Prince Eze Madumere: When the Humble Deputy Came To Town
By Okwuaku A.I. Okwuaku ([email protected])
Until recently, I had never cared to know why the name or personality of Imo's current deputy governor, Prince Eze Madumere, is becoming increasingly popular and readily appealing to a greater majority of the masses and people of Imo state. By this, I speak of both the ordinary people, and a large spectrum of the political class in Imo state.
It was sometime last week in a suburb of Owerri that something happened; just a stone-throw-walk away from where I had just finished a meeting with a group, a bus driver ran into a pothole and splashed water all over my body. I turned, at least, to receive a sorry from a remorseful driver. Instead, my eyes could only catch the face of a passenger laughing at me in a manner that suggested “Poor you man! You can't really do anything about this.” I watched the bus speed away. In a wayside shop a group of people chatted away, so I went there to get water to clean up. Incidentally, the gathered people were having a street chat, and the subject of discussion was Prince Eze Madumere, Imo's deputy governor. Largely, almost all of them were unanimous that Madumere, due to his sterling qualities, has unarguably emerged the most popular political figure that commands greatest appeal after the Gov, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Imo's charismatic, most popular leader. But that's by the way.
Of course, ordinarily, unlike other deputies there is no reason why Madumere's name should be popular or top the chart in a system where such figures like Col. Iheanacho, Sen. Chris Anyanwu, Chief Martin Agbaso, Ifeanyi Ararumeand their likes have dominated the Imo political class. In the first instance Madumere is known for his unflinching loyalty to his boss, the governor, and has no political structure of his own, unlike what obtains elsewhere, when even SAs in the immediate dissolved EXCO spent most of their stay in their offices building private political armies and structures. Again, before the 2011 elections, Madumere was little known within the political circles, though before then he had once run for the senate. So what's marking him out as the newest bride among political elites' circles and among the general masses?
Series of analyses posited by prestigious political think thanks and close watchers readily indicate that Madumere's role during the 2011 general elections revealed the real stuff he is made of, while others believed that his role as the Chief-of- staff where he distinguished himself as a seasoned figure in diplomacy, leadership, public administration and human & management justifies his growing popularity. But beyond all that, more than half of the group I met at the shop argued that Madumere's all out open door policy as the deputy governor, his uncommon humility and his much-talked-about attitude of reaching out to all groups and responding to daily problems of the common masses stand him out. For them, Madumere is quite the opposite of his predecessor, Sir Jude Agbaso, in human relations, in political diplomacy and negotiation. But even before I ran into the street group, I had already known Madumere for two things; he is known for granting audience to any group that call for his attention, and secondly I know him for his philanthropy and humanitarianism- very fond of visiting prison houses and disabled people's homes. He comes along as one with human touch and feeling; just a feeling heart and a listening ear. In the morning of the deputy governor's 49th birthday, a friend sent me a text that read: “A humble deputy has come to town. I ran into the deputy governor having good time with inmates of the prisons in Owerri” part of the text read. I learnt later that the deputy had spent his birthday with prison inmates and children of the Red Cross society, instead of the usual upscale fun-fare that marks such occasions for his predecessors and a greater percentage of Nigeria's political elites.
If you would recall vividly, Madumere, a little known figure before the 2011 elections, was among the political causalities of the last days of then Gov. Ikedi Ohakim. Caught in-between a blizzard of political diplomacy and outsmarting intrigues both from the largely patch work of opposition parties and some perceived dissatisfied members of his ruling party, the then Gov. Ikedi Ohakim followed up with one of the fiercest crackdowns in our political history. Of course, to justify his actions, he started using crude rhetoric as part of a desperate strategy to survive a powerful surge of negative sentiments, mobilizing his supporters around a dramatic narrative of good versus evil. But suddenly, in a counter-offensive in political diplomacy and negotiations that shifted the balance of the popularity ahead of the elections the next month of May 2011, the identities of green horn politicians like Prince Eze Madumere found reasons to show up. That shift in the balance of popularity saw Owelle Rochas Okorocha surging high. Madumere was alleged to be the wiz kid behind the opposition's political poker machine, churning out fascinating strategies that baffled Ohakim's camp. It did not take long, the image of Madumere showed up as the dark-horse strategist behind the surging popularity of Owele Rocahs Okorocha among the electorates in the countdown to the 2011 Imo guber elections. From one corner of the state to another, from one political circle to another, Madumere and his crack team plotted and coordinated incredibly baffling strategies that would later sink Ikedi Ohakim's assured dream of making a heroic come back to the Douglas House as 2nd term governor. Of course, for you to understand the significance and value of Eze Madumere's contribution during the 2011 elections, and the consequent impact it will have on his political career, you need to first understand the prevailing political atmosphere of those days.
