On the 25th of February, there was a re-run election for who would represent Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Federal Constituency in the nation’s House of Representative.
This was as a result of court’s nullification of last year’s election of Hon. Raphael Nnanna Igbokwe to represent the federal constituency. According to the Appeal Tribunal, the nullification was because of INEC’s omission of the party logo of one of the political parties that participated in last year’s National Assembly general Election. Accordingly, the election held with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) as the leading contenders. At the end of the day, INEC announced the PDP candidate Hon. Igbokwe the winner.
I participated in that election having come from Umulu Ife Ezinihitte Mbaise and it is my wish to air my observations on what I think made the PDP win APGA in that election.
THE APGA FACTOR.
APGA is more of a movement than a political party. Many of its members are new in power as far as Imo politics is concerned. Therefore, they are still learning how to defend their recent hold onto political power in the state. They do not have the usual political strategists in Imo politics. Those in the opposition seem to be more experienced in the art electioneering because many of them have been in politics and governance for a long time. Furthermore, since the emergence of Gov. Rochas Okorocha as the Governor of Imo State, the party has been involved in many intra-party crises. Also many of the party members feel being swallowed by the Rescue Mission members who followed the Governor into the party. Therefore, I feel that there is this lack of synergy between the various factions in the party which invariably, must have affected the party’s performance in last Saturday’s election.
THE RELOCATION OF IMSU FACTOR
I have always said it that the issue of IMSU has always been sensitive. One of the things that is said to have contributed to Ohakim’s failure in the last Governorship Election in Imo State was the 4 policies he made in that school which did not even include the relocation of the institution. They were, changing of the name of the school, setting up of a Panel of inquiry that indicted Prof Anwuka and co, the recommendation for the payment of =N=120,000 as school fees and the appointment of Prof Osy Nwebo as the school’s Vice-Chancellor. Coming to that election, the people working for the PDP candidate tied their campaign around the IMSU relocation saga. They claimed that Late Ex-Gov Sam Mbakwe laid the foundation of the school in Uvuru Mbaise but that the present APGA led administration had taken the school to another place. This injected a lot of emotions into the minds of many of the electorates that voted in that election. On the contrary, APGA could not counter this point well and the rest is now story.
THE ALEX OBI FACTOR
In one of my write-ups titled ‘Why Ohakim Lost to Rochas’, I made it clear that Dr. Alex Obi led an unquenchable campaign against the re-election of Ex-Gov Ikedi Ohakim. Dr. Obi is presently a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and a well known political strategist and propagandist. Many ACN members in Imo State were former PDP members but left the party because of Ohakim. Therefore, they worked against Ohakim’s re-election which benefited APGA in the end. However, they now feel not being carried along properly by the APGA-led government inImo State. So it was not hard for them to re-unite with PDP and work against APGA during the election under review. The two parties are made up of politically experienced persons. They saw that election as ‘protection of Mbaise interest’ void of partisanship. In fact Dr. Obi led all the campaigns and fashioned out the strategies deployed by the PDP which I think paid off immensely in returning the PDP candidate in the election.
CHRIS ANYANWU FACTOR
It is being rumored that the APGA Senator representing Owerri Senatorial Zone, Senator Chris Anyanwu, has been having a cold war with the Governor of Imo State who incidentally is also of the APGA over the Governor’s policy on the relocation of IMSU. To make the matter worse, shortly before that re-run election, the Orlu Peoples Consultative Assembly (OPOCA) was quoted by the press to have told Senator Anyanwu to ‘go to hell’ for her alleged condemnation of the relocation policy on IMSU. This I think the people of Mbaise saw as a challenge and a let down. Incidentally, the senator was not seen to have been very active throughout the electioneering period for that re-run election. I think if she had come all out as she did during last year’s elections, I believe that APGA would have had a better outing.
