Imo: The Build-up to 2015 Governorship Race

19 May 2013

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Gov. Okorocha, Sen Anyanwu and Emma Ojinere

Amby Uneze, examines the run-up to the 2015 governorship election in Imo State and those likely to take part

The  issue of rotation among the three zones of Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe has remained a strong factor in governorship elections in Imo State. Leaders and politicians in the state have maintained that equity, fairness and justice must prevail in order move the state forward. This had been the case until the 2011 election that produced the incumbent governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha. His election seemed to truncate the zoning arrangement. Okorocha hails from Orlu zone where the former two-term governor, Chief Achike Udenwa, also comes from

By political calculation, pundits had thought that it would amount to political betrayal for anybody from Orlu zone to contest the governorship of the state in 2011 considering the gentleman’s agreement reached among the three zones in 1998. The Owerri zone would have produced the governor in 2011, but it was agreed by them to allow the Okigwe zone to complete its two terms. This was truncated.

To ensure that the position which had been eluding the Owerri zone is realised in 2015, every opportunity is being used to canvass support of the zone to produce the governor of the state. The Owerri Zone Political Leaders Forum (OZOPOLF) is a group championing the campaign for Owerri zone to produce the next governor of Imo State come 2015. On many occasions, its leader and national coordinator, Prince Charles Amadi, has maintained that the time is ripe for the zone to come up and take her rightful position among the zones in the state.

Amadi, popularly known as Chavon, and his group have embarked on sensitisation visits to the three zones in the state. They have also paid courtesy visits to both the political and religious leaders in the state, with the same message of other zones supporting someone from Owerri zone to emerge as governor of the state in the next election.

Okigwe’s Search
Yet, there is another group from Okigwe zone canvassing for the zone to be allowed to complete its second tenure which was abruptly stopped by the superior political game initiated by Okorocha in 2011. That group is called the Imo Network Group. Its argument, as was enunciated in a recent advertorial in some local newspapers in the state, was that since it was the constitutional right of the incumbent to seek and complete a second term, it behoves Imo people to let the Okigwe zone complete its own second term, going by the zoning arrangement in the state.

However, analysts believe it is not really mandatory that an incumbent must go for a second term in office. The issue of second term comes up consequent upon performance and the citizens of the state could find an incumbent worthy for a second term, probably to complete development projects initiated by that administration. Going by this assertion, some have argued that the former governor, Ikedi Ohakim, qualifies being allowed to come back and complete the monumental flyover project which he started. Since 1976 when Imo State was created, there had not being any flyover in the state to ease vehicular traffic, especially in the capital city.

Governorship Hopefuls
Nonetheless, some politicians in the state have started warming up as possible governorship aspirants. Those at the forefront of this effort are mainly Abuja and Lagos-based politicians, most of whom are either National Assembly members or private businessmen. They include Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, and Speaker of the Pan-African Parliament and a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Bethel Amadi. Others are Senator Chris Anyanwu, Mr. Emma Ojinere, Capt. Emma Ihenacho, Senator Hope Uzodinma, Chief Jerry Chukwueke, Chief Martin Agbaso, Prince Eze Madumere, Ohakim, and Senator Ifeanyi Araraume.

Emeka Ihedioha
Ihedioha needs no introduction at least in Nigeria politics, being Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the number six citizen of Nigeria in the order of protocol. He is a three-term federal legislator. Ihedioha’s political profile is rising rapidly as he garners the support and goodwill of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party in the state.  He is seen as a political heavyweight in Imo politics with the charisma to convince people.

Ihedioha, 48, from Owerri zone, has the advantage of age. He is remarkable for the many federal projects his people say he has attracted to the state. He is also thought to have the wherewithal to prosecute his campaign to become the next governor of Imo State. His pet project, empowerment of Imo people through soft loans and agricultural training, has brought him closer to the people.
One weaknesse Ihedioha may have is his perception by some people as bigoted and temperamental. He is also seen as not easily accessible.

Bethel Amadi
Amadi, from Owerri zone, is also a three-term federal legislator as well as a member of PDP. He is also well connected in the Nigerian politics, even as he is a son-in-law to the Esema of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion. Amadi has the advantage of having Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu as his political godfather, who would be expected to stand by him at any time. He is also believed to be financially capable of prosecuting a successful governorship campaign.

However, Amadi is widely perceived as having a nonchalant attitude to issues in the state. His relationship with people, the media and his party in the state also looks lukewarm. His popularity in the state is something to worry about.

Emma Ojinere
Ojinere is one personality many believe carries the allure of gentleness, brain and beauty. He is an engineer by profession and a successful businessman who is into the oil servicing sector. A foundation member of PDP in the state, 2007 governorship aspirant, and 2011 senatorial aspirant, Ojinere is seen as a loyal, humane and cherished party member who respects the collective decisions of the party leaders.

He is from Owerri zone and is believed to be popular among party members, youths, and women, as well as the other political parties.
Ojinere has a foundation that has done a lot in the area of economic empowerment of Imo people, especially the less privileged.
His major obstacle might be might be the participation of Ihedioha and Chris Anyanwu, who are from the same Mbaise sub-zone with him.

