*By AUGUSTINE EGBUNA*
As Primaries for various elective positions draws near in the All Progressives Congress, APC in Imo State, there are feelers that those who may emerge candidates are aspirants, who have remained loyal to the party and to Governor Hope Uzodimma’s administration.
Governor Uzodimma had recently ruled out any endorsement for any aspirant in the party, but quickly pointed out that only those who worked for the party would be rewarded.
The Governor’s statement propelled the rush for Nomination and Expression Of Interest Forms by aspirants, especially his loyalists, who had been complacent about their ambition, ostensibly waiting for the Governor’s directive.
Imo State APC Chairman,Mr.Mac Donald Ebere had also at several fora, re-echoed the Governor’s position of no endorsement for any aspirant, but stated that the APC in Imo State, will look out for candidates with a “winning mentality who would remain loyal to the Governor and to the party”
Despite the no endorsement stance of any aspirant by the Governor, party sources continue to insist that trusted allies, dependable partners of Uzodimma’s administration and loyalists may be favoured for the party’s ticket for various positions.
They argue that it has been observed that Governor Uzodimma applies a quasi -consensus method, in selection of candidates in the party, an act which had played out in the past.
During the race for Okigwe Zone Senatorial bye election, the Governor was known to have backed Mr.Frank Ibezim against the candidature of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, for the APC Imo North Senatorial ticket.
Despite the political and legal fireworks put up by Araraume to stop Ibezim from emerging the party’s flag-bearer,Uzodimma stood his ground and led Ibezim to emerge victorious in the bye election, defeating the PDP candidate, Emmanuel Okewulonu.
Also, during the scramble for the Chairmanship of the APC in Imo State, he endorsed Mr. Mac Donald Ebere, his in law, as State Chairman of the party. Also, all members of the State party executives were said to have been endorsed by the Governor.
During the bye election for Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Assembly seat, he allegedly showed his preference for Blyden Amajirionwu for the APC ticket.
Analysts contend that Uzodimma’s disposition to subtle endorsements in the APC in the State, is largely fueled by his desire to ensure that his trusted allies emerge as candidates, or hold key positions of trust, in readiness for the 2023/24 Imo governorship election, which he is expected to seek re- election.
Already emerging developments ahead of the party primaries in Imo APC, show that a consensus approach may come into the fray, in the selection of candidates during primaries.
The entrance of former Governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim into Okigwe zone Senatorial race had confirmed speculations that Governor Uzodimma could be giving his allies the go ahead to seek for elective offices in the party.
Ohakim had dumped the PDP for the APC last year and has shown open support to the Governor. Other key allies of the Governor in the APC are said to have also picked up Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms for House of Assembly, Senatorial and House of Reps positions.
A Chieftain of the party and former Councilor in the State, Hon Steve Iwuoha, had told this newspaper in April, that Governor Uzodimma will determine those who will emerge candidates of the party.
He said “The National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, had said State Governors are Supreme leaders of the party in the States.
“He had also said candidates of the party can emerge through direct, indirect and consensus method. Most Governors prefer the consensus approach. It aids them to plant their loyalists in key positions. They need to plant their allies to enable them secure a safe passage to a second term.
“State Governors wield enormous influence in the party. This means Governors hold the ace and will determine those among multitude of aspirants that will emerge candidates for various elective positions.
“Allies, friends, associates and unrepentant loyalists of the Governors are always favoured during party primaries.
“In Imo State, Governor Hope Uzodimma is in charge of the party. He calls the shots in the APC in Imo State and he is expected to ensure that his allies emerge as candidates at various levels, to consolidate his grip of the party in the State and more importantly, strengthen his second term bid.
He continued “No State Governor in the APC would allow political back stabbers to win party tickets and Imo State would not be an exception because Hope is in charge”