“When the news sneaked into town, late Thursday of the past week that the immediate past Governor of the State has gone to Court to challenge the assumed winner(s) of the December 8th PDP governorship primary election in the State, not a few people misconstrued his intents, while others dismissed the news as some impossible rumour that will fizzle out in no time. Those who doubt the veracity of that news hinged their doubts on the reality that Governor Ohakim had recently endorsed the candidature of Chief Ihedioha as the PDP governorship candidate in Imo State.
But my article which was carried by several online blogs and some newspapers went a long way in educating this set of people on the real ideas behind Ohakim’s litigation and how it does not in any way affect his endorsement of Ihedioha’s candidature. For Ohakim, three things are his primary goals as long as the 2015 elections are concerned. One of them is to ensure that President Goodluck Jonathan is re-elected for a second term in office, second is that the man who has destroyed Imo State is ousted from Imo Government House and the third agenda is to ensure that a PDP government is installed in the Imo Government House.
The present state of things within the Imo State PDP makes it a very difficult task for the PDP to win the governorship election in Imo State, because the two people who are laying joint claim to the PDP governorship ticket are hard sells to a majority of Imo people. The difficulty in marketing any or even both of them is not really about their persons, but due to some political calculations that do not favour them.
I will be surprised if the Peoples Democratic Party in the State are not disturbed over the mass exodus of some of its strong members since the after the Primary election. The OPOCA, which is the strongest and most influential political bloc in Orlu zone has collapsed into the APC, in protest against the outcome of the Party’s primary election which foisted two unpopular and hard to sell candidates on the Party. Two of the finest grassroot mobilizers in Orlu zone in the persons of Chief Samfo Nwankwo and Barrister Rex Anunobi have all defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Rex Anunobi who has served as political adviser to two former governors in the State is the compass of Orlu zone politics. His defection to the All Progressives Congress is one of the worst things that has happened to the PDP in Imo State. Dr. Kelechi Okpaleke has also joined the APC, and his defection puts paid to any dream of the PDP winning election in Onuimo, where he is a colossus. His influence also goes beyond Onuimo to the entire Imo State. Chief Felix Idika (JAFAC), Myke Ikoku, Kelechi Nwagwu, and so many others may not have left the Party if the PDP had not shot itself on the foot by giving its ticket to the wrong person.
Emeka Ihedioha’s candidature is proving difficult to market even within the PDP family because a good number of the supporters of those with whom he ran the election feel that they were stampeded out of the race by Ihedioha’s intimidating financial muscle and political connections which he enjoyed, thanks to his position as the Deputy Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives. Even though a good number of the aspirants have openly thrown their weight behind Ihedioha’s candidature, a good analysis of their body languages and speeches will tell you that most of them are not really committed in their avowed support for Ihedioha. Apart from Ikedi whom most of his supporters have collapsed into the Ihedioha campaign structure, thereby giving the campaign unprecedented boost, there is hardly any aspirant who has been seen to openly and seriously push the Ihedioha campaign.
Also, it will be difficult for Ihedioha to garner reasonable votes from Okigwe zone, where most of the voters are yet to forgive Owerri zone for their roles in denying them a second term. The average voter from Okigwe zone still harbours serious animosity towards Owerri politicians who they see as saboteurs for delivering majority of Owerri votes to APGA in 2011. Their keenness in completing their eight years tenure is understandable, and it will be difficult convincing the m to abandon that struggle. A youth leader from okigwe zone who is an ardent PDP member recently confided in me that the average Okigwe voter will prefer Rochas’ continuity to any Owerri man taking over power in 2015. By his analysis, another four years for Rochas and by implication, Orlu zone will go a long way in finally laying to rest, the so much vaunted ‘charter of equity’ thereby opening the governorship race to everybody, no matter where he or she comes from. But, victory for an Owerri governorship candidate would still keep the charter of equity alive, to the detriment of Okigwe zone. Ihedioha will also find it very difficult getting appreciable votes from Orlu zone, where the incumbent Governor hails from. Though his running mate is from Orlu zone, it will be a surprise if Hon. Chuma Nnaji is able to win up to forty percent of the votes in his native Njaba.
