NEED FOR ORLU POLITICAL SUMMIT – BY ELVIS AGUKWE

– – In the build up to the 2019 general elections, many sons and daughters of Orlu zone in Imo State are worried over what will be the political future and direction of the zone which controls 12 of the 27 Local Government Areas of the state and is responsible for the oil producing state status of Imo. Expectedly, concerns have been expressed that after Orlu Zone has produced two governors in the present democratic dispensations, will it still lay claim on the prize come 2019?

Beyond the issue of governorship, majority of our people are worried over the quality of representation at the federal level by our people. With a Senator and four House of Representatives members from Orlu zone, our gains have not been commensurate with our contributions to national development. As an oil producing zone, there is no single oil facility sited in Orlu Zone. There is no federal presence in the zone, neither do we have strategic appointments like federal permanent secretaries or directors general of worthwhile parastatals.

Conversely, our neighbours from Okigwe and Owerri zones which do not produce oil have fared much better than us in attracting federal presence, thus making us look like the ones that should perennially complain of marginalization. It is therefore an irony of fate that our blessings have not touched our lives. Just like the bean seed, those surrounding us appear to be benefiting the more.

This is why it has become more than urgent for Orlu political and economic leaders to assemble and re-examine our fate not only in Imo State but Nigeria. In the past, our neighbours had tended to exploit our political differences to manipulate and divide us. But not anymore. We have to meet as a united front to chart a work-able roadmap that will guide us to and beyond 2019. We need to work out how to invent and sustain our unity to leverage on our population and economic strength for the benefit of our people. A man who refuses to know where he is coming from cannot navigate his way to success.

It is for this reason that we are convoking a pan Orlu Political Summit at the famous Nkwere Country Club on August 12, 2017 to brainstorm on the way forward for our people. Given the challenges before us, especially the issues of Imo governorship and the benchmark of federal representation, the summit could not have come at a better time. Unlike other summits which used to be an open affair, only those invited are to be admitted into this one because of its sensitive nature and the need to guard jealously the political future of Orlu Zone.

In cutting across political divides, the summit is expected to dispassionately discuss and take a stand on the raging controversy of whether Orlu will still contest the Imo State Governorship after producing Governors Achike Udenwa and Rochas Okorocha. Although we had made it abundantly clear that Orlu will not be blackmailed into surrendering the governorship seat to Owerri and Okigwe Zones, we are still democrats who believe in the letters of democracy which are free contest and the right of the electorate to choose their leaders freely.

Therefore, this is a time for all political leaders in Orlu to put their differences aside and fight for the political future of the zone. The current grandstanding by the other two zones should not be waved outside just like that. It should be given a serious thought before it metamorphosed into a gang up and pose a danger to the political survival of Orlu Zone.

It is in the spirit of the new found unity among our people that Orlu political stakeholders and pressure groups irrespective of their political persuasions have endorsed this all embracing summit. Those who have resorted to naked blackmail and intimidation to scuttle this dream of a united Orlu will surely be disappointed because we are now turning our weaknesses to strengths.

This search for a new rebirth has also necessitated the re-examination of our representation generally. For the past 18years, we have not been able to harness our potentials owing largely to uncoordinated and individual dissipation of energy in fighting for the cause of Orlu Zone. Have members of this federal parliament in Orlu Zone worked as a united group for our zone or have they been seeing themselves as generals in their own armies? This is a challenge we hope to overcome as we move into 2019.

Indeed, as we welcome our leaders to this all important summit, it is important for us to subsume our personal ego and ambition and promote the interest of Orlu Zone. We have been yearning for the establishment of a petrochemical plant in Orlu Zone. We are tired of demanding the dredging of the Oguta River and turning it a major sea port and trading zone. Our youths have been largely shortchanged as they are not benefiting from the Amnesty programme of the Federal Government. We have gone beyond wailing for attention. It is now time for action. We as leaders must take our destiny into our hands if we are to secure the political and economic future of Orlu Zone of Imo State.

NZE AGUKWE, FORMER INFORMATION COMMISSIONER IN IMO STATE IS THE CHAIRMAN, ORGANIZING COMMITTEE OF ORLU POLITICAL SUMMIT.