No doubt Imo State is one of the states to be watched in the 2009 General Election in Nigeria. This is so because Imo State is a state where no political party can authoritatively claim it holds sway. The people of Imo State can vote out a sitting governor, can equally vote in a young or a virgin politician.
Imo was a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) state until 2011 when the incumbent governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, won and became the governor on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
In 2015, he, the governor, won for the second term from an opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), now the ruling party both in Nigeria and in Imo State.
Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha defeated a sitting governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, who became the governor of the state through the Progressive People Alliance (PPA), but in less than one year, he quickly joined the then ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
This means, since the inception of the present civilian rule in the year 1999, four different parties have won the seat of the Douglas House (Government House, Imo State) viz; PDP 1999 and 2003, PPA 2007, APGA 2011 and APC 2015.
Looking at it from the foregoing, it is not going to be an easy job for any political party to assure the members or aspirants that Douglas House next year belongs to them.
Imo State has been a case of while two elephants are fighting over the grass, a smaller or an unexpected animal will from nowhere come to grab and eat the grass.
Again, with the present political situation in Nigeria with defection and impeachment fully in season, anything can happen and Imo is one of the states that “defection and impeachment” is not a new thing to the people and their politicians.
Chief Ikedi Ohakim won as Imo State governor in 2007 through PPA but defected to PDP without wasting much time.
Owelle Rochas Okorocha became the governor in 2011 through APGA and later defected to APC; Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, one of the inevitable aspirants, had for few years now defected to APC, after being a two-time senator of the Federal Republic through the PDP.
Two different deputy governors have been impeached too, since 2011, Hon. Jude Agbaso and just recently, Prince Eze Madumere.
As the 2019 general election gradually draws closer, a lot of people, sophisticated politicians have conspicuously and emphatically indicated interest for the occupation of Douglas House.
Presently, there are over fifty (50) governorship aspirants jostling to get the ticket of their respective parties, to contest for the number one seat of governor of Imo State.
More than 25 aspirants from APGA; PDP has over 10 aspirants; APC equally followed PDP with not less than 10 aspirants; UPP has 4 aspirants already; Maja 1 for now; Fresh Party 1 for now, and so many others.
It is very clear that the three major parties that are expected to grab the position of the number one citizen of Imo State are APC, APGA or PDP, but since it is Imo State, no party can be sure of it until it is announced by INEC.
In fact, speculations have started going on in Imo State that this time around, it is going to be a surprise again, a situation where the big and notable parties will be fighting to get Douglas House, a smaller party will unexpectedly take it.
What makes Imo guber 2019 very serious, complicated and uncertain is not because of the numerous number of people, but because there are seasoned and sophisticated politicians who are very zealous and serious to replace Okorocha and there are equally vibrant new aspirants who the people of Imo State may decide to taste their abilities and capabilities.
Without mincing words, the fact that Imo State governor has singled out his son in-law who is equally his chief of staff, has worried a lot of Imolites who believe that this is a way of asking for third term bid; deputy governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere, who was recently impeached is bluntly bent on making sure he replaces his former boss.
Apart from Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, son in-law of the incumbent governor and Prince Eze Madumere, immediate past deputy governor of Imo State, other aspirants from the same party, APC include Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, contesting for the third time, Sir Jude Ejiogu, former SSG to Okorocha, Mr. Chima Anozie, Peter Gbujie, not forgetting another in-law to the state governor, Hon. Ololo and a host of others.
From APGA, we have the C.E.O of ABC Transport, Mr. Frank Nneji, Chief Ikedi Ohakim – former governor of Imo State, former Commissioner of Information to Okorocha, Hon. Okey Eze, regular aspirant from APGA, Hon. Ike C. Ibeh, Hon. Uche Onyeagocha, David Mbamara, Steve Nwoga, Barr. Humphery Anumudu, to mention just a few.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have big names like Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha – former Deputy Speaker of House of Representative, Sen. Athan Achonu, who comes from the same Community/LGA with the State PDP chairman, Hon. Tony Nwulu, Sen. Sam Daddy Anyanwu, who has never lost any meaningful election in his life, and Chief Chukwuma Ekomaru – Obia Ozuma Ndi Igbo, among others.
Two United Kingdom based businessmen, Chief Nnaemeka Lawrence Nwankwo and Prince Eleazar Onyewuchi Ogbonna, Chidi Okoro, etc are among the United Progressive Party (UPP) governorship aspirants in Imo State.
Ken Ojiri, who contested in 2015 through Accord Party is still waxing strong to ensure he becomes the next governor of Imo State. Collins Osuagwu from SDP, Aloysius Osuji from Maja party are equally in the race.
With the sophisticated names listed in PDP, APC and APGA, getting the ticket from these three major parties is not an easy task, one can even decide or quickly look for another party and wait for Imo usual surprise than to be in APGA, PDP or APC jostling for the ticket.
Another conspicuous thing here is that some former Commissioners of the incumbent governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, are in the race; his two in-laws (one married to his sister, one married to his daughter) are equally scrambling for the ticket;
his former deputy governor (impeached recently) is in the race and others who have directly or indirectly worked with or for the governor are also zealously interested to replace Okorocha at the end of his tenure in 2019.
In terms of zoning, among the three political zones in Imo State, Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe zones, since 1999, almost 20 years that Nigeria has had this present democracy, Orlu zone has ruled for about 16 years (Chief Achike Udenwa and Owelle Rochas Okorocha).
Okigwe zone has ruled for a bridged or divisible four years; Owerri zone has not tasted the Douglas House seat, so these and more equally make the quest for who replaces Okorocha, a tough one.
It is obviously hard for any party to ascertain now who gets the running ticket to aspire, in order to be the next governor of Imo State.
It simply means, each party has a lot of things to consider, in order to ensure that the people’s choice or an unbeatable person is given the ticket to contest on the platform of the party.
Already the ruling APC has two parallel executives, aspirants or groups, which will make it difficult for them till the last day.
Whoever emerges as the flag bearer of any of the parties is going to be lucky because Imo is not usually determined or won by ruling party or big party.
The jostle for ticket in every political party in Imo State is not only difficult, but also uncertain for who gets the ticket of his/her party to be the next governor of Imo State.
Another conspicuous thing here is that some former Commissioners of the incumbent governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, are in the race; his two in-laws (one married to his sister, one married to his daughter) are equally scrambling for the ticket; his former deputy governor (impeached recently) is in the race and others who have directly or indirectly worked with or for the governor are also zealously interested to replace Okorocha at the end of his tenure in 2019.