By Henry Ekpe
The November 11, 2023 Imo Governorship election which seemed too far away, is here with us.
By next week, the contentious contest would have been won and lost.
All the Gladiators in the race have been traversing all the nooks and crannies of Imo State, canvassing for votes. And no incidents of Mayhem or chaos.
For the first time ever since he has been a politician, the incumbent Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma is taking his campaign seriously.
He has taken his advocacy of a return to office to everywhere in Imo State. And Uzodinma is helped by the numerous organizations he set up to help him facilitate his come back to office.
They range from his plethora of Appointees numbering over four Hundred.
The ironic thing about the situation is that even the Appointees who have not received a kobo since their appointments are rooting for Uzodinma’s return.
Church Leaders have visited to pledge their loyalty, Driver’s Association has gone, Hunters are not left out, Students also have joined the band wargon, even Native Doctors. Including Civil Servants, who lament in the dark of being owed several months pay and allowances.
Even those declared as “Ghost Workers” are also in the Train, hoping that when Uzodinma returns he will declassify them as “Workers”.
Despite these open “adoptions”, the Governor is not leaving anything to chance, as he keeps poaching more followers every day.
This is unlike the Uzodinma we know, who usually relies on the end justifying the means in his elections. This time Senator Hope Uzodinma has campaigned vigorously to the shock of his fellow political competitors.
However, Pundits believe that if Uzodinma will win, he will do that clear and clean without subterfuge.
This is based on the number of people and Bodies that have already agreed to vote for him on November 11, 2023.
Following this theorical permutation, many believe Uzodinma has no reason to indulge in acts like the viral story that alleged that Imo State Government had instructed all Hotels in Owerri Metropolis to reserve all their rooms during the election.
Although the Government has come out to deny that story, but it has stuck as Observers swear that there is no smoke without fire.
However, Uzodinma is a politician and knows that no election is easy even if all the citizens come to you to endorse your acceptance.
A lot of intrigues play out in elections as even those who put a candidate up can pull out at the last minute, without giving any immediate reason.
Even inside the All Progressive Congress APC, which Uzodinma is the Candidate, there is internal wranglings which the ordinary eyes cannot see, except you bend down enough.
Within Imo APC, there are those who are core APC members, there are those who are in the party for the sake of Uzodinma, there are those who are running away from crisis in their previously political parties, there are those who are there for their personal interests, there are those who are in the party for what may drop during the election etc.
Therefore, it will be a mistake for any APC member to go home and sleep, thinking the Trophy has already been won.
One of the things going good for Uzodinma in the election is the known crisis bedeviling the major opposition political parties that would have given him a run for his money.
Presently, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha is not on the ballot of PDP. And following how the PDP candidate, Senator Samuel Anyanwu emerged, the PDP has remained in turmoil in the State, as many members drifted into other political parties, while some just “Siddon de look”.
The expected reconciliation move from the PDP Governorship candidate could not happen, creating a deep lacuna within the party till date.
But despite these short-comings, Anyanwu is not leaving any stone unturned and has marched on.
The PDP has marched Uzodinma propaganda for propaganda. Any time Uzodinma’s side drops one bullet, the Anyanwu Group releases one salvo.
It was Uzodinma’s people that said PDP was planning to invade Imo with miscreants from neigbouring States.
The PDP replied immediately that Uzodinma and APC have imported Chinese Nationals to hack into INEC IREV Machines.
While that was yet to cool off, the National President of Nigeria Labour Congress NLC, Comr Joe Ajaero who was in Imo State was manhandled, and PDP quickly fingered Uzodinma of masterminding the assault on the Owerri North LGA born Labour Activist through his Thugs.
In retaliation, APC and Uzodinma accused Anyanwu and PDP of funding Ajaero’s visit to Imo to use Imo workers and cause mayhem in the State.
This is the level we at as the moment, and obviously more will come as the Election runs into its final lap by next week.
Meanwhile, the candidate of Labour Party, Senator Athan Achonu has left many LGAs confused on whom to vote for with his lively outings.
Achonu’s crowds look organic and natural, that it would be a risk for any candidate to relax on his oars, in the morning of November 11, 2023.
Gener Ogunewe who was touted to would have been the Labour Party Candidate, now hoisting the flag of Action Alliance, AA, has also been doing his beat.
He was yesterday sighted inside Ekeonunwa Market Owerri campaigning. And the euphoria shown by the Traders and reception given to him was not artificial. Tony Ejiogu of All Progressive Grand Alliance APGA, and Ikenga JohnJude Okere of ACCORD, are not left out as they have been busy with their own strategic campaigns.
With this situation, votes may not be easily harvested by one candidate, if these candidates are determined to hold on to their immediate catchment Areas.
Senator Hope Uzodinma is from Orlu Zone. And Senator Anyanwu’s Deputy, Dr Jones Onyereri is also from Orlu Zone. Does it mean that Jones will not at least deliver his Nkwerre area? What of the Director General of Labour Party Candidate, Hon Chime Nzeribe from Oru clan? So, he will not make hay in his own LGA, even though the Governor is also from Oru?
Therefore, unless Uzodinma dismantles these obstacles in his own area, one would expect Nzeribe, Onyereri, Okoafor Anyanwu garner votes for their parties.
Achonu is from Okigwe Zone, and will do everything possible to at least win there, if not other part of the State. He is lucky to be the only recognized candidate from the entire Okigwe Zone.
In Owerri Zone as usual, nearly all the candidates of various political parties come from there.
Senator Anyanwu would at least grab Mbaike Clan, Mbaitoli/Ikeduru where he comes from. He will also want to make encore into other parts of Owerri Zone. And his maternal home is Mbaise Nation.
But Mbaise has Ogunewe of AA, or would Mbaise Nation abandon their own Son? Tony Ejiogu is from Owerri North LGA. And JohnJude Okere is from Ngor Okpala LGA.
Can any Governorship Candidate who cannot win his/her immediate Local Government Area count himself a politician? Politics they say is local.
Meanwhile, the entire scenario looks like the incumbent may have his way in the end. But he should not think it is in the Bag yet. But Uzodinma is a master. It would have been too difficult for him if known Oracles like Araraume, Ihedioha and Okorocha were in the fray.
Feelers in the rural areas is not palatable to the ruling party as the hardship in the land knocks on every door. But, our voters are hungry. That is the matter.