In Owerri zone where Ihedioha hails from, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho will give him a serious run for his money in Owerri Federal Constituency, which has proven to the comfort zone of the All Progressives’ Grand Alliance (APGA) since 2003. In Mbaitoli and Ikeduru Federal Constiuency, where the incumbent deputy governor and running mate to Governor Okorocha, it will be foolhardy to expect anything less more than a defeat for the PDP, if Ihedioha retains the ticket. While one cannot take the influence of political heavy weights like Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Rt. Hon. Bethel Amadi and Samdaddy Anyanwu for granted in Ikeduru LGA, it will be important to appreciate the fact that Osmond Imo Ukanacho who is the governorship candidate of the little known but spoiler UPP hails from that local government. It is easy to assume that the three LGAs in Mbaise will be easy wins for Emeka Ihedioha, but the fact that the State Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress hails from therem is a minus to Emeka Ihedioha’s chances. Ngor-Okpala may be Ihedioha’s maternal home, but Ihedioha knows that he has to do lots of work there, in order to assuage their well placed or misplaced animosity towards him.
Chief Ihedioha who is a strong member of the Ikedi Ohakim political organization has expectedly keyed into Ohakim’s ideas. Ninety percent of his manifestoes are copied from Ohakim’s blueprint for the transformation of Imo State. While it is agreeable that this has gone a long way in boosting Ihedioha’s support base, there cannot be any argument about the fact that he has not gotten as much support as Ohakim would have gotten if he was holding the PDP governorship ticket. Like the Igbos would say, there is no one who can take care of the child better than its own mother. These ideas are Ikedi Ohakim’s ideas and every discerning voter would know that there is nobody who will be able to implement these ideas better than the person who conceived them.
Anyone who is thinking that Senator Ifeanyi Ararume does is a write off in this whole arithmetic may have him or herself to blame. It will not be a surprise to lots of political watchers if the Courts declare him the rightful winner of that primary election. should this happen, marketing Ararume may be more cumbersome to the Party than the task of marketing Ihedioha. No matter, what anybody may want this Ishiebu born gentleman to believe, the truth remains that that statement credited to former President Olusegun, in which he was alleged to have literally tagged Ararume a murderer, is yet to be erased in the minds of Imo people. A good number of the people still have erroneous perceptions about this former Senator. Also, the struggle for the unwritten Imo Charter of Equity to be upheld will affect Ararume’s chances. This is because, Owerri voters will find it difficult casting their votes for an Okigwe candidate who is Constitutionally entitled to a two term of eight years. The Owerri voter will also prefer an Okorocha who is constitutionally barred from seeking another term in office, than voting for an Ararume who will want to be in power for an uninterrupted eight years, thereby putting them at par with Orlu zone, who, if Rochas loses the 2015 elections would have taken twelve years out of sixteen years. This possibility will make it very difficult for any politically enlightened Owerri voter to cast his or her vote for the PDP, if Ararume is eventually declared the rightful governorship of the PDP.
It will also be difficult for some leaders within the Peoples Democratic Party to give support an Ararume candidature, because of their personal interests which Chief Ifeanyi Ararume is not sure to guarantee. Some of these leaders have expressed concerns that making Ararume Governor may amount to empowering a wounded lion, who will spare nothing in a vindictive effort to get back at some of the leaders who contributed in one way or the other to his political misfortunes since 2007. While Ararume may not actually be thinking in that direction, it is left to be seen if he has actually done anything to reassure these leaders that he will not pursue any vendetta against them. In one of the meetings he called during the last yuletide break, he called on all Okigwe sons and daughters to queue behind him, declaring them that he has forgiven all those who hurt him in one way or the other in the past. He did not talk about being forgiven by those he has hurt in the past, and this is seen to mean that he does not believe he had hurt anybody in the past.
