BY CHIEDU UZODINMA#
Despite his open endorsement for the governorship ambition of his Chief of Staff, Uche Nwosu, the reaction that has trailed Governor Rochas Okorocha’s pronouncement has led to mixed feelings and reactions across the state.
It has also increased the political tempo in Imo State as the 2019 governorship elections draws near.
Okorocha’s Rescue Mission camp is not also exempted from the tension and pressures his support for Uche Nwosu for 2019 Imo guber has generated lately.
The pressure could be responsible for the noticeable incoherence in the Governor’s camp especially from those who are also in the race for the governorship in 2019.
The rave and the wave that trailed Uche Nwosu’s endorsement for Imo governorship by Okorocha appears to have quacked the political landscape of the State including members of his family as there have been reports that his family members are not on the same page with him on Nwosu’s ambition.
It was also learnt his open announcement compelled politicians even those in other political parties to go back to the drawing board and review their strategies.
Newspaper reports in Owerri had claimed that even in Okorocha’s family there are skirmishes as the report claimed that some family members were pushing for the candidature of Engr. Chuks Ololo.
Aside the wave of endorsements from almost all the local government chapters of the All Progressive Congress, APC that have shown support for Uche Nwosu, the renewed ambition of Chuks Ololo, the hubby of Okorocha’s sister, Ogechi who is the Commissioner for Happiness and Couples Fulfillment, may not have foreclosed finally Okorocha’s choice on who takes over from him,albeit within his family circle.
Aside reported internal family wrangling,the Governor may have to pacify the Eze Madumere camp which have not relented in pushing on with the ambition of the Deputy Governor.
Madumere has been a core loyalist of Okorocha for more than 20 years and many had expected that he is a worthy successor and satisfies the yearning of Owerri zone to occupy the governorship of the State. But lately and with Okorocha’s preference for his Chief of Staff, Madumere’s ambition appears to hang like a thread.
How Madumere manages the political dynamics that have reared its head in the camp of his boss determines his political future to a large extent.
Sources said he did not get the nod of his boss because he is surrounded by strange political forces who may sway him away from his masters bidding if he becomes Governor.
“Those around the Deputy Governor are politicians who know more than him. Eze is a good humble guy but those pushing his ambition are core politicians who may make him deviate from his boss” the source stated.
To underscore the intensity of the fierce scramble for power in the Governor’s camp in a bid by the major contenders to undo each other, rumours filtered into town that some top government functionaries were working in hand in gloves to impeach the Deputy Governor. The rumour was later debunked by the Governor who said he had no hand in such plot as it never existed.
“The truth of the matter is that those who cooked up the impeachment story with the hope that it would help them in their ambition are also the ones marketing it” a statement signed by Sam Onwuemedo, Okorocha’s Chief Press Secretary clarified.
However, such rumour of an alleged impeachment of the Deputy Governor underscores the depth of internal wrangling that has eaten so deep in the Governor’s camp on the issue of succession.
The ambition of Sir Jude Ejiogu, a former Secretary to Government of Imo State in Okorocha’s government add up to this pressure. Despite his exit from the government, he has maintained excellent relationship with top officials of the government.
Ejiogu has been widely seen as part of the Rescue camp eying the governorship seat of the State but recent developments has proved otherwise.
A day before Okorocha said he is backing Uche Nwosu For the governorship, Ejiogu disassociated himself from online reports that he has dumped his ambition for Okorocha’s Chief of Staff.
He had also kicked against mock primaries in the APC as proposed by Okorocha, an indication that he has distanced himself from the Rescue Mission camp and now on a solo run for the governorship ticket of APC.
These developments tend to show that all is not so smooth in Okorocha’s camp as he begins the journey to have his choice take over from him. The odds are legion considering unfolding political developments in the State after his endorsement for Uche Nwosu.
Some political pundits who spoke to this newspaper however argue that Okorocha’s support for Uche Nwosu does not mean he has foreclosed anyone else from taking a shot at the Governorship within his camp.
Mr. John Anyagwa, a political analyst who spoke to this online newspaper said the Governor’s statement endorsing Uche Nwosu was misunderstood and totally misinterpreted.
