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(An Independent Observer Report)
Elections in Imo State, the heartbeat of South East Nigeria are always contentious, intriguing. This is the reason a Governor was elected twice through a supplementary election.
Rochas Okorocha beat then incumbent Governor Ikedi Ohakim in 2011 to make a mark of unseating a serving Governor.He was re- elected for a second term in 2015 after a runoff election defeating a then Deputy Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP.
Interesting political dynamics have continued to manifest in the State, a place unusual political events take place. Imo is a State political gymnastics is active. Four months to the 2019 governorship election, strange but funny political dynamics are playing out.
The present Governor, Mr. Okorocha is involved in his biggest political battle. He believes only Uche Nwosu, his son in law is the right person to succeed him in 2019.
The opposition will hear none of that.They contend that the Governor is bent of installing his son in law in line with what they described as an extension of his “familioracy”.Okorocha had been criticized for involving his family members in running affairs of the State government.
Imo State has vibrant opposition political parties and an unhappy elite who say the Governor’s style of governance is not in tandem with norms of modern governance. There is also a confused masses who seem to be caught in the web of the political drama in the State.
The political situation in Imo State is like a child with convulsion. Four months to the election, the tempo is high, the atmosphere is already charged. No other State in the South East is witnessing such bare faced scramble and desperation for political power.
An unpredictable political climate is in the air. This strengthens postulations of many Imolites who see the governorship election on March 2nd, 2019 as a battle between a Governor who believes he has performed in the last eight years and an army of opposition who think otherwise.
Political events leading to the polls show signs of political uncertainty in Imo State. Okorocha is at crossroads. He is at logger heads with the national leadership of the governing APC led by Adams Oshiomole who rejected his son in law and former Chief of Staff, Nwosu, for Hope Uzodinma, a senator who represents Imo West Senatorial district.
Last week, the latest drama in the political theatre of Imo was the defection of Nwosu and members of Imo State House of Assembly from the APC and the opposition PDP, to the Action Alliance,AA, one of the registered political parties which had remained dormant for long.
Okorocha had said he will not quit the APC but will support his followers in the AA. No correct definition has been given for such rare political stunt which has precipitated diverse reactions from an electorate that is keenly observing the build up to the guber elections.
While some say it is an act of anti party, others contend it is one of those political gymnastics which Imo State has been noted for. Some say it is inter party marriage.
The Governorship election has shown sparks and signs of a fierce contest. Some believe it will be the biggest political battle that will be fiercely vied for by four major runners, Ifeanyi Araraume (APGA), Hope Uzodinma(‘APC), Emeka Ihedioha (PDP) and Uche Nwosu (AA)
The four political parties have exhibited a war like posture to capture Government House, Owerri and there are rising concern if the campaigns by the candidates will not degenerate to mudslinging rather than issue based.
None of the big four parties are without skirmishes orchestrated by internal strife which was an offshoot of a rancorous Party primaries.
Senator Ifeanyi Araraume in APGA was accused by his co aspirants of manipulating the process in cahoots with the party leadership to emerge the party’s flagbearer.
The PDP had randomly boasted that gone are the days its perennial crisis hunts it like a plague whenever there is scramble for Party tickets. It was a fairy tale, tales at moonlight.
There is a split in the party-though incapable of eroding it’s viability- but signpost a rift, a division in a party so keen to bounce back to reckoning in Imo politics but traumatized by internal rancour fueled by a group of angry members encapsulated in the Imo N-PDP.
The APC has been a battlefield as a big wrestle between Governor Okorocha and Senator Hope Uzodinma has hit the foundation of the party but incapable of affecting a strong and determined resolve by the latter to make an appreciable impact at the polls.
Of the big four candidates, three are making more than two attempts at the governorship contest, a case of recycled politicians who have the financial muscle to take part in elections that is so expensive.
In the Action Alliance, AA Nwosu holds sway while Okorocha gives subtle support. A case of the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob.
All these gymnastics make the State a battleground with all contenders scrambling for the number one job in the State. The contest has a good number of new entrants who have showed so much adrenaline not just to make up the number but put up a good outing in the contest
More than 60 governorship candidates are on the political turf of Imo State, an unprecedented number- a motley crowd of power seekers. A congregation of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Only few however stand out from the mob.The candidates in UPP, SDP, YDP are catching up with the tempo.
Several factors will contribute who grabs the victory baton of the governorship race in a State the ongoing political dynamics makes the governorship contest so unpredictable.