By Henry Ekpe
The much expected Nov 11, 2023 Imo Governorship election has come and gone, at least for now. While contestants who are not comfortable with the result head to Tribunal/Court.
Since January 14, 2020 Senator Hope Uzodinma dethroned Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha as the Imo State Governor, via the Court, it has been a tough journey on the Seat.
Now, with the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC pronouncing him the winner of the Saturday Governorship election, Uzodinma can now beat his chest and say he has won his “Own Election” as he discards the vexatious tag of “Supreme Court Governor”.
He now waits for the inauguration and swearing-in which come on January 2024.
To savour the next four years with him, when sworn-in, his freshly-minted Deputy, Mrs Chinyere Ekomaru, who replaces Prof Placid Njoku as the next number two Citizen of Imo State.
To arrive at the present position of a Governor-Elect, a lot of factors enabled Uzodinma to coast home to victory easily.
Easily because according to the INEC result, Uzodinma won in the entire twenty-seven (27) Local Government Areas of the State.
Such magic wand has never happened in the annals of Imo Governorship elections.
It also occurred in the last House of Assembly Election, where the APC cleared all the twenty seven Assembly Seats, but one.
However, that of Nov 11, Governorship election which Uzodinma clinched without much ado, was made possible through many happenings in the State.
First of all, nobody will take away the fact that Uzodinma since his political career has never campaigned such vigorously in any of his elections like the latest Governorship race.
He took the election so seriously that the Governor gave attention to every strategy, including meeting every Group, as possible and as available.
From Vulcunizers Association to Clergy. Uzodinma met all but except the Media in Imo State.
One America President said that three things are important in politics, one, money, two, money, three, money.
Uzodinma deployed funds to his campaigns and the Election proper. No Election can become a success anywhere in the world without funding. He made financial resources available where necessary and needed, and the result is overwhelming.
Another factor that facilitated Uzodinma’s triumph was the gradual poaching of new followers.
The Governor kept recruiting possible allies till the day of the election.
Apart from decimating the vibrant opposition political parties, he curted all the political Big Wigs in Imo State that worth their salts.
Before the election last Saturday, almost all the Big Men in Imo State were personally campaigning for Uzodinma’s return. From Okigwe to Owerri to Orlu Zones.
Whatever was the magic he used to entice and retain these political Heavy Weights is best known to him.
To worst was that Uzodinma balkanized the major opposition political party in Imo State; Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The bubble burst when the entire Imo PDP State Working Committee SWC collapsed, leaving only the State Chairman, Chief Charles Ugwu, standing alone.
These PDP decamped chieftains were immediately given positions by Uzodinma in his Government, making them drop all they got from PDP as political experience into Uzodinma’s political Bucket. They put all they have at Uzodinma’s disposal and this seriously depleted Imo PDP human resources.
The same crisis bedeviling PDP was also pursuing Labour Party, whose candidate, at last, Senator Athan Achonu was in Court days before the election.
Then, the Emeka Ihedioha factor cannot be over ruled. Had Ihedioha contested the election, only God knows what would have been the final outcome.
The absence of Ihedioha left most Imo electorate the option to choose between “Uzodinma and others”. In the end the electorate preferred moving on with the “devil they know, than the saints they can define”.
And again, the final straw was the late introduction of what APC called “Charter of Equity”. This political masterstroke enabled many agitating Imo citizens, especially those of Owerri Zone extraction, to take the final Uzodinma option, believing that “we will not die if he finishes Orlu’s four years and handover to Owerri”.
Therefore those who were even partisan politicians voted for Uzodinma to round off twenty four years for Orlu, and allow other Zones test power like them.
The Uzodinma plethora of Appointees went to work. The Governor has over four hundred Special Advisers, SAs, who believed that at least their November to January salaries are dependent on their outputs in the polls.
Some of them even paid high prices to return Uzodinma, as I know one whose entire House was vandalized for supporting Uzodinma.
So, these number of Appointees, though expensive to maintain at Government expense, worked for Uzodinma’s reelection.
Indeed, Uzodinma’s challengers also helped in handing him victory on a plate.
The signs appeared early on time that Uzodinma will easily demolition his fellow contenders.
Though Labour Party had more robust campaign, but it was not following the tempo till the end.
At a point, the Labour Party candidate allowed himself to be distracted by the Uzodinma people, by joining issues with them, than executing his own plans as mapped out. This led Achonu to abandon the campaign train, and momentarily headed for Abuja.
On the final day, Labour Party lacked presence at the polling Units, as their Agents forgot that the Peter Obi election, which was like a Peoples Movement, was different from the Achonu Election. They had no “Logistics”.
For Imo PDP, since 1999 it started contesting Governorship election, the Nov 11 debacle is better forgotten.
PDP has remained a big “Shaddow Government” in Imo State. Even when it loses Elections, it lost Big, as the ruling party would lick its wounds after a testy battle, escaping by the whiskers.
This election was the first time PDP did not win even one Local Government in Imo Governorship poll. It was tragic and disastrous.
No matter the story of intimidation or rigging, PDP always matched whatever ruling party with whatever they will bring to the battle front.
The contentious PDP Governorship primary battle resurfaced during the main election as PDP had lost many of its top members and financiers. Those still hanging in the party, just sat down, hands akimbo during the polls.
The candidate, Senator Sam Daddy Anyanwu could not even help matters, as he was confused whether to concentrate on the Governorship race, or retain his office as National Secretary of the party.
He also did not make any reconciliatory move to bring the warring Groups together before the election, as he felt his “faction of followers” will deliver him.
In the end, Anyanwu came second with Eleven thousand votes. And before he could race back to Abuja, to continue as Secretary, that one was also lost. What a Loss!
Now, Governor Uzodinma should feel humble in victory and bring all Imo people together, and rein in those in his Government who see others as enemies. It is time to do away with brigandage and “bubuyaya” because nobody remains a Government Appointee forever. Let peace reign in Imo.
When sworn-in on January, Gov Uzodinma would be heading for his last term, which has to do with working for Imo people and a successor, even as no Governor in Imo State has succeeded in doing that yet.
He will also use the last term to leave legacies that will attest to his real achievements, and not that of his First term, which sychophants used to worm themselves into him. And second terms are usually shorter.
Uzodinma should ask Udenwa, Ohakim and Okorocha.