BY INNOCENT ONYEUKWU
Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, has undeniably forged a profound connection with Owerri Zone since assuming office in January 2020.
His synergy with leaders in the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Owerri Zone has been notably robust, fostering a unique camaraderie that surpasses previous gubernatorial relationships in the state.
Comparing this amicable association to past administrations, especially Achike Udenwa’s, reveals a distinctive and enduring partnership between Uzodimma and Owerri Zone.
While Udenwa experienced a similar bond in his time, it eventually soured and dissipated.
In contrast, Uzodimma’s commitment to Owerri Zone seems unwavering, making the zone the focal point of his political engagements.
However, the narrative takes a turn when considering Okigwe zone, akin to Owerri zone, both appearing as marginalized segments of Imo’s political family.
With grievances fueling their determination to reclaim power in 2027, Okigwe Zone also stands united in their pursuit.
However, Owerri Zone’s trajectory differs, having strategically engaged with Uzodimma and reaping immediate benefits. Notably, the Imo Charter of Equity is perceived as a pivotal factor in this equation.
While some skeptics suggest that the Charter is tailored to get all three geopolitical zones in the state to favour Uzodimma’s bid for a second term, the recent success of his re-election on November 11 signals the beginning of the Charter’s implementation.
Uzodimma has pledged to uphold the Charter diligently, ensuring that Owerri Zone will be the primary beneficiary.
Given the historical neglect of Owerri zone in political power-sharing in the State, this presents an opportunity for the zone to secure the governorship position, which will potentially favour Uzodimma’s APC allies within the zone.
Those outside Uzodimma’s political circle in Owerri Zone may find the path to governorship in 2027 arduous, navigating challenges akin to traversing the eye of a needle.
The governor’s declaration that he will hand over to Owerri Zone opens the door for aspirants within the zone in his party who are discreetly harbouring gubernatorial ambitions.
While the next election is seemingly distant, those eyeing a gubernatorial contest in 2027, in his camp, must initiate strategic moves now.
Uzodimma’s whistle-blowing announcement serves as a reminder that preparation for an intense Imo gubernatorial race demands a meticulous and early start. Guber contests are not leisure pursuits from the comfort of yachts or cozy hotel rooms with women of easy virtue.
There are concerns about a likely, fierce, and messy scramble among Uzodimma’s allies in Owerri Zone for the coveted position.
The current unifying factor among them thus far is the governor’s recent re-election, which is providing a temporary respite before the intensity of the power struggle amplifies when his second term reaches midway in 2025 or 2026.
Drawing parallels to the past, the situation in Owerri Zone may degenerate to resemble the political episode of Imo State in 2006.
At that time, influential political figures, including Ifeanyi Araraume, Tony Ezenna, Kema Chikwe, and Hope Uzodimma, once united in the Abuja group, aimed to wrest control of the PDP structure in the state from then-Governor Achike Udenwa and secure the gubernatorial ticket.
However, personal ambitions shattered their unity, leading to a fragmented pursuit that ultimately benefited none of them.
A similar scenario may unfold in Owerri Zone in 2027, especially without a genuine leadership club or circle in place at the moment, capable of moderating expected heightened tensions, bruised egos, and frayed nerves when the scramble for power becomes intense.
While there is speculation that Uzodimma may influence the choice of his successor from the Owerri zone, the intricate dynamics of contending forces and competing interests cannot be underestimated.
Owerri Zone APC stakeholders must resist the urge or be careful not to convert Uzodimma’s gubernatorial promise into a divisive tool within the zone.
This will place Okigwe Zone in a vintage position to take the crown effortlessly.The Charter of Equity does not preclude any other zone from producing a governor.