Walter Duru, Ph.D
The wind of politics is blowing heavily across the country, with alignments and re-alignments as daily occurrences, depending on the interest of individual politicians, groups and associations. In Imo State, the wind is so heavy that the state is up for grabs, as no particular political party or structure can confidently claim that Imo is in its hands.
A look at the major political parties in the state shows that they are all crises-ridden, but for the Peoples’ Democratic Party-PDP, which gubernatorial primary is adjudged most transparent and peaceful, both in Imo State and at the National stage; particularly, the governorship (Imo) and Presidential primaries that produced Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, respectively.
One of the aspirants for the Imo PDP gubernatorial ticket, Senator SamDaddy Anyanwu is said to have approached the Court to challenge the outcome of the primaries, even after allegedly congratulating and pledging to support the flagbearer, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha; a move pundit describe as being done in bad fate. As at today, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha remains the authentic flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state.
The other two main political parties in the state: the All Progressives Congress- APC and the All Progressives Grand Alliance appear to be in an unending internal battle for control of the parties. While the APC presently has two of her aspirants- Chief Uche Nwosu and Senator Hope Uzodimma claiming to be candidates of the Party; the All Progressives Grand Alliance broke the hearts of millions of people, who were hoping that the party would elect an acceptable gubernatorial candidate through a peaceful and transparent process. Some of the party’s gubernatorial aspirants are already pitching their tents with other political parties. No doubt, the internal wrangling of the APC and APGA may still linger and will certainly not end well. The rest is history.
One other candidate that many expect would make a serious impact in the election is that of the Young Progressives Party-YPP, Mr. Linus Okorie. Okorie would have been a good candidate, but for his political party, which many see as not having the required structure and network to take over Imo in 2019. The YPP has so much to do to enhance its visibility, position itself as a strong and identifiable brand, while strengthening its structures for greater impact. Who knows? There is nothing God cannot do.
The Peoples Democratic Party appears to be the shinning star of the moment in Imo. It has gone beyond primaries and already positioning itself for the main election, hence, the thrust of this piece. Hon. Ihedioha’s chances of becoming Imo Governor have never been this bright. If he fails to win in 2019, he might as well forget governing Imo forever. Whatever decisions he takes at this stage will go a long way in determining if he will win; and if he does, whether he will enjoy a peaceful reign as governor. The crux of this piece is not to set an agenda for him yet. That is for another day. The idea behind this is to ensure he gets conscious of the banana peels around.
Any moment from now, a Deputy Governorship candidate will emerge. What should be the considerations for Hon. Emeka Ihedioha’s choice of a Deputy? If he fails to get it right at this point, then, his major problem has started.
The recent betrayal of the Lagos State Governor by some of his aides, especially, his Deputy is still very fresh in our minds. The first consideration in choosing a Deputy Governor must therefore be trust. Such a person must therefore be someone he has known and possibly worked with in the past.
Next in order of importance is capacity. Having one with no experience in governance and public service is a recipe to failure. The state of affairs in Imo as at today is so bad that putting a green horn in certain positions might spell doom for the next administration. The Deputy Governor must be one that has capacity to support and guide his principal. Such a person must also be one that will have the ability to guide and advise the Governor sincerely. This is very important because one of the major reasons behind the failure of leaders is that they are usually surrounded by sycophants who do not tell them the true state of things, thereby making them continue in error.
Again, such a person must not be tainted with corruption and will have the ability to suggest initiatives that will promote transparency in governance. One of the major problems of the present administration in Imo is the complete absence of transparency and accountability. Having one that has no baggage of corruption, with capacity to drive good governance initiatives will certainly make the business of governance easy for the incoming governor.
More so, political consideration is a very important issue that must be given serious consideration. The PDP Governorship candidate is from Owerri senatorial zone of the state, with nine local government areas. The disputed candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance – Senator Ifeanyi Araraume is from Okigwe zone, with only six Local Government Areas. The two individuals jostling to have the ticket of the APC- Chief Uche Nwosu and Senator Hope Uzodimma are both from Orlu zone. Orlu is the largest/biggest senatorial zone in Imo State, with twelve Local Government Areas.
Strategically, the only option the PDP candidate has is to pick a running mate from Orlu zone. Apart from being the largest senatorial zone, the two candidates of the APC have serious baggage working against them. The gist is for another day.
In Orlu zone, one must look inwards, to ensure that historic and landmark decisions are taken. There are four Federal constituencies in Orlu zone. The first is Ideato Federal constituency, made up of Ideato North and South. This constituency produced the incumbent Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, who is about completing his second tenure in office. It is therefore completely out of it.
Next is Orlu, Orsu and Oru East Federal constituency. This constituency produced two-time Governor of Imo State, Chief Achike Udenwa, who ruled the state for eight years. It also produced a former Deputy Governor of the state, Dr. Douglas Acholonu. It is also instructive that one of the two main contenders for the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress- Senator Hope Uzodimma is from this constituency.
The third is the Nwangele/Nkwerre/Isu and Njaba federal constituency. The Orlu zonal senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Rt. Hon. Jones Onyereri is from this constituency. Can the Senator and Deputy Governor come from the same place? More so, one of the two APC Gubernatorial hopefuls, Chief Uche Nwosu is from the same area.
The last, but most marginalized federal constituency in the area is the Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West federal constituency. In spite of contributing over eighty (80) percent of Imo crude oil earnings, as well as being the food basket of the state, this federal constituency remains the most marginalized in the state. This is the only oil producing federal constituency in the state. It is the same area that Adapalm is situated. Sadly also, it is currently ravaged by flood, with the attendant oil pollution. The federal constituency has neither produced a governor nor a deputy, since the creation of the state.
Interestingly, Hon. Ihedioha is from Owerri zone of the state which has also been crying over marginalization. He therefore has an idea of how it feels to be marginalized. If Ndi Imo agree that it is the turn of Owerri zone, will he not agree that the marginalized people of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West federal constituency be considered for at least, a Deputy Governorship slot?
Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha will be writing his name in gold as an apostle of justice and fair play if he looks in the direction of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West federal constituency in selecting his running mate for the 2019 general election. This decision will portray him as one that does not accept injustice in any form. Even stakeholders from other constituencies agree that it is the turn of the oil producing federal constituency to have a shot at the deputy governorship position. Doing this will simply mean implementing the wish of the people and this will endear him more to the masses.
In all of these, one candidate that appears to fit into all the earlier listed criteria and most importantly, has the electoral value and capacity to secure victory for Hon. Ihedioha in the zone is a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Gerald Irona. If you have him, then, you are sure. An Ihedioha/Irona ticket will give hope to the people. Irona is transparent, credible, experienced, reliable, competent, independent-minded and trustworthy.
Imo people appear determined to vote out the APC in the next general elections. APGA has also broken the people’s heart. It is not about partisanship at this stage, but about patriotism. The hope of the people of Imo state for 2019 is the PDP’s candidate. Don’t dash it. Hon. Ihedioha’s chances are very bright. Let’s collectively fight injustice, as injury to one is injury to all. It is the turn of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West federal constituency to produce a deputy governor. Be an instrument of honour and give the people justice.
Irona as deputy governor will nail it.