In a recent article, I had noted that it is not a big deal that the three candidates in the March 9, 2019, governorship election in Imo State are pursuing their opposition to the victory of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha at the polls. The article came about a week after the governorship election tribunal in the state upheld the election of Governor Ihedioha. Bemused and dazed by the judgment, the losers promptly went into a flurry of activities, including secret and nocturnal meetings in hotels in Abuja, on how to forge a common front on an appeal against the tribunal’s judgment.
Feelers have it that these fellows are scared stiff of being caught in the secret meetings for one major reason: their followers in Imo State would be thoroughly disappointed that they are each taking back their vomit. Take two of the former candidates for instance: Senator Ifeanyi Araraume and Uche Nwosu. Even the least discerning fellow in Imo State knows that any rapprochement between the two, and in effect between the senator and Nwosu’s mentor, Chief Ethelbert Okorocha, can only be a product of not just desperation but deep frustration.
Reports have it that in the gang-up between Okorocha (Nwosu), Araraume and Senator Hope Uzodimma, Araraume has been adopted as a consensus candidate in a possible re-run that may be ordered by the Court of Appeal. The question the good people of Imo State would be asking Okorocha is: So, you mean you will allow Araraume to become the governor of Imo State over your living (not dead) body? The unprintable things the immediate past governor of the state said about Araraume are still very much fresh in the minds of the people, but that is by the way.
Now, take Nwosu (Okorocha) and Uzodimma. The question the people would be asking is: If both of you knew this much, why did you visit the state with such a level of animosity never witnessed by its people? Till date, supporters of Okorocha (Nwosu) in Orlu zone, where the two come from, are not on talking terms with those of Uzodimma, who also comes from the zone.
Then turning to Uzodimma and Araraume, the highly discerning people of Imo would pose the following question: If both of you knew this much, what happened to the coalition in the state branch of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and of which you were arrowheads, to stop Uche Nwosu from emerging the candidate of the party? Why did you, Senator Araraume, abandon the coalition at the stage the party and its faithful needed you most? Yes, Nwosu did not eventually pick APC’s ticket but what did you, Senator Uzodimma, do with it after you got it?
Finally, where were both of you, Uzodimma and Araraume, when Nwosu, with the ticket of a completely unknown party, the Action Alliance (AA), took the second position in the March 9, 2019, governorship election, in spite of the fabled political sagacity of you both? Minus Oguta Local Government Area and a knee-jerk performance of the APC in a few local government areas like Oru East, Nwosu nearly swept the entire Orlu zone. I mean Uche Nwosu, a political neophyte, running against a two-time senator with fabled connections.
Of course, alliances are not uncommon in politics. Sometimes, they work or they achieve the expected results but it does not need any exaggeration to say that the purported alliance by the trio of Senators Araraume, Uzodimma and Okorocha is dead on arrival. Apart from being a grand deceit of their respective followers, it is not a hidden matter that none of them has a pedigree of consummating a working understanding with fellow politicians.
Araraume in 2009/2010 went into an alliance with some politicians in the state, including former Governor Achike Udenwa, but it broke down just before the 2011 governorship election, with Udenwa joining the camp that produced Okorocha. Although the objective of that alliance was to stop Governor Ikedi Ohakim from getting elected, none of them can beat his chest to say that it was as a result of their local efforts that eventually led to the stopping of Ohakim, who went ahead to win the April 26, 2011 governorship election in spite of the gang-up. It took the entire military might of the federal establishment to stop Ohakim through a contrived supplementary election on May 5, 2011. Today, Senator Araraume and Governor Udenwa are hardly on talking terms.
In 2015, Araraume again went into an alliance with Okorocha to have the latter re-elected for a second term. To be fair to the senator, the decision to take his pound of flesh from the Peoples Democratic Party, following the controversial governorship primary election of December 2014, was quite understandable. But the question is: What happened to that cooperation after he, Senator Araraume, had helped Okorocha to win the election at a second ballot? It is not the concern here whose fault it was but suffice it to say that whatever led to its collapse, the duo, through their utterances and actions, visited on the Imo polity the worst spate of animosity ever witnessed in the state. One can state without any fear of contradiction, that the least discerning observer in the state can bet millions of money to say that nothing has changed between the two, except this journey on a grand illusion.
