The governorship race in Imo State is a free-for-all, writes Amby Uneze
By the calculations of the current political situation in Imo State, there is palpable tension surrounding the would-be next governor of the state. The state, no doubt, would present an interesting flashpoint, considering the circumstances that played out prior to the primary elections of the major political parties in the state.
Since the return to democracy in 1999, governorship elections had not been easily won in the state. All the elections had been keenly contested as the winnings had not been on a platter of gold and strongly, predictions about the elections had hardly come to play.
As difficult as it was to win the primary and become the governorship candidates of these major political parties, the war within the parties seems to have escalated. This was due to the pattern or put it succinctly, the shoddy manner some of these political parties conducted their primary. To some, there was an improvement, while others just tried to hoodwink their opponents and play a fast one to become the standard bearers. In all, implosion and discordant tunes raised the rooftops and that is why Imo is where it is now.
However, the matter also was made worst by the actions and inactions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which failed to intervene in some cases. Granted that the internal affairs of the political parties need not to be interfered with by INEC, as an umpire, the commission could have ensured that there was a level playing ground given to all aspirants at the primaries.
A case in question was the manner in which the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) handled her primary, which was more or less an appointment instead of ad-hoc delegates electing their preferred candidate. Again, the ludicrous manner the Social Democratic Party (SDP) suddenly changed the candidate that won the primary with another name was something unbecoming of a serious-minded party.
Also, the crisis plaguing the APC could have been better managed had INEC played better as an umpire. And with the alleged dissolution of the state EXCO by the national leadership, which of course Governor Rochas Okorocha has brushed off, the last may not have been seen or heard of the theatrics in the APC.
Back to the unfolding political rigmarole that could play out in the coming days and weeks in the state concerning the governorship race, inasmuch as it was difficult to predict where the pendulum may swing, political pundits believe that it would be hotly contested.
To ward off any unforeseen circumstances that might bring crisis and shedding of innocent blood, Christians across the state, particularly the Catholics have been fervently praying against political violence in the forthcoming elections in the country, with particular reference to Imo State.
Granted that among the 98 registered political parties in the country, about 50 of them have governorship candidates in the state, only four are the most prominent, considering the popularity of their candidates and political parties. These four are PDP, APC, APGA and AA.
Emeka Ihedioha (PDP)
Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha can rightly be described as one of the most qualified and fully prepared candidatesw among his peers. He was deputy speaker of House of Representatives, as well as a substantive Speaker of the National Assembly, a former chief whip and a thorough political technocrat, who knows what to do with governance and what it means to serve the people. He had done it before as a federal legislator for twelve years, who used his mandate to not only provide immense democracy dividends to his immediate federal constituency of Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala, his achievements traversed all parts of the state.
Ihedioha’s emergence as PDP’s standard bearer was not sudden, but anticipated, considering his staunch commitment and steadfastness to the party over the years. He remains one of the solid foundation members of the party. While others jumped from pillar to post in search of favourable platforms to actualise their political dreams at one point in time, Ihedioha is one man, who had not doubted the immense opportunities in the PDP hence he remains solid in the party.
Apart from the fact that he had over the years supported the party in all ramifications, his election as the party’s candidate was described by all and sundry including members of the opposition parties as the most credible and transparent in the state. The credibility of his emergence has no doubts attracted other opposition members to support his candidacy. Ihedioha is the most feared politician in the state. In fact, the incumbent governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha is believed to be very much afraid of his succeeding him.
Ihedioha has his weaknesses, one of which is arrogance that is usually attributed to him, because he wants an ideal/due process to be followed in all things. His No one will claim not being arrogant for once; in as much as the Ihedioha’s arrogance is believed to be tailored to doing the right thing. Many also consider him stingy, a character trait that pisses some off.
Hope Uzodinma (APC)
Senator Hope Uzodinma is a known name in Nigeria, having been a-two-time senator. He was also a member of the PDP BoT. Uzodinma is presently the standard bearer of the APC, which he won hard. Because of Hope Uzodinma’s doggedness that swept Okorocha’s “political family” out of APC, people applauded him, though he achieved this feat with the help of the Imo APC Coalition, which comprises the deputy governor, Eze Madumere, Jude Ejiogu, T.O.E. Ekechi, Osita Izunaso and a host of others.
Uzodinma too has his weaknesses. However, the biggest obstacle he would face apart from being abandoned by the governor and his lieutenants is the fact that he comes from the same Orlu zone that had produced Udenwa and Okorocha for the past 16 years. Again, his choice of running mate was outside those that played key roles in his emergence as the governorship candidate. His abandoning the members of the coalition and selecting a neutral fellow could work against him at the poll.
Ifeanyi Araraume (APGA)
Senator Ifeanyi Godwin Araraume is a recurring name in the Nigerian cum Imo political circle, having aspired or contested every election since 1999. Apart from winning the 1999 and 2003 senatorial election for Okigwe zone (Imo North), it had been very difficult for him to clinch the governorship ticket, which he had contested since 2007. Araraume had belonged to virtually all the major political parties, starting from ANPP, PDP, ACN, APC, to APGA, where he flies her governorship flag for 2019 election.
Here is a solid politician that is not tired of spending money where it is necessary to get on top of his political career. He is also a team player considering his knack to maintain his political structure over the years. He sees the 2019 election as his last attempt at the governorship race and that may be the reason he jumped from APC, where he knew it was difficult for him to grab the ticket and moved over to APGA overnight and mesmerised the national leadership of the party and picked up the ticket.
Not minding his political ingenuity, Araraume for sure is described as a political hard sell. Whatever might be the reason for that notion across Imo, it is yet to be proved, but it might not be unconnected to his desire to be governor at all cost. His perceived desperation for power is seen as a big minus.
Another weakness is the fact that he was seen by other former co-aspirants as the brain behind the aborted primary, which would have given the party a lifeline in the state to become a party to beat. This led to the implosion in the party and the resultant effect was the mass exodus of those prominent members to other political parties.
Uche Nwosu (AA)
Mr. Uche Nwosu has finally become the governorship standard bearer of the Action Alliance (AA) after he lost out in the superior power game that ensued between his father-in-law and mentor, Rochas Okorocha and the APC national leadership led by Adams Oshiomhole.
Nwosu, who had ab intio nursed the idea of going to the House of Representatives was drafted into the governorship race by his father-in-law, who wanted him to step into his shoes as a worthy successor.
Due to his alleged desperation of becoming the next governor, Nwosu became somewhat power-drunk, which led him to join a relatively unknown party – AA. However, with the help of the governor and others who lost out in the APC power game, Nwosu is likely to pull surprises at the election.
He is relatively inexperienced and believes in the support of his father-in-law to make an impact. But with the hardship Okorocha is believed to have subjected Imo people with his draconian leadership makes his endorsement a burden more or less. The Imo people appear fed up with Okorocha and his surrogates hence it would be difficult to have another Orlu zone man become governor of Imo State.