The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had last week, announced that the Ngor Okpala State Constituency bye election, will alongside other bye elections in four States in the country hold on February 26.
The polls, barely a month away, provides a platform for the governing All Progressive Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to test their political strength.
Analysts contend that both parties are desirous to win the 2023 Imo guber election and would use the forthcoming bye election, to showcase their capacity to ride to victory in 2023.
The APC and the PDP in Imo State have been entangled in fierce political altercations after the Supreme Court on January 20,2020, removed Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP as governor and replaced him with Senator Hope Uzodimma of the APC.
Two years after that judgement, both political parties have never ceased to use any opportunity to fire salvos at each other. The political fireworks between both parties has been intense, thus charging the political landscape of the State.
Ngor Okpala LGA is a major stronghold of the PDP in Owerri zone, and is noted to be among the political base of former Governor of Imo State and Imo PDP leader, Emeka Ihedioha.
The former governor had represented Ngor Okpala alongside Aboh Mbaise LGA, at the House of Representatives, where he rose to become Deputy Speaker of the House.
Retaining the Assembly seat, will be the PDP’s major objective, in order to send signals to the ruling party of it’s grip in Owerri zone.
In the 2019 elections, the PDP had won the nine House of Assembly seats in the zone, including the four House of Reps seats and the Senate. It formed the bedrock for the PDP to win the governorship election.
Though some of House of Assembly seats won by the PDP has been lost to the APC after some members defected to the ruling party, the opposition party is expected to come against the governing party, the APC led by Governor Hope Uzodimma, who would want to erase the stronghold and dominance of the PDP in Owerri zone.
The APC in the State is disposed to overrun the PDP in Ngor Okpala House or Assembly bye election, to send signals to the PDP that it should forget returning to Government House, Owerri, in 2023.
The party, last year, won the Okigwe Senate election, with it’s candidate, Frank Ibezim, overrunning the candidate of the PDP, Emmanuel Okewulonu.
A political analyst, Mr. Emmanuel Anyasodor, told INNONEWS that the Ngor Okpala bye election is a litmus test for both parties in the State ahead of the 2023 polls.
He said “Ngor Okpala House of Assembly bye election is a battlefield for the PDP and the APC in Imo State. It is the home ground of former Governor Emeka Ihedioha and he must show capacity to keep the APC at bay and retain the Assembly seat for the PDP. Anything short of this will send signals that the journey to 2023 is lukewarm, and the APC is a major stumbling block.
“Whoever carries the day will reveal considerably which of the two political parties is on ground, and capable of recording victory in 2023” Anyasodor said.
Tochi Okereke, the elected representative of the people of Ngor Okpala at the State House of Assembly, is reported to have “abandoned” his post, forcing the Speaker of the House, Rt Hon Kennedy Ibe, to declare his seat vacant after failing to attend House sittings for a long period.