A continuation of innonews.com.ng special report on 2019 Imo Guber. Part 1 of the series was published on 25th December, 2018.
POLITICAL PARTY INFLUENCE.
The influence and strength of political parties in the 2019 governorship election is also crucial. The four major political parties, APGA, PDP, APC, and AA have functional party executives to the ward level. The SDP, Accord and UPP follow in that order.
The APC remains divided in Imo State because of internal skirmishes between Governor Rochas Okorocha and the party’s governorship candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma.
Despite handing over the party structure to the latter by the National Working Committee, NWC, which dissolved the party executives, the internal crisis may not end till the polls come on March 2nd, 2019. The perception of the party which was on a low ebb has improved minimally as a result of the new campaign mantra of the party.
The party has a herculean task to reposition immediately having suffered bruises and injury during the scramble for the soul of the party.
All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA.
The party was on the high swing until it held its governorship primary which was won in controversial circumstances by Senator Ifeanyi Araraume. This led to exit of many governorship aspirants and other stakeholders. This internal crisis affected the party greatly despite efforts to play down the level of destruct that came upon it after the primaries.
However, with more aggressive campaigns and dousing the flame of discord that reared its ugly head, APGA remains a potent force in the governorship election in 2019.
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The PDP is always at the forefront of political parties always in contention in the governorship race of Imo State. The party runs the best and formidable political set up across the 27 Local Governments and 305 wards in the State.
The internal skirmishes that rocked the party after the governorship primaries after Hon. Emeka Ihedioha picked the governorship ticket may not have shaken it to its foundation but it has the capacity to weaken the party’s strength in the election. The aggrieved members may be in the minority but a united party will do the PDP so much good ahead of the elections.
Action Alliance, AA
It is a new entrant in the contest but shot to the frontline because of the deluge of Governor Rochas Okorocha’s supporters who crossed over from the APC to the party to support Uche Nwosu’ governorship ambition.
Nwosu is the governorship candidate of the party. The AA is grappling with the task of creating awareness and having a solid support base across the State.
Already, it has 21 members of the Imo State House of Assembly and some stakeholders are key members and chieftains. The party is however on the upswing and devoid of rancour since most of its stakeholders come from one political family.
How fast it can penetrate the grassroots will determine how well it will perform in the elections.
The role of socio political groups cannot be wished away in Imo State governorship election. Aside political parties and structures of candidates, one of the potent forces in Imo politics is the congregation of socio political organizations who wield some influence.
In the three geo political zones in the State, there are groups, organizations with different colouration that play important roles in elections. Since there is no co- ordination, it will be difficult to aggregate their support base and capacity to determine which of the governorship candidates will win the polls.
Imo State is dominantly a Christian State and the Church are indirect players in the governorship election. The Catholic Church remains the most active because of its massive membership. It has over 3 million members. In 2011, it organized a debate for all governorship candidates in the State and it was perceived to have aligned to APGA which contributed to aid Rochas Okorocha’s victory. Its position on who wins the vote in 2019 is uncertain.
The Anglican Communion are more conservative, the Pentecostal and orthordox churches are less active but not oblivious of the dynamics that shape and determine the outcome of the contest.
*CANDIDATES CHANCES IN OWERRI ZONE*
Owerri zone is a swing battleground for the candidates though the sentiment of zoning is very strong. The area believes that it has been short changed in the political alchemy of the State. The last time it produced a State Governor was in 1992. Since democracy came in 1999, Orlu and Okigwe zones have produced the Governors of the State.
In this zone, three blocs are very strong. They are the Oratta bloc made up of Owerri North, Owerri Municipal and Owerri West Local Governments.
The Mbaise bloc comprises of four local governments- Ahiazu, Ezinihitee, Aboh and Ngor Okpala. The Mbaike bloc has Mbaitoli/Ikeduru LGAs.
*CANDIDATES STRENGTH IN OWERRI BLOCS*
The Oratta/Owerri bloc made up of- Owerri municipal, Owerri North and Owerri West is a battleground for Ihedioha, Araraume, Uzodinma and Uche Nwosu.
The four candidates have massive structures in these areas in addition to the strength of their various political parties which is visible up to the wards.
Owerri Municipal is a swing LGA with the four candidates who have political arrow heads piloting their ambition very strongly.
Ihedioha relies on the existing PDP formation and his support groups in the LGA; Uzodinma has the backing of his in law, a former Council Chairman, Ebere Mac Donald who is eying the House of Assembly seat, while Uche Nwosu is banking on the political strength of Majority Leader of Imo State House of Assembly, Hon Lugard Osuji and other “Rescue Mission” proponents in the LGA for necessary support.
Araraume is also coming up strongly in the area with effective grassroots drive driven by his staunch supporters in his Destiny Organization.
The same scenario can be obtained in Owerri West and Owerri North LGAs.This is another battleground for the four governorship candidates. Owerri West is too close to call though Ihedioha seems to have the edge. Uzodinma, Araraume and Nwosu also have solid support base backed by functional structures.
Hope Uzodinma has the backing of some political heavyweights such as Chief Gibson Njemanze (Oyiga), while Ihedioha is reving up with the backing of a former APGA governorship aspirant, Uche Onyeagocha who has openly endorsed him. Senator Araraume has some considerable followers as he has the backing of APGA House of Assembly aspirant, O.C Amako and APGA House of Representatives candidate, Ben Achugbuo.
Nwosu may have to rely on the backing of former Commissioner of Women Affairs, Ugochi Nnanna Okoro and other key leaders who have remained loyal to Okorocha.
Owerri North is dominantly a PDP enclave considering the number of political heavyweights from there. The party’s Owerri Zone senatorial candidate and current House of Reps member, Hon. Ezenwa Onyewuchi, is a son of the soil. He is core pro Ihedioha. It is the home of former National Woman Leader of the PDP, Dr (Mrs) Kema Chikwe and many others.
The political alignment of APGA Chieftain, Martin Agbaso and the party’s governorship candidate in 2015, Capt Emmanuel Iheanacho could not be ascertained. It would have been a boost for Araraume if they had openly given him their support. But Araraume’s backbone in Owerri North and in other areas is Jerry Chukwueke, who is the Vice Presidential candidate of the party.
Hope Uzodinma may have to rely on some back ups of APC chieftains from the area who were part of the Coalition of the group. The uncertain political alignment of Sir Jude Ejiogu, a former governorship aspirant in APC would have being big boost for Uzodinma.
The LGA is a shopping ground for all the four frontline candidates who have established support base with considerable followership. What will determine who wins the LGA is the level of their acceptance. Whoever wins the are depends on the strength of the political parties and existing structures.
VERDICT: Ihedioha Maintains Strong Presence. Uzodinma Has Made Impressive In- Road, Araraume and Nwosu also moving on a good pace.
END OF PART 2, WATCH OUT FOR PART 3