Sunday, 2nd April 2023
Breaking News:

Uzodimma and battle to retain majority lawmakers

By From Charles Ogugbuaja, Owerri
16 March 2023   |   3:45 am
As Imo State electorate warm up to exercise their franchise by electing their preferred candidates to occupy the 27 constituency seats in the House of Assembly, Governor Hope Uzodimma has a Herculean task of ensuring that his seat remains intact.

Governor Uzodimma. Photo/HopeUzodimma01

As Imo State electorate warm up to exercise their franchise by electing their preferred candidates to occupy the 27 constituency seats in the House of Assembly, Governor Hope Uzodimma has a Herculean task of ensuring that his seat remains intact.

While the electorate would go for only the House of Assembly election this weekend, the governorship poll is expected to hold in November. The adjustment is because the immediate past governor, Emeka Ihedioha, was ousted by the Supreme Court on January 14, 2020, when the former was barely seven months and two weeks in office, and Uzodimma was announced as winner of the March 2019 governorship election in the state. The Supreme Court relied his judgment on the premise that the results of the 388 polling units where Uzodimma had an edge were excluded unlawfully in that election.

Labour Party (LP) made an impressive performance in the last Presidential and National Assembly (NASS) elections in the state.

Following the emergence of the senatorial candidate of LP, Ezenwa Onyewuchi, in Imo East (Owerri zone), comprising nine councils: Owerri North, Owerri West, Aboh Mbaise, Ezinihitte, Ahiazu Mbaise, Ngor Opkala, Mbaitoli, Ikeduru and Owerri Municipal, the state government is said to be worried.

Onyewuchi, the sitting senator, had lost the primary under his hitherto party, the PDP, to Uche Onyeagocha. But he quickly leveraged on the Peter Obi’s factor, and switched over to LP and vowed to rubbish the PDP. He made truth to that in the last National Assembly election, polling in excess of 100,000 votes, while Onyeagocha came second with over 87,000 votes.

But the APC Senatorial candidates in Orlu zone (12 LGAs, Imo North) and Okigwe zone (Imo North, with six LGAs), Osita Bonaventure Izunaso and Patrick Ndubueze, won.

Sources said that the governor was unhappy, particularly, that his party lost in Owerri Federal constituency (Owerri From Charles Ogugbuaja, OwerriWest, Owerri North and Owerri Municipal). A sitting member of the Okigwe Federal constituency, Miriam Onuoha, of the APC, won, defeating Chikwem Onuoha, of the LP.

In another costituency, a sitting member of the Obowo, Ihitteuboma and Ehime Mbano Federal constituency, Dr. Chike Okafor, lost to the PDP member/ former deputy speaker of the state assembly, Jonas Okeke. Okafor had made an effort to return for the third term.

At the moment, the constitution of the out going Imo legislators includes 18 members of All Progressives Congress (APC); seven members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and two LP members. Most of them decamped from one party to the other.

In more than three years, the state assembly has had four speakers. The present and fourth in the order is Emeka Nduka, a member of the ruling party.

When the ninth Assembly started in 2019, majority was PDP, some members of APC and Action Alliance (AA), but today, the majority is the ruling APC.

The trust of the constituents in the 27 constituencies is seemingly fast waning against the lawmakers following their representation falling shot of the expectation of the people.

For instance, during the last constitutional review on local government and State House of Assembly autonomy, the state lawmakers voted against that. Many Imo people were very angry against the decision of the lawmakers on the issue.

That is in addition to other perceived ways they handled some state matters. Suspension of members was also prevalence. But this does not mean that any fast persons seeking for re-election with conviction will not excel.

The LP issue, which saw to the sympathy of the larger electorate, is what Uzodimma will grapple with, if he must retain his seat, even beyond November.

Only last weekend, the new state chairman of LP, Festus Onyekwulisi, while addressing newsmen in Owerri, vowed to oust the state governor and APC via the polls by sustaining electorate’s confidence. The newly appointed Special Adviser on Public Communications, Collins Ughalaa, quickly responded to the comment, saying that Onyekwulisi, was on frolic mission.

Onyekwulisi, boasted: “We have begun the process of recovering Imo State. The first step is to hold a transparent primary. In all this transparency will be our watchword. Let me say it again that we are nobody’s stooge and the LP in Imo State is not factionalised.

“We are committed to a new Imo State. LP administration will bring dividends of democracy to the Imo people. We are men and women of proven integrity. We have modelled ourselves to Peter Obi. We are here to do what is right. I am only a stooge to my conscience.”

