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Flashpoint Imo guber

By Ochereome Nnanna
THE governorship election coming up next Tuesday harbours a number of flashpoints. Apart from Kaduna and Kano, the contest in Kwara will determine whether it is still Dr Olusola Saraki or Dr Bukola Olusola Saraki or even Senator Ahmed Tinubu who will be the new godfather.

In the South West, we will see if the predictions of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) demise and the ascendancy of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in Oyo and Ogun states will transpire.

In Delta State, it will be chapter three, the final battle between PDP’s Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and the Democratic Peoples Party’s (DPP’s) Chief Great Ogboru. The other action point in the South South will be in Akwa Ibom State, where we will know if the incumbency of Governor Godswill Akpabio will be able to override the push of the ACN’s Senator James Akpan Udoedehe who appears to be banking on his ethnic majority advantage.

In the South East, there will be virtual no-contests in Abia, Ebonyi and Enugu states. The results of the two elections (for the National Assembly and presidency) showed that the PDP incumbent governors may not break much sweat to retain their seats.

The contest in Imo State will be more riveting. The guber will be a three-cornered fight between Governor Ikedi Ohakim of the PDP, Chief Rochas Okorocha of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA and the ACN’s Senator Ifeanyi Araraume.

Araraume is supported by former Governor Achike Udenwa and is believed to be enjoying the financial backing of former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission,INEC, Professor Maurice Iwu, whose brother and daughter contested for the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively and did not make it. The party’s failure so far seems to have lowered the expectations of any further surprise showing.

Many opinion polls of the THISDAY/IPSOS groups have consistently given the possibility of victory to the candidate of the APGA, Okorocha. APGA for the first time in its history was able to win two House of Reps and one Senate seats in Imo State, thus breaking the monopolistic hold of the PDP in the state.

Rochas Okorocha is a philanthropist who, many believe, will be more inclined than Ohakim to programmes that will benefit the commoners.

However, Okorocha has been too much of a maverick in his political career, which took off in 1994 when he attended the Abacha-convened Constitutional Conference as a delegate. He later contested for governor under the United Nigerian Congress Party (UNCP) in 1998. In 2003 he decamped to the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) where he contested for president. After the election former President Obasanjo made him the Senior Special Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs.

In 2007, many people believed that Rochas was drafted into the presidential race to sabotage the aspirations of some Southern delegates and enable President Obasanjo to succeed in imposing the late President Umaru Yar’ Adua. His return to the governorship race under APGA smacks too much of politics of opportunism and raises questions on his real motive and mission in politics.

Ohakim, on the other hand, is battle-tested and battle-scarred. Since he ascended to that seat in a saga that verged on the miraculous, there is hardly any governor in the country that has undergone the level of vicious opposition he has encountered. A record 29 court cases have been used in an attempt to bring him down. He triumphed in 28 of them, leaving the Martin Agbaso appeal still pending at the Supreme Court.

Ohakim has also suffered much image battering. He has been accused of everything under the sun, but in most cases, his accusers have nothing concrete when taken to task. Some have even made peace, having switched camps.

In the face of the many enemies he made due to the difficult decisions, such as removing the dreaded Okada riders from the Owerri metropolis and dislodging the “City Fathers” that parasited on state local government allocations while holing up in Hotel Concorde, Owerri, every step Ohakim took became mired in great controversy.

However, Ohakim’s PDP is still very strong in terms of structure and reach in the state. Propaganda apart, the governor has improved the economy of the state, brought in many new federal opportunities and created lots of employment for the youth. His case may also be helped further by the Imo zoning formula that has so far been followed faithfully.

It allowed the Orlu zone to produce Udenwa who was in office for eight ears. The possible completion of eight years by Ohakim on behalf of Okigwe Zone will pave the way for Owerri to take its shot from 2015. Rochas comes from Orlu Zone, the most populous of the three, and voting for him might give an impression of establishing zonal domination.

However this contest goes, it is unlikely that violence will follow in its wake. Imo politics may be full of sound and fury, but it hardly draws blood.

Ndukwo Jonah was a friend indeed

I KNEW the sad news would come. On Tuesday, February 1, 2011, I lost a valuable friend, Ndukwo Jonah, who finally succumbed to the cold hands of death after a painful, protracted illness.

He fought like the s trong man he was but who can really fight when his time is up? Ndukwo was honest, trustworthy and always ready to give without asking for anything in return. He respected his friends as if they were his bosses and made himself relevant to everyone in his family through his generosity.

I pray for the repose of his soul and forgiveness of his sins. We will commit him to mother earth this Easter Saturday, April 23, 2011, at his family compound near the Akahaba General Hospital, Abiriba.

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