IMO 2015: Who will wear the crown? – By Louis Kachi Igwilo

Crown

Imo state was created in 1976 after the civil war. At present, there are 27 local government areas that make up the present Imo state. The 27 local government areas are unevenly distributed among the three senatorial Zones in the state which are Okigwe Zone with 6 local governments, Owerri zone with 9 local governments and Orlu Zone with 12 local government areas. …In terms of development, The Owerri Zone houses over 70 per cent of the entire developmental projects in the state. For instance, the state capital, The state University (IMSU), The state polytechnic (Umuagwo), a federal university (FUTO), a federal Polytechnic (Nekede) , a federal college of education (Alvan), the state owned 5 star hotel (Imo concord hotel), the state owned college of advanced studies, The state broadcasting coorperation, The world bank assisted housing scheme and so many other projects dot the Owerri zone at the detriment of the other two zones, (Okigwe and Orlu). The only thing these other zones have had as co-owners of the state is the production of the civilian governors. Chief Evan Enwerem, from Ikeduru, Owerri zone is the only man from the Zone that has governed the state since its creation. The other civilian governors were Chief Sam onunaka Mbakwe (1979-1983, Okigwe Zone), Chief Achike Udenwa (1999-2007, Orlu Zone), Chief Ikedi Ohakim (2007-2011, Okigwe Zone) and the incumbent Rochas Okorocha (2011-date, Orlu zone). Thus going by the equitable distribution of the governorship position, one could say that Owerri zone has been shortchanged, but going by a generalized equitable distribution of resources and developmental projects in the state, owerri zone has completely swallowed the other two Zones.

As the 2015 approaches, there have been so many permutations as to who will be the next governor of the state and which zone will produce the next governor. The Owerri zone has harped so much on Imo chatter of equity, a document they say should be binding on all politicians and which contains a master plan of how political offices would be evenly distributed and rotated among the three zones in the state. Funny enough, the said chatter of equity only recognizes distribution of offices as opposed to distribution of other projects. This permutation has given birth to the emergence of so many gubernatorial aspirants from the major and some minor political parties for the 2015 election from Owerri Zone. Topmost among them are Chief Emeka Ihedioha, current deputy speaker and member representing a section of Owerri Zone in the federal house of representatives, Senator Chris Anyawnu, representing Owerri Zone in the senate, Chief Njemenze (SAN), Chief Jerry Chukwueke and some others from the PDP. Also Capt. Iheanacho has declared interest to run under APGA while it is still expected that Chief Martin Agbaso will still run under same platform. There are some other aspirants from some minor political parties like Mazi Excell Ochiama and a couple of others who still want to run the race against the incumbent, Owelle rochas Okorocha of APC.

Okigwe zone hinge their argument on the fact that they have been shortchanged in the state on so many grounds. One is the lopsided distribution of the state infrastructure which unduly empowers Owerri zone, and secondly, they opine that Chief Ikedi Ohakim should have completed the second tenure so Okigwe would have had their rightful shot at the Douglas house. Further to this, Chief Ikedi Ohakim and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume have all declared their interest to contest for the governorship of the state under PDP. Okigwe zone is disadvantaged in terms of population in the state and may rely on support from the other zones to be able to have their own in the government house, or pray to have a tie breaker opportunity again as was the case in 2007 that produced Ohakim.

Orlu zone is presently occupying the Douglas house. Owelle Rochas Okorocha from Orlu Zone is governing the state as an APC governor, though he rode into the seat with the goodwill of APGA which is viewed in so many quarters in Igbo land as the Igbo identity and which was used to vote out Chief Ikedi Ohakim (Ikiri). Rochas who was earlier a cynosure of all eyes in 2011 seem to have lost a lot of the goodwill he enjoyed. Also his departure from APGA has pitched him against the party that brought him to power. The APC which he has joined does not enjoy the support of an average Igbo man. Senator Chris Ngige, upon all his general acceptability in Anambra state could do little with the party in the last Anambra governorship election. The APC is generally perceived as a pure anti Igbo political party that will never have any good agenda for the Igbo nation. Going by this perception, and Owelle Okorocha’s dwindling popularity in the state, He and indeed the Orlu nation may not have a smooth ride into the Imo state government house come 2015. To forestall such occurrence the Orlu people have launched some strategies aimed at occupying the Douglas house without relying on the incumbent, Owelle rochas okorocha. To actualize this, a lot of stakeholders are persuading Chief Hope Uzodinma, the current chairman, senate committee on aviation, to vie for the exalted office of Imo state governor, come 2015.

What I cannot emphatically discuss here is the likely agreements and concessions that will herald the party primaries and which may throw up the different flag bearers for the various political parties that will field candidates during the election. But I would want to discuss the likely outcome of the final voting in February 2015.
It is certain that Owelle Rochas Okorocha will flag the flag of APC for the governorship election ‘IF’ he decides to go for a second tenure. But if he resolves to take a shot at the presidency, then somebody else may fly the APC flag. My take still remains that Owelle Rochas will contest for the governorship of the state either under APC or Orji Uzor Kalu’s PPA. Rochas we recall is from Orlu zone with 12 out of the 27 local government areas in the state. What will give Rochas undue advantage will be when no other strong Orlu man is gunning for the same office. This is because he may likely whip up zonal sentiment which may see him take bloc vote from the zone and then chase 25% from Owerri when Owerri has APGA and PDP flag bearers, and Okigwe zones.

Captain Iheanacho, or Chief Martin Agbaso, or probably another contender may likely emerge the APGA flag bearer. When any of the duo from Owerri zone flags the APGA flag, he has to strongly fight it out with Rochas based on the reasons given above, coupled with his power of incumbency. It will require a consensus between the Mbaise bloc and the Owerri bloc to form a united Owerri zone against Rochas Okorocha and that will only be possible if PDP does not field someone from Owerri Zone equally which will split the votes from the zone between APGA and PDP in favor of APC. Remarkably, there are no strong aspirants so far from the other two zones that have shown interest in the APGA ticket.
Hon Emeka Ihedioha and Senator Chris Anyanwu are both from Mbaise, and both belong to the PDP. If anyone of them is given the PDP ticket, then they will still face the same hurdles faced by Capt. Iheanacho and the APGA candidate as the person is bound to run against an incumbent governor from Orlu Zone. For Chief Ikedi Ohakim and Senator Ifeanyi Araume, both of PDP from Okigwe zone, their case is worsened by the limited number of voters the Okigwe zone with 6 local governments can produce. It can only take a strong alliance with either Owerri Zone or Orlu zone for Okigwe to produce the next governor once zonal sentiment is elicited.

In Orlu zone, no one has strongly shown interest to run for the governorship. Chief Felix Idiga of Jafac foundation has been making some moves that seem to say he has interest to run for an office though he has not formally declared for any office under any political party and so he may not really be set for 2015. However the die will be cast if Senator Hope Uzodinma finally declares for the governorship as he is being propelled to do by majority of Orlu leaders. If Hope Uzodinma declares for the governorship and clinches the PDP ticket, then there are great chances that he can match Owelle Rochas Okorocha strongly. This is because the fight will now be zeroed down to Orlu Vs. Orlu in the 12 local government areas and then PDP vs APGA in the wider Imo state. APC will definitely sink in the state when this scenario plays out.

From the foregoing I can emphatically predict that APC has only 25% chances of winning Imo state, APGA has 35% chances and PDP still has 40% chances to win the 2015 election in Imo state depending on the outcome of the various party primaries.
Best regards

Louis Igwilo
B.A (Ed.), M.A

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