As Ihedioha, Associates Reset Imo’s Political Calculus

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Stakeholders of Rebuild Imo Agenda, the political platform that produced Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as Governor of Imo State appear ready to launch a new game plan that may lead to the exit of the Senator Hope Uzondinma-led All Progressives Congress government, writes Chuks Okocha

Since 1999, the state once made popular by the late sage, Chief Sam Mbakwe has been struggling to have a firm grip on its politics. Within the last two decades, Imo State has been running short of clean politics; its leadership recruitment and governance have also suffered the same fate. From ‘share the money’ in 1999 to flogging priests in cassock to ‘Iberiberism’ and now to ‘Hopism’, Imo State politics and governance have fallen short of good ethos.

In the 2019 gubernatorial election, there was a glimmer of hope that things were going to change for the better. That fate – for a better Imo was hinged on the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha becoming governor and occupant of Douglas House. It was already a fait accompli, until the Supreme Court nullified Ihedioha’s mandate after seven months in office and enthroned Sen. Hope Uzodinma as governor of Imo State.

That January 14, 2020 judgement raised the issue of credibility on the current occupant of Douglas House. Many discerning Nigerians think the infallibility of the apex court is slowly being eroded. Speaking on the doctrine of stare decisis, retired Supreme Court Justice, Bode Rhodes-Vivour at his valedictory session argued passionately that most of the judgements by the Supreme Court no longer make sense. Following on that thought, many are of the opinion that Rhodes-Vivour had the case of Uzodinma vs Ihedioha/SC.1462/2019 in mind.

Ihedioha may have put the apex court inexplicable verdict behind him. What stares Ihedioha and his political machine in the face now is how to draw a new political map in Imo.

Thus, his 56th birthday celebration in Abuja and Owerri sort of became a rallying point to begin the 2023 Imo governorship challenge. In Abuja where the birthday party held at the highbrow Maitama District, it was a gathering of top Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members. From former Governors of Cross River and Kwara States, Sen. Liyel Imoke and Abdulfatah Ahmed respectively, to former Imo Governor, Chief Achike Udenwa, PDP National Organizing Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (Rtd), PDP Governors Forum Chairman and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Fintiri, Sen. Ezenwa Onyewuchi, former Deputy Governor, Engr Gerald Irona, House of Representatives Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, Dr Kema Chikwe, Sen. Uche Ekwenife, Hon. Nnenna Ukeje and others, it was more of a mini political rally than a toast of sweet wine for Ihedioha.

It was more of the reunion of the ‘Rebuild Imo Agenda’, Ihedioha’s political group – with the primary focus of fostering people-oriented politics and governance in Imo. The main objective of the Rebuild Imo Agenda is basically to restore decent politics and ensure that Imo is never stripped off of its foundations – rooted in transparency, hardwork, economic development, public service and accountability to the people. The group was instrumental to the 2019 gubernatorial victory of Ihedioha and the subsequent political trajectory that Imo took within the seven months that the former Deputy Speaker held sway.

In the mind of those who honoured Ihedioha that fateful day was the regrouping of Rebuild Imo Agenda for the sake of 2023 governorship election. Though the ambiance was that of a birthday celebration; their hearts were fixated on the political battles that lie ahead of 2023

Speaking to THISDAY at the ceremony on the current position of the group with regards to Imo politics, former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Barr Uche Onyeagocha harped on what made Ihedioha’s a government celebral in comparison to others. According to him, the objective was to entrench “clean and incorrupt administration,” “we were sure that definitely the state was on the right track to development in a manner that was sustainable,” he stressed.

Also, former House of Representatives member, Hon. Mayor Eze also added his voice to the synergy associated with Ihedioha and the Rebuild Imo Agenda. Eze believes Ihedioha practically holds the ace of redemption of Imo both from the political and governance standpoint. He added that the former governor was able to prove his worth and capacity with the track records in policy, governance and development agenda he set within seven months in office.

It was not only the politicians that used Ihedioha’s birthday to reset public discourse about Imo, even intellectuals and private citizens are also echoing the imperatives of the Rebuild Imo Agenda. Speaking on the legacies of Ihedioha, an indigene of the state and Harvard-trained scholar and Associate Professor of Law at Baze University, Dr. Sam Amadi said: “You seemed prepared to govern. You came with a good script and a good team. But the Supreme Court threw a spanner in the work.”

In Imo, the PDP and its state Chairman, Engr Charles Ugwu also used the occasion to set the missing link between Ihedioha and the current administration in politics, accountability, infrastructural development and governance. According to Ugwu, the accomplishments recorded by Ihedioha and the vision for a better Imo remain critical in the history of the state.

Beyond the accolades and applause poured on Ihedioha, many eyeballs are squarely set on the political possibilities in Imo come 2023. The idea for Ihedioha’s group is to rejig the Rebuild Imo Agenda and stay focused. Ihedioha and his group would have to remain tight, as they railroad a new political calculus in Imo. That will take the combined forces of Ihedioha, Onyewuchi, Senator Sam Anyanwu (Sam Dede) and all the bigwigs in the PDP to slug it out with the All Progressives Congress and Uzodinma. As the season for politicking fast approaches, Imo promises to be a fierce political battlefield.

The Nigerian political and electoral calendar indirectly awards two years for governance and development; and regrettably, the other two years for politicking and electioneering campaigns. With that in focus, after May 29th, 2021, expect serious campaign and political consultations to begin. In Imo, Ihedioha and Uzodinma would have to return to the trenches for a real battle royale.

It will be Ihedioha’s big-picture ideas centred on Rebuild Imo Agenda – of infrastructure, education, policy, youth women and beneficial governance versus Uzodinma’s grassroots politics. The former will be angling to rally and mobilize his support base and party men, the latter will be relying on party structures and the gradual transformation he is bringing to the nooks and crannies of Imo. For Imo voters, it will be a contest to affirm their democratic and universal franchise mandate – the power to vote. It will likewise be a date to decide how Imo politics evolves in these trying times.

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Beyond the accolades and applause poured on Ihedioha, many eyeballs are squarely set on the political possibilities in Imo come 2023. The idea for Ihedioha’s group is to rejig the Rebuild Imo Agenda and stay focused. Ihedioha and his group would have to remain tight, as they railroad a new political calculus in Imo. That will take the combined forces of Ihedioha, Onyewuchi, Senator Sam Anyanwu (Sam Dede) and all the bigwigs in the PDP to slug it out with the All Progressives Congress and Uzodinma. As the season for politicking fast approaches, Imo promises to be a fierce political battlefield