The uproar a couple of months ago over the alleged relocation of the permanent site of the Imo State University, IMSU, appears lo have died down, apparently because both those protesting and those applauding had exhausted themselves or have harangued themselves hoarse to a level of inaudibility.
In all the brouhaha, our Governor, Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha, remained loudly silent. Up till now!
Only his Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Barr. Obinna Duruji, Phd, plaintively admitted that IMSU headquarters site was now Ogboko, in Ideato clan, the hometown of the Governor.
Never mind the unnecessary arguments and hardly convincing rationalizations with which the otherwise brilliant lawyer-journalist sought to justify the Governor’s action to finally give our mobile IMSU a permanent home at his own home!
From all appearances, solid and impressive structures and infrastructure are already up, visible and tangible at Ogboko, with an unpretentious billboard that announces IMSU movement and settlement.
Now, let us focus our attention beyond IMSU and look into the future and the creation of more states in the country.
It is already beyond any argument that the South East (Igbo) Zone is clearly cheated in the current configuration of states in which six geo-political zones sharing 36 states, left one zone with seven states, four zones with six states each, and one zone, the South East Zone, with only five states.
The single zone with seven states is located in the global North while the orphan zone with only five states is in the South.
So, of the 36 states, shared by the two geographical regions, North has 19, plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, while South makes do with 17 states without a “Federal Territory.” As the Rotarians would ask: “Is this fair to all concerned?”
So, no matter how specious any future rationalization about adding more states to the current 36 will be, the South East Zone must be a beneficiary, even if it is only one state that is agreed upon to make 37! So where should that carving up be made in the South East Zone which comprises Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states?
Already we know that, typical of everything Igbo, every state has sprouted blinkered and short sighted but ambitious politicians demanding that their communities, clans or Local Government Areas be transmuted into new states where they would be pioneer Governors, Senators and Assembly men and women.
Without considering the consequences to the psyche of their young ones and future relationships, they have started unearthing “social and cultural differences” between them and the rest of the people with whom they had lived in peace over the years.
All in a blighted effort to justify their being cut off from the state to which they now belong.
Now let’s remain with Imo State and the title of this piece.
With the relocation of the permanent seat of 1MSU to Ideato in Orlu zone of Imo State; the upgrading and expansion of the Teaching Hospital of IMSU, otherwise called 1MSUTH which is already in Orlu; the Imo Palm Plantation (formerly Adapalm) in Ohaji, Orlu zone; the Imo State Polytechnic at Umuagwo, Orlu zone; and the Orlu International Market, at Orlu, will it be fair any longer for anybody from Orlu zone to want the excision of Orlu zone from the rest of Imo State to form Njaba State or whatever other name?
In other words; will the parent Imo State, with Owerri as the state capital, be once again stripped bare of any worthwhile vestige of statehood?
This is the right time for any fair-minded Imo citizen to rise up and say “Imo State should be left alone -as a homogenous, compact and peaceful state.”
We must take it as an article of faith, to be propagated and defended by all public office holders, from the Community Government Councils up to Abuja, that Imo State patrimony has been so unevenly distributed to the detriment of the main trunk of Old Imo State, that no state again should be carved out of the rump that now subsists, after Abia disengaged with old Imo’s industrial cities of Aba and Umuahia and the deft contour maps drawn by former Military Governor Ike Nwachukwu, that dragged Uturu which hosted former IMSU, into his new Abia State, while curiously leaving Okigwe out to remain in Imo State.
Ironically, it was the great Igbo son and hero,Dr. Michael Iheonukara Okpara. “M.I”, the last civilian Governor of old Eastern Nigeria, who, always quoting his “uncle, Chief Ukabiala”, said “First fool, nor be fool, but second fool, na proper foolish.” Let us not be foolish a second time in Imo State.
By whatever name of a River it is called a new state out of Imo State, will result in an irrecoverable loss and disenfranchisement to the part remaining.
Great souls in Orlu zone should lead the “Justice in Imo” Band by initiating a move to prevent a dismemberment of the present Imo State since Orlu zone appears to have appropriated practically everything of Imo State, except the State Capital. If important Orlu politicians, who have already staked their political future and life on achieving an “Njaba State” don’t want to die “politically” if their bid fails, let them begin to demand for the renaming of Imo State to answer “Njaba State” because a new state out of Imo will be fiercely resisted.
After all, how many LGA’s in the present Imo State are washed by Imo River?
Aside sentimental attachment, what else do we have of Imo River not to give it up for the retention of our Okigwe-Orlu-Owerri trinity in a new garb of “Njaba State” with Owerri as the State Capital?
The lmo River incidentally starts from Abia state (in Umuaku, Umunneochi Local Government Area) and flows past Onuimo, Okigwe, Isiala Mbano, Obowu, Ezinihitte Mbaise, Aboh Mbaise and Ngor Okpala LGA’s and continues up to Rivers State where it eventually empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
So, for goodness’ sake, let’s retain Imo State as one indivisible unit, even if we have to rename it “Njaba State,” for peace and our commonwealth to be preserved.