Ahead of the November 11, 2023 governorship election in Imo State, the name of Imo State Commissioner for Works, Ralph Nwosu, a kinsman of Governor Hope Uzodimma , has popped out as his Running Mate.
Uzodimma is the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress,APC for the November polls.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Friday, released details of governorship candidates and their Running Mates for the off cycle governorship election in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa States.
Mr.Nwosu’s name appeared on INEC portal as Running Mate to Governor Hope Uzodimma.
INNONEWS gathered that Mr. Nwosu is a Place-Holder, which means he temporarily occupies a position he will vacate for another person sooner or later.
INEC do have a window for substitution of candidates before elections.
In the 2019 governorship election, Uzodimma had selected his current Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General, Mr.C.O.C Akaolisa, as a placeholder for the position of Running Mate.
Akaolisa was eventually substituted with Prof Placid Njoku, for the Running Mate position.
Mr Nwosu is from Oru East Local Government Area, a stone throw distance from Oru West LGA, the local government of Governor Hope Uzodimma.
Though there is no official reaction from the APC or the State government whether Mr. Nwosu is a place-holder or not, some opposition elements in the State had tagged Nwosu’s nomination as a clear case of an Orlu/Orlu governorship ticket reminiscent of APC’s presidential Muslim/Muslim ticket of Bola Tinubu/Kashim Shettima.
However pro Uzodimma allies argue that Nwosu’s name is a placeholder to give more time to the Governor to consult widely on his choice of Running Mate either from Owerri or Okigwe zones.
Owerri Zone has been perennial producers of Deputy Governors to most State Governors in the State.
Most of Uzodimma’s allies, associates and friends, including some of his appointees from Owerri Zone are lobbying seriously for the position, up to the point of making it a contest.
Several interest groups fronting for some politicians interested in the position have repeatedly supported the re-election of the Governor, as a strategy to get his attention for the number 2 position of the State.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, Owerri Zone had produced one governor and three deputy governors.
Dr (Mrs) Ada Okwuonu was deputy Governor to Ikedi Ohakim from 2007-2011.
Mr.Jude Agbaso and Mr.Eze Madumere were Running Mates and eventual Deputy Governors to Governor Rochas Okorocha.
Prof Placid Njoku, also from Owerri zone is deputizing for Governor Hope Uzodimma.
While Emeka Ihedioha from Owerri zone was Governor for seven months, he chose his Running Mate and eventual Deputy Governor from Orlu zone, Engr Gerald Irona.
Okigwe zone is however putting up a firm claim to produce Uzodimma’s Running Mate.
The zone has produced one governor and deputy governor each from 1999 to 2023.
Ikedi Ohakim, who governed the State from 2007- 2011, and Late Engr Ebere Udeagu, who was Deputy Governor to Achike Udenwa from 1999- 2007.
The Imo Charter of Equity, which was recently formulated and approved by the Imo State Council of Elders, tends to rotate the office of the governor among the three geo political zones in the State.