Recall that the Supreme Court’s decision to upturn the election of Emeka Ihedioha in its judgment of January 14, 2020, not only shattered the political equation in the state but also moved the election cycle.
That move has put bitterness in the minds of most Imo people, who are just enduring the government of Hope Uzodimma who they claim that the Buhari Government enforce on them and has brought WAR to Imo state today, turning Imo into a battleground, which started since the emergency of Hope Uzordimma as Governor.
Ever since that judicial pronouncement, the rivalry between APC and PDP has remained bitter with no love lost between the two parties and the people of the Imo state.
The PDP people’s democratic party had swallowed the bitter pill of the apex court sacking of Ihedioha and returned to the drawing board, as well as re-strategizing efforts aimed at reclaiming power in the state.
Ihedioha of PDP had hoped the internal crisis in APC prior to the 2019 general elections, when the outgoing governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha tried to install his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, to succeed him, would help his cause. But was disappointed with the judicial outcome of the election.
Interestingly, since Uzodimma’s emergence, PDP has enjoyed massive goodwill and support from the people, especially those who had tagged Governor Hope Uzodinma-led APC government in the state as a failure. Hence, the great expectation that November 11, 2023 governorship election would return the PDP to Douglas House.
However, PDP’s position as the main challenger has been threatened, as the Labour Party (LP) in Imo, relying on the massive support for Peter Obi, is now a force to reckon with in the state.
Also, before Sen. Samuel Anyanwu, popularly known as Samdaddy, indicated an interest in the party’s guber ticket, Ihedioha had appeared as the people’s choice and one capable of sacking Uzodinma courtesy of antecedents.
However, party politics came into play and surprisingly, Ihedioha, a few days after purchasing his Expression of Interest Form from the party headquarters in Abuja, announced his withdrawal from the race.
In a statement announcing his withdrawal in a letter signed by him, dated March 27, 2023 the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives said, “As I turned 58 years last Friday, March 24, I had cause to reflect on so many things, including the state of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
“Having been a member since its formation in 1998, align me with the request made by our state chapter to the National Working Committee (NWC) for a consensus choice of the candidate regarding the 2023 Governorship primaries, In the interest of harmony and unity of the Party, I have elected to make the personal sacrifice of withdrawing from further participation in the processes leading to the emergence of the gubernatorial candidate.
“This decision was not taken lightly. My commitment to the service of our people has never been in doubt. And I am sure many of those, who have, on their own, already started mobilizing for me in Imo State will be disappointed. I sincerely seek their understanding and that of associates, admirers and particularly the electorates who have over the years aligned themselves and identified with my political aspirations.
“I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to have served my various constituencies both as a legislator and Governor. I am also proud of the positive impact I made, particularly in the seven months I served as the Governor of Imo State.”
This, therefore, means that Ihedioha would not be contesting the state’s 2023 gubernatorial election on the platform of PDP. No doubt, the news of Ihedioha’s withdrawal came to many especially his loyalists, supporters, admirers, and party chieftains as a rude shock.
But there is still confidence in the capacity and ability of the PDP to achieve victory in the coming poll even without Ihedioha on the ballot as the PDP candidate. This is because the party parades credible and astute politicians that can deliver if given all the necessary support.
Fast-forward to the party’s primary held on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, Sen. Anyanwu emerged as the PDP consensus candidate for the Imo coming guber poll. Anyanwu’s emergence was never a surprise, because, after Ihedioha’s exit, he became the man alone in the race.
In his acceptance speech after being announced as the party’s candidate, Anyanwu said, “In asking Imo people to give me their mandate in November 2023, I know like Eccl. 9:11, it will not be because of how fast, how great or even how good I am out of the approximately five million Ndi Imo, it is because of time, chance, and the divine grace of God. Hence, I can only humble myself, enough to listen to the input of those who may be swifter, wiser, or even more experienced than myself irrespective of age, gender, or socioeconomic status. Again, the Sam Daddy Factor promotes accountability, communication, and transparency.
“The narrative is not lost on me about the many challenges, and peculiarities of my emergence. It is clear that this mandate is divinely ordained so I cannot take it lightly. I want to assure Ndi Imo that standing in front of you is a man humbled by the realities of the magnitude of the responsibility bestowed upon me by this mandate to secure our dear Imo state. I have prayed for a time such as thishttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hope_Uzodinma when I would be chosen to lead Imo into a brighter and better future. A future that will create equal opportunity for all, promote the welfare of the people, and improve our economy in a secure, peaceful, and safe environment.
