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Okorocha, Ihedioha, Iheanacho Slug It Out

By Charles Ogugbuaja, Owerri
11 April 2015   |   11:16 am
IN Imo State, the governorship contest is majorly among Governor Rochas Okorocha of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) standard-bearer, Emeka Ihedioha, and former minister of Interior and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Emmanuel Iheanacho.  
rochas-okorocha--

rochas-okorocha

IN Imo State, the governorship contest is majorly among Governor Rochas Okorocha of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) standard-bearer, Emeka Ihedioha, and former minister of Interior and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Emmanuel Iheanacho.
Others, who are making little impact by way of publicity, are Usmond Imo Ukanacho of the United Progressives Party (UPP), and Ken Ojiri, of the Accord Party (AP).

Distinctively, the real duel is between Okorocha and Ihedioha. The PDP in the March 28 presidential/National Assembly elections polled 559,185 votes, while the APC had 133,253 in the 23 out of 27 Councils of the state, with polls in four councils cancelled.

This indicates that the PDP has an edge over APC, but politics can show otherwise any day. The argument has been on that the turn is for Imo East (Owerri) senatorial zone to take the mantle of leadership in the state, having only had a stint of less than two years in the late Chief Evan Enwerem, during the short-lived Gen. Ibrahim Babangida military regime in 1992.

Imo West (Orlu, with 12 councils) senatorial district had eight years of Chief Achike Udenwa (1999-2007). In 2007, Chief Ikedi Ohakim of Imo North (Okigwe, with six councils) senatorial zone took over and held for four years (2007- 2011).

Emeka Ihedioha

Emeka Ihedioha

There became intense agitation for Owerri zone, with nine councils, to taste power. Okorocha Okorocha is about 52 years and hails from Ogboko in Ideato South Council of Imo West (Orlu zone).

In 2011, he contested under the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and beat then incumbent, Ohakim, of the PDP after the elections were declared inconclusive and a supplementary poll conducted.

By that stroke, he broke the zonal arrangement to take over, making it 12 years that Imo West has been in power. A philanthropist, Okorocha has served a Special Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He was actively involved in the negotiation of the political merger that gave birth to APC, after which he declared APGA “dead.” His administration has brought about enormous infrastructural growth, spanning from roads, hospitals, schools and the free education policy, among others.

But his opponents accuse him of mismanaging over N378 billion councils and state allocations he has received since 2011, among others. Okorocha is also accused of pampering his family and in-laws at the peril of the masses, but he is also known to have the support of the poor people in the rural areas, pupils and students.

In fact, to his opponents, the governor’s “sins” are numerous and He has to be chased out of Government House today.

But to his supporters, he remains a shining example of political leadership. Ihedioha   Born about 50 years ago, Ihedioha, an alumnus of the University of Lagos, trained in various fields of human endeavour in Nigeria and abroad.

He hails from Mbutu in Aboh-Mbaise Council and has been in the House for 12 years, representing Aboh Mbaise/Ngor-Okpalla Federal Constituency. He had served as Chief Whip and Chairman of House Committee on Marine before becoming Deputy Speaker, even against the wish of his party, which had zoned it to another geo-political zone in 2011.

He also chaired the House Committee on Constitution Review.   The astute legislator, Ihedioha has contributed immensely in attracting many projects to the state, including the over N2 billion Ihitte-Uboma road under construction; some roads in Mbaise; skills acquisition for youths; attracting funds to complete the Owerri-Omelu-Elele road; etc.

Despite all the above, Ihedioha is accused of not doing enough in the last 12 years, ostensibly unmindful that he is not in the executive arm of government. He is making impressive performance at campaigns, as manifested in the last polls.

Iheanacho   A successful businessman in the marine sector, Iheanacho hails from Emekuku in Owerri North Council. He was appointed minister of Interior before he was suspended and recalled and later left to pursue his political carrier in APGA.

He is said to have many business outfits employing many Imo indigenes. Though he is centering his campaign on his exploits and the good works of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, his party did not clinch any seat in the March 28 polls. His opponents are accusing him of favouring his Emekuku base and little beyond. An orator, his fate would be determined by his party and supporters’ performance and many see his chances as slim.