Uzodinma, Anyanwu, Achonu: Who gets the people’s nod in Imo?

Uzodinma, Anyanwu, Achonu: Who gets the people’s nod in Imo?

CHIDIEBERE IWUOHA from Owerri  writes about the plethora of contenders and pretenders in the Imo governorship election coming up November 11 and sums up that the electorate have narrowed to three

As the November 11 2023 Imo off-cycle polls fast approaches, Imo people are beginning to discuss or analyse the chances of the 17 political parties and their flag bearers jostling to occupy the Imo Government House, otherwise known as Douglas House.

7 parties/candidates in major political activities:

However, from what has been gathered so far, only seven political parties and their flag bearers appear to be serious due to some political activities they have been able to organise and in the process, energize their followers and the electorate.

These are Governor Hope Uzodimma’s All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Samuel Anyanwu’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Athan Achonu’s Labour Party (LP), Sir Anthony Chidiebere Ejiogu’s All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the Action Alliance(AA) of General Lincoln Ogunewe (retd), Social Democratic Party (SDP) of Bright Obinna Ekwebelem and New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) of Uche Ben Odunzeh.

Not much is being heard from other parties/candidates 

However, there are eleven other political parties and their flag bearers who are not doing much to clinch the coveted position or attract the attention of the Imo electorate. 

These are Okere Johnjude Uchenna of the Accord Party, Awulonu Emmanuel Ifeanyi of the African Action Congress(AAC), Okoroma James Otumbadi of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Nwoga Onyekachi Steve of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Edoziem Clinton Chibuikem of the Allied People’s Movement (APM), Achilike Anderson Obieze of Action People’s Party ( APP), Iwuanyanwu Isaac of the Boot Party, Okwara Lawrence Cole of National Rescue Movement (NRM), Opara Kemdi Chino of the Young Progressives Party(YPP), and Andy Chibuike of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).

Position of Imo Awareness Coalition:

To support the above position that the political parties have not done enough, the Imo Awareness Coalition came up with its preliminary report on the 11.11. Imo Governorship Election a few days ago, and stated that most of the candidates are focused on “throwing tantrums on each other and have failed to highlight the core objectives of their manifestos.”

The group said, “We have observed a pattern adopted by some of the governorship candidates. They heap insults on their co-contestants and focus on one item ‘insecurity.’

“Other issues such as education, health, social welfare, infrastructural development, local government administration, ecology, etc., seem not to be at the front burner of their campaign messages.

“Some of the candidates have no coherent approach to issues affecting the state.

“The manifestos of the candidates and their political parties are shrouded in secrecy, aside from a tiny few who have uploaded that on internet.

“This has reduced the intensity of the intellectual discourse expected to shape the campaigns. 

“As the election approaches, we foresee less idea-driven campaigns and more smear campaigns by candidates against each other.

“This will deny voters the opportunity to assess the candidates and ascertain their competence to govern the state.”

The group called on the media, civil society organizations and the church in the state to compel candidates to engage in ” constructive and robust debates to enable people of the state to assess their characters, manifestos and comportment ahead of the November 11, 2023 election. 

The heat by lively parties 

Irrespective of the position of the Imo Awareness Coalition that most of the parties and their candidates were not involved in serious campaigns but throwing of tantrums, there are at least,  seven political parties and their candidates that are involved in programmes and activities. 

For example, Governor Hope Uzodimma’s APC has done its governorship flag off where the Vice President, Kashim Shettima and some other governors of the party came to Owerri and showed solidarity to the governor. 

The Vice President seized the opportunity to call on Imo people to vote the governor for another term to ensure the continued delivery of democracy dividends and continued link of the people to the federal government to ensure federal presence in appointments and projects. 

There was also the Imo Women August Meeting where the First Lady, Mrs Oluremi Tinubu, was invited and she called on Imo women to vote for the governor. 

There have been some activities of the Imo Progressive Movement (IPM) led by Hon Eugene Dibiagwu whose activities are tailored towards the governor’s second term agenda and the need for door to door campaigns. 

