Imo State deputy governor, Eze Madumere from Owerri Zone of Imo State is favoured to clinch the All Progressives Congress’ ticket for the state gubernatorial election in 2019, but the odds against him are legion, Amby Uneze reports
The route to the development of any society is always pursued by every sane mind, hence success is a relation to many while failure remains an orphan. This succinctly captures the situation in Imo State at the moment as stakeholders begin to make plans to get a successor to the state governor, Rochas Okorocha come 2019.
While the incumbent Okorocha is of the opinion that it is within his capacity to anoint his successor, at least to continue with his rescue mission agenda, as well as protect his interest when he leaves office, others are working frantically against such move, especially the opposition, who believe that Okorocha has not done much to decide who succeeds him.
Judging from the governor’s body language, the people have noticed that his plan is to impose his son-in-law, Chief Uche Nwosu, who also comes from Orlu zone (Nkwerre), the same senatorial district of the governor. For the people of Imo State, that is a plan that should not be allowed to happen. Those opposed to the governor’s plan believe that it will be a slap on their faces and they are already working very seriously to thwart such dream, if the governor ever tries it.
The dominant public opinion has been that if the governor really wants to get somebody to succeed him within his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), he should rather beam his searchlight towards Owerri senatorial district where he also has some faithful loyalists such as the current deputy governor, Prince Eze Madumere, former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), under his government, Sir Jude Ejiogu, the incumbent SSG, Sir George Eche, former Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dr. Theodore (TOE) Ekechi.
Already these persons one way of the other have expressed interest in the governorship of the state, but the issue now is that the governor seems not to be looking their way or it could be that he is still engaging in decoy by purporting to back his son-in-law.
If the opinions of many people in Imo State are right, Okorocha’s APC has let the state down and had suceeded in making enemies for his party to the extent that many now look forward to other political parties to come and rescue the state.
Their discontent flows from the way and manner Okorocha has continued to impoverish the people he is leading while he has successfully empowered his family members. This, in the word of Imo people has made the Okorocha government “A government of the family of Okorocha by their mentor and for the same family”. This style of governance actually portends danger for the ruling party, and that is mainly the reason why people will be disenchanted with whoever he (Okorocha) will sponsor to succeed him.
However, Okorocha’s government has successfully brought out the latent leadership qualities embedded in the person of Madumere, who is believed to have known and worked with him for over 23 years now, and as such, the choice of Madumere could be seen as the best option in so many ways, especially when experience, humility, accessibility are aken into consideration.
It will be a huge departure from the boss-subordinate relationship and a big opportunity to have a listening government that would follow due process and the rule of law in his dealings with the people. Unlike his boss, the deputy governor is a team player.
Though as things stand today, among those jostling to replace Okorocha, Madumere is not in the picture because he had said it on several occasions that such aspiration is not within his calculation for now. He has continually said: “I am in a joint ticket with my boss (Okorocha) and we are still focused to bring the desired dividends of democracy to the people of the state. The rescue mission agenda which I am part of is still on course”.
But according to a group calling on Madumere to join the governorship race, the reason for the interest in the deputy governor is because he is not ambitious. He is satisfied with what he has at the moment and does not struggle to out-shine his boss, rather he keeps cool. He is satisfied with allowing his boss takes all the credits. For those rooting for him, here is someone who has shown humility and focus and he should therefore be sought after if Owerri zone ticket must be realised.
Generally, he is referred to as “Mr. Humility” by his colleagues. Some state governors have also testified to his humility whenever he represented his boss during national ad regional engagements. Madumere was quoted in a recent interview that his humility was a product of his upbringing by his parents and he had refused to depart from their wise counsel right from his days as a boy. His colleagues and other state governors respect him for his humility and support for his boss at all times, hence they had occasionally and jocularly told his boss that he was lucky to have found a better successor in his deputy. He is also very loyal to his boss, even to a fault.
It is public knowledge that the governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose has publicly anointed his deputy, Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka to succeed him as governor. This may be the right path for Okorocha to follow. Fayose has remained a leader that is widely cherished because of his penchant for the truth and good governance.
For Okorocha to anoint his deputy as his successor in 2019 means he values the cordial relationship that had existed between them for over two decades. Such relationship is like that of father and son, which normally should not be toyed with.