He said “Okorocha never said he has chosen his Chief of Staff as his successor, he only said the young man is nice, capable and hardworking and if he ( Uche Nwosu) decides to contest for the governorship, he (Okorocha) will support him. The Governor was only voicing out his stand. His position is not the stand of over 6 million Imolites who also have the right to choose who governs them.
“Uche Nwosu has not said he is vying for the governorship though his body language says so. He has to come out to say so, if he does then we can now conclude that he is in the race. For now he has not declared his ambition”
“The issue of sucessor of a State like Imo is not a one man business” Anyagwa said
For Igwekala Uche, a political science undergraduate of Imo State University, he said for the Governor to voice out his support for one of his loyalists shows he has made up his mind on whom to support for the governorship when he leaves office.
“It is a clear scenario. Okorocha wants his Chief of Staff to take over from him. If he did not have Uche in mind as his personal successor, he would not have announced him as one who he wants to take over from him”
“What is Okorocha’s dilemma is how he convinces Imolites that his son in law is the only one that can govern Imo State when he leaves office. It is a tough task though and he has to work very hard to achieve this task. The perception of Imolites on this matter is very delicate one considering the fact that majority of Imolites are very skeptical about it” he said.
He continued “Those managing Nwosu’s ambition should not be swayed by some of the youths who were induced to endorse him or the praise singers who are milling around him.He should come out and market himself to the people and not hiding on Okorocha’s back. They have to be practical and realistic about it. They need a feedback mechanism to really understand how people feel about a father in law handing over to his son in law as governor of Imo State. These are core issues except they are telling us that our votes do not matter anymore”he said
Governor Okorocha has consistently said that the fact that Nwosu is his son in law does not mean he is not qualified to be Governor of Imo State. This argument was however punctured by some political pundits who say his line of argument is not tenable.
The opposition in Imo State had also faulted the Governor’s open endorsement for Uche Nwosu. The Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Imo State chapter, Damian Opara at a press conference in Owerri said Okorocha’s open support for Uche Nwosu is a ploy by the Governor to convert Imo State to his family business recalling how appointment and contracts in the State had been cornered by family members of the Governor in the last seven years.
Mr. Everest Osuagwu, a youth leader in Owerri West LGA however differed with the PDP spokesman. He said it is very unfortunate people are missing the point about the whole saga.
Osuagwu said “The issue is,is the young man qualified to contest for governorship of Imo State? I think yes. Other factors such as he is Okorocha’s son inlaw is a matter left for Imolites to decide. I think it is the media and the opposition that is blowing up the ambition of the Chief of Staff. They are making him very popular among other aspirants for the governorship of Imo State”
Chris Okehi, a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress,APC in Ahiazu Mbaise said “Anyone can aspire to be Governor as long as he or she is qualified. But the issue is there are many qualified Imolites who have excelled in their various fields of human endeavour and can govern Imo State at a time the State really need the right expertise to swim away from the mismanagement Okorocha’s government has plunged Imo State into.
“We need a clean break from Okorocha and anyone he wants to take over from him. Imo needs a new Sherriff in 2019 and not one from the old order” he said
However, the uproar the Nwosu’s ambition has generated is one just hurdle to cross for the Governor Within the party, All Progressive Congress in Imo State, he has a much more herculean task to contend with.
The governorship ambition of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume is a huge unsettling factor for Okorocha in the APC.
The Senator is working hand in gloves with key party stakeholders from Imo State such as Senator Benjamin Uwajumuogu, Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba, Chief Elvis Agukwe, Chief Gibson Njemanze (Oyiga) Chief Longers Anyanwu, Vitalis Ajumbe, Chief Uzoma Obiyo and many others.
These forces have the wherewithal to upstage any game plan by the Governor to plant a successor.
Last week, some concerned stakeholders in the party kicked against the mock primaries suggested by the Governor as a means of selecting party candidates. They insisted on normal party primary which is in tandem with the party constitution.
This newspaper observed that the Araraume camp had moved in to cage the party structure winning over many APC faithful.
This newspaper observed that Okorocha’s biggest task is how he will get his candidate on the APC governorship ticket with the mountainous heap of opposition forces in the party.
“It’s not all about endorsing anyone.The party’s governorship ticket is the ultimate prize. Araraume is a master in political party primaries .He won the PDP primary twice in 2006 and 2015 and this makes him a formidable force. I think that is why Okorocha is calling for a mock primary rather than a regular primary” he said .