2015: Between Personalities And Political Parties.


In an article published on this page in September, I wrote on my encounter with an octogenarian, a senior citizen of Imo State, a first Republic politician, a man of yesteryears, a political seer whose identity I  concealed because he pleaded with yours sincerely to do so.

In that piece titled The Man Who Sees 2015, he predicted that Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha will be re-elected as governor in 2015.  The old man’s prediction attracted so much fuss and sharp reactions, especially from stalwarts of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State who poured invectives on me and the old seer for having the temerity to say so. I was accused of bias and the octogenarian, in sheer disregard for his grey hair, was called a fake political seer.

The same sequence of allegations and bantering followed suit last week after my piece titled Okorocha And The Burden of Leadership published on this page. In that piece I painstakingly advised our dear governor to differentiate the difference between governance and philanthropy. I commended the Governor in areas he has performed and criticized his Administration in segments they have faltered.

Since that piece hit the newsstands last Tuesday, it has been hell let loose on earth.  It has been a week of incessant abuse and name calling on yours sincerely from those who hid under the canopy of a political party to cast aspersions on me. My reply to them is that I have no regrets for that piece. I will say it in Maiduguri, echo it in Ibadan and sing it in Owerri. If another opportunity presents itself for me to constructively advise and resist the temptation of being sarcastic in advising the governor of my beloved State, I will do so again and again.

It is a pity that the import of the message embedded in that piece was either misunderstood or those who frowned at it were being mischievous.  I have said it severally in this column that I owe no political allegiance to anyone. My allegiance is to God Almighty who has graciously given me the platform to humbly advise our leaders to ensure they stick to the norms of good governance and responsible leadership, twin factors, I believe will guarantee the welfare and development of the people of Imo State. As a law abiding citizen and a stakeholder in my dear State, I need not satisfy the parochial interests of a few to ventilate my views and opinion that will be for the overall good of the people of the State.

However, for those who understood the intent of that article and who are knowledgeable enough to decipher the aims and objectives of that article, I commend them a lot.  I will not fail to mention numerous callers within and outside the State, particularly Chief Okenze Ugochukwu, an Imolite in Diaspora who called from New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America to engage yours sincerely in a 23 minutes discussion that centred on the way our dear Imo State has been governed since the era of Ikedi Ohakim and the present Rochas Okorocha era.

After analysing, synthesizing and comparing their views, I concluded that their reasonable reactions are indications that the Imo electorate have become so sophisticated. It is an indication that the next political dispensation will be charged and competitive. I concluded that gone are the days Imo will be led by political Lilliputians in the executive and legislative Arms of Government.

Aside issues relating to the next elections, the interactive session between our distinguished federal lawmakers and their constituents on Constitution Amendment process which ended last week unveiled the depth of political awareness of our people. Across the nooks and crannies of the State, we saw an impressive turn out of people who wanted to make an input into the Constitution. We saw a resilient electorate willing to make changes to the Constitution to reflect the present socio economic and political realities in the country.

This shows that the same scenario will surface in the coming elections in 2015. We will see greater participation of the people in the next electoral process. What took place last Saturday across the ten Federal Constituencies in Imo State is an eye-opener to those who want to govern us that gone are the days the people are taken for granted.  The people have elevated themselves to be huge deciding factors in the nation’s electoral process and other processes that have a touch on their well being and existence.

Furthermore, it is a signal to those who want to govern us to that they must be prepared idealistically to convince the electorate why they should get our votes.  They should know that gone are the days political gra gra will fetch them either the Government House or seats in the State and National Assemblies. The era of political mago mago and abracadabra, the period of political sweet mouth, oka ozo eme ozo (saying another thing and doing another) are gone. Imolites will not be fooled again by any political sheep in wolf’s skin; they will not be deceived again. Never!

The depth of political sophistication in Imo is also a reflection that gone is the days the choice of the few prevails over the collective wishes of the people. This underscores the fact that the 2015 general elections, from the presidency to the Councillorship positions, will be keenly contested.  I say so because the 2011 elections in Imo opened a new chapter in the political landscape of the State. We saw the diminishing influence of political parties in shaping the outcome of elections or voting patterns. We also saw political parties whose might and size could not secure a second term for most of its candidates. We saw the almighty PDP crashing before rag tag All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). We saw incumbents losing their positions to those who were able to convince the electorate what they will offer the people better conditions of service when elected into office.

