NO fewer than 17 candidates have expressed their readiness to sack incumbent Governor Hope Uzodimma of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the Imo State governorship poll.
Although, not all the governorship candidates have been visible in the political arena, a few of them have been boasting of their chances to unseat Uzodimma.
Reasons given for the poor visibility of some of the opposition parties were Uzodimma’s alleged stifling of the political parties and stopping them from having a robust campaign by imposition of levies for displaying their banners along the streets of Owerri and its environs among others.
One of such levies is mandatory payment of N54 million before a party can display its banners.
Members of different political parties have condemned and described the levy as unacceptable. Currently, only a few of the 17 governorship candidates are showing their presence in preparation to oust Uzodimma from the seat of power.
They include Major General Lincoln Ogunewe, retd, of the Action Alliance, AA; Senator Samuel Anyanwu of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP; and Senator Athan Achonu of the Labour Party, LP.
While Uzodimma of the APC hails from Imo West Senatorial zone with 12 council areas, Senator Anyanwu, and Major-General Ogunewe are all from Imo East Senatorial zone with nine council areas. Senator Achonu is from Imo North with six LGAs.
Hurdles before candidates
(A) Senator Anyanwu
He is facing the challenging of losing the state executives of the PDP to the ruling APC. Seven of the PDP executives joined the APC, recently. The former governor of Imo state, Emeka Ihedioha’s men also dumped Anyanwu. They went to different parties.
Political analysts have eyed Ihedioha accusing him of whittling down the chances of the PDP candidate winning the governorship election by allowing his core support base to decamp to other political parties.
To this extent, Anyanwu is now relying on his divine mandate group and other PDP staunch supporters to carry out his campaign. Not only that, Senator Anyanwu is locked in a battle of words with his former PDP executives who accused him of a secret collaboration with Governor Uzodimma.
Former Imo PDP Secretary, Ray Emeana, said: “Samuel Anyanwu is not running for governorship. There is no reality. There is nothing to show. There is no activity to show that he is running for governor of Imo State.
“I ask myself, if I am prepared to be in opposition for another four years with somebody who is negotiating with the governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma, to hand over to him in 2027.”
Countering, Senator Anyanwu said: “It is on record that the current realities on ground in the state are the massive adoption and endorsement of Senator Samuel Nnaemeka Anyanwu as a consensus governorship candidate in the November 11 election by market women, youth groups, motorcycle, Keke/taxi operators, socio-political groups, Christian organizations, and traditional institutions.
“Not comfortable with the wide acceptance of the PDP candidate, Hope Uzodinma, his team, and the escaped former PDP officials are doing everything possible not minding its legal implications to whittle down the popularity of Senator Anyanwu in the state.
“One of such game plans is exactly what Ray Emeana peddled, including others to be falsely disclosed in the nearest future. Our assurance to the Imo people is that the PDP governorship candidate will secure the state from the stranglehold of APC misrule, intimidation, harassment, and illegal arrests which have gradually destroyed the state and turned it into a battleground for non-state actors.
“Senator Anyanwu and Jones Onyereri are out to make Imo safe again by ending killings, kidnappings, and thuggery in the state.”
He came with high expectations and favoured to be the governorship candidate of the Labour Party. The sentiments of the Obidients were with him. But he failed to clinch the governorship candidate of the LP and lost to Senator Achonu.
Ogunewe moved to AA and became the governorship candidate. Some Obidients were said to have followed him and some of the governorship aspirants stepped down for him.
However, he considered to be a newcomer in the governorship contest of Imo state and has the challenge of selling his manifestos to the people of the state.
(C) Senator Achonu
He abandoned the ruling APC and joined the LP where he won the 2023 governorship ticket.
He’s now facing a series of litigations from other claimants of the LP governorship ticket such as Joseph Ukaegbu, Basil Maduka, and Ike Ibe.
However, the national leadership of the party has affirmed Achonu as its candidate and has been carrying his message of ending insecurity and industrialising Imo to strategic groups, stakeholders, and professionals.
(D) Governor Uzodimma
Many believe that Uzodimma is faced with the challenge of distancing himself from the people. Among the issues was his frequent outing to Abuja. To this extent, opposition parties have used it in their campaigns to describe Uzodimma as not being ready for Imo governance.
Also, the governor is still dealing with the issue of rising insecurity in the state, which his opponents are capitalising on. Apart from that, the governor is having frosty relationship with some heavyweight politicians of his party such as former governor Rochas Okorocha and Senator Ifeanyi Araraume.
The duo of Okorocha and Araraume are said to be strategically positioning themselves for a last-minute game ahead of the November 11 election.
(E) Other candidates
Residents have been asking questions on the other governorship candidates and their plans.
Some of the known and popular political parties that much has not been heard about their leaders are the African Democratic Congress, ADC, James Okoroma; Tony Ejiogu of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, and Uche Odunzeh of the New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP.