By Sam Obinna Ibe, Umuahia
History is about repeating itself again as it was done in 1960s when two great Ohuhu sons, Dr M I Okpara and Chief Sam Okwulehie were elected as the Premier of Eastern Nigeria and,the Mayor, Ikwuano Umuahia local government area respectively. Both Political irokos from Ohuhu land held sway respectively and were instrumental to the legacy projects that were scattered in the South East and Umuahia environs that continued to speak good for both men even till date.
In the same vein, history which rarely repeats itself may be altered this time around as Political pundits are wont to say that there is the possibility of history repeating itself again.
As it stands today,High Chief Ikechi Emenike, the leader of All Progressive Congress, (APC) in Abia and rumour has it that he is going to contest the forthcoming governorship election of the state under the platform of APC in the emerging Political dispensation and if luck smiles his way,and he ultimately clinches the plum office of the state, Political commentators say that this will be a good development to the clan that had in the past made several attempts to govern Abia but to no avail.
Secondly, Hon Okwulehie Onyedi,the scion of the legendary late Dee Sam Okwulehie is also rumuored to be eyeing the Abia state House of Assembly seat, should he bows to pressure to run as it is speculated in some quarters and eventually wins, it means that Ohuhu land in Umuahia North LGA of Abia State will be parading two of her illustrious sons as the number one citizen of Abia State and the law maker representing Umuahia North( Ohuhu Constituency) in the Abia House of Assembly thereby given vent to speculation in some quarters that history is about repeating itself.
If one takes a cursory look at the politics of 1960s,the era of First Republic when late Dr Michael Iheonukara Okpara ,the former Premier of Eastern Nigeria and late Dee Sam Okwulehie, the Mayor of Old Ikwuano/ Umuahia local government both performed creditably in their offices occupied which endeared them to followers of Nigerian history then and now.
It is on record that both great Ohuhu sons administration’s recorded tremendous achievements in the sands of time in that today, their exploits at the Local Government and Eastern Nigeria levels became reference points to measure performance indeces amongst then and today’s politicians.
For example, late Dr M I Okpara was said to have run the fastest growing economy in the whole of West Africa through his Agricultural
revolution, infrastructural developments and promotion of Commerce and Industry.
On the other hand, Chief Sam Chikezie Okwulehie popularly called “Dee Sam Okwulehie” built then Crusaders Secondary School, Isingwu but today known as Community Secondary School, Isingwu, Ohuhu, Umuahia.
He was said to be a leader ahead of his time, sometimes in the sixties,when Umuahia had acute erosion and drainage problems, Sam Okwulehie led his administration to construct the state of the art Urban Water drainage system from Amuzukwu through Okwulehie Street/Police Barracks emptying at Afaraukwu, using Michelette Construction Company Limited. The drainage system, till today, has checked the drainage problem in Umuahia,and remains one of the best drainage facilities in Nigeria.
Dee Sam Okwulehie realized that his people had roots in Commerce and industry and proceeded to construct modern lock- up shops in Umuahia Urban Main Market. Interestingly enough, he didn’t allocate a single shop to himself or family members unlike what is obtainable today.
He also constructed a modern Timber market which served not only Umuahia, but adjoining cities of Aba, Owerri and Port Harcourt..
Similarly,young Sam, aware of the need for modern time-keeping at a time wrist watches and clocks belonged only to the rich few, constructed the four-faced Legacy Tower Clock at Umuahia city centre to adjoining Bende road, Aba road and the strategic Umuahia Railway station. This ensured that even the uneducated could benefit from modern time – keeping as the clock chimed every hour for railway users,traders and general public, similar to Big Ben of London among other people-oriented executed by the first Mayor of Umuahia.
In his tribute on funeral brochure, Friday, April 6,2018, Engr Professor Anthony N Nzeako of Department of Electronic Engineering, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria, described Dee Sam Okwulehie as a born Political Genius and a faithful disciple of Dr M I Okpara.
According to the Engr Professor, “Anybody who had worked very closely with Sam Okwulehie, the Mayor , would attest that he was indeed a born Political genius.
He further noted that using his Political magic wand, Mayor could dissolve any Political tension at any point in time and space, adding that he never operated in a crowd, nor play to the gallery.
Thus, his Political ingenuity and craftsmanship were summarized by Dr M I Okpara to the” Disciples” in the following words: Gentlemen,none of you would dare what Sam could do in any given Political circumstance.”
It was said that the founding of Crusaders Secondary School, Isingwu Umuahia in 1960 by Dee Sam Okwulehie prompted Dr M I Okpara to set up Williams Secondary School,Afugiri in 1970 and Adanma Girls Secondary School, Afugiri, Umuahia, 1971. respectively.
Dee Sam had encouraged ndi Ohuhu to support and rally round Chief Emenike in a well articulated meeting in the house of one of their own , Chief R .N Nwokeocha in November 2016 before his demise on 30th, December 2017, as if he knew had the premonition of his death.
From the foregoing, if late Dr M I Okpara and late Dee Sam Okwulehie had done this much for the Eastern Nigeria and Ikwuano/ Umuahia while they lived, if it were in other tribes, political offices would have been given to their children on platter of gold,but sadly,this is Igbo land,it is not so.
Even at that ,the stark reality is beginning to dawn on us all that they have to make hay while the sun shines. This perhaps underscores the current pressure been mounted on young Okwulehie to run for the Abia House of Assembly seat in order to replicate those finest political trajectories that made his late dad thick during his hey days in politics.
As at the last count, stakeholders from Ohuhu comprising of Umuhu na Okaiuga are clamouring for the candidacy of Hon Okwulehie Onyedi to run either for House of Representatives or State House of Assembly in this coming Political dispensation.
Brief profile of Hon Okwulehie Onyedi,is of Isingwu Ward, Ohuhu in Umuahia North LGA.
He holds Diploma in Journalism, Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State and Msc political science and International Relations,
Started active politics in 1998 with the P D P , Emerged National Secretary, PDP, Peoples Democratic party Youth Development Front (PDPYF) is political under structure of the main party, P D P , from 2013 -2015. He was an Aspirant of Umuahia North LGA Chairmanship, 2016, He was an Aspirant of Abia State House of Assembly Umuahia Central State Constituency, 2019 , an awardee of UN Eminent Peace Ambassador,2021.
It is therefore the opinion of scores of political stakeholders and other opinion leaders,the vast majority in Ohuhu land that should Hon Onyedi Okwulehie makes up his mind to run, he will no doubt renact the superlative performance recorded by his late Dad to the glory of God and Ohuhu land .
Meanwhile, Hon Okwulehie Onyedi has congratulated their state party chairman, APC, Chief Kingsley Ononogbu on his birthday celebration which was on Sunday,13th day of March,2022 .
In a congratulatory message signed by him and made available to Blueprint in Umuahia,Hon Okwulehie Onyedi noted with satisfaction the purposeful leadership which Abia APC Chairman has brought to bear just few months he was elected into office while wishing him many happy returns.
According to him, I have no doubt that APC under your watch will capture power come 2023 general elections in Abia State. I therefore wish you long life, strength and courage to be able to accomplish this task.