At four major outings by Sen. Hope Uzodimma, the APC governorship candidate in Imo State, incumbent Governor Rochas Okorocha had done everything humanly possible to sabotage the event, or to present the candidate as unwanted and unacceptable to Imo People. But on each occasion, the people have used the opportunity to demonstrate their massive support for Uzodimma.
When Sen. Hope Uzodimma, returned to Owerri on November 14, 2018 after his candidacy was finally confirmed by INEC, Okorocha did all within his behest to sabotage his reception by Imo People. All that failed because thousands of Imo people that trooped out at both the airport and on the streets to welcome the candidate overwhelmed the hired traducers.
The campaign flag off on December 21st was no different. The Governor denied him Dan. Anyian Stadium, hoping to make it impossible for the event to take place. But he failed. Imo people in their thousands occupied Uzodimma’s Campaign office at Okigwe road, and the street proper; from Library round about to IMSU junction, into the adjoining streets. The event was a huge success and a sure vote of the people for Uzodimma.
Also at the APC women rally on January 12, 2019, the government capitalized on the opportunity of the governor’s wife playing the chief host to try to shut out Uzodimma from the event. This also failed instead the people used every opportunity at the Venue, Dan Anyiami Stadium, to proclaim Uzodimma as their choice for next Imo Governor. Instructively, when Okorocha tried to promote the candidacy of his son-in-law Uche Nwosu, he was roundly booed by the people.
The latest and the mother of all failures was the attempt by the out-going Imo government to sabotage and derail the Presidential rally of January 29th. Their plot crumbled on their faces. The plan was to ensure at all cost that Uzodimma did not come out of the rally shining as APC Governorship candidate. But again this failed in a most stunning manner, for not even a six-hour long wait could deter the crowd. It was a game of wits. A strange down-pour and later a scorching heat, probably, meant to wear down the patience of the crowd for them to grow impatient and disperse. But as always they were resolute, resilient and remarkable in their expression of solidarity with the governorship candidate Senator Hope Uzodinma. They were there to make a statement that Governor Rochas Okorocha no longer controls APC and that contrary to his claims of being the only crowing cock in the party, Senator Uzodinma and other patriots were now on the driver’s seat. That was why the crowd waited. And to the utter shame of those who had planned to sabotage or even abort the APC presidential rally scheduled to hold at noon at Dan Anyiam Stadium, the crowd stood like the rock of Gibraltar until 5:30pm when President Muhammadu Buhari, accompanied by APC National chairman and other big wigs of the party arrived to a tumultuous welcome.
Although the president had arrived earlier at Heroes Square in New Owerri, Governor Okorocha deliberately hijacked him amidst inanities and absurdities in the name of a reception. Having gathered a handful of civil servants who were coerced to attend the so-called reception in the name of Action Alliance, the governor proceeded to concoct a curtsey call, a meeting with traditional rulers and others just to show off his son-in law, Uche Nwosu.
Although the game plan was for Buhari to endorse Uche Nwosu at the prompting of the Traditional rulers, and perhaps leave from there, the President insisted on attending the presidential rally at Dan Anyiam stadium, hence the delay. And true to the image already created by Comrade Adams Oshiomohle that Senator Uzodinma was on the ground, the stadium was jam-packed. From Arondizuogu to Obizi in Mbaise, people poured in. From Mgbirichi to Ihube in Okigwe, they responded to just one message: Hope is the anointed one in whom Imo people are well pleased.
And for a second time, they showed how much they love and care for Uzodinma when they roundly booed Okorocha for attempting to disparage the distinguished Senator before President Buhari. In his egoistic manner, the governor had claimed to be the founder of APC in Imo State and lamented how those who are now beneficiaries used police, SSS, and thugs to harass him. Shouts of “No No” drowned him. Deeply embarrassed, Okorocha said that no true Imo son would have booed and interrupted him while he was still speaking. By that he gave the erroneous impression that those populating the stadium that day were not from Imo State.
However, by publicly claiming sole ownership of Imo APC, Okorocha merely confirmed to the world that he was still living in the moronic impression that the party is his private estate.
Was Okorocha disappointed that the crowd still waited for Buhari and Uzodinma after he had held up the presidential campaign team endlessly? Or was he frustrated that Buhari refused to endorse his son-in law but instead stood firm with Senator Uzodinma by raising his hand and asking Imo people to vote for him?
Whatever that might have been running through the mind of Okorocha at the stadium that day, even with his Idi Amin style of dancing, is no longer significant. What actually matters is that the rally was the final show down before the elections that brought the message home that Okorocha is no longer relevant in Imo APC and that the train has long left his station. That was why Imo people turned out in their large numbers and waited patiently to confirm to president Buhari and the APC hierarchy that the party is now thriving and booming under the leadership of Hope Uzodinma.
It was not surprising therefore when a record 22 political parties including n-PDP declared their support for Senator Uzodinma at the rally. Their leader, Dr. Fabian Ihekweme explained that the APC has been fumigated and now attracts responsible people and parties with Uzodinma in charge. He said unlike before when the governor was chasing people away from the party, Uzodinma was attracting more and more people to APC and making the atmosphere conducive for them to make their contributions.
Yes, it was with excitement on the faces of Imo People that they watched as President Buhari raised the hand of Uzodinma and asked them to vote for him. The president’s action threw the crowd into a wild jubilation as they sang and danced around the stadium, forgetting how many hours they had waited for that moment. That action which was the climax of the presidential campaign rally in Imo state. It spoke volumes about the support enjoyed by Senator Uzodinma. As the crowd cheered him when he spoke, it was evident that their hearts were with him.
Interestingly, Hope Uzodinma in his speech did not bear any grudges or bitterness towards his traducers. He only urged them to emulate president Buhari as a man of integrity and honesty. According to him, anybody who claims to love the president and yet goes behind his back to sabotage his party, the APC, is surely an hypocrite. Once again he promised to recover all the years the locusts have eaten in Imo when he becomes governor.
Indeed, the outpouring of support being received almost every day, at LGA campaign rallies by Senator Uzodinma from across party lines, shows clearly that he is as good as having won the governorship.
Emelumba is the Director, Hope Uzodinma Campaign Organization.
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