By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
The Source has learnt that fear of slipping into oblivion politically rather than the desire to stay and ensure president Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in Imo state nay the entire South east in the February 16,2018 presidential election played huge part in Governor Rocha’s Okorocha’s decision to stay back in the All Progressives Congress, APC while his preferred successor and son-in-law, Uche Nwosu moved to the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP to actualise his governorship ambition following APC and INEC’s refusal to recognise him as the party’s governorship candidate for Imo.
The magazine reported last week that hawks in the Governor’s camp were mounting pressure on him to turn his back on APC for good and move into a new party with them where they argued he would still vie for the Senate and win ditto for his son-in-law for the governorship.
However, a credible sources close to the governor say the out-going Imo Chief Executive Officer, after weighing the options open to him, feared that it would be disastrous and humiliating for him to lose the senatorial election on the platform of a fringe party. Okorocha, according to one of the sources was worried that such a scenario, especially if he comes a distant fourth in the election, will not only puncture his acclaimed mastery of Imo politics but will likely make it impossible for him to approach the tribunal.
The governor was said to have reasoned that it was more honourable to contest the Imo west (Orlu zone)senatorial election on the APC platform and loose than he and Nwosu to be defeated under the DPP. ” He believed he will win the senatorial election as an APC member but, if he must loose, he prefers to be defeated as the candidate of the party rather than he and his son-in-law trounced in a fringe party”, the source said.
Okorocha lost out in the battle for the soul of Imo APC following a disputed guber primaries which ended in the favour of the current Senator representing Imo West in the Senate, Senator Hope Uzodinma.The first primary held on October 2nd 2018 produced the Senator as candidate but was rejected by the national leadership of the APC.A repeat exercise on October 6 threw up Nwosu but strings of court pronouncements validating Senator Uzodinma’s victory in the first primary was to force APC and INEC to recognise him as the rightful candidate.
On Tuesday, the embattled Imo state governor confirmed his loyalists, including his son-in-law, were leaving the APC but maintained he was staying behind in the party to champion Buhari’s re-election and his own senatorial ambition.He disclosed that while in the new party, his camp will also campaign for Buhari and even as a APC member, will work to ensure Nwosu was elected governor on the new party platform (DPP).
Political analysts doubt the feasibility of Okorocha’s theory and have described it as sure receipe for monumental electoral defeat for him, Nwsou and Buhari in Imo as voters in the state may not bother with such strange hybrid campaign messages and balloting.
APC insiders suggest that Okorocha is courting charges of anti-party activities, should he indeed go ahead to work against the candidature and election of Senator Uzodinma by campaigning and working for his son- in-law in DPP. “We will have no option than to apply punitive measures against governor Okorocha if he carries out his threat of working for another party other than the APC in the Imo governorship election.We wont mind to sacrifice the Orlu senatorial seat in the process”, an APC top-notch told this Magazine.
Meanwhile, pundits believe that the split in Imo APC occasioned by the DPP move by Okorocha’s men may result in vote splitting.There are fears in some quarters that this could affect the chances of APC ‘s governorship candidate, Senator Uzodinma. However, bookmakers conversant with Imo politics are still predicting an Uzodinma victory based on certain parameters.
According to them, one of the potent factors that may swing it for the APC candidate is Orlu zone’s (Imo West senatorial district) 12 local governments advantage over the other senatorial zones; Owerri and Okigwe,which between them have 15 local government areas.
Analysts predict that the candidate of Peoples democratic party, PDP and former Deputy Speaker of the House Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha may claim the four LGAs in Mbaise kingdom leaving the rest LGAs in the zone for Uzodinma
In Okigwe zone, Uzodinma, according to them,is likely to give Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA,who hails from there,a good fight.Then in Orlu, Uche Nwosu’s Nwangele LGA and Okorocha’s Ideato South are either to witness vote splitting between the mainstream APC loyal to Uzodinma and APC-DPP sympathetic to Nwosu/ Okorocha or out right boycott of the APC candidate.The Oguta/ Ohaji- Egbema axis where Ihedioha’s running mate, Gerald Ironna hails from, with its huge voting population, is likely to go to the PDP.And this is the reason: Though in Orlu senatorial zone, the two local governments share more cultural, dialectical and geographical proximity and affinity with Owerri zone than with the 10 remaining councils areas in Orlu zone who are closely knitted by geography,dialect and culture.Infact, most prominent politicians from Oguta and Ohaji/ Egbema hardly regard themselves as Orlu scions.
The implication of the above is that out of Orlu zone’s 12 LGAs, Uzodinma is sure of eight, an edge analysts believe will dwarf other contestants.
Besides the geographical edge over his opponents,Uzodinma is a staunch Roman Catholic and Imo is 95 percent Catholics.Pundits are saying that the Church may also sway victory to him.Added to this is the fact that the APC candidate has supported all Christian denominations in the state in equal measure,and has extended philanthropic gestures to the downtrodden in Imo more than all the candidates.
The choice of Deputy, according to followers of the unfolding guber drama in Imo, could also add or subtract Uzodinma’s chances.They are of the view that Uzodinma needs a running mate with a name recognition from Owerri zone, especially from a section of the zone with thick voting population to counteract the likely loose of Oguta anf Ohaji/ Egbema to the PDP.
One name that has been on the lips of those who share the above sentiment is that of the incumbent Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere whose Mbaitolu/ Ngo Okpala axis is another huge voting population that often decide the winner of Imo governorship contest.
Madumere, an erstwhile staunch ally of Okorocha fell out with him following the governor’s insistence on imposing his son-in-law as successor.Madumere subsequently teamed up with anti- Okorocha’s elements in the Imo state chapter of the APC to try to take its structures away from him. The fallout of that grand plot was his failed impeachment (Madumere), allegedly engineered by the governor.
The Deputy governor contested the October 2 primary which Uzodinma won.He and other contestants quickly conceded and followed it up with a signed petition/ letter affirming the exercise was free and fair and that Uzodinma won.The November 21, 2018 Justice K.A Ojiako of Owerri High Court’s judgement which drove a final nail on Nwosu’s claim to the APC ticket was the product of a suit instituted by Prince Madumere.He had prayed the Court to pronounce the October 6 primary a nullity. Speculations are rife in the state that Madumere is Uzodinma’s choice for running mate.