Who is better than Uche Ogbuagu?
By Ifeanyi Maduako
I do not know Honourable Uche Ogbuagu. I have never met him in person neither is he my friend. The above disclaimer becomes necessary because I do not have his mandate to write this article, he didn’t authorize it.
Uche Ogbuagu became very renowned as an entertainer – a comedian. He had plied the art for over 20 years before he sauntered into politics.
At the moment, he represents Ikeduru State Constituency in the Imo State House of Assembly. He was overwhelmingly elected into the legislative House in 2019 on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Prior to his adventure into politics, he had been a humanitarian and philanthropist who went about providing basic amenities and infrastructure for the downtrodden, especially in his native Ikeduru LGA.
When Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma was declared the governor of Imo State by the Supreme Court on January 14, 2020, Uche Ogbuagu had to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) primarily in deference to the governor and also in solidarity to his kinsman, Professor Placid Njoku, who is also from the same Ikeduru with Uche Ogbuagu. I wonder why some misguided people have been criticizing Uche Ogbuagu for defecting to the APC when his kinsman became the deputy governor in Imo State.
These malevolent critics have been pouring invectives on Uche Ogbuagu for purportedly abandoning Emeka Ihedioha by defecting to APC. But, between Ihedioha and the current deputy governor, Professor Njoku, who should Uche Ogbuagu show greater solidarity to?
How do they expect Ogbuagu to constitute opposition to his kinsman, the deputy governor by remaining in PDP? Would an Mbaise House of Assembly member belong to another party if his kinsmen were the deputy governor?
Ihedioha may have helped Uche Ogbuagu during the election in one way or the other but Uche Ogbuagu helped Ihedioha more in tasting the office of the governor of State for nearly eight months. The massive votes Ihedioha garnered from other parts of State especially Orlu Zone was made possible by the love people of that zone had and still have for Uche Ogbuagu who campaigned for Ihedioha throughout the 27 LGAs of the state.
The political relationship between both of them was symbiotic. Uche Ogbuagu was politically right to have defected to APC to show solidarity to his deputy governor kinsman. It wouldn’t have been an anathema for him to have remained in PDP and constituted an opposition to his kinsman since he came to power.
However, from all indications, it does appear that APC is not reciprocating Uche Ogbuagu’s hand of fellowship and loyalty. The party made him the Majority Leader in 2020, and decided to remove him after about one year in office as the number three man in the state legislature.
There are wild insinuations all over the place that Uche Ogbuagu was removed from the Majority Leader’s position due to alleged insubordination and vaulting political ambition. What constitutes the allegation of insubordination against Uche Ogbuagu? Nobody can point to any press release he made against the state government or the leadership of the House. He has never spoken against the state government or House of Assembly in public.
Some aggrieved PDP members like Eddy Ugbomah and Okey Onyekanma who represent Oguta and Mbaitoli respectively had joined issues with the House in the public, yet nobody has called for their heads, no probe, investigative or disciplinary committee has ever been constituted against them.
The deputy speaker and the member representing Ohaji/Egbema constituency, Heclus Okoro, physically exchanged blows at the Government House last November, yet no committee was set up to probe or discipline them. The matter was resolved within the House internal mechanism, why is Uche Ogbuagu subjected to probe for allegedly being credited with a resignation letter which has gone viral on the social media?
Since they have taken the Majority Leader’s seat from him, why going ahead with another probe committee to further humiliate him? Is taking the plum seat away from him not enough punishment? It is even curious that the probe panel or committee is populated by members who have one stone or the other to grind with Uche Ogbuagu.
The chairman of the committee who represents Ideato South, Johnson Duru, is Rochas Okorocha’s “boy” having being made a LGA chairman by Rochas and also came to the House on the platform of Action Alliance (AA) which was the platform of Uche Nwosu/Okorocha. Duru cannot claim to love Governor Uzodinma more than Uche Ogbuagu, he never believed in or supported Governor Uzodinma’s gubernatorial ambition ab initio.
Eddy Ugbomah and Okey Onyekanma are well known Ihedioha’s “boys” who still belong to the PDP in solidarity to Ihedioha and former Deputy Governor Gerald Irona.
It is even more curious that PDP members are sitting over the disciplinary committee of Uche Ogbuagu who is still an APC member, what manner of justice and fair play do you expect from them when they are still aggrieved that they have lost their control of the state House of Assembly since January last year?
The Deputy Speaker, Amara Chyna Iwuanyanwu, who is actually the defacto speaker of the house was elected under the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the same thing with the current Speaker Paul Emeziem. The deputy speaker is now in APC and throws about a lot of influence, but he never believed in the gubernatorial aspiration of Governor Uzodinma from the beginning, he was with Senator Ifeanyi Araraume who was the gubernatorial candidate of APGA in the 2019 gubernatorial election.
All the honourable members persecuting Uche Ogbuagu today cannot lay more claims to this government than him.
If Uche Ogbuagu is actually having a running battle with the deputy speaker as rumoured, it was not enough to dethrone him as the Majority Leader. But since they have done that already, going ahead with further punishment on him is ungodly and inhumane because he has never committed any sordid or un-parliamentary act worth suspension from the House.