Needless to say, the two are on another grand deceit on their respective followers and the polity at large is under no illusion that anything good can come out of the conspiracy. Media reports have it that Okorocha is to “bankroll” the project of ensuring that the Court of Appeal upturns the judgment of the tribunal! Really? Okorocha bankrolling Araraume? I personally hope the report is not correct because that would be a letdown for those of us who have tremendous respect for the senator in spite of the position I am taking on the issue at hand.
Pray, with which money will Okorocha bankroll the project? The money Imo people are allegedly asking him to account for while he was governor? Araraume cannot simply afford to allow himself to be recruited by Okorocha in his continued perfidy against the same people he, Araraume, had expressed so much love for. Put in a plainer language, Imolites must distance themselves from any project that is being funded by Okorocha, no matter how well-intentioned, when he is yet be acquitted of the allegation of monumental heist of their collective patrimony.
In the days of the APC coalition, the buzz expression was that the only person that had the capacity to stop Okorocha from foisting his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, on the party as its governorship candidate was Araraume, talking about his network of contacts, huge war chest and, truth be told, goodwill among the people. So, what has happened to all that? Is the Agu Isiebu, as his numerous admirers fondly describe him, saying that he can no longer prosecute his governorship ambition without such an unholy alliance? I similarly ask: Is Senator Hope Uzodimma telling his followers that, as candidate of a ruling party, with all its federal might, he can no longer lead the party to victory in case of a re-run?
I had thought that a possible rerun would afford him an opportunity to prove to his party, particularly its national leadership, that he indeed has what it takes to get it victory and, in effect, salvaging his own personal image of coming a distant fourth position even with the ticket of a ruling party. By allowing himself to be recruited by Okorocha into the alleged gang-up in which he will be playing second fiddle, Uzodimma has vindicated Okorocha who shouted on top of the roof that he was the wrong person to have been given the APC ticket.
Anybody who has a good nose for political feelers in the state knows that the reaction of the generality of the people to a possible re-run is: “No problem: Ihedioha will still win.” Agreed, it will be a setback for the people – having achieved a milestone at the March 9, 2019, election – but the mood of the generality of Imolites is not to embark on a back-and-forth: inaugurate one governor in May and another in December. Imo people believe that they have put the 2019 governorship election behind them, especially as they had, through it, untied a logjam that had appeared impossible for 20 years: Achieving a power shift from a zone that was almost a monopoly of it for that length of time and thereby portraying the entire people as timid and unprogressive.
Our people have not forgotten that Chief Okorocha as governor tried everything he could, including trying to bribe the people with their own money, to perpetuate that monopoly by ensuring the emergence of his son-in-law as governor. Truth be told, he nearly succeeded, going by the result of that March 9, 2019, governorship election; but is it not a big insult to the people that the same Okorocha is again using part of their collective wealth that is allegedly still in his hands to reverse the collective progress they have made?
Out there – both in the streets of Owerri and in the hinterlands – the people are in no mood to give the former governor another chance to assault their collective psyche. Perhaps, unknown to many, Imolites have since known that the reason Okorocha is leading the gang-up against Ihedioha is to avoid getting stripped of the things he allegedly took away from them. If they could say no to him even when they did not know the extent of the damage by him on their collective destiny, it would be impossible for the highly discerning and sophisticated people to accede to another spate of perfidy by Okorocha after the deluge of revelations since he left office.
To be sure, a good number of Imolites still see the duo of Araraume and Uzodimma as compatriots but now that they are on this anti-people journey, they will not suffer them gladly. Even in the case of a rerun, as some of their followers glibly talk, the people owe them only one thing: put them in one basket for another crushing defeat.
•Ethelbert Okere, social commentator wrote from Abuja.