Ahead of the November gubernatorial elections in Imo State, gladiators are already positioning to either wrestle power from the incumbent Governor, Hope Uzodinma, or support him to retain his position in Douglas House. One of the notable politicians who will play a major role in making that decision is Hon. Athan Chukwu.
Hon Chukwu was a councilor during the military regime of IBB and has been in active politics for over three decades. He is a political leader in Emekuku ward 2 and a renowned stakeholder in Owerri North.
In this interview with Africa Digital News, New York, he shares his thoughts on the upcoming elections, zoning, and the future of Ndigbo in Nigeria. He equally revealed what his next political move will be.
ADN, New York: Can you tell us your name, Sir?
Hon. Chukwu: My name is Mazi Athan Chukwu (Hon.). A political leader in Emekuku and Owerri North in general.
ADN, New York: When did you join politics and why?
Hon. Chukwu: I was born a political animal but joined politics actively in 1998 when I contested and won Councillorship election in Emekuku Ward 2.
ADN, New York: What’s your assessment of governance in Imo State so far from the beginning of the 4th republic till now?
Hon. Chukwu: Just like others but with too many lapses coupled with the fact that the current Governor (Hope Uzodinma) is acting the Fulani script. I am not his fan because he is not playing according to democratic rules, he is rather despotic in disposition, and his killer squad is making Imo State an abattoir of human beings and the most unsafe state in eastern Nigeria.
ADN, New York: Would you say Imo State has been fair to Owerri zone in terms of the zoning arrangement that is currently in place?
Hon. Chukwu: Not at all. An Owerri man or Owerri zone position in Imo State State can be linked to the position of an Igbo man in Nigeria. But I believe that an Owerri man deserves a shot at Douglas House for equity and fairness having served only 18 months as against Okiigwe and Orlu’s 9 and 24 years respectively.
ADN, New York: Was there any zoning arrangement that was made and agreed upon?
Hon. Chukwu: Yes and No. Yes, because there was an arrangement in Imo State which could be referred to as a gentleman agreement between brothers if not why should we be crying out for rotation at the National level if we cannot practice it at home? Sometime in 1991, on the 9th of June precisely, at Glass House in Ugwu Orji, Owerri Elders of the state drawn from the three Senatorial zones of the state agreed on the rotation and it was on that premise that the Late Chief Nwofor, the then PDP State Chairman in 1998 seeded and chose former Governor Achike Udenwa who was given the governorship ticket instead of Chief Humphrey Anumudu who actually won the primaries because it was believed that the Late Chief Evan Enwerem had served Owerri zone’s slot. The lack of respect for zoning arrangements is the bane and major cause of most of the political crises in the state.
ADN, New York: What exactly is Owerri zone doing wrong?
Hon. Chukwu: Owerri zone is doing many wrong things but I’ll have to talk about not being united a threat created by Orlu zone just to make sure that the political actors in the zone do not agree as Mbaike man does not trust Mbaise/Ngor Okpala man and same with Owerri federal constituency man and others. Secondly, Owerri zone does not respect or recognise zoning in their various Local governments so can you give what you don’t have? Remember, he who goes to equity must go with clean hands.
ADN, New York: What’s your assessment of Governor Hope Uzodinma’s administration?
Hon. Chukwu: Governor Uzodinma’s tenure assessment is not expected to be anything near a pass mark considering the fact that he became Governor through the back door which has turned the once peaceful state to (Golgota) which is the most volatile state in the region.
ADN, New York: Do you think he deserves a second term, Please give us your reasons.
Hon. Chukwu: Governor Uzodinma does not deserve a second term considering how many years Orlu zone has occupied the position and secondly considering the volume of blood that has been shed in the state under him as Governor which is apparently an extension of Fulanisation.
ADN, New York: Do you think the members of the opposition are doing enough to stop his re-election?
Hon. Chukwu: The members of the opposition are trying their best and under a free and fair election, he can never win a second term because God himself is not partial.
ADN, New York: Let’s talk about Ndigbo in Nigeria, what do you think is the most realistic pathway for Ndigbo at the moment?
Hon. Chukwu: Well as an Igbo man, I believe in Biafra and would wish it is actualised in my time but I am afraid because the struggle has been hijacked by agents of the federal government who are causing mayhem while claiming to be members of (ESN/IPOB). The so-called unknown gunmen are simply agents of the Fulani sponsored by the Government of Ebonyi and Imo State. I advise Ndi Igbo to participate in the forthcoming elections and rally around Peter Obi even if he fails to win, Ndi Igbo can now have a bargaining power but I am optimistic that he’ll make it in the end.
ADN, New York: Hon. Athan, do you have any political ambition going forward?
Hon. Chukwu: I am watching and my future ambition will be dependent on the credibility of the 2023 election
ADN, New York: What advice do you have for Imolites as the next gubernatorial election inches near?
Hon. Chukwu: Imolites should unite and vote out the present government and vote in an Owerri zone man in the interest of justice, fairness, and equity.
ADN, New York: Thank you so much for your time.
Hon. Chukwu: The pleasure is mine. Thank you.