“A responsible and sensitive government should drive policies and programs that would promote real development, enable the people to feel the impact of governance, and create an environment that would foster harmonious co-existence. We will energize private enterprise and allow the people unfettered ownership of the means to wealth creation.
“I have asked myself over the years, how can we make people of Imo State feel secure and at peace enough to be productive, healthy, and yes, happy with their home state? I have asked those who understand the dynamics of economics how best we can make our state economically vibrant and prosperous. I have had sleepless nights wondering how we can engage our teeming youths to be gainfully employed or own thriving SMEs that make them employers of labor.
“How can we achieve sustainable peace and security? In nostalgia, I recall Imo as a state of leisure and ease. Many may think being known for “enjoyment” is negative, but I do not. I see it as a gift. It is symbolic of peace of mind and environment; it is indicative of a secure society; it celebrates our hospitable spirit and our eagerness to enjoy this gift of life God has most graciously afforded us.
“Any deprivation, humiliation, and hardship that civil servants, pensioners, artisans, market men and women, the clergy, traditional rulers, and of course our youths, etc. are experiencing, will come to an end and remain a thing of the past, in my administration. We cannot afford to betray the trust, hope, commitment, and confidence of our people.”
It is not known to what extent Governor Uzodimma is stoking discontent within the major opposition political parties, but the general impression among the electorate in Imo State is that the inability of the parties to form a united front may work to the advantage of APC and the incumbent.
While PDP’s decision to nominate Anyanwu without competitive contest seems to have whittled down its cohesion, the fractionalization in the third force, LP, might make things tough for the electorate.
The bulk voters from Imo West, where Uzodimma hails may be the ultimate deciders of which party will throw up the next governor. Though distracted, Uzodinma, however, has remained focused and determined to get another term. He believes he has been able to provide Imolites good governance, and his administration has attracted to the federal presence in Imo State like never before in the history of the Southeast, and the state since the Fourth Republic began in 1999.
Since he assumed office in 2020, the governor has continued to make impressionable footprints in spite of the various battles that confronted him. Since 2020 till date, all the civil servants in Imo state have enjoyed free rides to and from work. The governor also provided brand new vehicles for all the security agencies in the state, ditto for permanent secretaries, judges, and most recently traditional rulers.
Uzodinma’s prudence with public funds has continued to shock his friends and associates, who had looked forward to a regime of merry-making given his well-known life of charity and philanthropy.
He has left no one in doubt as to his avowed determination to use the resources of the state for the welfare and development of the people.
It is also on record that after the initial verification of salaries and pensions, no single Imo civil servant or pensioner is being owed. The few workers, who are yet to be properly cleared, are undergoing verification processes prior to receiving their arrears owed. Needless to mention that the government had saved billions of naira from all the hitherto leaking conduit pipes through which ghost workers and dead pensioners were being paid for years.
The State Commissioner for Special Duties, Okey Anukwuem, while reeling out some achievements of the governor, said most of the projects Uzodinma executed are monumental.
One such project he explained is the ongoing construction of five-kilometer roads in each of the rural roads in 27 councils of the state. Also, he said the State government has completed the construction of health centers in the 305 wards in the State, most of them already equipped and with solar-generated power.
In the area of education, he informed that Governor Uzodinma has just revived the Ben Uwajumogu College of Education at Ihitte-Uboma and instituted a governing council to ensure its continuous function.
Anukwuem also said the governor has returned peace to the State by tackling its insecurity challenges with synergy from security agencies in the state.
“I can go on but these are the silent ones people are not talking about, the construction of the Orlu/Owerri and Okigwe/Owerri road is almost completed, the Balloon technology, and lots more,” Anukwuem said.
If Uzodimma clinches another four years, that would mean a cumulative 24 years of dominance by the Orlu axis in the governance of the state since the current democracy began in 1999.
The bitter truth is that the majority of Imo people don’t want APC and PDP, So Anyanwu and Uzodimma are not their choices, but the state of our electoral institution will not allow the Imo people to have their choice candidate emerge as their governor.