By Valentine Amanze
The people of Owerri zone irrespective of their political differences Saturday, November 11, 2017, converged on Egbu, near Owerri, the Imo State capital, to brainstorm on their political future.
The gathering, chaired by Dr Pascal Dozie, attracted other dignitaries including Chief Frank Nneji, the boss of ABC Transport Company; Commodor Luke Ochiulor (rtd), Hon Emeka Ihedioha, Peoples Democratic Party flagbearer in Imo State; Sanator Sam Daddy Anyanwu, representing Imo East in the Senate; Chief Okey Eze, APGA chieftan; Chief Jude Ejiogu, Chief Mike Ahamba;
Emmanuel Iwuanyanyu, and many others.
Owerri zone (aka Imo East senatorial district), which comprises nine local government areas of Owerri municipal, Owerri North, Owerri West, Mbaitoli, Ikeduru, Ngor Okpala, Aboh Mbaise, Ahiazu Mbaise and Ezinihitte Mbaise also used the occasion to condemn the destruction of the Ekeukwu Owerri ancestral market, the subsequent death of a minor – Somtochukwu Ibeanusi and the destruction of government approved property in and around Owerri municipality by the Imo State government without reasonable notice given and any compensation made.
The aggrieved indigenes in liaison with all socio-cultural and other groups in the zone, acting under the aegis of “Coalition for Owerri Re-awakening” after a one-day summit during which they also deliberated on the over-riding importance of unity of the zone regretted that the zone which once occupied a pride of place in the old Owerri district now looks like a conquered territory than an equal partner in the Imo State project.
The summit, which had the theme, “Owerri Questions,” noted with sadness that Owerri people in spite of their historical advantage had continued to make sacrifices for others even as the host indigenous communities of Owerri municipality, Owerri West and Owerri North council areas had lost most of their ancestral lands thereby rendering their future generation landless and homeless.
The summit held at the premises of the All Saints Anglican Cathedral Egbu with Owerri leaders, elders, academia, captains of industries, businessmen and women, professional bodies, public servants, artisans as well as various women and youth organizations in attendance took exception to the ceding of Ohaji/Egbema council which it said had historically and geographically being part of Owerri zone to Orlu senatorial zone.
Lamenting the mounting poverty in the zone, the lack of appreciation of the sacrifices made by Owerri zone in the election of governors from other zones, coupled with the fact that the zone is the only one in the entire South East geographical zone that had not produced a governor in the current political dispensation that began in 1999, the summit in what it called “Egbu declaration” urged all political parties in the state to choose their governorship candidates from Owerri senatorial zone.
It also enjoined registered voters in the state to vote for only political parties that choose their candidates from Owerri zone in the interest of equity, fair play and unity of the state.
The summit resolved that a committee of eminent sons and daughters of Owerri zone be set up to reach out to Okigwe and Orlu zones to convince them of the need to support Owerri zone in 2019 to produce the next governor of the state, just as it advised political leaders and followers from Owerri zone to be united on the governorship aspiration of the zone and to desist from being used to the contrary.
The eight-point resolution also charged Governor Rochas Okorocha to embark on commensurate compensation for those whose properties had been destroyed or demolished while equally insisting that his government should without delay, commence payment of all outstanding arrears of pensions and gratuities in the state to mitigate the sufferings of beneficiaries.