By Ori Martins
The then phenomenal Iwuanyanwu Nationale now Heartland FC, Owerri, had roundly defeated visiting and equally sensational Tonerre Kalala of Cameroon in the 1988 quarter final stage of the once elusive CAF Champions League encounter, 2- 0.
After the last blast of the whistle, Heartland technical adviser, Greek – born Theophanis Dimitris, to the consternation of the fans who were in happy mood, looked worried and almost confused.
Addressing sports journalists later, Dimitris who was still upset noted that “That boy, George Weah, worries me. He can wreck my defence in Cameroon. He is the main issue for the return encounter”.
As Dimitris had feared, within the first 10 minutes of that excruciating reverse fixture, Weah had wrecked Heartland, scoring two beautiful goals. But Heartland escaped as the game ended 3 – 2 against them but 4 – 3 aggregate in thier favour.
Just like Weah who survived the Heartland scare and scorch to be voted African, European and World Footballer of the Year, former governor of Imo State, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, who was brutally hacked down by means of a flawed judicial processes, is still the cynosure of all eyes, the main issue in Imo State politics.
After Heartland’s triumph over Weah in 1988, the Liberian super star mustered all the needed professional courage as well as strategy, picked up his gauntlet and moved to Europe where he victoriously emerged the king of soccer and meritoriously ruled the world of football.
That same way, after the controversial even condemnable supreme court judgement that mindlessly struck Ihedioha down on January 14, 2020, to whimsically enthrone Senator Hope Uzodimma as the Imo State governor, the erstwhile deputy speaker of the national assembly, in the spirit and ingenuity of a true Igbo, looked ahead and muttered with every sense of self determination: “Nkiruka” (bigger fortunes lie ahead) and he moved on.
From the ashes of that horrendous and horrific January 14, 2020 ruination, Ihedioha, just like Weah before him, had, not fortuitously, but by the combined straits of hard work, determination and focused discipline, fantastically overcome the rash of frustration of that unimaginable supreme court oddity.
You know, Heartland in 1988 celebrated over Tonerre Kalala and Waeh, obviously thinking it was all over for the man who ingeniously became one of the most celebrated footballers the world has ever seen.
So also, the executioners thought that with the tragic – and they miserably thought, terminal – event of January 14, 2020, it was game over for Ihedioha. But it was a gross and deadly political miscalculation.
Ihedioha, rose, like the fabled phoenix, resurrected from that murderous episode to still be reckoned with today as the main issue in Imo State politics.
This explains why very early in the administration of Governor Uzodimma, his not well coordinated media aides and spin doctors, raised a most notorious false alarm of a N19b misappropriation/ embezzlement against Ihedioha. When the immediate past governor came up his evidence, that accusation crumbled like a pack of cards in the face of a heavy rain.
Yet, the current state actors with all their lethal hammers moved more dangerously against Ihedioha when they couldn’t provide the needed actions as insecurity ravaged Imo State.
Simply, they pointed fingers at Ihedioha and still couldn’t come forward with any evidence and that attack was aborted and abandoned in a most inglorious manner.
Hence, they couldn’t exterminate Ihedioha politically by thier ill – fated plots, they ultimately went into an ill conceived unholy working relationship with some infantile Imo PDP members for the sake of bringing the former governor down.
Thus, the national secretary of PDP, Senator Samuel Anyanwu otherwise known as Samdaddy, was recruited. Their plot and aim is simple: the Uzodimma elements came up with a joker to Samddady and his PDP fanclub group to wit – “get Ihedioha out of the way., let me return for second tenure, and I will make way for you eventually”.
On this grounds, Samdaddy, rather than working harmoniously with Ihedioha for the success of the party, has been in the forefront of providing all the technical services against Ihedioha and Imo PDP.
Here are examples: number one – Samdaddy almost marred the Imo State PDP Congress that produced the current executives. Even after the congress, he went to court to challenge it up to the supreme court. Of course, he lost.
Number two: the national secretary, not too long ago, went to the national headquarters of the party in Abuja, to make case that the Imo State executives should be dissolved. The national leaders of PDP, knowing that it was a joke taken too far and its severe consequences if heeded to, turned him down.
Number three : last December, the presidential candidate of PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was to flag off his campaign in Owerri and Samdaddy and his illegitimate, noisy band boys made every effort to frustrate it and yet turned around to blame it on Ihedioha. What a hopeless group?
Number four: since Samdaddy has been working very closely with Evangelist Myke Ikoku (Ikokwu) and Greg Egu with the former using his radio station to blackmail, backstab and betray Ihedioha almost on daily basis, it is very clear he is an APC agent.
At least, he coined Hopism for Governor Hope Uzodimma and there is no record they have parted ways. Thus, he is among the governor’s eye in PDP.
The foregoing was the background when news filtered through that the almighty supreme court, again, had nullified the election of Hon Jones Onyereri, the PDP Imo West (Orlu Zone) senatorial candidate for the 2023 national assembly elections.
Expectedly, the purveyors of fake news and rumour mongers were around to insinuate that the ugly spectacle was masterminded by Ihedioha. This is absolutely laughable. It must be rated as one of the worst political mistakes of this century.
How can an Ihedioha who is not from Orlu Zone manipulate the supreme court against PDP’s Onyereri? How can an Ihedioha who could not rescue himself from the same supreme court now used it against his own party?
Ihedioha does not have such powers. His opponents, both within and outside PDP are known to possess this judicial sovereign powers and they have been using it against the party, Ihedioha and some other individuals in the state. The latest victim, unfortunately, is Onyereri.
Ihedioha is simply a true party man who works for the progress, success and victory of the party. He believes in dialogue, negotiation and party supremacy.
Ihedioha has invested so much in both the national and state levels of PDP that the party is so dear to him that he can neither quit as others have been doing, nor do anything to derail it as his traducers are currently spreading false allegations against him.
Let the truth be told – Ihedioha and Onyereri had been the best friends all the way from the federal house of representatives and the latter knew it.
Things fell apart between them after the congress that produced Engineer Charles Ugwu as Imo PDP boss. Yet Ihedioha moved for reconciliation, Onyereri, perhaps, not out of enmity against Ihedioha, but based on conviction about Samddady’s expected rise, inclined to the latter.
And after the last PDP primary elections where the respective candidates for the 2023 elections emerged, Ihedioha moved in and sued for peace. Many listened to him but few never hearkened to him and his piece of advice which was based on experience thus the Onyereri nullification was made possible. It is a pity. It is painful and it still agonizes Ihedioha.
For Ihedioha’s political opponents to be parading the Onyereri supreme court misfortune to get at the former governor will not work. It is water poured on a stone.
As Weah eventually leaped for glory after his 1988 woes and is today, the president of Liberia even as Heartland FC that made him cry are now relegated to the lower division, so shall Ihedioha rise above his executioners who will obviously be down while he is mounts the Olympic height of glory!