The statement issued by Ughalaa, replying the LP chairman said: “The imposed caretaker committee chairman, Festus Onyekwulisi, in an effort to justify his imposition, boasted before newsmen that LP would sack Governor Hope Uzodimma, during the next election, and such other mumbo-jumbo excited people could say. No doubt, Onyekwulisi is sleep-walking and not in tune with reality. If he had asked those who imposed him, they would have told him he was embarking on a journey of the impossible.

“There is no democracy in the LP in Imo. The morning shows the day. Those who imposed a caretaker committee on the party say they already know the governorship candidate and insist it’s him or no one else. The imposition of the caretaker committee is just one of the many strategies to impose governorship candidate on the party. The primary election in the LP will be just a formality – to pretend to be democratic.”

The statement maintained: “As of yesterday, March 10, 2023, the supposed leaders of the LP in Imo State were still fighting over the imposition of a caretaker committee. While those who think the imposition favours them insist it must stand, those who believe that imposition has no place in a constitutional democracy like ours say it must not stand. We are just watching from a distance.

“Backed by some other leaders in the party, the erstwhile Publicity Secretary of the party, Comrade Alvan Opara, issued a disclaimer, saying the deposed chairman of the party, Ambrose Onyekwere, was on his own. He said the State Working Committee of the party remains intact and not dissolved and that members of the party should not attend any meeting convened by Festus Onyekwulisi and his cohorts.”

The governor pointed out that chieftains of the party, who objected to Onyekwulisi’s emergence, stressed: “In another bizarre development, 18 notable leaders of the party, including nine governorship aspirants, rejected the imposition of a caretaker committee, describing it as Ill-timed and lacking in proper consultation. In a protest letter signed by Senator Chris Anyanwu, Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie, Dr. Obinna Ibe, Hon. Nick Oparandudu, Hon. George Egu, Frank Nneji, Pascal Odibo, Hon. Mike Ndubuaku, Dr. Chinyere Okpara, Ike C. Ibe, Kelechi Nwagwu, David Mbamara, Charles Onyirimba, Humphrey Anumudu, TJ Ehirim, Martin Agbaso, Jack Ogunewe, and Chinedu Amadi, on Thursday, March 9, 2023, said the imposed caretaker committee “has been causing much consternation among party faithful” and causing damage to the party. They called for the immediate suspension of the imposed caretaker committee.”

The statement insisted: “There are perennial governorship aspirants in the party, and they see the November 2023 governorship election as their very last opportunity, and they are poised for a spoil. We wouldn’t name anyone yet, but LP leaders in Imo say that only their anointed candidate would fly their flag and that others who are buying the party’s expression of interest and nomination forms are on their own.

This fraud will further expose the faultlines in the party and hasten the implosion waiting to happen. If the party survives the looming self-destruction, then we will begin to listen to Mr. Onyekwulisi and the likes.”

According to the state governor, “By the special will of God, Governor Hope Uzodimma is seated like the Rock of Gibraltar, and no boastful claim made under exuberance can remove him. Uzodimma and Imo people are like 5 and 6 – they are intertwined, like conjoined twins, and cannot be severed by mere hallucinations.”

The statement noted areas of achievements by the Uzodimma administration, stating that “Imo people needed a prudent, performing governor, and they got it all in Uzodimma. What has the governor not done? He has brought an infrastructure revolution in Imo, something never seen since 1999. In the midst of politically contrived insecurity, he is busy making a way where there used to be none. Onyekwulisi and his cohorts should ask people who live at MCC Road, Dick-Tiger Road, Chukwuma Nwaoha Road, Ihechiuwa Road, Relief Market Road, how they feel.

They should ask those whose properties were saved from perennial flooding by Governor Uzodimma’s balloon technology, how they feel. They should ask those who ply the Owerri-Orlu, Owerri-Okigwe Road, Egbu-Mbaise-Umuahia Road, Port Harcourt Road, Muhammadu Buhari Road, and over 90 other roads, how they feel. They should ask Imo workers how they feel after the governor lifted a decades-long embargo on their promotions.”

He advised LP chairman to embark on research before talking against the governor: “These are the tasks the Labour Party should be doing now and not hallucinate before media cameras, and when they are done, we would be glad to welcome them into the ring. After their first baptism by failure, they can look back and see whether they have a party or not.

For now, they should continue to enjoy their hallucinations. We will cross that bridge when we come to it, and they will see their cookies crumble before them.”

In this article