By Walter Duru, Ph.D
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belongs to Christ Jesus.” The above are the exact wordings of the Holy Bible in 1st Thessalonians 5:18, advising all children of God to show gratitude at all times for every good gesture done to them.
In furtherance and fulfillment of the above Biblical injunction, Imo State Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Gerald Irona, recently led a mixed delegation of his kinsmen, traditional chiefs, opinion moulders, leaders of thought, politicians, clergy, priests, titled men and elders from his native Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West Federal Constituency, numbering over one hundred, on an unprecedented trip to Mbutu, Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, the ancestral home of his principal, His Excellency, Governor Emeka Ihedioha.
The visit had only one objective in mind – to deliver an unambiguous message of thanks and solidarity to Governor Ihedioha for showing implicit faith in their son, The Rt. Hon. Irona, whom he chose, after careful scrutiny, as his running mate and in effect, the Deputy Governor of Imo State.
The nature and composition of the “August delegation” which had in attendance, the leading lights and glitterati of the oil-rich region left no one in doubt that the mission at hand was one of utmost importance, requiring the highest level of respect and attention to detail.
Some of the persons that accompanied the Deputy Governor on the ‘thank-you’ visit include: Chief P.C. Mgbemelu, former Inspector General of Police, Sir Mike Okiro, Engr. John Otti, Professor Ike Azogu, House of Assembly members – elect from the area, PDP House of Representatives candidate from the area, Barr. Obed Achilonu, Chief Collins Ezenwa Ilo, Barr. Golden Nwosu, Barr. F.U. Unyimadu, Dr. Walter Duru and Hon. Mayor Eze.
Others are: wife of Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe, Mrs. Joan Nzeribe, wife of the Deputy Governor, Ogbuefi Vivian Irona, Mr. Sylvester Irona, leadership of Ihedioha/Irona campaign platform, Mr. Tony Nwadialo, Dame Edith Anyiwo, Mr. Emma Nwadialo, Barr. Nwando Ethel Anyasinti, Princess Callista Anene, Local Government Chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party-PDP, Chairmen of chairmen in the area, State officers of the Peoples Democratic Party from the area, women leaders, among others.
Speaking during the visit, Deputy Governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Gerald Irona expressed gratitude to the Governor for choosing him as Deputy Governor, promising never to disappoint him.
“We are here to simply say thank you. By the grace of God and by your benevolence, I was nominated to be your running mate. It was very surprising news in the morning you called to tell me that you have chosen me as your running mate. I do not know why you appointed me, but, those things that made you to appoint me, I am here before my people to tell you that I will never disappoint you.”
Adding his voice, a political leader from the area, Chief P.C. Mgbemelu also thanked the Governor for his choice of Irona, pledging that he will not disappoint him.
“We are here to thank you for choosing our son. This is the first time our Federal Constituency is having the privilege of producing a Deputy Governor in the history of Imo State. We are proud of our son, Gerald Irona. We are his guarantors and he will not disappoint you.”
Also speaking, former Inspector General of Police, Sir Mike Okiro said “Ihedioha has made history by making it possible for our Federal Constituency to produce a Deputy Governor.”
“Our people are very grateful. We pray that the friendship between the two of you continues.”
Former Chairman, Presidential Taskforce on Power, Engr. John Otti, Professor Ike Azogu and wife of political maestro, Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe said Governor Ihedioha chose “One of our finest, who learnt well from our political leader, Chief Francis Arthur Nzeribe.”
In his response, Governor Emeka Ihedioha reiterated his confidence in the Deputy Governor, describing him as a man in whom “I have implicit confidence in.”
He described him as a diligent and thorough person, who has always risen to the challenge of leadership.
“I am excited at this visit. Since I came into contact with Hon. Gerald Irona in his days at the House of Representatives, I found him to be a steadfast and thorough person. Irona remains one of the best that Imo State has sent to the House of Representatives. I found him a good student of power.”
“In making my decision, the choice was very easy. I did not have issues, because the circumstances made it easy. The only thing that was against Irona was that he was my friend. During the election, Irona did a very good job. We won the senatorial seat in Orlu, but you did not protect your votes. In all the cases I told Irona to take charge, he performed excellently well.”
“The Governor and Deputy are one and the same. Irona is a man in whom I have implicit confidence in. We will work together. Every other Officer of the state will be accountable to him. We shall have collective responsibility and ownership of government.”
Continuing, the Governor used the occasion to call on the leaders of the Federal constituency to check the menace of criminality and restiveness in the area, warning that his administration will “criminalize bad behavior.”
He however promised to take steps to ensure meaningful youth engagement, even as he urged the people to develop a programme for engaging militants and other youths of the area.
The implications of the visit are far-reaching. Apart from its symbolic stance, the visit was an opportunity for stakeholders, elders and kinsmen of the Deputy Governor to reassure the Governor that he took the right decision by choosing their son as the Deputy Governor, assuring him of his unalloyed loyalty and the continued support of the Federal Constituency.
With the level of trust existing between the Governor and Deputy, it will be difficult for political jobbers and mischief makers to sow seeds of discord between the duo and Imo people will be the greatest beneficiaries.
Ultimately, a new dawn is here in Imo. There has never been a time in the history of the State that the Governor and Deputy enjoyed this level of friendship and unity of purpose. What we had in the past was a case of Master-Servant relationship between the Governor and the Deputy, which rarely ended well, as there is always a limit to pretence.
With the Ihedioha/Irona bond, mischief makers may have been given Red Card. They therefore need to look for another job, as Ihedioha and Irona are inseparable friends, allies and partners in development.
Most importantly, this bond is expected to produce one major result. The result has a name and the name is GOOD GOVERNANCE. Anything short of that will not be acceptable to Imo people. Let the journey continue. Let development be taken to the door steps of Imo people. Let transparency be part of governance culture. Expectations are very high and Imo people are hopeful!
Congratulations, ndi Imo!!!
Dr. Walter Duru is a Communication/Public Relations Expert, Teacher and Consultant. He can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org