By Cyril Aririguzo, KSM
When you mistakenly stumble on a workaholic, a diligent, humble and resourceful politician like Rt. Hon Chukwuemeka Ihedioha the former Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative you will be tantalized by the kind of stuff he is made of in terms of his extra ordinary strength as a political gaffe. I am saying this because often and always the terrains politician like him find themselves in, are difficult to manage and ordinarily may not be easy to explain to a lay person. For most of us, the usual description given to politics is that of a dirty game, populated chiefly by power mongers whose main distinctive feature is not only their reprehensive demonic craze for primitive accumulation and embezzlement of public fund, but also the brazen disregard for the interest and welfare of the masses.
This seems to be the driver of the serial failure of governance in most states in Nigeria at various levels. Majority of politicians are so insensitive to the chronic challenges facing the citizenry, issues of hunger, disease, squalor, unemployment, Insecurity and colossal absence of basic amenities confront majority of Nigerian on a daily basis. However in the midst of collective failings of Nigeria’s political class, I think it will be remiss of me if I do not recognize at least for posterity, the sterling qualities and outstanding contribution some politicians whose conduct in public office and even the ordinary private engagement are ennobling. Their conduct reveals in a refreshing manner that within the tainted lot are several that are unblemished and can hold their head high for good performance. One of such truly distinguished personality is Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha who in his usual calm and collective manner will be celebrating his 52nd Birthday on Saturday 25 March, 2017.
Hon Emeka Ihedioha was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, a man of modest background, he has through dint of hard work, prodigious industry and perseverance attained greatness. Born of a humble parentage on March 24th 1965 to the family of Chief BMG and Lolo Dorathy Nsonma Ihedioha of Mbutu Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area in Imo State. The young Emeka proved very early in life through the sparks of academic brilliance he exhibited in school, that he was a man destined for future greatness and leadership. He began his educational career at Mbutu Township Primary School Mbutu, Aboh Mbaise LGA and proceeded to St. Ephraim’s Secondary School Owerrinta in the present Abia State. From there he secured admission to the prestigious University of Lagos, Abeokuta Campus, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) degree with honors in Food Science and Technology in 1988.
Versatile, intelligent and knowledge-driven Ihedioha took his search for knowledge to different parts of the globe and specializing in several fields of endeavors that have made him a rounded professional, public relations expert, administrator and consummate politician of towering height. He took Executive Certificate in Financial Management from the Stanford University, and a leadership Certificate Course from Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, both world renowned and prestigious Ivy-League Institutions in the United States of America (USA). He also received a Certificate from Oxford University Business School UK and University of British Columbus, Canada. Not satisfied with these academic laurels, Ihedioha went for practical post graduate training as a communication and public relation specialist. Given his background as a communication expert per excellent, he worked with various top rated organizations and consultancy firms before responding full time to the call of his natural love and vocation, which is politics.
As a master strategist, Ihedioha’s dexterity and managerial acumen came to fore when in 1992, he was appointed Press Officer to the then President of Senate, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu in recognition of his capacity as a publicist and immense abilities, and later appointed Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Senate President, Senator Albert Legogie. Following military intervention in politics in November 1993, Ihedioha returned to his public communication practice as Chief Executive Officer of First Page Communications. In 1995 when the whistle for transition to civil rule was blown, he readily found his sail in a familiar terrain which saw him appointed into key position in the evolving democratic dispensation in 1999 as Special Assistance to the Presidential Adviser on Public utilities and later Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President of Senate and eventually Special Assistant on Political Matters to the Vice President in 2001. I It was from this last assignment in the Office of the Vice President that he contested election and won a seat into the House of Representative as member representing Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency in 2003.
Between 2003 and 2007, he served as Chairman of House Committee on Marine Transport, where he brilliantly coordinated legislative oversight functions over Nigeria’s maritime sector. The passage of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Act 2007, a key legislation which brought reforms to the sector was credited to the committed and determined efforts of Ihedioha. After emerging victorious in 2007 general election, He briefly served as Chairman, House Committee on Cooperation and Integration in Africa before he became the Chief Whip, a position he held till the end of the sixth Assembly. In his capacity as Chief Whip, he served in various Ad-Hoc Committees of the House including, Chairman Committee on Constituency Projects (2007-2008) Chairman, Ad-Hoc Committee on Celebration of Ten Years of Unhindered legislative Practice in Nigeria.
Rt. Hon Ihedioha on the 6th of June, 2011 was elected unanimously and unopposed as the Deputy Speaker, a position he meritously maintained till 2015 when he was made the Speaker due to the absence of the Speaker Rt. Hon Aminu Tambuwal. His Excellency Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha was indeed part of that glorious era of Nigeria’s history. Not only did Imo people get their fair share of Federal appointments under Ihedioha as Deputy Speaker at the National Assembly, Imo state also witnessed unprecedented in flow of federal projects. The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) alone constructed more than 40 quality roads in Imo between 2011 and 2015 with Ihedioha as Imo helmsman in Abuja. In the Power sector alone, Hon Ihedioha as a high ranking principal officer of the federal legislature and go-getter worked for the sighting of new Electricity Sub-Stations in Imo including the expansion of old Egbu 33KVA sub-station to modern 330KVA which also supplies electricity to Bayelsa State.
One can say without any fear of equivocation that Rt. Hon Ihedioha’s public life as a politician, legislator, political leader and administrator has been a harvest of accomplishments for the good of his people and Ndigbo as a people. Even though it is difficult to start counting the many projects and programmes he has attracted to his primary constituency one by one and those that he attracted to Imo state and beyond. These kind of massive socio economic projects he attracted is already a good testimony to his many years of unparallel service to mankind, a doffing of the hat for this accomplished ex legislator for changing the lives of people positively. Rt. Hon Ihedioha in the National Assembly demonstrated team spirit, which was lacking with his contemporaries. It is not surprising today that a lot of those he favoured are stereotyped and envious of his achievements and probably why they are continuously kicking to diminish his towering influence in the party. To them destroying the good legacies of Rt. Hon Ihedioha and his achievement must be done with all manner of dangerous propaganda and politics of calumny and hate.
Hon Ihedioha as a large hearted politician who accommodated all members of PDP in Imo including those working with political foes and never discriminated against them including assigning them job of PDP Returning Officer in his election a mistake that contributed to his loss in the election and I think the party and those who participated in the betrayal are known today, while the party has learnt its bitter lessons. I therefore, have no hesitation in joining his family, friends and legion of admirers in wishing Hon Ihedioha, commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), former Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative and the 2015 governorship candidate of the PDP not only a pleasant birthday but also many happy returns.