Uche Ogbuagu is also accused of inordinate or vaulting ambition for 2023, what is wrong with that? Is Uche Ogbuagu scheming to take over from Governor Uzodinma in 2023? The answer is NO. His ambition is to move higher to the House of Representatives, and it is a legitimate ambition.
What is the headache of his persecutors? Is he or does he wants to contest in their own federal constituencies?
A State House of Assembly member nursing ambition to go to House of Representatives and represents two state constituencies is not out of place.
Senator Samuel Anyanwu (Samdaddy) went straight to senate, and represented nine (9) constituencies of Owerri Zone from the Imo State House of Assembly, and also from the same Ikeduru State Constituency with Uche Ogbuagu. Other examples are replete; Late Senator Ben Uwajumogu, Ugonna Ozurigbo (OZB), Bede Ekeh, Goodluck Nanah Opiah, etc, were all State House of Assembly members who went straight to the National Assembly, why are they persecuting Uche Ogbuagu for an aspiration which is yet to be realized?
I do not want to elaborate more on Uche Ogbuagu’s House of Representatives’ ambition today, but I think it is a genuine and well placed ambition borne out of altruism.
I am not from Mbaike Federal Constituency but my cursory investigation there as a well informed journalist shows that the current member has been abysmal and woeful in his performance for the past six years. He is on his second tenure and is rumored to be aspiring for a third tenure as a member of the House of Representatives. He is from Mbaitoli but represents the Mbaitoli and Ikeduru which make up Mbaike federal constituency.
The argument that his predecessor, late Bethel Amadi, was in the House of Representatives for three terms of 12 years does not hold water, it is infantile and puerile. No sane person can compare Bethel Amadi’s colourful representation with the current drab and colourless representation of Henry Nwawuba.
Late Amadi was at a point a principal officer of the House of Representatives and even went ahead to be the head of African parliamentary body. That Amadi from Ikeduru had 12 years, therefore Nwawuba from Mbaitoli must have 12 years as well is inconsequential and illogical.
God keeping us alive till 2023, three strong contenders are likely to slug it out for the Mbaike Federal Constituency. They are; Uche Ogbuagu, Innocent Ikpamezie and Henry Nwawuba.
If APC keeps on maltreating Uche Ogbuagu and pushes him away from the party, he is expectedly and naturally to look for alternative platform to realize his ambition.
Uche Ogbuagu can win election on any party platform even as an independent candidate if free and fair election is possible in Nigeria.
He still has the massive popularity and goodwill to win any elective post in Nigeria. But for now, I suggest that he goes to the House of Representatives in 2023. My in-law who is the current governor of the state, Governor Uzodinma should complete his eight years as governor and hopefully the seat will move to Owerri Zone in 2028, all things being equal.
Innocent Ikpamezie, who is the current General Manager of Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA), is most likely to fly the APC ticket for the House of Representatives. He is the political son of Governor Uzodinma. He is from Mbaitoli. Henry Nwawuba will most likely clinch the ticket of PDP if Ihedioha permits that, he is also from Mbaitoli.
So, assuming without conceding that Ikpamezie of the APC wins, does it mean that he is going to spend just one term as a member of the House of Representatives to equal the 12 years Bethel Amadi spent for Mbaitoli to level up with Ikeduru? Definitely if he wins, he won’t spend one term and it means that Ikeduru may wait longer than necessary for the seat to return to their own bloc.
Uche Ogbuagu remains the best legislator in the history of Imo State. He is barely two years as a member of the State House of Assembly, but his performance and the dividends of democracy he has provided for his constituents in these half-time of four years tenure remains unsurpassed and unbeatable.
No legislator in the history of the state which include Senators, House of Representatives members and State House of Assembly has been able to do what Uche Ogbuagu has done in just two years even when some of them spent 12 years as a legislator. If past legislators had performed as Uche Ogbuagu is performing now, Imo State would have turned to a “Small London”. Show me a current senator or House of Representatives member or even his colleagues in the House of Assembly who has been able to perform half of what Uche Ogbuagu has done in two years.
The man representing Ideato-South (My own LGA) who has been saddled with the chairmanship of witch-hunting Uche Ogbuagu, Johnson Duru, has not done a quarter of what Uche Ogbuagu has done for his constituents since both of them came to the House at the same time.
Last December, it took the intervention of a private citizen of Ideato-South, from Ntueke, (Ochemba) who graded all the feeder roads in Ideato-south which included my community. He made life easier for motorists who came back for the yuletide, yet the LGA produced a governor for eight solid years and currently has a member of House of Representatives as well as Duru in the State House of Assembly.
Who is actually better than Uche Ogbuagu in Imo State of today? The trial, vilification, persecution and crucification of Uche Ogbuagu should stop henceforth.
The House should channel its energy to laudable bills and provide dividends of democracy to their various constituents than chasing shadows by embarking on a witch-hunt of Uche Ogbuagu for allegedly resigning from the Majority Leader position even before his removal on the floor of the House. What do they want to achieve by suspending Uche Ogbuagu and denying him his entitlements and rights as a member of the State House of Assembly? Governor Uzodinma should call these House of Assembly members to order.
*a practicing Journalist writes from Owerri*