By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
It has emerged that the alarming unpopularity of Imo state Governor, Rochas Okorocha among the people of the state and its possible spiral effects on candidates presented by the governor for next year’s elections was the main reason the All Progressives Congress, APC moved against him and his Son- in- Law, Uche Nwosu by refusing to forward the latter’s name to the Independent National Electoral commission, INEC as APC gubernatorial candidate for the state.
Hawks in the party are even said to be mulling substitution of the governor with another candidate for the Imo West senatorial zone election. Okorocha picked the APC ticket for the zone which is currently represented by Senator Hope Uzodinma.
Party sources told this Magazine that findings by the party showed that any candidate Okorocha put forward; or any candidate that openly identifies with him stands the risk of defeat as over 90 per cent of the people of the state have no good commentary about him. So, not ready to loose Imo state which it considered its only stronghold in the South east, the APC, it was learnt decided to ditch Okorocha by not adopting his son inlaw as its governorship candidate.
The party feared that with Nwosu tarred with the same brush as Okorocha, if presented as governorship candidate will be massively defeated by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP candidate and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha. Jolted by this reality, the top echelon of the national leadership of the APC thus made a volt-face and settled for Senator Uzodinma as its governorship candidate.
The Senator had emerged as APC governorship candidate in the October 2 primary election conducted by the Ahmed-Gulak led electoral committee of the party. However, amidst controversies APC was forced to cancel the excise and a repeat primary four days later which Uzodinma; Imo state Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere and all the other aspirants who took part in the first exercise boycotted, produced Nwosu as candidate.
Senator Uzodinma, a veteran of many political battles using the judiciary, was to secure a favourable Abuja High court ruling which asked the APC to show cause why his name would not be submitted to INEC as its Imo governorship candidate. Last week, the Deputy Governor, Prince Madumere who is also set to be picked by Uzodinma as running mate, obtained an Owerri High court order forbidding the APC from forwarding to INEC,the name of any other person other than the aspirant that won the October 2, 2018 governorship primary election.
Nwosu on his part also has a High Court order asking the APC to recognise him as its candidate but because the courts have coordinating or equal juridiction and powers, it was gathered that the National leadership of the APC obeyed the court orders favourably to Uzodinma inline with its resolve to undo the Imo state governor.
Apart from the Okorocha odium which the party feared will affect its chances if Nwosu is given the ticket, APC strategists and stakeholders agree that Uzodinma has what it takes to fend off challenge from his main opponents in the guber, two heavy weights- PDP’s Ihedioha and All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA’s Ifeanyi Ararume.
“We went for Uzodinma not really because of the need to stop Okorocha from building a political dynasty in Imo as our Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole claimed; it is not because governor Okorocha wanted his inlaw,
Nwosu to succeed him, afterall our national leader, Bola Tinubu has a sprawling political empire in APC; the real reason the national leadership of APC opted for Senator Uzodinma as it gubernatorial candidate is because Okorocha has totally lost goodwill of Imo people; nobody has any good word about him or wants to hear his name in the state. We risk losing Imo to the PDP or even to APGA if his son in law flies our governorship flag. That young man is regarded as an extension of Okorocha and it is very clear Imo people do not want to have anything to do with him and his father in law”, a member of APC’s National Working Committee, NWC said.
Meanwhile, political pundits and followers of Imo politics are predicting that the state may go to the APC in the governorship election and PDP in the presidential. While the Atiku/ Obi PDP presidential ticket is intensely popular in the state, Uzodinma’s personal good will and political configuration of Imo in terms of number of local governments per senatorial zone and huge voting populations of some local governments in the state, according to analysts, may swing victory for him.
Uzodinma’s Orlu senatorial zone Imo (West) which he represents in the Senate has 12 out of the state’s 27 local governments while Owerri and Okigwe zones combined have 15 local governments. With the exception of Okorocha’s Ideato South local government and Nwosu’s Nwangele axis which may vote the party the governor and his son inlaw eventually adopted, and the Oguta axis- Oguta and Ohaji Egbema local governments-where Ihedioha’s Deputy, Gerald Ironna, hails from, the remaining eight other local governments in Orlu zone, pundits opine, will be clinically won by Uzodinma.
While Ihedioha who hails from Mbaise with four local governments, according to analysts will harvest bloc vote there, Madumere, a prince from a royal family in Mbaitolu local government which is the most single populated council in the state with overwhelming voting population, is most likely to secure his council’s vote for his principal, Uzodinma.
The implication here is that while Orlu zone is safely in Uzodinma’s kitty, Owerri zone where Ihedioha comes from will be a battle ground with Uzodinma sharing a large chunk of votes there.
Similarly, both Uzodinma and Ihedioha will turn the heat on Ararume’s Okigwe zone. Here again, both candidates are expected to share the zone’s vote with the APGA candidate.
If Senator Uzodinma succeeds in his governorship quest next year, he will be the third governor Orlu zone has produced since democracy was restored in 1999.The other two are Achike Udenwa (1999-2007) and Okorocha (2011-2019).Okigwe zone had a shot at the governorship for four years in the person former governor Ikedi Ohakim (2007-2011) while Owerri zone is yet to occupy the office.