Sequel to the successful Owerri summit organized by the coalition for Owerri Re-awakening on Nov 11, 2017 and the consequent EGBU DECLARATION, the Owerri Peoples Assembly (OPA) of Imo State organized the first ever comprehensive Convention of Owerri Zone with the theme “Oke Zuo, Iwe Alaa” on April 2nd and 3rd. The convention comprised a colloquium chaired by Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh of Zinox Computers and a Convention rally chaired by Dr. Paschal Dozie, Chairman MTN and Co-chaired by Dr. Mike Okiro, Chairman Police Service Commission with Chief Dr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu as Grand Patron.
Other prominent sons and daughters in attendance included the Special Guest, Her Excellency, Betty Anyanwu Akeredolu, First Lady of Ondo State, His Excellency, Dr. Luke Ochiulor, Fmr. Military Governor of Delta State, Sen. Chris Anyanwu, Sen. Samuel Anyanwu, Prof. Chinwe Obaji, Fmr. Minister of Education, Dr. Kema Chikwe, Fmr. Minister of Aviation, Prince Eze Madumere, Deputy Governor of Imo State, and Dr. Ada Okwuonu, Fmr. Deputy Governor of Imo State. Invariably, a mammoth turn-out of over 6000 people from Owerri Zone attended the two events of the convention and these included Ambassadors, senior military officers (serving and retired), academicians, technocrats, captains of industry, federal and state government officials, youths, professional bodies, women groups, politicians, the media and others.
The Convention and Rally had three key note speakers:
1. Prof. Steve Nwokeocha – who spoke on “Unity in Diversity”
2. Nze Joe Eto – who spoke on “Empowering our Youths through establishment of Cottage Industries”
3. Aham Ekeh Ejelam, SAN – who spoke on – Oke Zue, Iwe Alaa”
The entire convention was aired live by FRCN and carried on the national networks.
The objective of the convention was to review the status of Owerri zone in the current political dispensation as well as build the unity of Owerri sons and daughters from the ten local government areas of Aboh, Ahiazu, Ezinihitte, Ikeduru, Mbaitoli, Ngor Okpuala, Owerri North, Owerri Municipal, Owerri West and Ohaji Egbema.
THE CASE FOR OWERRI
That cognizant of the lengths of tenure of Governors since the creation of Imo State in 1976, the Imo State Government House (Douglas House) has been occupied by the zones as follows:
a) Orlu zone – 16 years (or 192 months),
b) Okigwe zone – 8 years and 3 months (or 99 months)
c) Owerri zone – 1 year (or 12 months)
Since the beginning of democracy in 1999, the Imo Government House has been occupied as follows:
a) Orlu zone – 16 years (192 months),
b) Okigwe zone – 4 years
c) Owerri zone – Nil
That it is sad to note that for twenty years of unbroken democracy in Nigeria, Oweri zone has not produced a Governor even though it has 43% of Imo State voting population.
That since 1999, Owerri zone is the only zone in the entire South East geo-political zone yet to produce a Governor.
That, in 1999, Owerri zone conceded the Governorship position to Orlu zone on the basis of which a Charter of Equity was enunciated.
The convention therefore resolved as follows:
1. All Owerri sons and daughters anywhere in the world must join in the development of Owerri, and a roadmap for this project should be put in place immediately.
2. The convention denounces strongly the current marginalization, economic impoverishment, political intimidation, inhuman, insensitive and extremely overbearing governance of Imo State government on the people.
3. Owerri sons and daughters should involve themselves in partisan politics and should not shy away from any political party. They should try hard to emerge as party candidates during the primaries.
4. All political parties operating in Imo State should grant consideration to Owerri sons and daughters as their flag bearers for the Imo gubernatorial contest. This would be a just and equitable act in line with Imo Charter of Equity.
5. That Owerri people with the largest voting population in the State will vote against any party that ignores the demand to produce an Owerri zone indigene as Governorship candidate in their party primaries.
6. The convention urges candidates of Owerri Zone extraction who have limited capacity for state-wide guber contest to step aside to enhance the chances of success. OPA stands ready to assist in this regard.
7. Any OPA member who makes public statement in support of any political party or candidate prior to party primaries does so on personal capacity and the view does not reflect the official position of OPA.
8. All Owerri people in Nigeria and in Diaspora should pull resources to establish small scale industries relevant to its locality for the purpose of providing jobs in order to reduce the high rate of unemployment and youth restiveness.
9. Business incubators, banks, and finance house should be urgently encouraged to assist the emergence of SMEs in Owerri Zone including the rural communities.
10. OPA should set up a committee for youth empowerment in Owerri Zone with an action plan for the implementation of youth regeneration programmes and competitions.
11. Owerri zone must recover and define itself – That we are one and must have a united purpose! While sub-zones may exist for familial cohesion, such sub-zones must de-emphasize any activities, verbal references or connotations that estrange our people and derange the unity and progress of the Zone. We, as a people, must individually and collectively focus on our strengths and de-emphasize insignificant differences that only divide us to the advantage of other zones.
12. OPA is unanimously elected to be the pre-eminent and apex body for Owerri zone, OPA shall therefore be the umbrella non-governmental, non-partisan body structurally and administratively organized for the control of policy formulation, direction and implementation of political, social and economic agenda of Owerri Zone.
13. OPA should institutionalize the OPA Convention and Colloquium as well as other opportunities that can bring together Owerri people to brainstorm, listen to one another, articulate common grounds regarding zonal, state and national issues, promote culture and contribute to the growth and development of the zone through research and lectures. This will lead to the elimination/correction of erroneous perceptions and stereotypes in the sub-zones within Owerri Zone.
14. OPA should establish many functional branches across Nigeria and in Diaspora as well as separate franchises for professionals – Architects, Engineers, Lawyers, Teachers, Medical Doctors, Pharmacists, Animal Scientists, Agriculturists, etc. to harness the best potentials of Owerri people for the guided development of Owerri Zone.
15. The convention appreciates deeply the support from our sister zones as evidenced by the solidarity speeches of Orlu Elders Council/Orluzurumee led by Chairman of its Board of Trustees Prof. Francis Dike and Chief Ejike Uche at the convention floor. Owerri zone also appreciates the several leaders of Okigwe zone who have averred support for the Charter of Equity and agreed that Owerri zone should produce the next Governor of Imo State in 2019.
UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTED BY ACCLAMATION TODAY, 3RD APRIL, 2018 AT THE END OF THE OWERRI PEOPLES ASSEMBLY ORGANIZED 2-DAY CONVENTION IN OWERRI, IMO STATE.
Long live Owerri Zone!
Long live Imo State!
Long live Nigeria!
Chief Sam Obaji, KSP
Chairman Convention Planning Committee
(and also acclaimed Unity Ambassador of Owerri)