As I compose this piece, every plan designed to offload Prince Eze Madumere as Deputy Governor of Imo State has been solidly perfected to achieve that singular purpose. Upon his ouster via impeachment, Madumere would become the second Imo deputy governor easily disposed of by Gov Rochas Okorocha, within the lifetime of his “rescue mission” administration.
The Ideato-born governor of Imo State shall be remembered, either for good or bad, as the first Nigerian governor that induced and sponsored impeachment processes of two deputies within his eight-year-two-term constitutional tenure.
Okorocha’s penchant for the impeachment of his deputies reared its ugly head in March 2013, when his erstwhile deputy, Sir Jude Agbaso, was controversially shown the exit door, on allegations of corruption and contract malfeasance. It is imperative to recall at this juncture that Agbaso was hurriedly drafted into the political turf, following a concessional truce that offered Okorocha the All Progressives Alliance (APGA) platform through which he contested the 2011 Imo governorship. Chief Martin Agbaso nominated his younger brother, Jude, as the deputy governorship candidate to fill the slot allocated to him.
Suffice to say that Agbaso’s impeachment as deputy governor of Imo State was more political than the allegations Okorocha and his men trumped up against him. His elder brother, Chief Agbaso, had disagreed with Okorocha in some political issues that largely bothered on the future of APGA. While Okorocha intended to sacrifice APGA as a political party on the altar of the merger that midwifed the All Progressives Congress (APC), Agbaso and Sen Victor Umeh, then APGA chairman vehemently opposed such move. Every effort and gimmick dissipated and displayed by Okorocha towards convincing Umeh and Agbaso failed. The development frostily injured Okorocha’s relationship with Agbaso’s family, including Jude, the then deputy governor.
Given the situation, Jude Agbaso was subsequently isolated and treated as a spy or mole that allegedly revealed government confidentialities and secrets to perceived political opponents and enemies, which included his elder brother, Martin. Okorocha then, felt it was necessity Jude Agbaso must vacate his office. The idea of impeachment was hatched and muted. As Commissioner for Works, his cupboard was ransacked thoroughly in search of available skeletons. Indeed, one was found. The J-Pros contract saga was lifted up, and allegations of corruption curiously manufactured, to justify his impeachment. Agbaso was served a notice of impeachment and subsequently impeached by the subservient Imo House, over an allegation that he demanded and collected N458 million bribe from J-Pros Limited, a construction firm handling the rehabilitation of Sam Mbakwe Road, Owerri, the state capital. However, his denial of the allegation never stopped his impeachment.
That was how Jude was impeached and discarded, thus paving the way for Madumere, the then chief of staff, to emerge the next deputy governor of Imo State. Madumere, who prided himself as the closest confidant to Okorocha and a loyal political son, was retained as he paired and re-contested with Okorocha in 2015 to remain the deputy governorship of Imo State till date.
Today, Madumere is ostensibly paying the price in two pronounced ways: First, the embattled deputy governor has begun to reap what he contributed and helped Okorocha to sow in Imo. Without any fear of contradictions, the Mbaitoli-born and self-acclaimed ‘master strategist’ is naturally caught up by the law of Karma and retributive justice. As an insider then, I can recall vividly how Madumere was roving around the House of Assembly complex and Ben Uwajimogu’s residence, who was the Speaker (now a senator), Imo State House of Assembly solidifying grounds for the impeachment of Sir Jude Ejiogu. I can also vividly recall his sleepless nights because of midnightmeetings with strongmen of the 7th Imo Assembly, which constituted the likes of Ikenna Emeh, Simeon Iwunze, Sam-Daddy Anyanwu, now representing Owerri Senatorial District in the Senate and Stan Dara. Needless to say that Madumere played the dirty politics for Okorocha tailored and orchestrated to ensure the impeachment of Sir Jude Agbaso, his brother, from Owerri zone.
In 2010/2011, Okorocha promised and swore during his campaigns to run a single term of four years, and hand over power to Owerri zone. As a matter of fact, Okorocha claimed that his programmes under the “Rescue Mission” were tenured to run speedily for only four years. In 2014/2015, Okorocha reneged and contested for a second term under the platform of the All Progressives Congress.
Prince Madumere played key roles in mobilising substantial support for Okorocha, which resulted in a landslide victory in Owerri and Mbaike Federal Constituencies of Owerri zone. The deputy governor was entirely the engine room and the planner that championed and coordinated some sensitive and behind-the-scenes activities that aided Okorocha’s victory in 2015.
As he played those roles, Madumere had expected his boss, Gov Okorocha, to either support his governorship bid or any other aspirant from Owerri zone. That expectation was, however, dashed as Okorocha rather stage-managed and masterminded the endorsement of his son-in-law, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, who also hails from the same Orlu Senatorial zone with him. Also through his controversial “mock primaries”, Okorocha awarded the Owerri Senatorial Seat slot to Madumere with a compelling order that he must support and mobilise for Nwosu’s victory as the next governor of Imo State.
It is also worthy to establish that Madumere had the option of continuing to betray his people and Owerri zone by sustaining his loyalty to Okorocha and, possibly, catapult himself to the Senate, after enjoying all dividends accruable to the office of the deputy governor. But, the soft-spoken prince now preferred to stay with his people, at the expense of his job. Though there are few and insignificantly low but dissenting voices against his opposition against what many have christened Okorocha’s “third term agenda” super-imposed and trickily laced on his son-in-law’s gubernatorial ambition, Madumere’s reputation and popularity in Imo political turf have skyrocketed to a higher altitude. He is admired by many who see and mirror the moral and conscientious substances his current disposition conveys in the political arena.
With the purchased signatories of about 13 members of Imo House of Assembly, including Chinedu Offor, member representing Onuimo State Constituency, whose signature for the impeachment of Madumere flooded my eyes into tears, considering how dearly the deputy governor motivated and aided his rise and elevation from SSA to the Governor on Media, Commissioner for Information and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor, before his subsequent political venture into the state assembly. One could easily conclude without any reservation that Madumere is already a goner.
According to reports emanating from the Imo State House of Assembly, Madumere is accused of the following:
(1) Abandoning his duties for three months
(2) Refusal to attend State Executive Council Meetings and other government’s functions, and
(3) Imprisonment by the American government.
Deputy Speaker Ugonna Ozuruigbo, popularly known as OZB, moved the motion for an impeachment process to be served on Madumere.
The Speaker, Acho Ihim, expressly admitted that the petition met and surpassed the required one-third as provided for in Section 188 (2) 11 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Imo Assembly is made up of 27 members, but four members who were sympathetic to Madumere were, penultimate weekend, suspended on alleged “un-parliamentary conduct”, apparently to pave way for his ouster.
A six-man committee headed by the member, representing Obowo LGA, Kennedy Ibe, was eventually set up to probe the allegations and report back to the House within seven days.
Now, will Okorocha succeed in fostering his son-in-law and Chief of Staff, Uche Nwosu, as his successor and next governor of Imo State after Madumere’s impeachment, using the platform of APC in 2019? Is Madumere considering resignation, at least, to avert the humiliation that may be occasioned by a disgraceful impeachment? What danger does Madumere’s impeachment portend to Imo polity, APC as a political party, and the people of Owerri zone? Are the people of Owerri ready to swallow another dose of humiliation from Okorocha, after voting for him in 2011 and 2015 governorship elections? What can the people of Owerri zone do between now and 2019 to redeem their dwindling political fortune?
Only time will tell!