2019 Imo Guber: 65 candidates jostle to take over from Okorocha
At the end of the day, some of them would be content with their names appearing on the INEC list, which the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Imo state, Prof. Francis Ezeonu said is the highest in the country.
In the real sense of the game, only candidates deserve to be in the race, based on their popularity, capacity and readiness.
The top contenders are: Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Senator Hope Uzodinma, All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Uche Nwosu, Action Alliance (AA) and Ikedi Ohakim, Accord party (AP).
A look at the top contenders
Senator Ifeanyi Araraume
HE is the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
The Isiebu, Isiala Mbano born politician was in the Senate twice. He has contested governorship election in the state three times and is presently running with the slogan RECOVERY.
Going by the size of his campaign outfit (he recently shared150 vehicles) he appears to enough resources required to execute the job.
However, a good number of his party members have left the party, having accused the national leadership of robbing them in the primary.
Recently, the former national chairman of the party, Chief Martins Agbaso announced his defection to the All Progressives Congress, with about 85 percent of members, according to him.
Speaking to Newsmen shortly after his defection, Agbaso informed that his decision was because APGA was dead in the state as a result of the inordinate actions and greed of some of the party leaders from Anambra State.
However, Araraume still enjoys overwhelming support of remnants of his party members, who believe he has an intimidating political structure and grassroots support base.
Senator Hope Uzodinma
He is the APC governorship candidate and currently a senator. He hails from Omuma in Oru East Local Government Area of the state.
Uzodinma once belonged to the Modu Sheriff Camp of the Peoples Democratic Party, which structure he managed to collapse into a faction of the APC to form Hope Campaign Organisation.
He came from nowhere to pick the party’s ticket, defeating Okorocha and his preferred candidate, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, with the help of the party’s national leadership led by Adams Oshiomhole.
He enjoys some level of goodwill in the state, especially among party members, led by the caretaker committee chairman, Prince Marcellinus Nlemigbo.
However, his main challenge lies in the crisis rocking the leadership of the party in the state. It is worth to note that Imo APC is presently factionalised with two leaderships working across purposes.
Also, the challenge posed by the incumbent governor, Rochas Anayo Okorocha and the factional leadership of the party led by Mr. Daniel Nwafor, who have openly withdrawn their support for Uzodima is a huge minus.
As a matter of fact, Uzodinma, the records of the Nwafor-led Imo APC, has been expelled from the party for anti-party offences; and members have been warned not to identify, support or vote for him in the coming election, but instead vote across party lines based on capacity and credibility of candidates.
According to Okorocha in a recent interaction with Journalists, any party member or Imolite that votes for Uzodinma in the March 9 poll, will commit a crime against humanity, stressing that Uzodinma, from his antecedents has nothing to offer the state if elected.
Based on that resolution, actual owners of APC have resolved in thousands not to support Uzodinma because he was imposed on them.
He didn’t win the party primary; he wasn’t part of the party; he doesn’t have party card and those who wanted to impose him right from Abuja did so without the consent of the people and that is what caused the exodus of APC members to AA, they claim.
They fear that if Uzodima wins, Imo will be ruled from Lagos and Port Harcourt, which they say will be a crime against humanity.
Nwafor also stated, “as the duly and validly elected APC Executive in Imo State, we have looked at the issues raised by APC Omuma Ward and we have seen merit in the decision to expel Sen. Hope Uzodinma for anti-party activities.
“We are only affirming the actions of the ward executive of Sen. Hope Uzodinma in line with the constitutional provision of our party.
“So regrettably, at this time, we need to save the soul of our party. The party cannot at this time allow its members to divide and reduce the morale of our party faithful.
“We cannot allow a candidate of our party to continue to engage in anti-party activities by sponsoring opposing party candidate.
So right now, APC in Imo will not and cannot recognise or support Sen. Hope Uzodinma as the candidate of the party in the state because he is no longer a member of our party.
“And we call upon all party faithful in the state to abide by this decision of APC in Imo State. Not obeying the decision will amount to disobedience and the consequences as spelt out in the constitution of our party.”
