal Constituency, Chief Cajetan Dike from Amiri in Oru-East was elected to represent the constituency in the House of Representatives. He sought a second term, but had it denied him in 2003. The post went to Orsu through Dr. Jeff Ojinika. Ojinika served out his term of four years and again sought for reelection in 2007. Those days were when elders were alive to their positions and responsibilities as elders. They rose in unison and directed all supports to Orlu LGA thus the emergence of Hon. Mayor Eze.
After Hon. Eze’s four-year term in 2011, the EQUITY song again came up. Some of us had progressed into the writing profession then and were mostly involved. We all joined in this EQUITY song with a certain Sir Mbama popularly known as Ahude leading as the Choir Master. Ahude was the then DG of our Asiwaju Jerry Alagboso’s campaign Organization and at the end of this successful concert our Asiwaju benefited and emerged for Orsu LGA the Rep for the constituency.
Asiwaju’s tenure was to end in 2015 for Oru-East to take over, but Oru-East has got the position of the Distinguished Senator representing Imo West (Orlu Zone) therefore would forfeit their slot for Orlu LGA.
It was in that year 2015 that an initial ravenousness from the Asiwaju showed its ugly head as our elders went to sleep. The Udenwa’s, Udokwu’s, Agukwe’s, Idiga’s, Anugwom’s, Acholonu’s, Orlu Royal fathers, Clans leaders, and other big heads from Orlu LGA decided to sleep in silence just because the winner of that primary had a tiny scrotum therefore his wife must be taken away from him. Others because their political “enemy” was alleged to be behind that winner.
In a well conducted primary election of his Peoples Democratic Party which took place at the Ihioma Civic Centre Orlu, the late Dr. Godwin Uche Dibe (Iyi of Umuna) clearly emerged the winner of that election with 49 votes against Hon. Jerry Alagbaoso’s 25 or 29 votes. Video clips of that election clearly showed our Asiwaju embracing and congratulating the winner at the end of business for that day. But few days later, Iyi’s name was mysteriously removed and Asiwaju was announced from above as the winner.
The heart-broken Iyi went to court to challenge this broad day robbery but died before judgement was to be delivered for the case. Our Asiwaju had no other obstacle as he journeyed on with Orlu’s mandate into an unmerited second term which will end by 2019.
FOR THE RECORDS
As noted earlier, generosity is one of qualities of Hon. Jerry Alagbaoso. He may have succeeded in using this quality in wooing very many of his opponents. The vehicles he reportedly shared was not just political. Giving is in his nature. I must admit that I have personally benefitted in my own little ways from his generosity. As a journalist with own official Pass into the National Assembly, I have been moderately appreciated by Asiwaju for media jobs done for him. Most often when I visited his office, he had had moods to bless me with sums ranging from N15,000 to N50,000. He once tagged a $100 bill he gave me in 2016 “a gift from an elder to a younger brother”. As a matter of fact, I am one of his constituents with freest access to the Asiwaju’s office and could even move straight to his refrigerator for any drink of my choice. Asiwaju’s office has been my second office at the National Assembly Complex.
On my part, I have reciprocated beyond his tips in so many other ways such as mobilization, media coverages and even campaign’s sponsorship. After his eventual emergence at the Controversial 2015 Primary election of our party the PDP, I humbly aligned myself with the party’s position on its candidate and even convinced an uncle from Mgbee to donate some 250 pieces of T-Shirts and caps branded TEAM JERRY in support of his campaign. This was equally with an envelope cash of N250, 000 which he received from us at his Amaifeke campaign office.
I was also the first to publish with pictorial evidences his renovation works at the Awo-Idemili axis of the Ihiala-Orlu-Anara-Umuahia federal road which he attracted under FERMA, among other media stunts at no cost. In all, it could be recorded that I enjoyed as much friendly and reciprocated relationship with the Asiwaju than most of my mates and may even benefit more should I align myself with his inordinate third term ambition against our people and my generation.
But the issue here is not about stranger aide calling and threatening writers with divergent views. It is also not about terming any person an enemy or assuming that someone is being sponsored by political opponents as I have already sworn on this. Accepted that there is no constitutional limitation to the representations in the Nigerian National Assembly, but every bird sings in the tone of its territory. The issue here is more of morality. It is of conscience. It is of equity. It is of betrayal of trust. It is also an issue that deserves answers to the Four-Way test of the things we think, say or do: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and better relationship? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Is Rep Alagbaoso’s desire to run for a record three terms in truth with the equity understanding amongst the three Local Government Areas of the constituency? Is his decision to deny others opportunity to contribute to political development of our constituency fair to all concerned? Will this ambition build good will and better relationship among our Local Governments? Will this confusion be beneficial to all of us in the future? These are questions that beg for answers.
While I may not be able to prevent my leader and my boss the Asiwaju from aspiring for an unnecessary third term in the House of Representatives against all understanding; against Orlu and my generation, I am confident that history will remain unfair to him as the one that destroyed the harmonious political relationship that had existed among our people.
Hon. Jerry Alagbaoso’s third term ambition, if successful will not only throw the Constituency into needless acrimony, but would as well implant tension, confusion, hostility and hatred among future aspirants which will translate to using a get-it-at-all-cost strategy among them.
There is no doubt that nature has been more gracious to the Asiwaju having successfully served out from the Nigeria Customs Services and gained elected into the House of Representatives. I am one of the younger and upcoming leaders looking up to our already blessed Asiwaju to anoint any of us for the office he is seeking a third term into. This he could have honourably done for any of us or any of his aides and quitted for a higher post.
The problem with our supposed leaders is this false belief that we the Nigerian youths are lazy and unfit to lead. Our humility and respect to their grey hairs are constantly misinterpreted as docility, thus empowering and preparing us to take over from them dread their imaginations. They must destroy our future before they quit. This is the evil that must end.
The time is here. Orlu political elders and leaders, including our traditional leaders must rise and condemn this move by the Honourable Asiwaju Jerry Alagbaoso. Our Orsu leaders should also take him into the room and do the needful. Youths and future leaders must say no to acts capable of destroying our future and elements seeking to label us as inferiors. We should persistently but intelligently demand that our rights be given us. We should rise and take back our place in scheme of things. There is nothing hard about this, and no hard feelings against anyone.
This third term ambition will do us more harms than good.
Greg Nwadike; a political activist, journalist/publisher is from Orlu Local Government Area of Imo state and can be reached via email@example.com