By Jude Okeke
Ordinarily, Saturday’s Senatorial Election in Imo West Senatorial District (Orlu Zone) would have been a walk over for Governor Rochas Okorocha who is contesting under the All Progressive Congress (APC).
But it won’t be, mainly because Imo people are tired of Okorocha and more importantly because the immediate past National Organizing Secretary of APC, Senator Osita Izunaso is also in the race.
Again, it would be an uphill task for Okorocha to win because apart from the Governor squandering his good will with the people, the man who is vacating the Imo West Senatorial seat is Senator Hope Uzodinma, a man Okorocha has refused to accept and work with as the governorship candidate of APC in Imo State.
The governor has reduced himself to a political bat. He has offended APC faithful who are rooting for Uzodinma. He is at logger-heads with the NWC of the party because he is openly engaged in anti-party activities by campaigning for his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu who is in Action Alliance.
Having alienated himself from the mainstream APC and not contesting under AA have technically rendered Okorocha politically impotent, thus opening the way for the electorate in Imo West Senatorial District to make a choice between Senator Izunaso who is contesting under the banner of APGA and Hon. Jones Onyeriri who flies the flag of PDP.
Whereas Izunaso was in the Senate between 2007 and 2011, Onyeriri is currently a ranking member of the House of Representatives. Their membership of the National Assembly at one tune or the other is where the similarly between them ends.
In terms of real experience both at party administration, legislative sagacity and executive workings, Izunaso stands taller than Onyeriri. In terms of concrete achievements, touching lives and general acceptability, Izunaso clearly carries the day. But more importantly, the Distinguished Senator was one of the pillars of the coalition forces that wrestled power from Governor Okorocha.
For this sacrifice which cost him his office as the National Organizing Secretary of APC, Imo West people and indeed the entire people of the state owe Izunaso a debt of gratitude.
Izunaso, a well known journalist and public analyst had made history in 2007 when he led a coalition forces that dethroned Senator Arthur Nzeribe from office. He not only remained humble in that exercise but went ahead to still defer to Nzeribe as a leader and elder.
The respect he accorded all political leaders in Orlu Zone marked him out as a man who should be entrusted with more responsibilities. As a rookie Senator, Izunaso also commanded the respect of the Senate leadership, leading to his leadership of a powerful Senate Committee.
He made incisive contributions on the floor and ensured that the voice of Orlu Zone was heard loud and clear.
But that was not where he scored a bull’s eye with his people. He reached out to them. He empowered youths and women. He attracted democracy dividends to the people of Orlu Zone. He endeared himself more especially to the disabled and vulnerable members of the society through his philanthropic foundation “Kpakpando”.
It is instructive that this foundation which Izunaso established when he was in the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2007 has been kept alive even when he was no longer in public office. 15 Imo guber candidates adopt Araraume
Annually, this foundation gathers thousands of disabled persons from across Imo State to treat them like human beings. Majority of them have been economically empowered by Izunaso to fend for themselves while offering them a new lease of life. These people who receive walking and hearing aids annually look forward to the yearly gathering where they interact with other members of the society. This is different from the tokenism offered by regular politicians during elections.
It could be said that the prayers of the beneficiaries of the Kpakpando Foundation helped move Izunaso to national reckoning as he was elected National Organizing Secretary of the newly formed All Progressive Congress (APC).
It bears no repetition that the Organizing Secretary is the engine room of the party. It needs no rehashing to also point out that Izunaso discharged the responsibilities of that office with so much maturity and competence that people wondered if he was born for that job. When some people wondered why Izunaso was so close to Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the then national chairman of APC, they should not look further.
A man with conscience, a man deeply committed to the welfare of Imo people, Izunaso knew the risks involved both to his job or even his life when he joined other progressive leaders in the state to challenge the satanic ambition of Okorocha treating Imo as a conquered territory and the people as serfs.
Indeed when he joined the Imo coalition to loosen the governor’s stranglehold on the state and APC, Izunaso knew he was a targeted enemy number one by the government. But the greatest good for the greatest number of people pushed him on to fight on the side of the people.
It was therefore not surprising when the governor unleashed the machinery of government against him. That eventually cost him the job of the National Organizing Secretary of APC. But what he lost in the job, he gained in respect and popularity. People were impressed in that he made a sacrifice for their sake.
They see him as a warrior in the mould of Hope Uzodinma and they see him as a worthy successor who will add value to what Uzodinma did in his eight years as the Senator representing Imo West (Orlu Zone) Senatorial District.
One of the strongest points going in favour of Izunaso is that this Senatorial project is the product of a people’s goodwill to a matured and dedicated servant. It is a people’s project. Just like what happened in 2007, the people are the propellers of the project. Both the leaders of communities in Orlu Zone and other stakeholders gathered and beckoned on Izunaso to go to the Senate and represent them once more. His support base cuts across party lines. Although he chose APGA as a vehicle towards the realization of the project, his chances are enhanced by his contacts in APC and PDP.
In fact his spirit is in APC while APGA counts itself lucky to have him fly the party’s flag. That explains why both the APC and PDP candidates are actually orphans in this contest.
Beyond that, Izunaso is going to the Senate with a mission. He is on a mission of consolidation and expansion. Orlu Zone is the largest and most populous zone in the entire South East Zone. The leader of the zone is like the governor of a state. There is so much expectation and so much responsibility.
That explains why only an experienced and matured politician like Izunaso can do the job. It is not a job for bow tie wearing rookies or those who dance to the rhythm of folk songs during campaigns. One feared dead as rival cult group clash in Oguta, Imo state
It is not for a man of an oversized ego, attempting to enthrone himself as the emperor of the state. It is a job for a cool headed, listening, respectful and humble servant who admits his limitations and looks up to wise counsel to serve his people.
So, as the people of Orlu Senatorial Zone go to the polls this Saturday, to elect their Senator, the choice before them is simple. They have to choose between an emperor and a servant.
They have to choose between a man who has sacrificed on their behalf and a man who wants to buy them up. Most importantly, they should choose between the light and the darkness. Senator Osita Izunaso represents this shining light.
Chief Okeke wrote from Mgbirichi in Ohaji/Egbema LGA of Imo State.