There are concerns over an alleged possible understanding between Governor Hope Uzodimma and his predecessor, Emeka Ihedioha, over the forthcoming November 11, 2023, Imo governorship election.
Speculations swirled in the media recently that Uzodimma and Ihedioha, adjudged political cat and mouse, may reconcile and enter into a secret agreement ahead of the polls.
A newspaper report had further claimed that a secret meeting between the duo was in the offing, designed to get the former governor to support Uzodimma’s re-election plans.
It was also reported that the move of Ihedioha’s men to the APC was part of a grand plot “to get the former governor to join the APC in the long run, perhaps before the 2027 Imo governorship election.”
Though there has been no official reaction from both quarters to these allegations, sources said there is no such arrangement at the moment, despite mounting suspicions that the defection of some key PDP chieftains, mainly Ihedioha’s loyalists, to the APC is a precursor for the former governor to support Uzodimma.
The defection of loyalists and die-hard followers of the former governor, including seven members of the State Working Committee, SWC, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Imo State, to the All Progressives Congress, APC, had raised suspicions that reconciliation between Ihedioha and Uzodimma could be in the offing.
Some of the PDP defectors, such as Ray Emeana, a known die-hard Ihedioha loyalist and erstwhile Secretary of the PDP in Imo State, have since taken up appointments in Uzodimma’s administration.
Multiple sources told INNONEWS that some key PDP chieftains and members in the state who joined the APC, joined Uzodimma’s Camp Hope on their own volition and were never “prompted by anyone”.
“Ihedioha cannot support Uzodimma for the November 11 guber. One, they are not in the same political party. Two, how could he (Ihedioha) do so when he (Uzodimma) via controversial judgment of the Supreme Court removed him from office.
Another source said, “The majority of them (Ihedioha’s loyalists) are not on the same page with Senator Samuel Anyanwu, the Imo PDP governorship candidate, and choose to join Uzodimma or stay politically afloat till 2027, when the former governor may prefer to contest for the Imo governorship in 2027.
“It is not a hidden fact that Ihedioha possesses the soul of Imo PDP.
“When he left the governorship race in the PDP, most of his followers, who constitute more than 80 percent of the party, became politically stranded, and perhaps they cannot wait until 2027, when he is expected to join the governorship race again,” a top-level source in the PDP told this newspaper.
“In Imo politics, it’s all about stomach infrastructure. Most political allies follow political leaders based on what they will benefit.Immediately, Ihedioha opted out of the race, many of his allies had to find political accommodation for survival elsewhere. But I can tell you that majority of his core allies are still with him
“However, in 2027, according to the tenets of the Imo Charter of Equity, Owerri Zone, where Ihedioha comes from, will benefit from the Charter. It would be politically beneficial if Uzodimma wins a second term and leaves in 2027, when Owerri Zone is expected to produce his successor.
“Ihedioha became governor when the then-sitting governor, Rochas Okorocha, was leaving office after completing his two terms.
“When Okorocha was governor, he could not defeat him. This shows that defeating a strong incumbent could be very difficult in Imo State after Ikedi Ohakim was defeated by Rochas Okorocha in 2007 guber election. Thus, it is politically safer for Ihedioha to contest when the incumbent is leaving office,” the source said.
The former governor has not openly shown support for the governorship bid of the PDP governorship candidate, Senator Samuel Anyanwu.
He had stepped out of the governorship race in the PDP, on the basis of his alignment with the choice of the party for “consensus candidate”, but many fault the argument on the basis of a rift between him and Anyanwu.
“It would be politically beneficial if Uzodimma wins a second term on November 11, because strong candidates from Owerri Zone,such as Ihedioha, will stand a chance to be governor in line with the Charter of Equity,” one of the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity told INNONEWS.