By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
Prelude to next year’s Imo gubernatorial election, high voltage political alignment is afoot in the state. There are indications that Owerri and Okigwe senatorial zones have resolved to present a single candidate that could defeat Governor Rochas Okorocha’s anointed successor.
The governor recently endorsed his son-in-law Uche Nwosu as his successor. Nwosu who was former Commissioner for Land under Okorocha and now his Chief of Staff hails from Orlu senatorial district, just like his father in-law, the governor.
The governor himself has declared interest in the Imo West (Orlu) senatorial race and has directed his Deputy, Eze Madumere who is angling with Nwosu for the governorship ticket of the APC to channel his aspiration towards representing Imo West Owerri (zone) in the Senate next year.But a source close to Madumere told this magazine that his principal was proceeding with his governorship ambition.
Top gladiators in the Okigwe-Owerri political alignment informed The Source that the move became necessary to prevent Okorocha from securing third term for himself by proxy and to ensure justice, fairness and respect for Imo charter of equity. They accuse the governor of attempting to perpetuate himself in power via the planned imposition of his son-in-law as governor. The Imo state governor has also received knocks for being insensitive to yearnings of Okigwe and Owerri zone.The two zones watched from the sidelines as Orlu bestrode the Imo political turf for 16 out of 20 years since the return of participatory democracy in 1999(that is, by next year when Okorocha would have completed two terms of eight years in office).
Watchers of Imo politics say, Orlu with 12 out of 27 local governments in the state, the zone only needs a sprinkling of few local governments in both Owerri and Okigwe in any guber election to cling to power hence Okigwe and Owerri are desirous of an alignment using their joint 15 local governments to break Orlu’s hold. A political analyst predict that if Okigwe and Owerri with 15 local governments can line up behind a single candidate as a voting bloc, what they required to upstage Orlu and stop it from retaining power in 2019 is just about three or four local governments from the zone (Orlu).
Essentially, former governor Achike Udenwa is from Orlu zone and was in the saddle for eight years (1999-2007).He was succeeded by Ikedi Ohakim from Okigwe zone. Ohakim did not however survive a second term battle as he was defeated by Okorocha, yet from Orlu zone, in the 2011 gubernatorial contest. By 2019, Orlu would have held power for 16 years since 1999, Okigwe for four years and Owerri for zero years.
At the recent gathering of the apex Orlu socio- political and cultural body, Orlu Zurumee, the need to concede the 2019 Imo governorship to Okigwe and Orlu zones was reiterated. The body consequently emphatically declared that Orlu zone will not support any governorship candidate from the zone for 2019, a move political analysts opine is targeted at Nwosu.
The meeting which also doubled as an interactive session with the leadership of Okigwe and Owerri socio- political and cultural bodies- Olu Okigwe and Oganiru Owerri- maintained that it would be insensitive and wicked for any Orlu son or daughter to indicate interest for Imo 2019 gubernatorial election.
President of Oganiru Owerri who until recently was a Commissioner in the Okorocha administration, Vitalis Ajumbe suggested that Imo at this point in time should adopt the doctrine of necessity in choosing who becomes governor in 2019.Ajumbe called on Orlu zone to prevail on their people to allow justice and fair play to prevail. President of Olu Okigwe, C.C Anyawu aligned himself with Ajumbe but pleaded that Okigwe zone be allowed to produce the next governor.
President-General of Orlu Zurumee, Engineer Chime Nzeribe told the gathering that Orlu was not interested in 2019. “We are not interested in the governorship.Bring us a credible and good candidate for consideration”, he told Okigwe and Owerri zones.
Orlu sons who were at the gathering were Prince Amaobi Ugochukwu, Hon.Ugochukwu Nzekwe, Professor Francis Dike, Rt.Hon. Amaechi Nwoha, Rt Hon.Okey Dike Engineer Nwabueze Oguchienti among others.
Meanwhile, former Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Dr.Sam Amadi who recently throw his hart into the 2019 Imo guber race is steadily receiving state-wide endorsements. Some political leaders in the state insist Dr.Amadi’s governorship will be the best time that would happen to Imo at this point in time as according to them, the state is in dire need of the touch of a technocrat as a governor and one with sound education as the former NERC boss.
Highly placed sources told The Source that several APC members in the state as well as some political office holders in the Okorocha administration who are miffed by the governor’s plot to foist his son-in-law on Imo see Dr.Amadi as a credible alternative and are assiduously, albeit secretly, working to help him realize his ambition.