Jerry Chukwueke
Chukwueke was a governorship aspirant on the platform of PDP in 2007. But after that contest, he seemed to retire back to his haulage business in Lagos. But he appears to be making his way back to the political trenches ahead of the 2015 governorship race. He hails from Awaka in Owerri North Local Government Area.

Chukwueke is seen by many as a dedicated politician who plays politics without bitterness. His recent donation of a bus to the state PDP might be a way of expressing his interest in an elective position, which many believe to be the governorship.
He is seen as a loyal party man, but he has not been close to the party since his first trial as an aspirant. The amiable politician may have gathered enough strength over the years to fight for the governorship seat come 2015.
However, Chukwueke is perceived not to be very strong in the party and he does not seem to have an organised political structure capable of effective electoral challenge.

Emmanuel Ihenacho
Ihenacho is one candidate many Imo people would want to queue behind due to his benevolence and ability to associate with different classes of people in society. He is believed to possess the humility, candour, and charisma needed to operate as an effective state chief executive.

During his days as Minister of Interior, Ihenacho distinguished himself as a public servant through some positive transformation programme he initiated in the ministry. He is commended for helping a good number of Imo sons and daughters to secure employment in the immigration service, civil defence, and prison service, etc.

Ihenacho hails from Ezeogba in Owerri North Local Government Area. He is a successful businessman whose interests cut across shipping and oil and gas. He is a member of PDP and has the financial muscle to prosecute his ambition.
Ihenacho’s weaknesses may be the issues behind his sudden removal as minister, which border on alleged anti-party activities.
Chris Anyanwu

Anyanwu is an accomplished journalist, politician and administrator. As a two-term senator, she seems to have a good understanding of the political terrain. Many see her as a strong woman endowed with abilities not inferior those of her male counterparts in the race for Douglas House in 2015.

Anyanwu’s political strength dazzled many in the Owerri zone senatorial election in 2011, when she crossed over to All Progressives Grand Alliance after being humiliated by the PDP weeks before the election, and yet defeated her fiercest opponent, Dr. Kema Chikwe.
As senator, she has made significant contributions in the senate and to her zone.
But she may be hurt by her perceived chauvinistic nature and harshness. She is faces a tough task in the effort to be the first woman governor of Imo State.

Ikedi Ohakim
Ohakim, the immediate past governor of the state, is likely to spring surprises in his effort to seek election into the office he left in 2011 after failing to win a second term. Ohakim seems balanced to stage a gallant come back. His political structure and associates are still handy to assist him realise his ambition.
He comes from Okigwe zone.
Ohakim’s major weakness, however, may be his outspokenness, which those who know him say is often misunderstood and mistaken for rudeness.

Hope Uzodinma
Uzodinma is a carrier politician, having contested every election in the state since 199 as governorship or senatorial aspirant. He was lucky to succeed in 2011 as he defeated Senator Osita Izunaso in the PDP primaries and went ahead to floor the former governor, Chief Achike Udenwa, in the main contest for Imo West (Orlu zone) to become the senator. His interest in the governorship of the state in 2015 is seen as another trial since the governorship is not zoned to his area.
Uzodinma’s major weakness would certainly be the zoning arrangement in the state.

Ifeanyi Araraume
Araraume is a popular politician in the state. He has battled for so long to be the governor of the state but each time he tried, the matter usually became a matter for the courts to decide. He has a burning desire to govern the state and until that desire is achieved he might not rest.

H e is a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria, but pundits believe he may go back to PDP, his original party, to try to accomplish his governorship aspiration. He is highly connected to the powers that be at the federal level.
Araraume’s relationship with the chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, is one advantage many believe would facilitate his easy return to the party.

Araraume’s main weakness may be the political platform he chooses to use in trying to actualise his dream.
Martin Agbaso

Agbaso is still trying to come to terms with the recent impeachment of his younger brother, Jude Agbaso, as the deputy governor of the state. He appears set to use the sympathy from a large segment of the state over the manner the impeachment was handled by APGA-controlled state government and the House of Assembly to launch himself back to the mainstream of Imo politics.
Many people still believe that the truth about the allegation of corruption against his brother is yet to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Agbaso may be seeking to get revenge for a perceived ill-treatment of his brother by the Okorocha administration.
But he seems to have a shaky political platform and his aspiration may be impaired by division among his supporters.

Rochas Okorocha/Prince Eze Madumere
It is not very clear whether the incumbent Governor Rochas Okorocha would seek re-election considering his initial declaration that he would serve only one term. The suspected calculation is that he would want to move to a higher political office in 2015 through his new platform, the planned All Progressives Congress, which is seeking registration with the Independent National Electoral Commission. If this calculation comes true, the deputy governor, Prince Eze Madumere, may take over from Okorocha as governor candidate in 2015.

Madumere comes from Owerri zone where the next governor is widely expected to come from.
But many doubt the popularity of the APC platform in the state. Besides, with the divisions within APGA, the Okorocha camp may face a major difficulty securing an effective party platform ahead of 2015 if INEC fails to register APC.
pics: Okorocha, anyanwu, and engr. emma ojinere.jpg

Tags: Politics, Nigeria, Featured, GOVERNORSHIP RACE

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