As the battle between the National Assembly, on one hand and the Presidency and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on the other hand, rages over whose responsibility it is to draw up the sequence of election time table, the same scenario seems to be playing out in Imo State among those seeking to pilot the affairs of the state from May 29, 2019.
In fact, the quest for the governorship seat of Imo State can rightly be said to have devalued the exalted office and reduced it to the status of a Local Government Council Chairman. This is so because the caliber and pedigree of some of those printing governorship posters indiscriminately in the State, have demeaned the governorship contest to a banana venture.
All manner of people, known and unknown, are today jostling to be the governor of Imo State come 2019, not minding the obscure nature of the political platform through which they intend to actualize such a lofty dream. To this group, what matters most is for the world to know that they were ‘one time’ governorship aspirants in Imo State. Funny enough, some of them even appear alien to the people of their own home town, having been away from home for so many years.
This unfortunate situation has bred aspirants who could be termed as either contenders or pretenders in the race for 2019 Imo Governorship. In a similar manner so many political parties in dire need of pubic attention have chosen to leverage on the goodwill of these pretending desperadoes, even when it is common knowledge that both the party and the pretender cannot advance beyond mere appearing on posters as aspirants with the party’s logo. This is the bitter truth.
To discerning minds in Imo, three political parties can without equivocation, be said to be the serious contenders for the 2019 Imo governorship seat. These are the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In these three leading Political Parties, one can also easily pin-point the pretenders in the midst of the contenders. The pretenders are everywhere and even out-number the real contenders, just as one observes counterfeit or adulterated commodities submerging the market.
In APGA, the situation has become not only ridiculous but also ludicrous. The number of those aspiring for the governorship of Imo State under APGA far out-weigh other aspirants for other elective positions in that same party put together. In APGA, everybody is a potential governor of Imo State. Haba!
Many displaced politicians in some other political parties have found haven in APGA. Each one of them professing how he will turn around the fortunes of Imo if given the mantle as governor. They seem to forget in their fantasy that Imo people still remember bitterly the betrayal they suffered in the hands of APGA in 2011 shortly after Owelle Rochas Okorocha was declared governor under APGA. This betrayal is the harbinger of the wailings, gnashing of teeth, severe pains and disregard to rule of law in Imo.
Will Imo people play the fool again in 2019? According to the late literary icon, Prof. Chinue Achebe in Arrow of God “If an old woman falls twice, the children around might be forced to count the contents of her basket” and “once beaten, twice shy”. According to pundits, imminent political implosion looms in APGA. They hinge their argument on the avalanche of strange bed fellows co-habiting in Imo APGA today. The party easily reminds one of the market square in our rural communities. Even among these birds of unidentical plumage in APGA, Okey Ezeh, Ike Ibeh, David Mbamara and Uche Onyeagocha appear to be the serious contenders. Others are pure pretenders, who are either seasonal politicians or poster politicians. Their political records speak volumes about their unserious nature or lackadaisical approach to electoral contests. Why they chose APGA is best known to them.
To further buttress this position, the National Chairman of AGPA, Victor Oye, recently raised alarm that governor Rochas Okorocha is planting his surrogates in APGA, who pretend to be vying for the Imo governorship seat under the party’s platform. He promised to fish out such pretenders before the party’s primaries. Do we need to say more on this? No, I do not think so because it will tantamount to unnecessary dissipation of energy.
The APC obviously is the modern day absurdist political theater in Imo State. The contest is between Senator Ifeanyi Araraume and Governor Okorocha’s alleged quest for third term through his son in-law and Chief of Staff, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu.
In any public forum these two gladiators advertently or inadvertently congregate together, they always exchange political missiles to the admiration of those present. The fierce battle between these two parallel camps in APC has transcended beyond Imo State and has now assumed a national colouration within the APC’s national body.
Apart from these two, there is also the Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere and former Secretary to the Imo State Government under Okorocha, Chief Jude Ejiogu, who are contesting under APC’s platform. A significant thing about the APC situation is that all the contestants were once together under Okorocha’s government but today, things have fallen apart and the centre cannot hold again. It is now a case of “to your tents O’Israel. Look now to your own house, David.”
