About eight Months after the demise of late Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu, the race for who will succeed the lawmaker who represented Imo North Senatorial district from 2015 to 2019 has begun in the six local government areas that make up the zone.
Since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the timetable for the conduct of party primaries and all pending elections in the country, political gladiators have intensified efforts for their party’s tickets . In Imo North, from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on whose platform Uwajumogu was elected twice to the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP, the question on the lips of many is, who will succeed the late lawmaker?
Determined to ensure that the APC retains the seat and reduce cost of electioneering, Governor Hope Uzodinma and leaders of the party in the state had set up a committee headed by the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu to harmonise and select a consensus candidate out of the numerous aspirants for APC.
Daily Sun gathered that among contenders who have so far bought the APC nomination form for the position include, Hon Mark Uchendu, who was Secretary to the State Government under the Rochas Okorocha administration, Chidinma Uwajumogu, sister to the late Senator, Sen. Ifeanyi Ararume and Matthew Omegara, two times House of Representatives member and former aide to the late Senator.
Others include Frank Ibezim, Chief Eze Okoro, the immediate past Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Acho Ihim and Sen. Atan Achonu.
Late Uwajumogu represented Ihitte Uboma State Constituency on the platform of the PDP earlier in his political life but defected to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the platform on which he served as the Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly from 2011 to 2015, and was part of the faction of APGA that formed the APC in 2013. He played a role in entrenching the APC in Okigwe zone, which earned him the ticket to represent Imo North Senatorial district in the 8th Senate in 2015. Uwajumogu won re-election in 2019 before his death on December 18, 2019.
Daily Sun learnt that the people of Ihitte Uboma, where he hails from have been agitating that they be allowed to produce Uwajumogu’s successor, in the spirit of equity and fairness.
Already, there are speculations that key government officials and sporty stakeholders have endorsed Mark Uchendu to fly the APC flag at the October 31 rerun election. A Government House source, who confirmed the adoption to Daily Sun, disclosed that the decision may not be unconnected with pressure from the Presidency and the leadership of the National Assembly that someone from Uwajumogu’s area completes his tenure.
The source further clarified that the choice of Uchendu may have to do with the APC to retain Imo State in 2024 as he is said to be one of the strong APC members and loyalist to Governor Hope Uzodinma.
He said: “His Excellency Sen. Hope Uzodimma knows that most of the aspirants will be his opponents in 2024 governorship race and won’t empower them to get to a vintage position before 2024, hence the reason for the anointment of Uchendu to complete Uwajumogu’s tenure, thereby making the September 3 primary a mere formality.”
An APC chieftain, who spoke on condition of anonymity said the APC leadership at both the state and national levels decided on Uchendu after weighing the chances between him and Chidinma Uwajumogu.
Daily Sun learnt however, that the choice of Uchendu did not go down well with party members who see the endorsement as undemocratic as some of the ousted aspirants are already exploring the option of defecting to other parties to realise their ambition.
But the Ikpe 1 of Ikpe Nwafor Autonomous Community in Ihitte Uboma Local Government Area and Chairman Ihitte Uboma Traditional Rulers Council, Eze Innocent Ukachukwu Onuoha has commended the choice of Uchendu, which he said is “toeing the path of equity and fairness.”
Chairman, Interim Management Committee, Isiala Mbano Local Government Area, Chika Okoroike, faulted the clamour for compensation by Ihite Uboma, saying it is unfair for the APC to impose a candidate on them.
President, Okigwe Professional Vanguard (OPV), Nze Ikechukwu Godwin Okafor, does not agree with the position of Okoroike as he supported the choice of consensus candidate for equity and fairness.
Nnamdi Nwokoro, former councillor in Amaraku, Isiala Mbano local government area, who spoke on behalf of Coalition of Okigwe Youths Organisation in Okigwe (COYOO), expressed confidence in Uchendu’s candidacy as the APC flag bearer and pledged the support of the youth to his election.
He thanked Gov Uzodimma and described him as a bridge between the old and younger generation in Imo North Senatorial zone.