By Chibuike Onyeukwu
It is no longer news that the governorship flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2019 general elections, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha (CON) over the week, toured some States in the United States of America (USA). It is also not news that his mission is to honour the invitation of the Imo indigenes resident in America (Imo Community in the Diaspora USA). The aim being to acquaint them with the precarious situation of Imo State, share his vision and programmes and indeed assure them that he is offering himself as the agent of liberation and rebuilding of the State.
However, what must be news now that this historic visit has come and gone, is that it was very successful as the testimonies and other highpoints here will confirm. It should be news that Ihedioha’s tour of seven States of America – Washington DC, New York, Texas, Newark, North Carolina and South Carolina – was for fact-finding, lobby and an eye-opening event for both the guest and his hosts.
Ihedioha’s mission to America was structured to enable him present his roadmap on how to rebuild Imo State and reassure the Imo-Americans that all hope was not lost for Imo State and Imo people. The tour also, very importantly, afforded the diasporans a rare opportunity of seeing engaging directly, the imminent incoming governor of their own native land of Imo State, a state that was once a model and a pride of Imolites and envy of sister states.
Some people may ask, “What are the benefits or significance of meeting with Imo indigenes resident in US for an election that will not accommodate Diaspora voting? The answer is simple; they are Imolites. They are not only our ambassadors, but also critical stakeholders whose impact and contributions to the socio economic development of our state is better appreciated. It is worthy also to underline their love for our state. They are influential in so many respects, including facilitating foreign directing investment to Imo State.
It is instructive to note that the visit was designed for Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha to be hosted in several interactive sessions with a major colloquium that will grace the final day of the week-long, painstaking tour. It is symbolic that the Imo Diaspora Community USA, among the governorship candidates jostling to occupy the seat of power in Owerri, singled out Rt. Hon. Ihedioha for this important interface on the way forward for Imo State. If I am asked to say, without bias, I will simply describe it as a show of solidarity, trust and an endorsement.
The former Co Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee of the Nigerian Constitution has not ceased to harp on the importance of believability and pedigree for public office holders. Ihedioha, represents and indeed embodies the characteristics of the next governor Imo State is yearning.
And the message remained singular in all the venues and sessions across the States the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives visited. And that is that with Imo State in a devastated condition, requiring urgent liberation and rebuilding, he (Ihedioha) is prepared with relevant experience, credibility, multiple capacities, consequential network of contacts, outstanding track record of achievement and deep knowledge and understanding of the challenges of the state, to lead the team of Imo leaders that will work out the solutions to the problems bedeviling the State and the people.
The press statement issued by Barr. Kissinger Ikeokwu, Spokesman of Ihedioha Campaign Organization, captured in a brilliant summary, the various sessions and inherent benefits of the tour of some States of America by Ihedioha.
Part of the statement reads, “During the visit, Rt. Hon. Ihedioha will be the special Guest of Honour at some high profile policy discourse programmes, such as;
Interactive Session on the theme; Rebuilding and Repositioning Imo State in Dallas, at the Garland Convention Centre 1931 E Centreville Rd, Garland TX 75041; Interactive Session on the theme; Rebuilding and Repositioning Imo State in Raleigh, North Carolina at Carolina Events and Cultural Centre 3209, Gresham Lake Rd #146, Raleigh, NC 27625; Interactive Session on the theme; Rebuilding and Repositioning Imo State in New Jersey, New York at The Clinton Manor 2735 IJS 22 Union 07083 and lastly, a Colloquium sponsored by the Imo Global Alliance for Good Governance, (IGAGG) where he will deliver a major policy speech with the theme, “Imo State in the Global Economy” at the National Press Club 13th Floor of National Press Club Building 529 14th Street NW, Washington
Continuing it read thus: “These events will offer the former Deputy Speaker an opportunity to share his vision and policies with Imo indigenes, stakeholders, interests groups as well as investors towards achieving much desired Rebuild Imo Agenda.
“Expectedly, the gains of these engagements will impact on the campaigns ahead and indeed have far reaching effect on the state.”
It could not have been better captured because that was what typed out in diverse forms at all the centres where Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha addressed Ndi Imo in America. The extensive coverage and report, including the videos of the get-togethers confirmed that much with the rapt attention, nods in concurrence and stretches of applause that intermittently greeted his speeches.
