Amby Uneze writes that frontline governorship contenders in Imo state are employing every known gimmick to outwit one another
The forthcoming governorship election in Imo state is an interesting one considering the number of candidates and the seriousness every candidate attaches to it. In previous elections, once the election draws near some of the candidates from unpopular parties would fuse into the mainstream of the popular parties knowing that their chances were very slim.
But this time, the story is different as all the obscure political parties and their candidates are very eager to run the race to the touchline.
Considering all these, the state, no doubt would present an interesting flash point going by the circumstances that played out prior to the primary election of the major political parties.
From the advent of this democratic dispensation in 1999, governorship elections in Imo State have not been won easily. All the elections were keenly contested, as the crown was not obtained on a platter of gold.
With the escalated wars within each partisan group, it is difficult to become flag bearers of the various political parties. This is to the shoddy manner some of these political parties conducted their primaries. While the process of selection of candidates witnessed some improvement in a few parties, others clearly hoodwinked their opponents, by playing a fast one to choose the flag bearer. In all cases, discordant tunes were the order of the day and this will play out in the main election.
The matter was worsened by the failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to intervene in some cases, at least, to give a sense of belonging to the aggrieved. Granted that it was the internal affair of the political parties, but as an umpire, the commission should ensure that there was a level playing ground to all aspirants in the primaries.
As much as it is difficult to predict where the pendulum may swing, political pundits; however, believe that the governorship election in Imo State shall be keenly contested. To ward off unforeseen circumstances that might lead to spilling of innocent blood, Christians across the state, particularly the Catholics have been praying fervently against violence in the general election in the country, with particular reference to Imo state.
Going by the campaigns and measure of preparedness to be become the next occupant of Douglas House, seven major governorship candidates have shown dexterity, commitment and focus to succeed Governor Rochas Okorocha. The candidates of these major seven political parties are presented in alphabetical order:
Uche Nwosu (Action Alliance)
Mr. Uche Nwosu, governorship flag bearer of the Action Alliance (AA) lost out in the power game that ensued between his father in-law and mentor, Governor Rochas Okorocha and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Nwosu is one of the youngest candidates and he seems to be fully prepared to succeed Okorocha, who wants his son-in-law to take over from him at all costs. He seems bent on trying to protect the empire he has acquired as the governor of the state.
Due to his desperation of becoming the next governor, Nwosu, has became power-drunk like his mentor and that has 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 may record a surprise in the 2019 Imo State governorship election.
Uche Nwosu has the backing of the youths, as well as, the full support of the incumbent governor who is pushing his candidacy. Another advantage is the financial muscle, which is coming from the Imo treasury that has been reserved to prosecute the election.
However, he is relatively inexperienced and believes in the support of his father in-law to make an impact. The hardship that the people of Imo State had been subjected all these years by his sponsor would work against him. Imolites have had enough of Okorocha and his surrogates. It would be difficult for another man from Orlu zone to become governor of Imo state.
Ikedi Ohakim (Accord)
Dr. Ikedi Ohakim is a former Governor of Imo State from 2007 to 2011. He has good education and is highly experienced in human and material management. Ohakim is a much sought after as speaker and consultant to several leading businesses in Nigeria and abroad. He is the author of The Marketing Imperative for Rural Industrialization, published in 1994. This book is widely acknowledged as a fresh and pragmatic approach in strategic marketing of intangible products, especially government programmes and policies. He was the Chairman of the Economic Session of the World Igbo Congress in the USA in 2002 and delivered the keynote address at the 13th World Igbo Congress (WIC) held in Michigan, September 2007.
He is a management consultant, with huge experience spanning over two decades. He has also demonstrated deep understanding of contemporary international economics with specialization in Market Dynamics. For close to two decades, he served in senior commercial and executive management capacity in two multinational engineering and manufacturing companies in Nigeria, namely, First Aluminium and Tower Groups. He received extensive management training both in Nigeria and overseas and rose to the position of Executive Director and Managing Director/Chief Executive of Alucon in 1997.
Ohakim has won several awards in recognition of his service to humanity. In 1998, he was listed in THISDAY’s 50 Leaders Nigeria Needs. He was one of Vanguard’s 30 Notable Young Corporate Leaders of the Future in 2000. On February 13, 2018, during a well-attended programme at the Protea Hotel Owerri, Ohakim was recognised by the Catholic Church with a Distinguished Personality award. He is a prize winner of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM) young managers’ competition with the thoroughly researched paper titled, ‘Segmenting the Industrial Market – A Strategic Option for Survival’ in 1987.
Ohakim is banking on his experience and exposure as a former governor of the state and one who knows where to start if he wins the governorship. As a technocrat, he has articulated his recovery programme on his four cardinal policies enunciated in the 4Rs of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Reconciliation and Recovery.
The former governor is struggling to market his new party, the Accord Party. He seems to be facing some difficulties in convincing the already enlightened people of the state.
Hope Uzodinma (All Progressives Congress)
Senator Hope Uzodinma is a known name in Nigerian politics having been a two-term senator representing Imo West (Orlu zone); he was also a former BoT member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Uzodinma is presently the flag bearer of the APC, which he won under very difficult circumstance. Uzodinma’s doggedness swept Okorocha and his ‘family only’ brand of selfish governance out of APC. People applauded the feat. He achieved this with the help of the Imo APC Coalition, comprising the deputy governor, Prince Eze Madumere, Jude Ejiogu, T.O.E. Ekechi, Osita Izunaso and a host of others.
