BY BEN UGWU#
Much has been said about Governor Rochas Okorocha’s plan to install a successor in 2019. There is nothing strange and new about such plan because it is the character of outgoing Governor’s to do so. At the moment, there are concerns how he intends to achieve this purpose.
WHO TO CHOOSE FROM HIS CORE LOYALISTS
More than four of his loyalists are on the queue waiting to be named as his successor. This is headache for the Governor. Of the four, Uche Nwosu, his Chief of Staff and Son-in law has been widely speculated to get his nod. This is fueling mixed feelings among the elites and the people who somewhat frown at the idea of installing his son-in law.
If Nwosu enjoys Okorocha’s confidence, public perception on having him as Okorocha’s successor exude divided views. However, his indecision on who takes over from him is the first major hurdle he has to cross. And it is a major hurdle indeed as he has his Deputy, Eze Madumere in the fray. The Speaker, Imo State House of Assembly, Acho Ihim is also said to be an interested contender. How and when Okorocha makes his final selection remain a waiting game for all political players in the State.
The division in Imo APC is another headache he has to deal with before having the coast very clear for him to have his successor on the governorship ticket of the party. The APC in Imo is badly fragmented at the moment. Recently, he lost the loyalty of more than 10 local Government Chairmen of the party whom he accused of taking oath for another governorship aspirant, Ifeanyi Araraume.
The APC in Imo has been in bad shape. Party members have lamented over their neglect and state of impoverishment since they were elected. Araraume and some “Abuja based politicians” seem to have gained some considerable hold of the party which may pose a threat to Okorocha’s plans install a successor . How the Governor retakes total control of the party remain a crucial factor in his bid to have his successor replace him after 2019.
DWINDLING PUBLIC PERCEPTION
Rochas Okorocha which earned him tremendous accolade in 2011 from Imolites is battling to re-enact such feat as there have been so much complains by the populace on his recent style of governance. The demolition of Eke Ukwu market appears to be a negative turning point for the Rescue mission as majority of Imolites condemned the demolition which has further increased economic hardship in the State. The ordeal of pensioners who complain of irregular payments of pensions and deduction in workers salaries is also a huge factor that may not aid the succession plan.
Despite the government insistence that it has done well in providing tangible and visible achievements, the average Imolite tend to disagree. The demolition of buildings is another sour point fueling low public rating of the government.
Lately, the Governor has received two African Presidents who visited the State for his Rochas Foundation. President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. The unveiling of their statues attracted public outrage from the people of the State and beyond. Reports had it that N1 billion was spent to build them. This has fueled more complains by the people. And it is a major concern how he wriggles out of the deluge of public condemnation that has trailed the unveiling of the statues.
OWERRI ZONE AGITATION
Owerri zone is the most marginalized of the three zones in the power alchemy of the State. The last time the zone produced Imo State Governor was in 1999. This is why the clamour to take over Government House in 2019 is very fierce now. Okorocha says he does not believe in Zoning. This means if he fails to take his successor from this zone, then one can expect a fierce resistance especially from the opposition elements in the zone.
MASSIVE INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT
The key delivery point of Okorocha’s succession plan will be hinged on his government’s massive infrastructural projects. This is one of the positives that will surely aid his succession plan.
Since the inception of the Rescue Mission government, so many structures have been erected by the governor across the State. From road expansion to building of new schools, Okorocha has towered above past administrations in this regard. Analysts contend that it is a major campaign tool for anyone he backs as his successor.
Ben Ugwu is a political analyst and writes from Owerri
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