LACK OF ENOUGH POLITICAL APPOINTEES IN MBAISE
In Ezinihitte Mbaise there is only one commissioner and no Special Adviser, Senior Special Assistant or Special Assistant. In Ahiazu, political appointees are also scarce except people like Nze P. C. Onuoha who is no longer very young. Also the local governments in the state do not have transition members representing the various wards. It has only Caretaker Chairmen. Therefore, there were lack of strong stakeholders of the state government and political appointees to protect the interest of APGA in these areas the election held. However, the few available ones were overrun by their more experienced PDP counterparts. The rest is now story.
DISUNITY AMONG MANY GOVERNMENT APPOINTEES IN MBAISE
Furthermore, there is this rumoured power tussle and rift among the few political appointees from the federal constituency. It is not easy to fight a strong enemy as a disunited front. On their own side, many PDP members buried there differences and united for that election.
LAZINESS AND LACK OF STRATEGY
Because of the way Owelle won the governorship election last year, many APGA people thought that the Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Federal Constituency re-run election would also be a walk over. PDP was holding meetings and rallies frequently while APGA depended on power of incumbency and mass movement. Also, APGA was said not to have provided adequate monetary logistics to mobilize for the election. Even government contractors (if there are some from the federal constituency) who must have benefited from Owelle’s government did not provide anything to save APGA’s interest. They all must have thought that the election was the Governor’s business with the APGA candidate alone. You know that for people to leave their daily means of livelihood to come for an election, they need ‘mobilization’. Since the election was not for a position at the grass-root, people also needed liaison personnel that they would look up to. It was alleged that while APGA provided =N=11,000 for each polling booth, the PDP provided the sum of =120,000 and this I think did the magic.
THE EMEKA IHEDIOHA FACTOR
It is being rumoured that the Deputy Speaker House of Representative Hon Emeka Ihedioha is likely to contest for Imo governor come the year 2015 probably against the incumbent governor. If the rumour is anything to go by it might be that the Deputy Speaker used the election to prove that he would be capable of wrestling power against the incumbent Governor if the Governor will contest in 2015. He was said to have joined in providing great logistics and federal security used in prosecuting that re-run election. The rest is now story.
NNANNA IGBOKWE’S CANDIDATURE
The winner of the election Hon. Ralph Nnanna Igbokwe is said to have a more favourable advantage over other contestants in that election. From the year 2003 to 2007, he represented Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area in the Imo State House of Assembly. He was said to have given up to 100 scholarships for indigent students, attracted various NDDC sponsored class room blocks, state water projects, distributed soft trade loans to petty traders from Ahiazu Mbaise etc. He is also said to be more notable for sponsoring the motion for the acceptance of NECO and NABTEB certificates in tertiary schools in Imo State. He is said to have also advocated for the removal of discrimination against HND certificate holders and discriminatory education policies against the Igbos in ZamfaraState. He later served as Special Adviser to the Imo House Speaker. Above all, on getting to the House of Representatives, he was said to have sponsored the motion that saw to the supply of kerosene throughout the federation which was supervised by state governors. He was the House Committee Vice Chairman for the Federal Capital Territory, a position said to be the exclusive preserve for only ranking legislators. All these and more were tied to his campaign and Mbaise people who are said to be highly enlightened, sophisticated and educated took must have seen him as a better candidate
LACK OF MANY STAKEHOLDERS
APGA is more of a party for the grass-root. On the other hand, the PDP parades the ‘timber and caliber’ in Imo politics. These so called stakeholders are opinion leaders in their different domains. They also have followers who feed from them. They invariable have great influence over their followers. Sometimes, the masses also look up to these so called opinion leaders for direction including whom to vote for in an election. This I think really affected the defeat of APGA in the election under review.
These and more factors which space does not permit me to state here are some of my candid opinions on why the 24th February 2012 re-run election in Ezinihitte and Ahaizu Maise LGAs went the way it did. I know that ‘one does not know the value of what he has until he looses it’.. I believe that that election will inform the way future elections will hold in Imo State. I know it is an eye opener. I also feel it will help political actors to appraise their performances, strategize and re-strategize for the future. For students of history and politics, this may be a working document for them because ‘Equity aids the vigilant and not the indolent’.
Written By: Barr. Emperor N. Iwuala