By Ori Martins
By landmass measurements, Mbaise Nation is not very massive. But it is densely populated. Many factors point to, and at the same time, lay credence to Mbaise’s monstrous population density.
Mbaise has been a righteous nightmare to successive politicians who disregarded her – that is, those bidding for governorship, senatorial and house of representatives elections.
To graphically illustrate the almighty numerical strength of the Mbaise Nation, the number of times the area has produced senators that represented Owerri Zone is very imperative here.
Since 1979, the Imo East Senatorial District has sent seven men and a woman to the Red Chamber in Lagos and Abuja. Out of the number, Mbaise Nation is credited with four of the senators in Owerri Zone that has nine Local Government Areas. This number shows numerical advantage well managed and serviced by the industrious and illustrious Mbaise people.
Go to records, Mbaise wards usually emerge senators each time the nation agrees to back one of their own, irrespective of party or political colouration or any prevailing circumstance.
In 1979, the late Chief Tony Anyanwu from Ahiazu LGA was the senator who represented Owerri Zone. After four years – in 1983 – another Ahiazu ward, the equally late Isdore Obasi who was in 1979/83 in the Federal House of Representatives, succeeded Senator Anyanwu. That democratic voyage never lasted the distance as the military struck just after three months.
At the return of the ill fated Third Republic which retired General Ibrahim Babangida designed as a quasi diarchy, Chief Bright Nwanne from Ezinihitte Mbaise won the Owerri Zone senatorial election.
It therefore goes to say that Mbaise Nation produced three successive Imo East senators between 1979 and 1993!!! This historic and symbolic feat wouldn’t have been made possible if Mbaise has no population force.
Perhaps, it is very instructive and also highly remarkable to state here that what essentially denied the now late Dr Alex Obi the governorship victory in 1991 which was won by the late Senator Evan Enwerem was the propaganda – rightly or wrongly – that Mbaise cannot produce the senator (Nwanne) and also the governor (Obi).
Nwanne’s tenure, like that of Obasi in 1983, was recklessly truncated by the invading and rampaging military forces led by the late head of state, General Sani Abacha. And when civil rule returned in 1999, Enwerem from Ikeduru was the Owerri Zone senator whereupon he became the first governor in Nigeria to be voted in as the senate president.
Here, Mbaise politicians who nursed the ambition of going to senate were asked to bury thier ambitions as an Mbaise patriot from Ahiazu, Rt Hon Noel Chukwukadibia Agwuocha, was the speaker, Imo State House of Assembly. At the same time, the PDP chairman in the state, the late I. D. Nwoga, equally hailed from Ahiazu Mbaise. The irrepressible PGU Madu who defied that directive lost in the primary election.
And in 2003, Ama Iwuagwu from Mbaitoli Local Government Area, an American based business mogul, won the Owerri Zone senatorial election but died without completing his tenure. He was replaced by Eze Ajoku, an Owerri man from Obibiezana – no Mbaise interest because Alex Obi had succeeded Nwoga as the PDP chairman.
However, in 2007, Mbaise Nation made up her mind to have a take at the senatorial election in Owerri Zone. The Ikedi Ohakim governorship ambition which had an Mbaise woman as his running mate had not come to the open. Thus, Chris Anyanwu, an American trained journalist and the daughter of N.D. Ukah, the Mbaise County chairman who built Mbaise Secondary School and Mbaise General Hospital, was thrust up. She easily won the election.
What happened after four years was a political drama of sorts that eloquently confirmed Mbaise’s humongous demographic advantage in Owerri Zone and Imo State at large.
It appeared that some Owerri big shots in the PDP never wanted Madam Anyanwu to return to Abuja as senator representing the zone. Therefore, Ambassador (Mrs) Kema Chikwe who was the country’s envoy to Ireland was imported to replace the former Imo State commissioner of information. The platform was PDP and Chikwe had been the national woman leader of the umbrella party. Anyanwu stood no chance and she lost the primary election held at the Grasshoppers International Handball Pitch.
Peeved and embarrassed, Anyanwu moved to APGA, picked the Owerri Zone senatorial ticket and, backed and urged on by mostly Mbaise women who saw her loss to Chikwe as insult and unpopular, won the Owerri Zone senatorial election!!! This is Mbaise’s demographic reality in action. It is not a magic. It is not a fuss. Neither is it a fluke.
Mbaise people are very mindful of other nations’ aspirations, desires and so she is inclined so much to equity, justice and fairness. And so, since 2015, when the people’s pride, brand and choice, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha sauntered into the scene for the governorship seat of Imo State, majority of Mbaise people have been looking to the other side: disregarding the senatorial seat.
This was why the results of Ezinihitte LGA and Aboh Mbaise LGA in 2015 governorship election put the polls into a supplementary election irrespective of the fact that Governor Rochas Okorocha had won several LGAs before the arrival of the Mbaise councils.
Again, in 2019, the results of the three LGAs in Mbaise eventually made Ihedioha the Imo State governor. All these will be confirmed, not this weekend, but on November 11, that is, if an Mbaise scion like Ihedioha, will be on the ballot.
In the concluding part of this article, we shall look into how and why Mbaise is densely populated and the factors include but not limited to fecundity – the act of producing many children by a couple as exemplified by the Igbu Ewu Ukwu rite after the 10th child by a couple., the act of imitating what the other family is doing, that is, Njoku Family has 12 children, so, my family will equally have same number of children., Mbaise people value the number of children so much that they name some of their kids “Nwawuba, Nwawuaku, Nwakaego”, etc.
And today, find your way to Sports Centre, Nkwogwu, Aboh Mbaise LGA, for the PDP grand campaign finale, preceding the Road Show to be led by PDP vice presidential running mate, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa. You will see multiple of people – youths, women, men, artisans, traders, and professionals. This is not demographic deceit. It is unlike the the other magic situated in Omuma, Oru East. The Mbaise demography is both invincible and visible.