By Emmanuel Aziken & Chidi Nkwopara
IN Imo State, it is a tough battle for the three major gubernatorial candidates today. No fewer than 18 political parties fielded candidates for the gubernatorial election but the major contenders to reckon with today are the incumbent Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Rochas Okorocha of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and Chief Ifeanyi Araraume of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.

The likes of Chief Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and Chief Ike Ibe of the Social Democratic Mega Party, SDMP, have actually campaigned but the showing in previous elections does not give them any hope for success in the poll.

APGA against what some perceived as serious odds raised by the PDP machine was able to get two House of Representatives seats and a senatorial seat from PDP in the state. The senatorial slot won in Imo East by former broadcast journalist, Chris Anyanwu was largely against the generally felt inclination of the state administration to deny the incumbent Senator a second term slot.

No other registered political party won any seat in the National Assembly.

The result of the presidential election in the state was, however, simply overwhelming in favour of the PDP as the party did not face any opposition from APGA which adopted the PDP’s Goodluck Jonathan as its candidate.

But the result does not point to any meaningful cheer for the PDP as it was seen more as the personality of President Jonathan overwhelming his challengers.

It is, however, remarkable that all three major candidates in today’s poll Ohakim, Ararume and Okorocha have all at different times been members of the PDP and exited and re-entered the party at different times.

Though Nwajiuba has a very fine manifesto his party is, however, virtually non-existent in the state. Apart from this, the killing and maiming of innocent citizens, including hapless youth corpers in the northern states by supporters of CPC has further poisoned the minds of Imo people against the party.

The action is between the PDP and APGA. Even the former state governor, Chief Achike Udenwa, and his new found party, ACN, was silenced politically in his Orlu senatorial zone.  From this standpoint, it becomes obvious that it would be very miraculous for Araraume to emerge as governor in the contest. However, as at press time there were speculations of a possible alliance between Ararume and Okorocha against Ohakim.

The prospects of such an alliance would no doubt be daunting for Ohakim.

The incumbent, nevertheless, has some things going for him notably the rampaging PDP structure and the power of incumbency. He also has his aides and the various projects he executed in the three senatorial zones of the state acting as testimonial in his re-election process. However, the celebrated projects by the Governor have largely been the subject of criticism by his opponents.

One factor that has continuously put a wedge against his eventual return to Douglas House, Owerri, is the level of insinuation against his person and government.

Many of the insinuations against the Governor for good or bad have stuck like a blood sucking tick.

Chief Okorocha is enjoying some measured support and is expected to get some bounce from the Owerri zone with the recent success of Senator Chris Anyanwu on the platform of APGA.

It is, however, not very clear whether that would be enough to get him the coveted seat. He is, however, confronted with the challenge of suspicion arising from a possible dismantling of the zoning arrangement among the three senatorial zones.

Ararume’s formidable campaign machinery has surprisingly been overwhelmed by the grassroots mobilization prowess of Okorocha. Ararume is, however, no easy push over.

However, except the two major opposition candidates are able to work out an alliance, they face daunting prospects against the awesome Ohakim campaign machine.

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