In the first instance, mid-wifing the opposition to victory in the Imo 2011 elections, as a crucial provision for the survival of the state, was by far the highest immediate desire of the Imo people, and the minimum demand of every concerned Nigerian who watched the state slide fast towards the edge of darkness and the brink of collapse. Of course, an analyst described then Gov. Ikedi Ohakim's emergence as an era's tragic political miscalculation of catastrophic implications for which the Imo people paid dearly. Of course, greater part of the population still insist it was an era marked with bankruptcy of vision, bankruptcy of ideas and bankruptcy of development, and controlled by a clique of renegades whose on credential was the fact they could boast of their connection to high places. As a result, voting Ohakim out was seen as key to the survival of the state. However, with a ferocious incumbent governor of Ikedi Ohakim's mien, backed by a deeply entrenched wealthy ruling party and allegedly bent on securing victory at the polls at all cost, none of these demands appeared a near possibility. But suddenly, the tide changed; opposition popularity surged high, and a historic victory was finally secured. As the political storm ebbed, the role of Prince Eze Madumere as the smart whiz kid, the dark-horse strategist, and political negotiator of rare breed who outsmarted the PDP and galvanized the people to make his boss governor became too obvious to be ignored. No wonder the then Gov. Ohakim and the PDP, and allegedly, including the former president Olusegun Obasanjo went after Eze Madumere. Sooner than later Madumere was arrested on fabricated charges and he became a prisoner of conscience for months. However, he never gave up, as he played his chess game even from behind bars. At this point, political watchers had noted Madumere's name down as a force to reckon with in Imo state politics. Sooner after the elections, he was appointed Chief of staff to Gov. Okorocha, a post he held within Okorocha's political family even before the 2011 elections. So, his appointment was like fixing a consummate insider in the core of the government system and the political machinery of the new government of Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha.
As the Chief of Staff Prince Eze Madumere, an American educated management consultant, mid-wifed the administration to an era of mind-blowing achievements. Among his many achievements as the COS, political insiders credit Madumere with helping Gov. Okorocha to thinker with the traditional paradigm of the politics in Imo state, ending the usual “Ghana Must Go Republic” politics of looting and corruption. Later on in the year, his name appeared among the Federal Government's list of nominees for the prestigious national honours conferred on meritorious patriots and emerging leaders who have distinguished themselves. He received the MFR category of the award. And at the sudden exit of the then deputy governor and commissioner for works, Sir Jude Agbaso, the Imo people began to search for God's purpose in a few political figures. Prince Eze Madumere distinctly stood out from the pack as the most obvious choice for a replacement and the most credible alternative. It worked as many predicted, and Madumere was nominated by Gov. Okorocha as a replacement to Sir. Jude Agbaso, who lost his seat to a 458 million naira scandal that saw the State House of Assembly impeach him.
Aside being the deputy governor, Madumere also pairs as the commissioner for works, and under his administration the state has made a quantum leap from what it used to be before his emergence. One of the areas the deputy governor has distinguished himself is in the area of project execution and monitoring which has seen a large volume of the projects in the state make tremendous progress under his leadership as commissioner for works. He has also competently, but proactively handled the delicate diplomacy that exist between the government and the many parastatals that fall under his office. As Ikechukwu Gilbert would put it in one of Nigeria's rising Magazines, SPECIALS “His Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, was indeed visionary in his decision to nominate Prince Eze Madumere as his deputy. For truly to his choice, the man has continued to mesmerize the political landscape with development-driven mentality congenial to Owelle's. Madumere has been handling Imo state affairs with a calculated political maturity that reduces the burden on his boss, Owelle Rochas Okorocha.”
However, in the midst of a fast rise in power and political prominence, there is always a bitter price to pay; Madumere has also had to contend with countless deadly political intrigues and maneuverings, including blatant attacks and fictitious blackmails aimed at discrediting him before the masses, damaging the relationship between him and his boss, and stunting his growing prospects in Imo state politics, and probably even beyond. Unfortunately for his tireless detractors and their fifth columnists, Madumere comes along with an impeccable integrity and unassailable credentials. But beyond these is the fact that his boss Gov. Okorocha knows Madumere by every fiber. To Okorocha, Madumere is one of the consummate insiders that combine independent-mindedness with unflinching loyalty in the most balanced manner. This makes Madumere the best partner in Okorocha's avowed effort to undertake a complete 'rebooting' of the engine of governance and the out-fashioned political establishment in Imo state. Hence, creating disaffection between Okorocha and his deputy is a hard task for detractors, and denting Madumere's public image and standing cannot go beyond unsubstantiated blackmails by paid columnists and career blackmailers.
Far from being judgmental or analytic, Prince Eze Madumere has appeared as one of Nigeria's finest minds and thoroughbred strategic thinkers in politics, in diplomacy, and in human administration and has marked his not-long political journey with fascinating records of uncommon achievements. One of the record time achievements of the deputy governor is his ability to unite and coordinate a productive relationship with the youths of the state, earning him the respect of the youths for giving a human and practical touch to numerous issues affecting their well being both as a group and as individuals. The recent daylong meetings with all youth leaders in Imo state evidently demonstrate this. This posture runs contrary to that of his predecessor who was allegedly a very divisive figure politically, acted more as a czar than a deputy governor, and lacked humane touch with ordinary people.
Aside other things, Madumere's strong reformist's drive and his incredible credentials as a consummate insider of the Owelle Rochas Okorocha's political family makes him the most perfect choice as deputy governor for the wholistic realization of the transformative agenda of the Gov. Okorocha for Imo state. On this note, the prospects of his increasing popularity are unlimited. But beyond all, his uncommon open door policy as deputy governor confirms my friend's text message that “a humble deputy has come to town.” This quality, I believe like many Imolites, is an unquantifiable asset to the Owelle Rochas Okorocha transformative administration.
Okwuaku A.I. Okwuaku writes from Owerri