But as it stands, Uzodinma and his supporters are confident that with President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the February 23rd election, they stand a good chance to ride on the Buhari bandwagon and federal might to clinch the position.
Chief Ikedi Ohakim
HE is a former Imo governor, who also ran and lost against the incumbent, Okorocha in the 2011 governorship race. In 2015 he also ran and lost the governorship primary to Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha on the platform of PDP.
Ohakim hails from Okohia in Isiala Mbano LGA of the state. He is known for his Clean and Green programme from 2007 to 2011when he was governor.
On record, he was ousted from the office in 2011 for reasons of low performance and alleged molestation of a Catholic priest, among other shortcomings.
In 2018, after returning from his acclaimed political sabbatical, he indicated interest to go back to Douglas House to complete his eight years on the platform of APGA, with the promise to make up for his first four years and to make Imo work again.
But after the troubled APGA primary, he moved to the Accord Party as the standard bearer. He is preaching about Otu Onu’ (serving only one term) and his demonstrable experience for the job.
He is banking on his experience, capacity and credibility to return him to Douglas House, having sworn an affidavit in court to, according to him, fix Imo as a chief mechanic.
However, some believe, it does not appear there is anything new he will bring on board.
In fact, that his past will turn out his greatest undoing, as the Imo electorate has not forgotten the circumstances that led to his humiliating defeat in 2011.
He is the only governorship candidate that chose a woman as running mate, Lady Ann Dozie, from the famous Paschal Dozie family in Emekuku, Owerri North LGA.
She is a former commissioner for Women Affairs, a grassroots politician and astute women mobiliser. It is expected that she will bring her capacity and dexterity to bear on the poll.
Chief Emeka Ihedioha
HE is a three-time House of Representative member, where he served as the Deputy Speaker and temporally, Speaker in acting capacity. He is a native of Mbutu in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of the state.
He is a household name among a handful of politicians in the state. He is said to have paid his dues politically and in the service of the state. He has large followers and supporters, mainly from his Mbaise Nation and Owerri Zone.
And it is believed that the strength of the Mbaise population if properly harnessed will put him in good stead going into the poll.
He is also favoured by the clarion call for zoning of the seat of governor, as no person from his area has governed the state since its creation.
Also, he comes from the Owerri Zone that desperately needs the position and belonging to the main opposition PDP, gives him greater visibility.
One of his challenges, however, is the age-long negative perception of Imolites for the Mbaise Nation, which should not translate into governance.
Also, he may have problem contending with the fact that he has to share votes from the Owerri Zone with over 50 percent of other candidates who hail from the same area with him.
Also, the contentious victory of the APC in the last election may have some bandwagon effect on his confidence going into the election.
Ugwumba Uche Nwosu
UCHE Nwosu may be referred as the green horn among the other top contenders, based on political experience and exposure. But he could boast of seven years of tutelage under Governor Okorocha, his father in-law who brought him to political limelight.
Given his peculiar case, he has become one of the most popular politicians in the state. Aside being the youngest among the contenders, he also commands an overwhelming support and loyalty from Imolites, especially youths.
This Eziama Obaire, Nkwerre born youthful governorship candidate remains Okorochas preferred choice and he has vowed to deliver him come March 9; though belonging to another party different from the governors APC.
It is a common fact that he benefits from the formidable structure of the governor, as well as goodwill and will no doubt leverage these to advance his chances in the poll. He remains the most visible among all the candidates with his billboards and posters everywhere.
The low point is that he hails from the same Orlu Zone as the governor, which is seen by some pundits as the third term agenda from the back door for Okorocha.
But in the last election, he demonstrated his capacity to win having delivered Buhari in his LGA, Nkwerre as he promised.
Equally, if President Buhari’s statement that Imolites should vote across party lines was actually made in his favour as claimed by his loyalists, he looks good shock his opponents. He will get votes from those that believe Okorocha has done well in his almost eight years in office.
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