As the 2019 elections draws near,CHIEDU UZODINMA AND RALPH EJIMKONYE in this report x rays the capacity of five political parties to win elections in Imo State and reasons why they may emerge victorious.
Elections in Imo State are fiercely vied for and this is why some political parties have energized themselves ahead of the 2019 polls in order to be formidable enough to outpace one another in a bid to clinch victory.
There are 91 registered political parties in Nigeria, but five of them have shown strong abilities to cruise to victory during the polls in Imo State in 2019.
These five parties have exhibited strength, posses reach and capacity, in addition to the character of aspirants in their fold vying for various positions on their respective platforms.
Based on close assessment and careful understudy of all political parties operative in Imo State, five of them namely the United Progressive Party, UPP, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Social Democratic Party and the Mass Action Joint Alliance, MAJA can be considered as key runners in the race for various elective offices in Imo State in 2019. This does not entail that other parties are “dead” or unable to spring up strongly before the elections in the State.
The five aforementioned political parties have shown a relentless ability to succeed, having permeated their ideology and unique selling points to the grassroots.They also have vast membership, functional structures from the wards to the State levels and lately embarked on an aggressive mobilization which underscore the depth of their preparedness for the expected tough political battle ahead in the State in 2019.
Some of them have also exhibited a flaming passion to engage the electorate as their backbone, swaying the mindset of the people to secure their votes during the elections.
Some other parties who fall in this category are well established, with an eye for victory but faced with daunting internal and external challenges that had plagued its performance in previous elections in Imo State.
ALL PROGRESSIVE GRAND ALLIANCE, APGA.
APGA has leapfrogged from its rag tag appellation to become a formidable political party and also emerged as one of the potent political forces in the State.
It now has an impressive and solid support base derived from the Imo electorate who have stayed glued to the party because of its bias for Igbo interest. This had translated to its victory in past elections in Imo State.In 2011, it demystified the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to win the Imo governorship election. That victory was cut short when Rochas Okorocha, the benefactor of APGA’s victory in 2011 dumped the party, describing it as a cultural organization.
Rising from that setback inflicted on it by Okorocha has been APGA’s major ordeal since 2011.But somehow it has wriggled itself out of that cocoon and has succeeded to retain appreciable support from the Imo electorate.
This is the reason why there are more than 20 governorship aspirants and hundreds of other public office seekers on its platform for the 2019 elections.
As gainful this positive development is to the party, this has led to serious fears that APGA will be hit by implosion considering the high number of aspirants so desperate with a do or die mentality to ride on its platform to cruise to victory.
Despite repeated assurances from the State party leadership that all is well and such implosion will not surface, how it will prevent such impending political disaster that has the capacity to shatter the party to bits and pieces is better imagined than explained in this piece.
The party indeed stand a risk of losing the support base it had garnered for years if such an anticipated implosion and internal strife after its primaries is not effectively managed. This has the potency to affect its chances at the elections in 2019 and make it a chaotic party unfit to be entrusted with the leadership of the State again.
UNITED PROGRESSIVE PARTY, UPP
The United Progressives Party, UPP put up an impressive performance at the 2015 elections in Imo challenging the PDP, APGA and the APC for the governorship and other elective positions.
Since then, the UPP has consistently maintained its ideology which is similar to that of APGA with emphasis on protecting and serving Igbo interests.This has continued to endear it to the Imo electorate.
For the records, it was APGA’s former National Chairman, Chekwas Okorie that formed the UPP and made a political force to reckon with in Igbo land.
UPP posses the same colouration with APGA and its unique selling points has been driven by a flaming passion to provide responsive and responsible leadership derived from its progressive oriented manifesto.
Having boldy announced its presence in the Imo political arena in 2015, there are positive signs that the UPP in Imo State has not just come to be an onlooker in the 2019 elections but a key player in the rat race for power.
With the successful conduct of ward, Local Government and State congresses devoid of rancour and acrimony, the UPP had offered free nomination/expression of interest forms for aspirants below 30 years.Physically challenged persons and female aspirants are completely exempted from buying forms.