Nevertheless, the real contenders in Imo APC is Governor Rochas Okorocha and Senator Araraume. Okorocha is fighting a proxy war for his son in-law, Uche Nwosu, who of course, can never contemplate in his wildest dream of daring Araraume to a wrestling duel.
The PDP of course, is the darling party of Imo people. It is the party Imolites are looking up to for their liberation from the joking years of famine and hardship foisted on them since 2011.
In this party, is the charismatic Rt. Hon. Chukwuemeka Nkem Ihedioha, immediate past Deputy Speaker of Federal House of Representatives. Ihedioha has admirably grown and developed in leaps and bounds and remains a primus inter pares in the PDP governorship race, according to analysts.
There is also a serving member of the House of Representative, Tony Nwulu, who has indicated interest in the PDP governorship ticket. And just recently, Senator Samuel Anyanwu equally made a U-turn and opted to have a shot at the governorship seat under the PDP as against returning to the senate which he had openly told people he preferred last December. Of course, nobody should begrudge him. It is his right.
Unfortunately for the Senator, his declaration for the governorship contest under the PDP has been greeted with outright rejection by Owerri Zone elders. Ironically, Senator Anyanwu is the Senator representing these elders in the senate. Spokesman of the elders and a seasoned medical practitioner, Dr. Josiah Oduma has even vowed to go on exile and die there if Senator Anyanwu, by omission or commission, gets PDP’s nomination. “This of course, is impossible and a day dream for him (Senator)”, Odunna was quoted as saying.
But why is Senator Anyanwu’s volte face generating ripples for him in the PDP? Why are people (even his own people) rejecting him? Some accused him of fronting for a group and that he is being teleguided. Others allege that he wants to destabilize the party for an unidentified interest, while others opine that he is very inconsistent, and lots more.
Whether these allegations are true or not remains a poser Senator Anyanwu must unravel. They are very weighty, and cannot be wished away in the interest of the party.
Among all these contestants, Ihedioha seems to be at home with everybody both within the PDP and outside. His candour, maturity, knowledge of the micro and macro economic indices of Imo State, open mindedness, and his people oriented blue print for a liberated, rejuvenated and prosperous Imo, are the panacea the people have been yearning for.
According to Comrade Chinedu Ibeh, the gap between Ihedioha and other contestants for 2019 Imo Guber is like that of a Professor (Ihedioha) and the undergraduate students. Ihedioha is a noiseless achiever, a very articulate and worthy ambassador of Imo with vast contacts to turn around the economic fortunes of Imo, with or without federal allocation.
“Hate him or love him, Ihedioha epitomizes a credible and positive brand. Indisputably, he is a corruption-free leader, a MR INTEGRITY without any stain. He stands tall amongst other aspirants and can favourably compete with the best from any part of Nigeria. He is our pride, whose word is his bond. Anybody who seeks to govern Imo must be without blemish. Imo as it is now, is bleeding profusing and therefore needs no further injury”, says Chief (Mrs.) Roseline Nwanjoku.It is also rumoured that the former governor, Ikedi Ohakim may jump into the ring again or in the alternative, align with Ihedioha. This however, remains more of a rumour as the former governor is keeping has game plan close to his chest though he enjoys cordial relationship with Ihedioha more than any other aspirant in the PDP.
Recently reports had it that two legal luminaries of note in Imo (names withheld) may soon join the race under the platform of the PDP. The two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANS) are believed to be seriously contemplating taking independent decisions or joining forces with Ihedioha to avoid losing out completely. Whatever happens, the fact remains that the more the aspirants, the merrier it becomes. It is healthy development not just for PDP alone but for our democracy as well.
Conclusively therefore, it can be inferred that among the contenders and pretenders across party lines, Ihedioha remains a strong factor. In other words, the 2019 Imo governorship debacles can be narrowed down to a two-man race between Ihedioha and others.
Eweama Is A Media Consultant Based In Owerri, Imo State