At present, not less than 24 aspirants are planning to take over from the incumbent Governor Rochas Okorocha. At least, ten of the aspirants are said to have come from Mbaise zone alone, possibly hindering the chances of any Mbaise person to win the election.
One of the things that may make Imo governorship election quite exciting next year is that Governor Okorocha is likely to contest again on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Although recently, he said he might not contest again as governor in 2015 to enable him pursue his presidential ambition which has always been on his mind. But observers think he made the statement just to feel the political pulse of the state.
Assuming Governor Okorocha re-contests, he may have to pray harder and work extra hard for him to clinch victory. This is because of the other aspirants that may throw up ‘surprising situations’ in next year’s election, according to political watchers in the state.
For instance, some politicians have begun to draw attention to what is known in the state as “Imo State Charter of Equity.” This has to do with the idea of rotating political power round Orlu, Owerri and Okigwe – the three senatorial zones in the state.
Now, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) also seem to be ‘awake politically’ in the state.
Though some of the aspirants have good credentials, observers in the politics of Imo State say that some of the aspirants are mere pretenders who are out to rubbish the chances of other serious contestants.
Notable among the aspirants are Senator Chris Anyanwu, currently representing Owerri zone in the Senate, a former Governor Ikedi Ohakim, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, the incumbent Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN) and Chief Jerry Chukwueke.
Others include Governor Okorocha, President of Pan African Parliament, Bethel Amadi, Chief Charles Onyeagbakor, Senator Hope Uzodinma and the former Interior Minister, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho.
Senator Chris Anyanwu
Senator Chris Anyanwu, was born in Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, was elected into the Senate in 2007 to represent Imo East Senatorial District. She is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy, and member, Senate Committee on Defence and Army, Health, Water Resources, Women & Youth Development, and Environment. She recently left the APGA recently to join the PDP where her attempt to return to the Senate was almost frustrated when the former Governor Ohakim allegedly backed the candidacy of Dr. Kema Chikwe, the incumbent PDP National Woman Leader and a former Nigerian Ambassador to Spain. Anyanwu, who has attracted numerous projects to Imo East Senatorial Zone, is regarded as “a woman with a man’s heart.”
But in spite of her credentials and good performance, the ambition to become governor of Imo State may suffer some setbacks. The reason is that more than ten persons from her Mbaise clan alone are jostling for the same position.
Secondly, some observers say the forces that earlier frustrated her in the PDP may oppose her again.
Ikedi Ohakim, the erstwhile governor, is an aspirant who a few believe may never become Governor again because of his alleged “power drunkenness”. His loss to Okorocha in 2011 was seen as a way to humble him. Perhaps, he has accepted the many blunders he committed while in office as governor. Sources close to him said he had learnt from his past mistakes. Clearly, Ohakim has not declared his ambition to contest the governorship election in 2015. But the Okigwe-born politician is said to have started consulting the traditional rulers, the party chieftains and other key stakeholders in the state in an attempt to bounce back.
Senator Ifeanyichukwu Araraume is a well-known person in Imo State politics. Coming from his native Okigwe senatorial district, Ifeanyi, no doubt, has many supporters who, at times, could even ‘hero worship’ him.
Araraume is reportedly quite close to the Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih. However, he may have problem because of the rancorous clamour by political top shots in Okigwe district for the governorship slot on the ground that former Governor Ohakim does not complete his second term in office. Both politicians are from Okigwe zone. None may want to step down for the other.
In some circles, Ifeanyi is seen as a ‘perpetual’ governorship aspirant. He ran for the governorship race on three different occasions. He did not succeed. In the year 2007, Ifeanyi believed that he was sidelined. So, he opted out of the PDP with rage. However, many think that Ifeanyi, having been denied the opportunity in his previous attempts, ought to be considered this time.
A philanthropist, one-time Minister of Interior, the Chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas, and the Managing Director, Genesis Worldwide Shipping Company, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho is a well-known name in the politics of Imo state and Nigeria. Recently, he ‘cross-carpeted’ from the PDP to the APGA and decried his alleged marginalization in the PDP. As a minister, he was credited to having facilitated the recruitment of many Imo indigenes into federal agencies.
One of the setbacks he may face is the notion that he is not enjoying the goodwill of the APGA leader in the state, Chief Martins Agbaso who has much influence in the party.
The Mbaise-born Emeka Ihedioha, who always wears a green-coloured cap which has gradually become his ‘trade-mark’, is a popular politician by the virtue of his position as the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives. But pundits say his popularity may not go beyond his immediate constituency – Aboh Mbaise and Ngor-Okpuala federal constituency – where he is credited to having provided his constituents with benefits of democracy in terms of infrastructure, youth empowerment and skills acquisition programmes.
Although Emeka enjoys the support of a good number of people at the grassroots level because of his wide contacts, he is seen as somebody who can challenge Governor Okorocha if he gets the PDP ticket. It is believed that Emeka may get the party ticket since he has links with the national leadership of the party. He has reportedly toured all the 27 local government areas in the state in an attempt to woo the electorate.
After making known his ambition to contest the Imo state governorship election, Emeka has been meeting with different stakeholders. Emeka is seen by many as rich but tightfisted.
However, he has to face stiff challenge from Senator Chris Anyanwu, Chief Mike Ahamba who also hail from his Local Council Area.