On a regular day, no one will mistake Tony Ejiogu for a Nigerian politician. With an impressive mien and the intellect of a professor, Sir Ejiogu, who had excelled in boardrooms in the United States and Nigeria, took many by surprise when he took the plunge and threw his heart into the political ring as the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA in the November 11 governorship election in Imo State.
His fiery and inspiring speech during his campaign flag-off in Owerri on August 31, 2023, cleared all doubts that he feels passionate about turning the fortunes of Imo State around and that he indeed appears better prepared than any of the other contenders in the race.
His message was simple – “It was time to rebuild Imo”. Hurt by the rampant insecurity and the consequent needless loss of lives and destruction that had become commonplace in his dear Imo land over the past four years, Ejiogu rallied the people to ditch their differences and join hands with him to rebuild Imo and make it live-able again.
“Despite our past triumphs and legacies, this is a time of great tension between good and evil, progress and retrogression, and a time to choose whether to continue on the path of destruction or begin the process of rebuilding our dear Imo,” Ejiogu said in his soul-searing message to thousands of supporters at the campaign flag-off that sweltering Thursday afternoon in Owerri.
“My first charge in the rebuilding agenda is to make our communities livable again,” he added.
Between August 31 when he launched this message and now, Ejiogu has taken the path less travelled by Nigerian politicians. Along with a dedicated team of supporters and party men, Ejiogu traversed the nooks and crannies of Imo State, including places like Obube Ancient Kingdom, which no politician has ever visited despite the community’s historic significance. The people of Obube Kingdom believe his visit was a sign of the light to come after decades of neglect.
Beyond Obube, and from Owerri to Okigwe and Orlu Zones, Ejiogu has so far taken his message of Rebuilding Imo to all the strategic communities in the state and interfaced directly with community leaders and thousands of voters.
In Isiala-Mbano, the traditional ruler of the Amato Amaraku community, Eze Joseph Mbamara, who could not hide his excitement extolled Sir Ejiogu’s character and leadership virtues, even as he declared that Sir Ejiogu’s candidacy heralds immense hope for a better Imo.
When the campaign train touched Ngwuoma-Obube, Agballa and Uluakwo communities in Owerri North LGA, the people went agog as Ejiogu was the first politician of Imo Extraction to visit and pay homage to Obube Ancient Kingdom. In this historic community, Imo State’s creation was first announced in 1976 and Owerri was declared as the capital.
“Sir Tony Ejiogu is an exceptional leader, we are praying for him to succeed because he means well for our people, we need a progressive-minded leader, who would create an enabling environment for business to thrive and for the state to prosper,” said one of the leaders of Obube, Chief Samuel Akujiuobi who saw Ejiogu’s visit as a bellwether political event.
Perhaps, a major highlight of Sir Ejiogu’s campaign was the endorsement by the APGA leader and the governor of Anambra State, Professor Charles Soludo, who believes Ejiogu’s candidacy to be a watershed in the party’s history.
During Ejiogu’s visit to the APGA leader, Soludo assured of a successful outing because of Ejiogu’s outstanding personality and acceptance by the people.
According to Soludo, one of the reasons he believes Ejiogu is the right man for Imo at the moment is because of the quality of his ideas. In his words, “Mr Ejiogu’s manifesto speaks volumes of a man who understands the problems facing Imo people at a fundamental level and is poised to provide solutions and deliver democratic dividends in an unprecedented manner.”
At Ngor-Okpalla, Ohaji, Ezinihitte Mbaise and at several markets and churches across the breadth of Imo State, Ejiogu has taken the message of rebuilding Imo to the people.
Having taken his message of rebuilding Imo to millions of Imolites across the 20 local governments he toured during his campaign, Ejiogu appears to have said all there is to say, and done all there is to do. One thing is certain, he seems an obvious choice as he appears ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work, and he has demonstrated it beyond the stump speeches. But will the people listen? Are the people of Imo ready to rebuild their land?
By Barr. Canice Manukaji (Obilimba)