This show of understanding and appreciation by the members of the various audiences in the US, manifested in the comments of some of them after each interactive session. One of such comments came from the “Imo Global Alliance for Good Governance (IGAGG)”, the co-sponsors of a conference in Washington DC where according to the billing; Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha delivered a major policy on the topic: “Imo in the Global Economy”.
The group “IGAGG”, described itself as, “a non-partisan of citizens of Imo State of Nigeria, across the globe, committed to ensuring good governance, rule of law and an economically thriving State. These are in order to uplift the standard of living and quality of life of our citizens, regardless of age, gender, religious and or socio-economic status.”
In a statement signed by Prof. Eddie Oparaoji, it was said that “after a vigorous evaluation of all INEC approved gubernatorial candidates… based on publicly available human political indices such as experience, values, pedigree, probity, history, political platform and structure, consistency, transparency of selection and capacity.
“We are committed to harnessing all support to make him Governor of Imo State and to holding the Ihedioha Administration accountable for his stewardship as Governor of Imo State.”
The group IGAGG, had earlier recently publicly and uncharacteristically endorsed their first candidate ever – Rt. Hon. Ihedioha – as their preferred candidate to govern Imo State come 2019.
Responding to a question on the efficacy of the Ihedioha’s US visit, Prof. Eddie Oparaoji, Chairman and Moderator of IGAGG had this say: “There is a huge disruption today on how we perceive global today on how we perceive global economic dynamics. The most powerful drivers of advancement and prosperity do not obey the laws of geography – namely, ideas, innovation and technology.
“It is therefore a no-brainer, that a winning strategy is to lay the enabling conduit from high areas of economic and innovative opportunities like the US, in order to funnel, drive and stimulate growth in depressed economic communities, such as Imo State.”
That also remarkably underscores some of the critical advantages of the very timely tour of America by Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha. For reputable pundits, the visit is a load of all plus and no minus for all stakeholders, particularly the entirety of Imo people both at home and abroad.
The outpour of affection for Rt. Hon. Ihedioha and the enthusiasm generated among Imo State citizens in America is a departure from the seeming nonchalance whereby such events were never the case.
Expressing optimism about the candidature of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha in the 2019 general elections, Engr. Edwin Udenkwo who attended the reception said, “I am highly impressed with Hon. Ihedioha. He was very clear on how he intends to partner with the Diaspora and areas where he seeks partnership with the State of Maryland.
“Also, since my involvement in Maryland politics, going by decades, I have never seen such a powerful representation of elected officials, assembled to receive a candidate who is not a Governor or Head of State.”
Other participants in the interactive sessions were equally excited about Ihedioha and pledged to give him maximum support to become the next governor of Imo State come 2019.
Talking of the State of Maryland, it was there that Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha was received with honour by the State Executive members and their legislative counterparts. He was uncharacteristically received by top echelon of elected officials in the State of Maryland. Those who received him were Gov. Larry Hogan, who was represented by Mr. Kevin Graft; Senate Majority Leader, Hon. Doug J. Peters; Senator Paul Pinsky; State’s Attorney, Hon. Braveboy Aisha; Senator Malcolm Augustine; State Delegate, Hon. Alonzo Washington; County Council Member, Hon. Calvin Hawkins and the State of Virginia, Lt. Governor Justina Fairfax.
Also, in attendance were Nigeria’s Ambassador to the US, His Excellency, Ambassador Sylvanus Nsofor and his wife, who witnessed the double-citations presented to Hon. Ihedioha by the State of Maryland and Virginia respectively. Such citations are used to commemorate or recognize exceptional accomplishments.
There is no gainsaying the tremendous benefits Imo State and Imo people stand to derive from the highly strategic visit by Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha to America in the coming months and years that he would by the grace of God and the support of the electorate, serve as the governor of Imo State.
There were a lot of highpoints that emerged from that very important tour by Ihedioha. Itemizing and charaterizing them here will be too cumbersome for the reading public. But let it suffice that they actually happened to the glory of God and the overall potential blessing of Imo State and Imo people.
There is so much wisdom and dividends in electing Ihedioha in 2019. It is therefore crucial that every well meaning Imolite and lovers of Imo State key in and boldly brace up to collectively vote him into Douglas House as next governor of Imo State.
To liberate Imo people and rebuild Imo State is task that must be done. Let all Imo people join in the Rebuild Imo Project!
Onyeukwu, a Journalist and Media Consultant writes from Owerri.