Governor Okorocha provides a veritable case study. His Free Education message was all he needed to convince Imolites that he is the right man for the plum job in 2011. In a State despondency pervaded the land at that time; Okorocha won the Governorship election on the strength of his message. His political party- APGA- only served as a vehicle to convey his message to the people. And the combination of these forces paved the way for him to cruise to Government House, Owerri.

These factors which shaped the 2011 elections are lucking around the corner. In fact those factors which shaped the outcome of the Imo Governorship elections are not far fetched. They are very much around. And I predict it is the strength of the personalities and contenders for the plum job that will determine if their respective political voyage will succeed or blown away by the intensity of the political tidal wave at the forthcoming elections.

The year 2015 is 2 years away, but one has observed that the intensity for various elective positions has begun to gather momentum in Imo.  Those who want to be elected for various leadership positions have began to exhibit their body language which tilt to the fact that they are interested to occupy one elected office or the other. For those who are eying the Imo governorship seat, some have shown tendencies to suggest that they will give incumbent Governor Rochas Okorocha a run for his money at the polls.  Some have shown willingness and determination to succeed, while some can be classified as glorified jokers and jesters whose interests are unclear and are far way from the contest for now.

While Okorocha is yet to tell us which elective office he will seek for in 2015 considering the fact that he was reported to have said he has his sights on the presidency, we do not need a soothsayer to tell us that the political permutations in the country will compel him to seek for a second term as governor of Imo State. Political pundits having analysed Okorocha’s body language believe it tends to suggest that he cannot afford to abandon the ship of governance of the State where he is the captain and opt to join another political boat where he will be a passenger. And in line with the characteristics of political leaders in Nigeria, no leader unsure of his next political voyage can afford to gamble the present position he/she occupies in search of another office he is unsure of.

If Okorocha runs for Imo governorship in 2015, he will certainly be a major and serious contender for the plum job and his re election or rejection at the polls will be greatly swayed by the people.  He will beat the candidate to beat!

The only snag to his aspiration will be his political party – the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) – which he has divorced from his policies as governor. Okorocha’s image looms larger than that of his political party. This has swelled speculations that he may be leaving the party for a greener political pasture elsewhere.  He has not done much to strengthen APGA in Imo since he became governor and this has affected the fortunes of the party in the State.  To be candid, APGA’s electoral value has dwindled since it won that nail- biting governorship seat in 2011. And if it wallows in the delusion that it will easily ride back to the seat of power in the State without resistance, then the party is in for a surprise.

This was evident in the two recent elections that took place in the State where APGA fumbled and wobbled. It lost both the Ahiazu Mbaise/Ezinihitte Federal Constituency and the Oguta House of Assembly seats to the PDP.

The PDP on its part has a Herculean task to convince Imolites that it has turned a new leaf. It has to prove to us that having tasted the bitter pill of opposition since 2011, it is now ready for the business of governance and willing to pursue the happiness of the people if elected into office again.  I have at different fora advised some of its staunch members that the party has to come to terms with the bitter truth that it gambled with its first and second missionary journeys in the State. In other words, it failed to live up to the expectation of the people when it sat at the helm of affairs of the State from 1999-2010.

The PDP in Imo State ought to re-brand itself if it intends to convince Imolites that it is the best alternative in 2015. Like the old seer who predicted that the party ought to conduct an internal surgery if it wants Imolites to embrace it in 2015, it also expedient the party discard those actions that portrays it as a party that has no regards for democratic tenets and principles. The PDP must purge itself of those members whose actions are ultra vires to the principles of the party entrenched by its founding fathers.

The same goes for its members who intend to aspire for one elective office or the other on the party’s platform. Since the elections in the State will be based on strength of character and political pedigree of contenders, its candidates must have a new message for the people. If Okorocha and APGA could ride to Government House, Owerri on the strength of the free education message, then the PDP in Imo must produce a quality candidate with fresh and a new message that can convince Imolites that they should prefer a new alternative to the one they have. If they fail to do so, then they should kiss the seat of power in the State good bye for a long period!

The next elections in Imo will be influenced by two major factors namely: the capacity and the personalities of the candidates and the viability of the political parties whose message will appeal to the conscience of the people of Imo State who have grown to become architects of their political destiny.

This is my take. Nde wo nu!