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In a paper presented to the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ) Imo State Council by Hon Uche Onyeagucha at the 2017 World Press Freedom Day this 3rd day of May 2017 at the NUJ Press Center, Port Harcourt Road, Owerri, titled :CRITICAL MINDS FOR CRITICAL TIMES: MEDIA’S ROLE FOR ADVANCING PEACEFUL, JUST AND INCLUSIVE SOCIETIES

The Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and former Special Adviser to Governor Okorocha, Hon Uche Onyeagocha made the following statement:

INTRODUCTION:
Critical minds are minds that tend to discover faults with something, somebody or with people and things in general. Critical times refer to extremely important for the fact of being or happening at a time of special difficulty, trouble or danger, when matters could quickly get either worse or better.  This special difficulty could impact on the peace, justice and inclusiveness of societies when they are left unattended to, appropriately.

The times in which we live now, both nationally and locally are very critical. The health of the President of our country is failing perhaps at the same rate as the health of the nation. This situation could be compounded by the on-going Legislative/Executive face off as well as an economy tittering on the precipice.
Locally, i.e. at the State level, the politics of succession from the current government of His Excellency Rochas Okorocha to the next one (the subject upon which this paper will dwell) has become of critical importance. Critical minds in the media are hereby challenged to analyze and sensitize critically the issue of succession 2019, with a view to properly educating and informing the masses and thereby enabling them to make informed choices. This is because the struggle has already begun.

THE ISSUE OF VIOLENCE AS ALLEGED BY GOV. OKOROCHA IN REPEATED MEDIA ANNOUNCEMENTS
By 2019, Imo State will be 42years old. Since its creation, the military will have ruled for 16yrs, Orlu Zone for 16yrs, Okigwe Zone for 8yrs 3months, while Owerri Zone for 1yr 10months. The next turn should be Owerri Zones’. Therefore Owerri Zone cannot encourage violence now that it is their turn to govern. Anyone alleging violence by Owerri people is only trying to overheat the polity. Owerri people should and has remained calm and peaceful, more so in the face of such provocation.

Imo Equity Movement admits ownership of educational materials popularizing the fact of 2019 being Owerri Zones’ turn. We make bold to accuse the Imo State Government of destroying our billboards and harassing our people distributing such educational materials. The motive of Government for doing so must be to incite our people to violence and then turn around to blame the attendant breach of the public peace on Imo Equity Movement. Our agitation is premised on equity and justice, while the means to achieving it is through peaceful and resolute mass mobilization.

THE ARGUMENT FOR AND AGAINST ZONING
On the issue of zoning, our Governor argues that there is no more zoning in Imo State. This is most absurd. We accuse him of double standard since he is practicing zoning in this administration. If not, then how come Oshimiri who has the same legislative pedigree as Chief Acho Ihim is not the Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly today? Why did he choose Chief Eze Madumere as his deputy, George Eche as the SGI, whereas his Orlu zone has sons and daughters of superior political and administrative experience? In fact Chief Hilary Eke should not be the APC Party Chairman and Barr. Ibediro, the Party Secretary. Orlu zone should have filled those positions as well and all the rest.
The governor in his statement posited that at no time in the history of the State has any party left its governorship ticket for any zone without a contest from other zones. This cannot be further from the truth, because in 2015 APC left her governorship ticket to Orlu Zone, and better still, to Rochas with nobody from Okigwe or Owerri Zone contesting. In fact the ticket was preserved precisely for the Okorocha family. When he went out to contest for President, his son-in-law held the governorship ticket in waiting for him; not because there was no credible person from other zones, but it was done in good faith.

GOVERNOR OKOROCHA’S BID FOR SELF SUCCESSION
We state without equivocation that our Governor is now on a self succession project. He wants to run for a third term in office against the spirit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by hiding behind the back of his son-in-law, Chief Uche Nwosu. It is for this reason that he set up the Ugwumba Movement and appointed his son-in-law to run it. This Movement has since taken over the role of the Ministry of Information whose statutory responsibility it is to promote the programmes and activities of the State government. Today, we see billboards of the Ugwumba Movement showcasing achievements of government and usurping the role of the emasculated Ministry of Information.

The people of Imo State – Orlu, Okigwe and Owerri - are united and irrevocably resolved that Uche Nwosu will not succeed his father-in-law. The reason is not farfetched. Uche Nwosu’s candidature is merely Rochas Okorocha’s third term bid for the office of the Governor of Imo State. The Uche Nwosu we know is still incapable of conceiving the idea and taking the decision to run for that exalted office. We therefore respectfully urge His Excellency Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha (OON) to discountenance any advice in this direction as nothing but the hand work of undertakers, enemies and mischief makers who have set out to rubbish his political career. We also urge him to focus on his presidential ambition in the interest of Ndi Igbo.

Conclusively, Imo Equity Movement which consists of Orlu, Okigwe and Owerri Zone indigenes, insists that Governor Okorocha in the interest of Equity and Justice should support the people of Owerri Zone in their bid to produce the next governor, come 2019. I urge the media to so proclaim and publish.
Thank you.
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