By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
The March 2, 2019 gubernatorial election in Imo state is wrapped in high wire intrigues as secret inter-party alliances and alignments take the centre stage. For example, highly placed sources are linking the candidate of Accord party and former governor of the state, Ikedi Ohakim to an unwritten commitment to the Peoples Democratic, PDP, candidate and the immediate past Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha.
In the same manner, the outgoing governor, Rochas Okorocha is also allegedly weighing the option keeping the Ihedioha window open. Though Okorocha has been vociferous in his support for his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu who is contesting under the little known Action Alliance, AA, after he lost the APC ticket to Senator Hope Uzodinmaa, the governor is reportedly not keeping his eggs in one basket.
With the All Progressives Congress, APC candidate Senate Uzodinma enjoying full support of the Presidency and the party’s state and national hierarchy, Okorocha had reportedly resolved to play the spoiler. “His position on Imo guber election is “if Uche Nwosu can’t have it, then Hope can’t have either”. Deep down his heart, the man (Okorocha) knows that his son in-law cannot win the election, so he is maintaining a channel of communication with a candidate that he believes can give the APC candidate a good fight and possible win.He still wants to determine who takes over from him”, a source within the APC Imo faction loyal to the governor revealed.
The open disagreement he had with the First Lady, Aisha Buhari over Uzodinma and Nwosu during APC rally in Owerri, the Imo state capital last week, it has been learnt, has further convinced Okorocha that his support for his son inlaw for governor under AA’s platform and Buhari as APC presidential candidate does not strike the chord in the ears of the Presidency and the party (APC) and therefore is determined to chart his own political course in order to remain politically relevant after leaving office .
During the rally, while Okorocha who is still an APC member (he is the APC senatorial candidate for Imo West) was drumming support for Nwosu rather than his party’s candidate, Senator Uzodinma, Aisha, represented by the wife of the Vice President, Mrs.Dalop Osinbajo, insisted she was in the state to campaign for Senator Uzodinma and other APC candidates in the coming elections and not for Nwosu of AA.
Former governor Ohakim who moved to the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA from the PDP mid last year and later to the Accord party after Senator Ifeanyi Araraume’s controversial emergence as the party’s (APGA) governorship candidate is reportedly primed at punishing his former party for the shabby way it treated him and other aspirants. Essentially, all former Imo APGA gubernatorial aspirants are accusing the party’s national leadership led by Victor Oye of selling the party’s guber ticket to the highest bidder.
Sources claim the former PDP governor who was swept from power in 2011 by Okorocha( then an APGA candidate) planted himself in Accord party as candidate for next month’s guber election primarily to deal a mortal blow on Araraume and APGA by dividing Okigwe zone’s votes where both of them hail from, thereby making it impossible for the APGA candidate to obtain a bloc vote from the zone.
There are also speculations that Ohakim’s supporters are being secretly asked to cast their votes for Ihedioha. “If a winner does not emerge in the first ballot, the two leading candidates, surly Ihedioha and Uzodinma, will square up for a repeat contest and I can authoritatively tell you that His Excellency will openly campaign for the PDP candidate” , a source close to Ohakim’s camp told this magazine.
However, this magazine has also gathered that some elements in the Imo PDP, APGA and SDP who are bruised by the manner their parties picked guber flag bearers are assiduously working for the victory of Senator Uzodinma in the polls.
Meanwhile, some members of Okorocha’s APC faction are not sticking their heads for Nwosu.Rather, they are pitching their tent with candidates who they feel will better butter their bread.One them who spoke to The Source at Amagu, Oru East local government area of the state last week confessed that Okorocha himself was not sure of victory for his son-inlaw. “Why should I put my eggs in one basket? Politics for me is business and every businessman wants to make profits.My support goes to the candidate that plays his cards well.Not even our leader(Okorocha) is sure of Nwosu.In any case, let the best man carry the day”, he told The Source.
Followers of Imo politics insist that Senator Uzodinma has unassailable advantage over the other main contenders. They explain that whereas the Senator currently representing Imo West in the Senate virtually has the at least 10 out of the 12 local government areas in Orlu zone where he hails from in his kitty,Araraume and Ohakim will lock horns in Okigwe zone where the zone’s votes will be split between the two while Ihedioha’s Owerri zone will be a battle ground.