BY KENNETH ONWUKA#
The recent visit by former Deputy Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Rt Hon.Emeka Ihedioha to Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has continued to raise dust and suspicion within the political landscape of Imo State.
Tambuwal is a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress, while Ihedioha is of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Tambuwal and Ihedioha presided over the affairs of the 7th House of Representatives as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively, having emerged through controversial circumstances and a process that defied the zoning arrangement of the then ruling PDP.
Since then, both politicians have been jolly good friends which extends beyond politics. The only difference in the relationship is that they belong to different political parties at the moment.
But the recent visit by Ihedioha, a staunch pillar of the Ahmed Makarfi faction in the PDP, to Tambuwal’s Sokoto State, where he commissioned some projects, has fueled speculations that probably he is making moves to dump the PDP and join the APC for obvious reasons. Such assumptions had reared its ugly head in the past but was roundly rebuffed by aides of the former deputy speaker who said nothing of such is in the offing.
However, with uncertainty hovering on the continued existence of a troubled PDP in Imo State and at the centre, any move made by a politician, especially a high profile politician of Ihedioha’s size and might attracts huge speculations considering the fact that a deluge of defection of members had hit the party lately.
Since the formation of the Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance, APDP, in Abuja on Tuesday, some PDP chieftains in Imo State were reported to have held secret consultations with promoters of the new party ” to seek for political refuge”
Ihedioha was not mentioned in the report to have held such meetings.
It is a fact that he has the intention of running for governor of Imo state in 2019 having failed to win the contest in 2015. He has reportedly set up structures to actualized his ambition and has the backing of some major stakeholders of the PDP mainly those he empowered when he was deputy speaker.
Though he has remained a strong supporter of the Ahmed Makarfi faction of the PDP, the uncertainty surrounding the leadership tussle in the party has further raised concerns if the former lawmaker will stay put in the PDP in the event the Supreme Court rules in Ali Modu Sherrif’s favour.
Having served the PDP since its inception in 1999 and hugely benefited from the party, there are concerns that he may choose to dump the party if the Sherrif group is given the leadership instrument of the party except his Makarfi group gets the legal nod.
Ihedioha’s Media aide, Mr. Chibuike Onyeukwu, when contacted for comments on this issue did not respond to the inquiries of this newspaper.
But foot-soldiers of the former Deputy Speaker remain optimistic that their boss is a staunch member of the party and has no intention whatsoever to dump the PDP he contributed to build. They contend that it is not in order to make “out of range speculations: on his political future as regards the PDP when the Supreme Court is yet to pass judgment on the leadership tussle in the party.
” It is a case of putting the horse before the cart. It is premature and totally unnecessary because we are not God that decides the fate of men” said a pro Ihedioha supporter who was his staunch campaigner in Owerri North Local Government Area
A few others also remain skeptical of the next move of their boss as they believe the Supreme Court judgement will clearly define his next political footstep.
Mr.Paul Nwosu, a political analyst based in Owerri, in his analysis of Ihedioha’s political ordeal, told this newspaper that there is nothing wrong with the visit of the former deputy speaker to his bosom friend, Governor Tambuwal of Sokoto State.
He said “We over speculate over little issues in Imo state. At a time the nation’s unity is threatened by ethnic and religious tensions, there is need for such visits by our leaders to calm frayed nerves. The Sultan of Sokoto in his speech when Ihedioha visited his palace rubbed on this very important point. Judging from what I read in the newspaper on what transpired at the visit, there was nothing political that was discussed”
“Besides, Ihedioha and Tambuwal are friends as we saw when they presided the House of Reps”
“That both of them are in separate political parties at the moment is no tangible argument. If Ihedioha wants to decamp to the APC or any other party, he is free to do so. It is his right. Freedom of Association as enshrined in the Constitution of our land. There is no basis for further senseless arguments”
He continued ” I do not also subscribe to the insinuation that because he is very close to Tambuwal of the APC, it will give him the impetus to join the APC now and pick effortlessly the governorship or senatorial ticket of the party in Imo State or even be a running mate to his friend if the latter decides to contest for the Presidency. There are processes. The APC have internal mechanisms for all that, certainly no newcomer will jump the rules of the party”
This newspaper had gathered that with 2019 fast approaching, certain political permutations will still play out that will define the next political moves of the likes of the Mbaise born former Deputy Speaker and many others.