By Ori Martins
The scheduled Saturday, December 17, 2023 visit to Imo State of His Excellency, Alhaji Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, is generally embellished and marked with accompanying beautiful high points.
It is imperative, even saying it from the mountain top, that the PDP’s Atiku/Okowa presidential ticket has hinged its campaign on a very sensitive and critical theme of “The Rescue Team”.
Practically, after a rescue operation is carried out, the next line of action is to restore. For instance, if there is a building collapse, the immediate challenge is to go on a rescue mission and then, those in critical conditions are taken to hospitals so as to revive (restoration of health) them, medically.
Therefore, the Saturday, December 17, 2023 visit of the PDP presidential campaign trail to Imo, more than anything else, is substantially to stamp its imprimatur on the state for the simple reason of registering this block in the itinerary in order to be rewarded at the appropriate time. Hopefully, after May 29, 2023.
To appreciate the symbolism of this historic and significant upcoming event, it is paramount to periscope PDP and Atiku’s antecedent while the umbrella party was in power between 1999 and 2015.
Currently, Imo State in particular and the South East zone in general are suffering from the worst case of marginalization never ever witnessed since independence.
This is the first time in a democratic government in Nigeria that the Igbo is not the president, not the vice president, not the president of the senate, not the deputy president of the senate, not the speaker of the house of representatives and not the deputy speaker. The South East was not even considered for the position of the national chairman of the ruling party, APC.
However, during the 16 years reign of PDP, South East wards on various occasions through the recommendation, advice or suggestion, were either appointed or elected into the offices mentioned above which are today elusive to Ndigbo.
Nothing really exposes and brings to the front burner the reasons Imolites as well Ndigbo should look towards the direction of PDP and Atiku than the confidence the duo reposed in them between 1999 and 2016.
Before the arrival of PDP as the governing party at the centre, there was no police zonal command anywhere in the South East. Imo and Abia used to report to Zone Six in Calabar., Anambra headed for Benin just as Enugu and Ebonyi were attached to Makurdi.
It was the PDP government that created the Zone Nine Command in Umuahia for South East. The emotional and psychological burden of an Imo going to Calabar for a police matter was physically excruciating. Of course, Atiku had a hand in the creation of Zone Nine as he was the vice president.
Many do not know that after General Aguiyi Ironsi was brutally assassinated on July 29, 1966, it took a comprehensive 45 years before a South Easterner was announced as the General Officer Commanding the Army. It was the PDP administration that stoped that rascally Igbo exclusion in the army when the now retired General Azubuike Ihejirika was made the army chief.
Today, there is no Igbo presentation in the 16 man national security architecture!!! This ruthless form of marginalization against the South East, certainly, cannot take place in any PDP government, not one headed by Atiku. And this is why Imo people and Ndigbo must take the Atiku/Okowa joint ticket very seriously.
For about 50 years, Nigeria functioned without any of the inspectors general of police being an Igbo. It was so humiliating and nauseating that senior police officers of South East extraction suffered an unimaginable inferiority complex on the vexed issue of a Nigeria IGP of South East extraction.
Again, it was a PDP government that came to the rescue as it understood the practical and professional importance of giving the South East a sense of belonging by promoting then DIG Ogbonnaya Onovo, the first ever inspector general of police from the South East Zone.
Let it be be recorded, and this is absolutely instructive, that it was the PDP government that saw to the emergence of Senator Pius Anyim Pius as the first and only Igbo who has worked in the capacity as Secretary to the Federal Government.
Many reading this article may not be aware of the fact that there was no other official international flight anywhere in the South East after General Odumegwuu Ojukwu took off from Biafra’s International Airport at Uli for Cote D’Ivoire on January 10, 1970 untill the PDP government at the national level made Enugu Airport international in August 2013.
That landmark PDP project was meant to be a huge sigh of relief to Igbo travelers and importers who had been and still continue to suffer untold hardship, going to Lagos and Abuja for international business trips. It rankles to report that the Akunu Ibiam International Airport is still at the stage PDP left it in 2015. It is the same with the much talked about Second Niger Bridge.
You see, the PDP is a party that practices unity and togetherness. It encourages equity and fairness even as it promotes constitution and constitutionalism. With PDP, all the geo political zones are equally represented as dividends of democracy are allotted equitably.
For instance, President Muhammadu Buhari has built seven federal universities and none was in the South East. But Jonathan, a PDP president built six federal universities and evenly distributed to all the six geo political zones. The South East’s is what is known today as Alex Ekwueme University, in Enonyi State.
Therefore, the coming of Atiku to Imo on a presidential rally is to reassure the people here that he would continue in the PDP’s way of unity, equity, justice and fairness when he is elected president in 2023.