To say that Imo State is definitely going to be the political hotbed of the forthcoming general elections in Nigeria, may not be far from the glaring reality on ground.
Careful political watchers are already telling whoever cares about this truism.
The State Director of National Orientation Agency, NOA, Mr. Vitus Ekeocha, equally shared the same feeling about the state, being a flash point in the general polls that hold today.
Delivering a lecture during a voter education workshop organized by the Justice, Development and Peace Commission, JDPC, of the Owerri Catholic Ecclesiastical Province, Mr. Ekeocha said:
“In this year’s general elections, Imo State is indeed, a flash-point to watch. The state has more than 70 candidates for the governorship seat only. You can guess how large the ballot paper will be.”
Continuing, Ekeocha reasoned that the electorate needs the best of enlightenment and mobilization to achieve improved records, insisting that “we are counting on us all”.
The relevant issue, which readily comes to mind at this point is that Imo State remains the only state in the South East geo-political zone that is controlled by the All Progressives Congress, APC. Fears have, rightly or wrongly, been expressed in several quarters that being their only foothold in the South East, the APC will likely do everything possible to retain the state. Some people however, believe that it is not yet Uhuru for the APC, especially as the myriad of very strong criticisms of the Rochas Okorocha administration, keeps coming from within and outside the party, on a daily basis.
The promulgation of the “Imerienwe Declaration” by a section of aggrieved APC loyalists, led by a former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Okorocha’s administration, Dr. Theodore Ekechi, readily comes to mind here. This declaration ultimately gave birth to the Coalition Forces within the APC.
The stoic resistance of the Coalition Forces to Governor Okorocha’s preference of his son in-law, Uche Nwosu, was worsened by the fallout of the party’s primaries in the state.
Parallel state executives emerged. One was pro-Okorocha and they pushed for Uche Nwosu for governor. The other faction was loyal to the Coalition Forces, and by extension, the APC National Headquarters!
The party eventually settled for Senator Hope Uzodinma, while some other contenders left the APC for other political parties, where they were given tickets to actualize their respective dreams.
Possibly muzzled out of the APC, Uche Nwosu found solace in Action Alliance, AA, where he effortlessly grabbed the gubernatorial ticket of the party. The twist here is that, while Okorocha is said to be flying the senatorial ticket of the APC, he never faked his determination to campaign for his son in-law, who is in AA, a different political platform.
That this scenario is breeding tension already, is not in doubt. The feud played out recently, when the Vice President’s wife and other party faithful, were in Owerri, to talk to APC women.
Again, before the APC Presidential campaign train berthed in Owerri, the APC National Headquarters published a serious warning in Vanguard, to Uche Nwosu and his supporters, to stay off the Owerri rally.
The National Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr. Lanre Issa-Onilu, wrote:
“Information available to us revealed plans, particularly by the members of the Action Alliance, AA, to storm the venue to create mayhem, as they seek to hijack the APC campaign to promote the troubled ambition of their governorship candidate, Mr. Uche Nwosu.
“Therefore, we want to state very clearly that the scheduled rally is an APC rally and the party has no alliance with any political party and would not tolerate attempts by some persons, under any guise, to create chaotic atmosphere at the venue of our rally.
“We are using this medium to inform security agencies, including the Imo State Commissioner of Police, and the Director of DSS, to ensure no individual, group or political party, is allowed to create chaos before, during, and after the APC rally. We wish to reiterate that only genuine supporters of our great party and our party members, are allowed into the venue, so we can have a hitch-free rally.”
This, no doubt, is a pointer to the palpable tension that has enveloped the state. So far, there is nothing to show that the tension is likely to abate.
Before this, the state Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, was, through the instrumentality of Governor Okorocha, impeached by the State House of Assembly.
Apparently unsatisfied with the decision of the lawmakers, Madumere quickly engaged the services of Prince Ken C. O. Njemanze, SAN, and headed to the State High Court. The matter was eventually resolved by Justice Benjamin C. Iheka, in favour of Madumere.
It would also be recalled that while the impeachment saga lasted, tension remained very high and palpable. This tension is sadly rolling into the general elections.
Beyond the foregoing, the political upheaval engineered by the key political gladiators in most political parties, ahead of the polls, also points to this direction.
The implosion experienced in the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, soon after Senator Ifeanyi Araraume was handed the party’s gubernatorial flag, is another reference point.
The likes Chief Ikedi Ohakim, Chief Uche Onyeagucha, Okey Eze, Ike C. Ibe, Humphrey Anumudu,Dr. Alex Obi and a host of other party faithful, deserted APGA for alternative platforms.
It stands to reason that all the aggrieved eggheads, will work stridently for the failure of APGA and success of their new parties.
What should Imo people vote for? Who should the people cast their votes for? How should they vote? These and more, are pertinent questions begging for answers.
This is where the advice of the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace, Dr. Anthony J. V. Obinna, becomes expedient.
“Vote for patriotic, modest Imo citizens. Vote for servant-leaders among the candidates. Vote for patient, fair and peace loving leaders”, Archbishop Obinna said.
On what the people should vote for, the Catholic cleric said: “People should vote against tyranny and enslavement of Imo people by powerful men, who use money to prevent or sway impoverished or greedy citizens, from voting freely and correctly, according to their conscience.”
It was his considered opinion that patriotic and modest citizens are likely to promote the freedom, joy and unity of Imo people.
“They will not be tyrants or intimidators of Imo people. Such patriotic, modest Imo citizens will seek to unify the citizenry and effectively manage the zonal and other divisions in the state”, Obinna reasoned.