An Ikedi Ohakim candidature remains the surest bet for the PDP in their quest to reclaim the Imo State Government House. Ikedi Ohakim is the only person whose victory at the polls will guarantee the equity that everyone talks about. As the immediate past Governor of the State and an Okigwe son, Chief Ohakim is constitutionally barred from ruling Imo State beyond four years and his candidature will have the full support of all Imolites from across the zones. Eighty five percent of Okigwe voters will cast their votes for him because they will see his candidature as their clearest chance of reclaiming their mandate which was taken away from them in 2011. About fifty percent or more of Owerri voters will cast their votes for him because they will see his candidature as a compromise option, which will guarantee equity in the State. In Orlu, he will amass an appreciable support because the average Orlu politician will remember that in his first term as Governor, Ohakim carried Ndi Orlu along more than he did any other zone in the State. He has most of his appointees from that zone and also cited some sensitive projects there. He will record easy victory in the two oil producing areas in the zone, because the people of Ohaji Egbema and Oguta have never been treated better by any other government than that of Ohakim, whose administration saw to the implementation of the ISOPADEC law and also attracted massive development to those areas, without tampering with the derivation funds.
There are credible rumours that even some of the leaders within the PDP are no longer comfortable with Chief Ihedioha, hence, they have perfected plans to swing their support to another candidate, should he retain the Party’s governorship ticket. Ikedi Ohakim remains the darling of majority of political leaders in the State, because he is the kind of politician who knows how best to share power. Throughout his four years in power, there is no political leader or any political bloc in the State that will justly claim of having been marginalized. Dr. Ohakim made sure that every leader and every bloc was given a sense of belonging. He did not do this by sharing State resources with them, but by making sure that State resources are equitably distributed to the people. He was in regular consultation with these leaders and spared no effort in massaging their ego. Those he fell out with are those leaders whose whole interest was on how to divert State resources into their private pockets, without recourse to the feelings of the people. Those are the same people he is still at loggerheads with. It is also a proven fact that that set of leaders does not have the necessary political strength to win votes for their preferred candidates in a free and fair election.
Should Ikedi Ohakim’s prayers be granted by the Court and the Party’s governorship ticket ceded to him, there is no doubt that there will be a massive flow of support to his candidature from all corners. It will not surprise me, if Chief Ararume abandons his case in the court to support Chief Ohakim, with whom he has a long history of friendship and political association. Chief Ihedioha will also have no reason not to queue behind Ohakim, who is his political mentor and godfather. Ihedioha’s chance of becoming Governor will not also end if he does not win the 2015 governorship election. At forty nine years of age, Chief Ihedioha is still young enough to aspire to be Governor in years to come, and it can almost be guaranteed that he will get Ohakim’s blessings in 2019, if Ohakim wins it this time around.
Rather than seeing Ohakim’s court case as an ill wind, the PDP at both the national and State level should see it as one of the best things that has happened to their ambition of retaking Imo State. Whether Ohakim succeeds at the Court or not, it will be to PDP’s benefit that he instituted the case in the first place. Beyond his prayers seeking the disqualification of the duo of Ihedioha and Ararume, the case will also enhance the concept of Party supremacy and contribute to the growth of our jurisprudence. There are so many people out there who flout the Party’s rules anyhow and still walk away without penalties, but, Ohakim’s case will go a long way in reminding all members of the Party of the need to always subject themselves to the rules of the Party. Like Ohakim has always said; “if politics is about service, then, it should not be a do or die affair.”
Ohakim has not gone to the Court with a closed mindset that it is either him or nobody else, he has gone to court to advance our democracy and help in developing our jurisprudence, he has gone to court to help the PDP to do things right. While it will be of greater benefit to the PDP and Ndi Imo, if he wins his case at the court, he does not believe that the failure of his case at the court is the end of the PDP, like he has always done, he will still push on with his support for the Party and whoever gets its final nod.
IMO GA ADI MMA OZO!