By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
Having reached a dead end in their chase for the All Progressives Congress, APC gubernatorial ticket ,the stage now appears set for the outgoing governor of Imo state, Rochas Okorocha and his son -in-law, Uche Nwosu to activate a plan B in their determination to have the latter succeed the former as the next governor of the state.
What observers describe as “a final nail” having been driven into Nwosu’s governorship ambition by an Owerri High court presided over by Justice K.A Ojiako which on Wednesday, November 21, 2018 nullified the October 6 APC governorship primary which produced Nwosu as candidate, the duo of Okorocha and his Son-in-law have exhausted all available windows to reclaim the APC Imo guber ticket. With the High Court ruling, all legal encumbrance to Senator Hope Uzodinma’s guber candidature on the APC platform have been cleared.
An appeal against the High Court ruling is out of place as the national leadership of the party has threatened to expel aggrieved members who drag the party to court over the outcome of its primaries. Impeccable sources told this Magazine that Okorocha has resolved that Nwosu will not pursue the case any further by approaching the Appeal court in order not to risk expulsion from the APC which he (Okorocha) reasons will do incalculable damage to what remains of his reputation and political career.
Rather than fight on behalf his son -in-law for the APC ticket, the out-going governor and his loyalists are said to be sieving through the numerous fringe parties to get the most viable one among them to yield its platform to Nwosu. The plan is to use the INEC substitution window which elapses first week of December to get a party on whose platform Nwosu will run. A number of fringe parties are said to have offered their platforms for this purpose. The parties, it was learnt, are ready to sacrifice their guber candidates for the factional APC candidate.
According to sources, Action Alliance, AA and Social Democratic Party, SDP are the two parties that strongly appeal to Okorocha’s fancy; however, while AA will be an easy ride, some SDP chieftains in the state are said to have asked the governor to perish the thought of substituting their party’s candidate with Nwosu.
It is not clear whether Okorocha is abandoning APC totally for the would-be-new party. He is reportedly torn between turning his back fully on APC and remaining in the party to campaign for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election and at the same time work for the election of his son-in-law as governor on another party’s platform.
The hawks in the governor’s camp are however pressing for a clean break with the APC on the ground that the party has no reward system and has humiliated their principal beyond logic. They are angry that Okorocha suffered for the party in the South east and nurtured it at a time no meaningful politician from the zone wanted to have anything to do with it (APC) only to be rewarded with unmitigated humiliation. They are therefore, mounting pressure on the governor not only to ditch the party but inflict maximum injury on it before leaving.
Meanwhile, Senator Uzodinma’s camp has hailed the High court ruling, describing it as a further prove that the October 1, 2018 primaries which threw up the Senator representing Imo West in the upper chamber as the APC gubernatorial candidate was validly conducted while the repeat exercise on October 6 where Nwosu emerged after the national leadership of the party purportedly cancelled the first exercise, was a charade and brazen impunity. A loyalist of the APC candidate told The Source that “Okorocha and his son-in-law are bad losers because the October 1 primary was transparently conducted and Onwa (Senator Uzodinma) won fair and square prompting other contestants to unanimously concede defeat and pledged to work for him”
Before the Imo High Court laid the matter to rest, Senator Uzodinma and Nwosu had been embroiled in claim and counter claim for the APC ticket. The politicians also made a recourse to the courts to determine between them who rightly has a claim to the ticket. However, Uzodinma was late last month and early this month recognised as the rightly Imo APC guber flagbearer by the party and INEC respectively thus giving him an edge over Nwosu.
In his ruling, Justice Ojiako granted all the prayers sought by the plaintiff, Prince Eze Madumere, the Deputy Governor of Imo Sate who also contested for the guber ticket alongside Senator Uzodinma.The court held that the relevant primary election was held on October 1, 2013 and won by Senator Uzodinma.It went further to aver that with the order granted by an Abuja high court restraining fresh primaries it was illegal to purport a repeat of fresh primary election on October 6, 2018.
A legal luminary who spoke to The Sources on the court ruling was of the view that Nwosu has irredeemably lost out.”In the light of this final judgement, the foundation of any claim of guber ticket by Uche Nwosu has collapsed irretrievably”, said
Meanwhile, pundits and followers of Imo politics are tipping Uzodinma for victory based on certain indices that often shape governorship election outcome in the state. One of the factors that they say may swing it for the APC candidate is the 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/Madumere ticket(Uzodinma is set to announce the incumbent Deputy Governor, Madumere as his running mate).In Okigwe zone, Uzodinma 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 most likely to boycott Uzodinma, leaving him with 10 out of Orlu zone’s 12 LGAs, a scenario observers say will be assure victory for Senator Uzodinma.
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.
Some members of Ihedioha and Araraume’s campaign organisation who spoke to this magazine have however, pooh poohed suggestions that Uzodinma has edge over their principals. They were unanimous in insisting that Imo people are tired of APC and are waiting to vote the party out.”Hope and his gang are wallowing in utter delusion; the result of the forthcoming Imo governorship election will shock them beyond words, a member of Ihedioha’s camp told The Source