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Should Imo people let sleeping dog lie?

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First it was Imo State, then Bayelsa, where the Supreme Court saw things differently from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria’s electoral umpire. Most of the stakeholders in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) strongholds were enraged by the apex court’s verdict.

In Imo, the court on January 14, 2020 sacked PDP’s Emeka Ihedioha who had only spent seven months in Douglas House as governor, and enthroned Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

INEC had declared Ihedioha winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship election and Uzodinma the third runner-up. But the later appealed at the election petitions tribunal and the Court of Appeal, but lost in his argument that 388 polling units in his stronghold were cancelled by INEC. However, the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, listened to his plea and gave him all the votes from the 388 polling units. That verdict sacked Ihedioha from Douglas House.

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Thirty days later, precisely February 13, the apex court struck again, this time in Bayelsa State, aborting the well-rehearsed swearing-in of APC’s David Lyon because his running mate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eriemienyo, allegedly forged a certificate to stand for the election.

The development, which threw up PDP’s Duoye Diri that came second in the November 16, 2019 election as the new governor to succeed Seriake Dickson, raised dust in Bayelsa. While PDP loyalists were celebrating, suspected APC loyalists descended on Diri, destroying his property.

Imo is not Bayelsa; hence Imolites took it calmly. To help matters, Ihedioha and the PDP called on their supporters to remain peaceful, with the hope of reclaiming the mandate.

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Later, positing that Uzodinma, the incumbent governor, fraudulently misled the court to pronounce him as winner of the election, Ihedioha filed for review of the Supreme Court judgement that ousted him, adding that the judgement should be nullified.

Ihedioha, who is seeking “an order setting aside as a nullity the judgement delivered by the court”, founded his application on the ground that the Court of Appeal had earlier dismissed the petition of Uzodinma as incompetent and struck it out.

But on Friday, February 7, some traditional rulers in the state asked Ihedioha to withdraw his case against Uzodinma in the interest of Imo.

Spokesperson of the royal fathers, Eze Akujobi Osuagwu of Awaka Autonomous Community, told newsmen in his palace that the controversy generated by Ihedioha’s case at the Supreme Court was dragging the state backward.

Come to think of it, Mbaise people are justified to feel cheated, as they had been denied the state’s top job since the state’s creation. In other states, even at the federal level, the gentleman’s agreement of zoning suffices. Surprisingly, zoning is being observed in Imo legislature. This is a clue to future political arrangements in the state.

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However, peace is wiser than power. Going by the point of the monarchs who are supposed to be custodians of peace and harmony, it may be wise to let the sleeping dog lie this time around.

Ihedioha is still a young man, and 2023 (or is it 2024 now?) is around the corner.

Yours truly believes that Uzodinma has PDP blood in his veins, as he only joined the APC less than two years now. He was a member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), national caucus and National Executive Council (NEC) between 1999 and 2017. So, working with PDP members in the state will not be big deal for him. I only wonder why PDP members are in a hurry to jump ship.

Governor Uzodinma has made bold promises, which, if followed through, can transform Imo. He is a citizen and a businessman. It should be wise to give him benefit of the doubt. Crises will only distract him and give him opportunity to blame detractors if he unfortunately fails.

The PDP should, at least take Bayelsa as consolation for its Imo loss and support the present administration in Imo to succeed.

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