Uzodinma is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, and he liaised with the Ministry of Aviation to ensure the re-modelling of Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu and Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport in Owerri. It is on record that those efforts brought about significant activities at those airports. Those efforts also confirmed Uzodinma as a pan-Igbo man who is passionate about the Nigerian federation.
Hope Uzodinma is seen by his admirers as the most courageous, capable, experienced, compassionate and easy going politician. His courage to take-back the APC from the hands of Okorocha is an added advantage.
Uzodinma has his own share of weaknesses. His most glaring disadvantage, 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 in the past 16 years.
Ifeanyi Araraume (All Progressives Grand Alliance)
Senator Ifeanyi Godwin Araraume is a recurring name in Nigerian political cycle having contested in every election since 1999. Apart from winning the 1999 and 2003 senatorial elections for Okigwe zone (Imo North), he had contested all the governorship elections in the state since 2003. He came close to winning the 2007 governorship election in the state on the platform of the PDP but due to political intrigues, he was denied the opportunity.
Araraume has virtually belonged to all the major political parties; starting from APP, which later became ANPP, PDP, ACN, APC, to APGA; where he is flying the governorship flag for the 2019 election.
He is a solid politician who 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 out of APC where he knew it was difficult for him to grab the ticket and moved over to APGA overnight and mesmerized the national leadership of the party to pick the governorship ticket.
Araraume is a crowd-puller any day. He remains the single individual who enters any election without looking for financial assistance. Araraume is a polished and well-established gentleman who is ready to get to his target no matter the difficulties.
Not minding his political ingenuity, Araraume is described by many as a political hard sell. This might not be unconnected to his desire to be governor at all cost. His seeming desperation is frowned at by the discerning. Another weakness is the fact that he was accused by other former aspirants to the APGA governorship ticket of being the brain behind the aborted primary, which would have made the party stronger in the state. This led to a mass exodus of those prominent members to other political parties.
Emeka Ihedioha (Peoples Democratic Party )
Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha can rightly be described as the most qualified and fully prepared candidate among his peers. He was the former deputy speaker of House of Representatives, 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 legislature for 12 years, who used his mandate to provide immense democracy dividends to his immediate federal constituency of Aboh Mbaise / Ngor Okpala, however, his achievements transcend all parts of the state.
Ihedioha’s emergence as the PDP’s flagbearer was not sudden, but anticipated considering his stern 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 dream, Ihedioha never doubted the immense opportunities in the PDP.
Apart from the fact that he had over the years supported the party at all levels, his election as the party candidate was described by all and sundry including the opposition parties as the most credible, fair and transparent in the history of the party. This credibility of his emergence has no doubt attracted other opposition members to support his candidacy. Ihedioha is the most dreaded politician in Imo State, even the incumbent governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha is afraid of him.
Emeka Ihedioha is from Owerri zone and the entire Owerri zone including their brothers from Orlu and Okigwe are happy to support his candidacy and they are ready to enthrone him as the next governor. As Chairman of House Legislative Agenda 2011-2015, he designed clear, realistic and visionary agenda for the House leading to remarkable accomplishments recorded by that House. Moreover, an assessment of his governorship campaign document is instructive as it presents a leader with clear vision. Ihedioha places high premium on rule of law underpinned by long legislative experience.
He also has great leadership capacity leading to ‘Commitment to Empowerment Model’, having shown concern to pursue the advancement of the masses he serves by adding value to their lives rather than focusing on his personal aggrandizement. Governance, to him, means service to others.
Ihedioha is trust-worthy, honest and straight-forward and exudes excellent character contents. His word is truly his bond. He has knowledge, experience, influence and contacts.
One of Ihedioha’s weaknesses, which many interpret as arrogance, is his insistence on the ideal/due process. Perhaps, he can be excused for demanding the right thing.
Okey Ezeh (Social Democratic Party)
Okey Ezeh came to limelight in 2015 during the governorship primaries. He aspired for the governorship on the platform of APGA, which he lost to Capt. Emmanuel Ihenacho. As curious as he was then, he did not give up the fight. His forayed into the 2019 governorship election started also from APGA but unfortunately he was skimmed out of the game. This led him to join the SDP, an unpopular party in the state. His entry has revived the party in Imo State. In his usual way, he has marketed the party to a manageable extent.
Ezeh started as an investment banker and has had remarkable achievements in the banking industry. He is a successful businessman and politician.
He is from Owerri zone and stands a good chance of recording a surprise. Age is on his side. He is also believed to have the resources to pursue his dream.
Ezeh’s party is relatively unknown, therefore, he is finding it difficult to spread the message across the nooks and crannies of the state.
Tony Nwulu (United Peoples Party)
Hon. Tony Nwulu is an astute entrepreneur cum politician of great repute. He is a bridge builder and a fantastic personality. Nwulu is currently a member of the House of representatives, Abuja representing Isolo/Oshodi federal constituency of Lagos State.
Nwulu is the governorship candidate of the United People’s Party (UPP) and he hails from Ezihinitte Mbaise in Owerri zone, the zone that is most likely to produce the next governor of the state. He is a young man of about 39 years, who has no doubt paid his dues in terms of providing employment to the youths, creating empowerment programme, award of scholarship and above all drawing a workable roadmap that would ignite concrete development of the state.
His youthful background coupled with his milestone legislative achievement especially as the one who sponsored the world-acclaimed ‘Not Too Young to Run’ bill has earned him much love from both the young and old.
Nwulu’s major weakness is that he is not flying under the canopy of a godfather. Again, his party is a new and needs a lot of marketing.