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August 18, 2018

Guber Polls: Anxiety Grips Imo!

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Tension is electric as Imolites await the outcome of last Saturday Guber elections. They are gnashing their teeth and biting their nails in anticipation of the results, with ears on their radios and eyes glued to the television sets – thanks to the epileptic power supply and noisy generators!

The issue is; who rules Imo? Who will occupy Douglas House and who and who will become Honorable members of the State House of Assembly? Flag bearers of the different political parties are standing on their toes with their supporters, taking stock of their actions and anticipating the future. People are watching and counting the hours. In short, Imo state is standing still in anticipation of the outcome of yesterday’s elections, as Nigerians again went to the polls, to elect Governors and State Assembly members who will run the State alongside President-elect Gen. Muhammadu Buhari for the next four years.

Imo-State was listed among the expected ‘danger zones’ in the just-concluded elections, along with, Ekitti, Rivers, Osun, Lagos, and Kaduna This is as a result of the political tension in these states and the volatile nature of the campaigns.

Here in Imo, the incumbent APC Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, hails from Orlu, the zone with the largest number of local government areas, 12. He has had a waning grassroots support, His party’s success at the national level seems to have jazzed up his hope of retaking Douglas House. Buhari on Tuesday paid a last-minute visit to Owerri to bolster Okorocha’s ambition.

But his strongest opponent, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is being pushed as a ‘seasoned legislator’ belongs to the PDP, the party IMO people usually vote at the Federal level. This is coupled with the fact that he comes from Owerri zone, which is considered the legitimate area to produce the next governor.

However, Ihedioha shares his Owerri Zone distinction with APGA’s Capt. Emmanuel Ihenacho, a marine engineer and former minister of Internal Affairs, whom many analysts believe is the best of the three to govern Imo-State, given his experience and  track record as a successful businessman.

But Ihenacho entered the race fairly late and does not seem to have enough support in the other zones.  Nevertheless, Imo, a traditional APGA State, also voted APGA in the 2011 gubernatorial elections and might have done so again, although the exit of Governor Okorocha to APC badly shook the party.

The presence of Ihedioha and Ihenacho, both from the same zone, could mean that votes from the nine local government areas in Owerri Zone would be divided. How voter’s behave in Okigwe’s six local government areas and Orlu’s 12 would be crucial in deciding the outcome of the gubernatorial race.

Nevertheless, last minute defections and alliances have also occurred and may affect the outcome. PDP chieftain Jerry Chukwueke and a few others have reportedly joined forces with Governor Okorocha, to the chagrin of many. Mean while the opposition also met to try and resolve their differences, so to speak.

A closed-door meeting between Ihedioha, Ihenacho and Dr Osmond Ukanacho of the United Peoples Party UPP, all from Owerri did not yield the expected result, as none agreed to step down for the other. Ken Ojiri of the Accord Party and Ngozi Olehi of the Labour Party also from Owerri Zone were said not to have attended the meeting.


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