These measures signposts the party’s readiness to become a rallying point for Imo youths and showcase its preparedness to take on other contending political parties in elections in Imo State.How the party penetrates it’s Progressive ideology and it’s alignment to Igbo interests to the grassroot will make it a formidable force to reckon with in the coming elections.
The party however stand the risk of being invaded by political masquerades who may be seeking for political refuge after losing relevance in their original parties.
PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Imo State has always shown so much adrenaline to conquer at elections in Imo State. This flows from its formidable status, It’s size and might in addition to its well organized structures from the ward to the State levels that has been it’s strength and a reflection of its capacity to win elections in the State.
However, since 2007, it has been sour for the party as the number one top job in Imo State that is so dear to it has been elusive to the party thus limiting it’s victory to Senatorial, House of Reps and House of Assembly elections.
One permanent feature about the PDP in Imo State is its perchance for internal strife and bickering that usually tear it apart before major elections in the State.
In 2007, the party unable to heal itself of self inflicted political bruises lost the governorship election to then little known and less fancied Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA.
In 2011, it crumbled to APGA like a pack of cards and in 2015, another round of political gymnastics during its primaries made it lose the governorship election to the All Progressive Congress, APC.
Despite assurances by the present party leadership in the State that such ugly experiences have been confined to the trash bin of history and would not repeat prior to 2019, the individual interests of many political warriors and gladiators in its fold may be another stumbling block to head to the 2019 elections with less rancour and acrimony.
Past political events in the party in Imo State had shown that the PDP has never gone into elections as a united family due to self inflicted and prevalent ceaseless political wars that usually rear its ugly head after its primaries.
How it breaks this jinx in 2019 is better imagined as the Imo electorate may not be positively disposed to align with a party enveloped in chaos before the elections.
ALL PROGRESSIVE CONGRESS, APC.
The APC has become a major political force in Imo State after clinching victory in the 2015 elections in the State.
Such political potency cannot be ignored considering its size and strength in the State coupled with the power of incumbency it presently enjoys.
Despite being the ruling party at the State and federal levels, the APC has lost so much followership which has significantly weakened its support base in the State.
This can be attributed to its porous policies and programmes in the last four years which has impoverished majority of the people.
The APC should also be frightened that no ruling party in Imo State has ever won re election since 2007 and this is one major factor that may hunt it in 2019 in the State.
With divisive tendencies gaining grounds in the party in the State in recent times, the APC despite its strength and well organized structures, huge membership across the State has a herculean task to convince the Imo electorate to give it a second chance.This is like a camel walking through the eye of the needle!
However the party may bank on the fact that no ruling party has performed wonders in less than four years it strolled into power, but it is an inescapable fact that it’s chances at the 2019 polls in Imo State at the moment is largely threatened by internal skirmishes and an electorate so despondent and earnestly yearning for a change of political party at the helm of affairs of the State. Unless it improves on its perception rating between now and the elections, it has a herculean task to record another of victory in the coming elections.
SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY, SDP.
The SDP can best be described as a new kid on the block.Despite making its debut on the political arena of Imo State barely a year ago, the party has maintained a pace that attest to its determination to fight for relevance in the 2019 elections.
It has built structures across the State, embarked on aggressive mobilisation that has penetrated the grassroots.Though at the moment it lacks some political firepower to cause a surprise in 2019, its rapid growth and increasing strength should not be ignored.
MASS ACTION JOINT ALLIANCE (MAJA PARTY)
The Mass Action Joint Alliance, Maja Party has shown ability to cause a political upset in 2019 elections in the State.
The party has structures across the State and has been moving on a good pace showing signs of making an impact in the 2019 elections in the State.
It has anchored its message on social equality and re engineering as it’s selling points in addition to its robust sensitization of the populace across the State.
However, its ability to contend with other big parties with rooted structures at the election is yet to be deciphered and its level of acceptance by the Imo electorate remains shadowy.