Okorocha reportedly agreed in 2011, when he was canvassing for the votes of Imo people that he would serve only a single term so that someone from the Owerri senatorial district (most likely Chief Martin Agbaso) could take over in 2015 but along the line, the governor changed his mind. He first humiliated Agbaso through the impeachment of Jude Agabso who was his former deputy.
After the impeachment, Okorocha quickly forwarded Madumere’s name to the state assembly for confirmation as deputy governor and the assembly immediately approved it. Until his confirmation as deputy governor, Madumere was the Chief of Staff to the governor. He was one of the most influential chiefs of staff n the country then.
Madumere, a prince of Achi Mbieri in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State is the son of His Royal Highness, Eze Henry Anorue Madumere, the traditional ruler of the community.
Despite being from a royal family, Madumere is a friend of everybody. Born in Port Harcourt, he had his primary school in Owerri, secondary education in Lagos and university education in the United States of America, where he obtained a B.sc in Business Administration from San-Jacinto College, University of Houston Texas.
Madumere returned to Nigeria for his masters degree at the Imo State University, Owerri. He is in his early 50s and was born on July 4, which coincides with the American independent day anniversary.
While politics is synonymous with controversy, Madumere has had his own fair share of controversy, but for him, the controversies have mostly been minor. For instance, the protest in 2012 over his being named as the chairman of a Shell Gas Plant project in Ohaji/Egbema was one of such.
Truly, there are very few politicians in the country who can claim to be as loyal to their bosses as Madumere has been to Okorocha. When Okorocha first ran for Imo governorship, Madumere returned from the US to serve as the Director for Women and Youth Mobilisation for his campaign organisation under the PDP. He was 34 years old then. Okorocha lost the election though.
In 2002, he returned again and served as chief strategist on media and logistics for Okorocha’s presidential bid. Okorocha lost too. However, former president Olusegun Obasanjo compensated Okorocha by appointing him special adviser on inter-party relations. Okorocha promptly appointed Madumere as his chief of staff in that office.
In the build-up to the 2011 governorship election, Madumere was once attacked with acid, for which he had to undergo a surgery but the scars are still visible on his face. Account had it that as soon as it became clear that the ruling PDP had been humbled at the poll, an apparently elated governor-elect and his supporters retired to the Larmond Hotel – located in the state capital, to hold series of meetings aimed at fine-tuning the take-off of the state.
But just before dusk that day, heavily armed security men comprising the military and police stormed the hotel and demanded to see Okorocha. The leader of the invading troops said he had orders from above to bring Okorocha to the federal capital, Abuja. It was gathered that almost all the supporters of the then governor-elect, who couldn’t stand the sight of the heavily armed and stern-looking security men scurried into safety.
But one man stood his ground – and requested the security men to arrest him instead of picking the then governor-elect. That man is Madumere. Amidst the row between the security men and Madumere over who should be arrested, Okorocha allegedly escaped into safety through an exit at the back of the hotel. Having missed the prime target, the security men bundled Madumere into a waiting security van which drove him straight to a police station, where he was detained before he was dragged to court for alleged obstruction of justice. The court later remanded him in prison custody. He spent 21 days at the Owerri prison before he regained his freedom. No one can argue that Madumere has not paid his dues.
But the fear of Imo people is that Madumere may turn out to be a surrogate to Okorocha bearing in mind that they had remained together for the past two decades. For some others, they just would not want to experiment with the Okorocha days in the state again, rather they want an independent person who will not have anything to do with Okorocha.
However, such fears may be ruled out considering the fact that Madumere has acquired the relevant skills and experience to govern without being tele-guided by anyone.
Conclusively, it is very pertinent to state that Madumere is a fearless leader and one who stoutly believes in his ability to deliver the dividends of democracy when the need arises. Owerri zone would have been fairly treated if one of their own becomes the next governor of Imo State come 2019. That is actually the demand of Imo people especially the people of Owerri zone whose chances of becoming governor in the past had not materialised largely due to greed.
But for Madumere, his greatest asset may be his biggest liability- his boss.
It is public knowledge that the governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose has publicly anointed his deputy, Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka to succeed him as governor. This may be the right path for Okorocha to follow.