Despite Governor Hope Uzodimma’s resolute commitment to the Imo Charter of Equity, ensuring that Owerri zone produces the next governor in 2027, concerns and reservations have emerged among some political leaders in Orlu zone.
These concerns revolve around the belief that the governorship seat should not be handed over unconditionally, emphasizing the right of worthy sons and daughters of Orlu zone to equally aspire to the position.
The assertion by Governor Uzodimma that Owerri zone will produce his successor in 2027 has met resistance within some political stakeholders and economic interests in Orlu zone.
Owerri zone has historically been underrepresented in producing Imo State governors, with only a seven-month tenure for Emeka Ihedioha since the return of democracy in 1999.
Ihedioha was replaced by Senator Hope Uzodimma, who hails from Orlu zone, which has produced three governors, accumulating a total of 20 years in office.
The Imo Charter of Equity, crafted by the State Council of Elders, aims to end the dominance of a specific zone in the governorship and promote a seamless rotation among the three geopolitical zones in the State.
Despite Uzodimma’s announcement, subtle resentment within his zone, including within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), indicates a potential challenge to the governor’s decision.
The Orlu Political Consultative Assembly (OPOCA), led by a former Commissioner in Uzodimma’s administration, Rex Anunobi, had expressed resentment by suggesting that if Owerri zone is to produce a governor in 2027, its sons challenging Governor Hope Uzodimma’s electoral victory in the November 11, 2023 governoship election, should withdraw their court cases.
This statement, although criticized by Owerri zone stakeholders, signals that some prominent Orlu leaders may not fully support an unconditional transfer of power to Owerri zone.
A notable Orlu zone political leader, who spoke to INNONEWS on condition of anonymity, highlighted the importance of allowing governorship aspirants from Orlu zone to equally participate actively in the governoship contest in 2027.
Emphasizing on consultation and a collective decision-making process, the leader stated that Uzodimma alone cannot impose his choice of Owerri zone governor on Orlu zone.
Disenfranchising candidates from Orlu zone, according to him, is not democratic, and the governor needs to consult with Orlu stakeholders.
According to him, the majority of political leaders and businesspersons in Orlu insist that whoever Owerri zone produces as Uzodimma’s successor must align with their interests.
He further said that Orlu zone dominates Imo State’s economic landscape and, therefore, any successor must prioritize and protect their economic concerns.
Past grievances, he noted, such as the investigation of Rochas Okorocha’s properties by Governor Ihedioha, contribute to the insistence on a cautious approach to the transition of power to Owerri zone.
Emmanuel Okwu, President of Owerri Zone Awareness Coalition (OZAC), in his reaction, said it is evident that some Orlu leaders are uneasy about an Imo governor from Owerri zone in 2027.
He emphasizes that Governor Uzodimma’s decision aligns with the Imo Charter of Equity, aimed at ending political imbalance in the State.
Okwu encouraged cooperation among the three zones to achieve a smooth and fair transition in 2027.
He said “Orlu zone do not own Imo State. Any right thinking Orlu zone man or woman, who believes in fairness and equity, should support Governor Uzodimma’s resolve to ensure the workability of the Charter of Equity
“Owerri zone is overdue for Imo governorship seat. And nothing will stop an Imo State Governor of Owerri zone extraction in 2027”
A political analyst, Reuben Njoku, said based on the foregoing, it is clear that Governor Hope Uzodimma faces the challenge of navigating the complexities involved in ensuring a seamless transfer of power in 2027.
He said “Balancing the aspirations of Owerri zone, the principles of the Charter of Equity, and the apprehensions in Orlu zone requires strategic political maneuvering.
“The success of this balancing act will determine the political stability and unity of Imo State leading up to the 2027 governorship election.
“The decisions made and actions taken by political leaders, stakeholders, and Governor Hope Uzodimma will not only impact the 2027 governorship election but also set the tone for the future of governance and political inclusiveness in the state” he said.