By Ogu Bundu Nwadike
There are three national legislators in the race for the office of the governor of Imo State in the March 2 gubernatorial elections. One named Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, one named Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, and one named Senator Hope Uzodinma.
They are not strangers to one another because at various times they have been members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where Ihedioha has remained since 1998. Araraume defected from PDP to APC, and lastly APGA, while Uzodinma defected from PDP to APC.
Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha CON KSC is the Imo PDP gubernatorial candidate, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume is for All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Senator Hope Uzodinma is for All Progressives Congress (APC).
While Ihedioha was a three-term, twelve-year member of the House of Representatives 2003-2015, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume was a two-term, eight-year senator for Imo North (Okigwe Zone) 1999-2007, Senator Uzodinma is the sitting two-term, eight-year, senator Imo East (Orlu Zone) 2011-2019.
Signposting the points of divergence and comparison in the profiles of the three former national lawmakers may be helped with a mention of the fact that while Ihedioha was a principal officer and later presiding officer of the Green Chamber of the National Assembly (Chief Whip 2007-2011 and Deputy Speaker 2011-2015), Araraume and Uzodinma were floor members of the Red Chamber all through their eight-year tenure.
Also, apparently in according recognition, regard and respect for the high office he occupied in the House, Ihedioha was awarded the fourth highest national honour, which is the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON). Senators Araraume and Uzodinma do not have any such national honours award to show for their eight-year respective tenures in the Senate.
In the area of legislative roles, duties and responsibilities of lawmaking, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha sponsored a record ten bills that were signed into law by the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which today serve as part of the laws of the land. Senators Araraume and Uzodinma are not known to have any law that was passed through them in their respective eight-year tenure at the Senate.
According to experts, getting a bill pass through the rubrics of the legislative hurdles and stages until it is signed into law by the president is the greatest measure of a national legislator’s accomplishments and achievements.
Talking of accomplishments and achievements, the provision of constituency funds for each lawmaker at both the upper and the lower Chambers of the National Assembly is to enable the lawmaker determine what are the most pressing basic social amenities of the people of his immediate constituency, and using the constituency fund to provide them. That does not preclude the normal lobbying, attraction and facilitation of physical infrastructural projects into the respective Senatorial District or Federal Constituency.
In this respect, verifiable records catalogue that Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha has a project accomplishment and achievement profile that will remain unbeatable for a long time to come. It is on record that by the privileges of his elevated offices in the House, Ihedioha ensured that projects that he attracted, facilitated or sponsored were in varying degrees were spread throughout the 27 Local Government Areas of Imo State.
In fact, on more than one occasion, he sponsored three persons per ward from the 305 wards in the state to skills acquisition trainings and empowerment progammes. And remarkably, at the end of each training and empowerment progamme, Ihedioha provided the beneficiaries with seed money and basic tools and equipment.
He facilitated the employment of hundreds of Imo youths into the Federal Civil Service – ministries departments and agencies (MDAs). He facilitated overseas scholarships for scores of Imo youths for undergraduate and graduate studies.
Indeed, Ihedioha left his imprimatur of project provision to his Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency and Imo State in education, healthcare, power, water, security, marine transport, environment, industry, sports and entertainment to mention but few.
Senators Araraume and Uzodinma, on the other hand, have no record of such project accomplishment and achievement profile. Their excuse, according to some people in the State, is that as legislators they were not designed to provide projects. The question then arises why Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as a legislator splashed abundance of people-oriented projects in his immediate constituency and in other constituencies in Imo State?
Today, three former national legislators have presented themselves to the Imo electorate as governorship candidates for the people to elect on March 2, 2019.
In addition to the quintessential consideration of their accomplishments and achievements while in the National Assembly, the people of Imo State may also take into consideration the process by which each of them emerged as candidate.
While Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha emerged Imo PDP gubernatorial candidate through a primary election that was adjudged the freest, fairest, most transparent and most credible in the history of Imo PDP, the emergence of Senators Araraume and Uzodinma was characterized by a process that was adjudged abnormal and illegal. The fire ignited by the way they secured their guber tickets is still raging in APGA and APC.
Anyhow, the date of the gubernatorial election is very much around the corner, March 2. At the end of that day, one of the three former national lawmakers viz Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume and Senator Hope Uzodinma is expected to emerged the 6th democratically elected governor of Imo State. Let the will of God be done!