By Desmond Ekwueme
The die is now cast. Imo governor, Rochas Okorocha has officially declared his intention to seek the seat of Senator of Imo West (Orlu zone) in the 2019 election. That is one of his double ambitions in 2019. The other is for his successor as governor. He has already made it abundantly clear that his Chief of Staff and son-in-law, Uche Nwosu is his anointed candidate.
Both desires pitched Okorocha against his political foes who later metamorphosed into Imo Coalition. His opponents have maintained that having his ways on both grounds is tantamount to having Imo in his pocket. They have fought a bitter war with Okorocha on this and the governor seems to be getting the upper hand after he swept the stakes at the National Convention of his party, All Progressives Congress in June.
However, events of the last 30 days leading to Okorocha’s declaration to contest the senatorial seat may be playing up a sour taste and tone in his mouth even if he decides to undermine them. First is the impeachment of his deputy, Eze Madumere which he supervised and secondly his lost battle against the Mbaise Nation.
After impeaching Madumere, it was difficult to secure a replacement for the deputy governor as the state has continued to be under the full control of the governor and his son-inlaw Chief of Staff. The people of Owerri zone (Imo Central) have continued to lament the poor treatment meted out to their son (Madumere) and they are threatening to pay back Okorocha by voting en mass against his candidate, Uche Nwosu come 2019.
Owerri people are embittered by the fact that this is not the first time Okorocha will punch them below the belt. The same treatment was meted out to Jude Agbaso during the first term of Okorocha’s administration. The sad tale of the cold war between Okorocha and the former Secretary to the State Government, Jude Ejiogu remains fresh in the minds of the people who seem poised for a showdown with the governor’s ambition of installing his son-inlaw come 2019.
Then comes the cold war with the Mbaise Nation. Okorocha had tried to prevail on the council of traditional rulers of Mbaise to confer on his Chief of Staff, son-inlaw and gubernatorial aspirant, Uche Nwosu a chieftaincy title which the people of Mbaise resisted through the umbrella of their apex socio-cultural organization, Ezurezu Mbaise. The Nation is made up of three Local Government Councils Aboh-Mbaise, Ahiazu-Mbaise and Ezinihitte-Mbaise.
Ezurezu Mbaise argued that, it would be foolhardy of their royal fathers to tactically endorse Uche Nwosu for 2019 gubernatorial election through the conferment of a Chieftaincy title when their nation has five aspirants in the race for Douglas House including the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha. This was after the governor had summoned the traditional rulers to Government House where they were ordered to carry the exercise during the eating of New Yam festival (Iri-ji). Following the resistance, the governor requested that the traditional rulers meet under the heat of the scorching sun on a neutral ground outside their domains cum palaces for the exercise. This move was perceived as derogatory by the people of Mbaise Nation even as the governor’s plan was foiled.
With five of their sons in the guber race and what they termed humiliation of their royal fathers after a failed attempt to desecrate their culture and land by conferring on someone they say has not impacted in anyway on the lives of the people of Mbaise or any of the three Local Government Councils in the Mbaise Nation, they (Mbaise Nation) seem poised for vengeance against Okorocha at the polls come 2019.
Now Okorocha has declared to run for the seat of Senate just as his godson will be simultaneously running to succeed him as governor. The die seems cast as political observers watch to see how he hopes to manoeuvre and manipulate things to his advantage in this power play targeted at building Okorocha’s political dynasty. Should Okorocha make it to the Senate and his godson becomes governor then, he would have successfully commenced the smooth journey of giving a shot at the presidency come 2023 if, the political arrangement favours the South East to produce the President.
Meanwhile, Okorocha will have to face stiff challenge from the likes of Senators Hope Uzodinma and Osita Izunaso who hail from Orlu senatorial zone. These men are pulling the strings against Okorocha because they belong to the Imo Coalition which Okorocha took to the cleaners at the APC National Convention. They may play the spoilers role in Okorocha’s attempt to become a senator especially when it is considered that Uzodinma is the serving Senator representing the good people of Orlu zone.