Unfolding drama and intrigues in the build-up to the Okigwe senatorial re-run election are as they say, more than meet the ordinary eyes as AMBROSE CHUKWUOCHA writes.
If the pronouncement of the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Imo State is anything to go by, then the people and electorate of Okigwe Senatorial Zone will be going back to the polls to choose a new senator within the stipulated 90 days. And that is, if the Appeal Court does not counter, annul or vitiate the ruling of the lower court or tribunal which held that since the logo of the controversial ACCORD PARTY was missing on the ballot, the election of Senator Athan Nneji Achonu (AKA – One Arm General) cannot stand.
While a number of commentators have condemned the ruling on the basis that the victorious Senator Achonu was nowhere remotely or closely responsible for the non-inclusion of the logo of Accord Party in the ballot, the party leadership in Imo State has argued that the non-inclusion of the logo of the party is a good case of non-compliance with the electoral Act. But the worrisome issue should be; who takes the blame for such omission?
Be that as it may; the interest of this write-up is the candidature of the immediate Past Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ben Uwajumogu, who contested the Senate seat under dispute on the platform of All Progressives Congress, APC. It is a trumpeted fact in Okigwe Zone and in Imo State, that he is an ingrate who always bites the fingers that assisted him. He has fallen out with over 98% of those who have so far assisted him in his political and business journeys. Ben Uwajumogu is an unrepentant night crawler and frolicker who is better known as a spendthrift.
When it was time to contest the 2011 House of Assembly election, he sought for and obtained the sum of N12.6m naira from his present rival for the senate seat of Okigwe Zone, Chief Athan Achonu. Similarly, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Uwajumogu was equally alleged to have embarked on syndicating for loans to prosecute his attempts and efforts at contesting the 2015 Senatorial election, even when he was known to be drawing a monthly budget of N170 million as the Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly via his Office imprest, Security vote, and other allowances.
According to sources close to the ex-speaker, both Hon Chike Okafor and the immediate past member who represented Okigwe North Federal constituency (Hon Mathew Omegara) were approached for financial grant, for the purpose of his senatorial election.
The big question therefore is: If Uwajumogu could go borrowing in addition to mismanaging his monthly subvention without any appreciable performance at the last National Assembly election, how then is it possible that he could win the expected re-run election that will take place now that it is obvious that he is broke, empty and ‘’beggarly’’. This brings us to the historical background of the subject matter of this epistle – Benjamin Chukwuemeka Uwajumogu. He was born in the early sixties (60’s) to the family of a famous and successful business magnet, Chief B.O. Uwajumogu. By the time the Patriarch died on the 12th of June 1985, he left so much wealth and property for his sons, daughters and wife, popularly called ‘’Egobekee’’.
But no sooner the famous Uwajumogu was laid to rest, than the huge wealth disappeared. In 1998, when Ben Uwajumogu ventured to contest as the Executive Chairman of Ihitte/Uboma LGA, he was allegedly bribed to drop the ambition despite the fact that it was the turn of his Umuihi community to produce the chairman. That was why another kinsman of his, Barrister Uhuegbu took a shot at the office, at the intervention of the Anglican Church clerics.
Considering this, the Ikedi Ohakim administration also refused him the opportunity and ticket to contest for the executive chairmanship position in August 2010. When the situation became very embarrassing for this son of a famous wealthy man, his sister, Chidinma a divorcee, went Cap in hand begging Chief Athan Nneji Achonu, whom Uwajumogu is presently fighting, for rescue and refuge. Achonu they said released the sum of N2 million to Chidinma for the purchase of PDP House of Assembly form for Uwajumogu. Next was the sum of N10.6 million released through Hon. Peter Ezenwa Orji (Big Doo) and a Sequia Jeep (Carton colour) to assist with his campaigns, after assuring him of the House of Assembly ticket of Ihitte/Uboma State Constituency.
Other prominent sons of Okigwe zone who allegedly also gave Uwajumogu money to assist him included: Chief Tony Chukwu who gave him N15 million, Chief George Egu who gave him N11.5 million (loan).
The first sign to proof that Uwajumogu has become an ingrate was when he stopped picking the phone calls of these people who sponsored his election into the Imo State House of Assembly, and when he emerged the Speaker of the same House through the Political ingenuity of an Nkwerre born political genius and master strategist, Citizen Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha.
From sources close to Uwajumogu, the ex-Speaker conspired with the powers that be at Douglas House to shut out Senator Athan Achonu from the corridors of power at Douglas house Owerri, as well as cripple his business interests starting with the sealing of Achonu’s Magnificent Hospitality Industry along Douglas road Owerri, which was under construction. As Speaker, Uwajumogu ignored and totally abandoned the statutory functions of the legislature (namely Lawmaking, Appropriation and Oversight) and sunk deep into road construction contract awards and sundries.
It was not long into office as speaker, that he started nursing the ambition to advance to the Senate. Other prospective contenders, competitors and contestants to the exalted senate seat, even among his kinsmen were run out of town and their businesses ruined so as to frustrate them from challenging him in the same party. There were over 100 ghost workers in the Speaker’s office drawing salaries. Nevertheless, both of them evolved a systematic conduit and contraption whereby funds meant for road projects were siphoned, diverted and misappropriated other than the purpose for which they were meant for. The result was several abandoned roads, and city-gate projects and “China” roads built with the most sub-standard Asphalt materials procured at cut throat prices from his personal concerns (ventures) hurriedly erected in Owerri. By
election time in March 2015, both himself and his social media hirelings had run out of steam. While frolicking at Umuahia in Abia State, he did not know when his opponents made serious in-roads into his Umuihi Community. Even with all the money at his disposal, his power of incumbency as a sitting Speaker, and retinue of aides and hangers on, he lost woefully at the elections by coming a distant third. He lost even in his booth.
Today, Uwajumogu is back to square one. He is presently negotiating for a loan (N300 million) with a new generation bank, so as to prepare for the re-run election. But he is unaware that one of the contestants for the re-run election (Mazi Clement Owunna of APGA) is the third largest shareholder of the bank after Ndaa Paschal Dozie and the Anyiam Osigwe family.
In the re-run election he is going to face unquestionable billionaires in the contest. But the big drama is the Oracle that can save Uwajumogu and make him politically relevant in the midst of his several mis-calculations and having offended many people in the Okigwe zone is already in the boxing ring waiting to give him the challenge of a life time.
Chukwuocha writes through [email protected]