Some groups have also been sensitizing and persuading the people on the Imo Equity Charter which the governor facilitated and signed recently, assuring that he would hand over to Imo East (Owerri zone) after his 8 year reign as governor. 

The governor and his group, as part of the campaign, have been luring people into APC, making them castigate their former parties.

Also, Samuel Anyanwu’s PDP have done their flag off where they invited the Acting National Chairman, Ilya Damagun who described APC as a “419” party and advised Imo people not to vote for the governor’s second term bid. 

He reminded them that since the emergence of the governor,  suffering and insecurity have been the order of the day in the state.

Apart from that, the Imo PDP flag bearer, Senator Anyanwu has been touring the local governments, telling the people to vote for him and that the votes would be protected this time around and be counted. 

He has assured them, “My most treasured priority in office would be to  conduct local government election, employ and empower the youth in the state without sending them abroad, repair the roads, boost education and agriculture, among others. 

The Labour Party candidate, Senator Athan Achonu’s governorship campaign flag off was boosted with the presence of the presidential candidate of the party in the last election, Mr Peter Obi. 

Achonu had promised to end insecurity, industrialise Imo, boasting that he is the only individual contestant with the highest investment in the state. 

He also promised to put the roads in good shape, boost agriculture and create employment opportunities for the youth.

Others like Anthony Chidiebere Ejiogu of APGA, General Lincoln Ogunewe of AA, Obinna Bright Ekwebelem of the SDP and Uche Ben Odunzeh of the NNPP have all done their flag off ceremonies and organised political activities where their manifestos were sold to the electorate. 

Among all the candidates, insecurity topped their agenda. They also campaigned and promised what the major contestants discussed like road infrastructure, education, agriculture, youth, women empowerment etc.

Narrowed to 3 candidates, parties 

However, Imo people have further shortlisted three candidates and political parties out of the above listed seven which have been involved in a flurry of activities preparatory to the election.

Feelers within the state seem that one of the three major parties would be occupying the Douglas House come January 14. They are Governor Hope Uzodimma of the  APC, Senator Samuel Anyanwu of the PDP and Senator Athan Achonu of the Labour Party. 

According to those who spoke to this writer, they showed preference to each of the candidates based on what they want or have seen.

Obiora Adindu said,  “I prefer Uzodimma to other candidates because he has shown zeal in reconstructing all the major roads linking the state capital to other towns in the state and other internal roads in the state capital.”

He added, “these roads were in a deplorable condition before his emergence. The governor “has what it takes to attract federal government presence more than other contestants.”

Another person, Ogueri Ndumele said that the governor has been able to construct the Eke Ukwu Owerri Shopping Plaza, hoping to finish it the next few months. He also said that he pays civil servants regularly and has approved three promotions for them even though the monies accruing from there are yet to be received, hoping that in his second term all that would be fulfilled.

To another indigene of the state, Kamalu “insecurity has brought the state down; a new helmsman is needed to stop it. PDP’s Samuel Anyanwu should be given the nod. If the governor is allowed to continue, killings will also continue.” 

Kamalu further lamented, “Nobody has been able to account for the number of youth killed so far and security agents have been blamed for it.” 

He condemned the hike of the price of posters and billboards to more than N50 million by agents of the governor whose posters and billboards were the ones easily seen on the streets and roads in and around the state, saying that such attitude is dictatorial in nature. 

“If somebody like Samdady i.e. Anyanwu is given the nod, all those things will stop. Anyanwu has passed through some levels of governance before now, having been a local government chairman, state legislator and a senator. “He will know how to handle situations with human heart”.

A supporter of Labour Party’s Athan Achonu, Abed Ekeh said Senator Athan Achonu would be best suited for the No one position in the state. 

According to him, “he has been in the state doing business with business concerns to show for it.  He is different from those who come in from other states to do one thing or the other or only come when the election is approaching. You can easily point at one business he has set up but you cannot say that about the others. This makes him different.”

The trio notwithstanding, there is still a section of the Imo citizenry who believe that they are not the ideal persons needed to steer the ship of state in the next political dispensation but because of economic and political power, they remain prominent.

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