The track is set and the race to Imo Government House has begun. Following the release of election timetable by the Attahiru Jega led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), governorship aspirants have been making their intentions known since it is now clear that the incumbent governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha has declared that he will not be seeking a return to the Imo Government House come 2015 but rather prefers to pursue a bigger ambition of becoming the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The fact that Okorocha is now with the All Progressives Congress (APC) makes the race for his seat more explosive especially as PDP believes it is an opportunity to run Okorocha and APC out of town.
However the PDP in Imo has a lot of work to do if it intends to produce a solid candidate capable of defeating whoever Okorocha presents as APC candidate or if the incumbent governor himself changes his mind and decides to run. Though there are several aspirants in the PDP but following the conduct of former governor Ikedi Ohakim, the party will need a candidate that has appeal that cuts across all facets of human life in the state. Recall that Ohakim stepped on sore toes by towards his re-election when he asked his aides to whip a Catholic Priest for allegedly obstructing his convoy in Owerri.
This singular act led Imolites to push sympathy votes to then APGA candidate Okorocha who incidentally in is a catholic hence he won the gubernatorial election. The effect of this is that PDP has a bad image in the state and only a strong candidate with clean track record in public service can reclaim the support of the electorates and sway them to return the party in power.
Governor Okorocha recently promised the good people of Imo State that he will not force any candidate on them irrespective of party, but in concern for their happiness and well-being they are free to choose from the number of aspirants that have been indicating interest in the governorship seat who they feel will represent their interest. Is this to say that the PDP will be having a leveled playing ground at the 2015 polls especially against the ruling APC and if their cards is played right reclaim the governorship seat?
So far, many aspirants of different profession and local government areas of Imo State have indicated interest in the governorship seat. Although some were encouraged to join the race by groups, friends and supporters who believe in them and their ability to pilot the affairs of Imo State as well as fit perfectly into the big shoe that Okorocha will be leaving behind, others have joined because it’s an ambition they have nursed for a very long time.
Among those that have declared their intentionis Dr. Julius Kpaduwa, Barr. Bethel Chukwuemeka, Nzimakor, Senator Sylvestre Anyanwu, Senator Uzodinma Hope, Chief Perry Okpara, Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha, to mention a few
A-THREE HORSE RACE
The race to Imo Government house 2015 is undoubtedly crowded and many heavyweights will be knocking horns to emerge victorious come 2015.
From the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), three juggernauts with political muscle who enjoy national popularity; Senator Okpara Henry Senator Uzodinma Hope, member house of senate, Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha, Deputy Speaker house of representatives, having served at the federal level in one capacity or another have declared their interest in the Imo governorship seat and will battle for the ticket of the party for the 2015 Imo gubernatorial election.
SENATOR HOPE UZODINMA
He is Chairman of Senate Committee on Aviation and member Board of Trustees of the PDP, a position he has held since 2003. Senator Uzodinma is representing Imo West under the umbrella of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has also registered his intention to run in the race. Senator Uzodinma is a political heavyweight who will give his opponents especially those who are aspiring to run on the same lane (PDP) in the 2015 guber race as him a run for their money. The senator who recently raised an alarm through his Director of Publicity, Mr. Emelumba on the alleged plot by the incumbent governor, Rochas Okorocha to begin a smear campaign against him over his governorship ambition in 2015, by hiring phantom groups to demonstrate against his purported governorship ambition as well as sponsored newspaper write-ups that will paint him in bad light, blackmail him within the ranks of PDP leadership causing disaffection between him and other key stakeholders in the party, reiterated his commitment against all odds to run the race and emerge victorious. His chances of flying the party flag at the 2015 gubernatorial polls maybe deterred by the zoning arrangement in the state since the governorship position is not zoned to his constituency. PDP is desperate to recover the governorship seat of Imo State from APC and fielding an aspirant who is not favored by the zoning arrangement in the state will obviously not be a smart move.
RT. HON EMEKA IHEDIOHA
A third term member of the lower chamber of the National Assembly, Ihedioha, many believe, has used his network of influence and power developed over the years to benefit the people of Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala federal constituency he represents and even lately, throughout Imo State as a whole. The federal lawmaker has demonstrated consistency in practical service delivery to the people since he was first elected in 2003 by attracting federal presence, including infrastructural projects and empowerment programs to his constituency. Perhaps, to prove that if given the chance as governor of Imo State in 2015 he can do a whole lot for Imo people, Ihedioha has been very visible in projects flag-off and commissioning in different parts of the state lately. And at each of these ceremonial events, the point is never lost on the people that the project or Programme in focus is attracted to the community by the deputy speaker. And this has reinforced his attribute among the people as a trustworthy man, a politician with integrity and a legislator with a liberal temperament, a testament that will easily count for him when all the cards are thrown on the table for the 2015 governorship.
The deputy speaker who has identified a loophole in the Okorocha led administration which he will likely exploit to win the heart of Imolites especially youths made it clear that the he will tackle the problem of youth unemployment which he described as worrisome in the state. While addressing participants at a four-day Training and Research Development Programme for Youths of Imo State which he facilitated in collaboration with Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies, held at the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) he said that the time has come for Imolites to collectively begin to think about youths and how to better their lives. “No society makes any considerable progress when the youths are wallowing the streets without meaningful and productive engagement” he said.
CHIEF PERRY OKPARA
Described as the chief political strategist of the Jonathan presidential campaign, Chief Okpara looks most at advantage than all other aspirants who are hoping to represent the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the 2015 polls. The political influential who is spearheading the campaign of the president in Imo state will be hoping to use the influence of the president to claim the gubernatorial ticket of the party as compensation for his services to the president in the state. The Head Media and Public Affairs in the office of the president have been very vocal on the preferred candidacy of President Jonathan and other party issues. He may not be a lawmaker but with the backing of the president who calls the shots in the affairs of the People’s Democratic Party, Chief Okpara stands a better chance of flying the party flag in the 2015 Imo gubernatorial race.