The Four-way word coinage is not only peculiar to Rotarians who employ the
“The Four-Way Test” mantra as a world-wide moral code for personal and business relationships, but may also be applicable in different formula and methodology in the Imo State political landscape now as political aspiration for 2019 election hots up.
While the Rotary Club adherents believe the Four-way Test can be applied to almost any aspect of life, the Imo State governorship contest will definitely be a Four-way contest if the popularity, party, personality and pedigree of the major candidates among the lot are considered.
Unlike previous contests for governorship post where the permutations for victory had favoured two or three of the contestants, the 2019 version is wearing a different look with about four strong contenders tipped as likely successors of Rochas Okorocha on May 29, 2019.
Since Nigeria’s nascent democracy debuted, the race to Imo State Government House, Owerri had been limited to very few candidates in the major parties, irrespective of the number and parties, except for year 2007 there was a watershed in the pattern of the governorship race.
In 1999, it was strictly a battle between the PDP and defunct APP, while 2003 saw PDP and ANPP tango as front liners in the race. Ikedi Ohakim’s PPA was nowhere near the catchment area of parties tipped to produce Imo State governor after Udenwa until the then “Onongono” faction of PDP, backed by the Federal might, in the wake of intra party crisis, abandoned their candidate for another party in 2007. Story tellers can agree that when Ifeanyi Araraume won the PDP primaries, Charles Ugwu of Rokana Industries fame was chosen and handed the governorship ticket, prompting the two time Senator of Okigwe zone to proceed to the law courts and obtained victory. In apparent bid not to back Araraume, the national leadership of PDP and national leader of the party and then President Olusegun Obasanjo flew into Owerri and at Dan Anyiam Stadium with National Chairman Amodu Ali and publicly declared to party faithful that Imo PDP had no candidate to support for governorship leaving the then governor, Achike Udenwa and his Onongono followers with no option than to chose and support another candidate of a party, while their flag bearer was left in the lurch. The lot first fell on Martin Agbaso of APGA. Yours truly, operating as a Correspondent of a national daily was among the roving journalists who laid siege at the Emekuku, Owerri North country home of Agbaso on the 2007 election day when those who came around had crowned him winner and even went further to congratulate him with “His Excellency” title greetings before INEC cancelled the results. The rest is history, but one significant development was that Ohakim who had earlier been disqualified from taking part in the PDP primaries by the committee and moved to PPA, propelled by Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State, emerged winner of the Imo Governorship contest.
In 2011, it was a three- face race with PDP, defunct ACN and APGA earning bookmakers first line rating. That election produced Okorocha. The election for Okorocha’s second term victory in 2015 was strictly between his APC party and Emeka Ihedioha’s PDP, as Emma Ihenacho of APGA failed to raise the necessary fire power to be ranked among the top bidders.
As the 2019 election approaches with not more than 30 days left, Imo state governorship poll has been booked among those to be an interesting scenario. Reason is not farfetched. Apart from the succession war over the compulsory exit of the incumbent who by constitution has no locus standi to stand for another fresh term, the intrigues surrounding Okorocha’s desire to ensure his former chief of staff and incidentally son in-law, Uche Nwosu takes over from him; a desire, a section of Imolites in the political class has vowed not to allow, makes the Eastern Heartland, as Imo is fondly called, a state to watch in the coming weeks.
Succinctly put, the presence of a few firebrand governorship candidates itching to be given the mandate to become next chief executive of the state has further thrown the card wide open for any of them to grab the plum post.
But in all and based on some indices inevitable in electoral winnings, the Imo State governorship race is not an all comers affair even as about 68 parties, based on records of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, have governorship candidates in Imo for the 2019 contest.
It is also worthy to note that there are certain remarkable names on the governorship list who can best be described as “paper tigers”. Parameters assessment of their mileages indicate that many are only existing in the media, especially, the new media without the desired presence at the locals and grassroots levels where election polling units for voting take place. Also, based on findings, many of the governorship contestants are said to be merely angling to have their names mentioned as a one time candidate, to enable their parties occupy spaces on the ballot papers as there are zero mass awareness, no campaign posters and programs as well as poor reach out to voters in the 365 wards for the election. Pretenders and Contenders exist for the 2019 Governorship race of Imo State hence the redesignation of the governorship election of Imo as a Four-way contest.
Without prejudice to any of the candidates and to avoid being accused of partisan proclivity in terms of names placement or order of the parties among the top rated four billed to capture the governorship ticket of Imo state, the placement shall come in alphabetical order of the parties first instead of names. However, I crave for the indulgence of readers to wait for the part 2 version in edition, next week as this topic will come in series. For now, this is Part 1. Once again, Happy New Year and Best Wishes Ahead