By Kizito Duru
The Omuma born politician pulled off one of the magics of the century by outsmarting the duo of Gov Okorocha and his Son in-law Uche Nwosu to become the governorship flagbearer of the APC in Imo state. Uzodinma who is the Senator representing Imo West senatorial district, had found favour with the powers that be in the APC, notably the national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, who swore not to help Okorocha build a political dynasty in Imo.
An electoral committee headed by Alhaji Gulak had arrived Owerri on October 1 to conduct the APC governorship primary election in the state, but couldn’t do so owing to their late arrival. Gulak in a press briefing with some journalists in Owerri, at Rockview Hotels, had said that the primary election would be conducted the next day being 2nd October. In a twist of event, Gulak was declared missing in early hours of the D-day and the next news was that he had travelled back to Abuja, and had submitted the result of the primary election that had Sen Hope Uzodinma as the winner, to the national chairman of the APC. When and where did Gulak conduct the primary that produced Sen Uzodinma winner?
Okorocha could have none of that, he ensured that other members of the electoral committee now led by the secretary, Mr Idaghabon, went on with the primary election and at the end Uche Nwosu was pronounced the winner and result submitted in Abuja. The torchlight was now beamed on Adams Oshimole to make a decision and the former governor of Edo state categorically said on Channels TV that the two results submitted by Gulak and Idaghabon were fake and would be discarded by the party. He went on to say that a new electoral committee would be set up and that he did. A new electoral panel led by Gen Agbabiaka was sent to Imo on October 6 to conduct the primary election and they did, the exercise produced Uche Nwosu again the winner.
But Oshiomole had other plans, which was to literally coronate Chief Hope Uzodinma as the party’s governorship candidate and to stop Okorocha from building what he tagged Political Dynasty in Imo State. Oshiomole who had earlier dismissed the Gulak result as fake made a u-turn to accept the result of a primary election that never took place, if truth must be told.
Indeed, not a few believe that Uzodinma became interested in the governorship ticket of APC, not because he wanted to contest, but to use it a a negotiating power against Okorocha who was jostling for the senatorial ticket of the APC. But Okorocha couldn’t trade his senatorial ambition with Uzodinma, hence leaving Uzodinma with no other option than to consider running for the governorship position.
If Imo was Nigeria, Orlu zone would be the North. This is because, they understand how to use their numerical strength, as a huge advantage, to win elections. With twelve Local Government Areas, which is three and six more than Owerri and Okigwe zones respectively, Orlu zone will, to a larger extent, decide who becomes the next governor of Imo State. Hope Uzodinma who has been representing the zone at the Red Chamber since 2011 certainly knows where and when to press the right electoral buttons in the zone. Interestingly there seems to be an unseen force bidding voters in Orlu zone, they vote for their own and this is a huge advantage to the maverick senator.
However, while the Orlu zone factor is an advantage, it can also be said to be a huge disadvantage to Uzodinma’s ambition in 2019. Since the return return of democracy in 1999, the zone has superintended over the affairs of the state more than the other two zones. By the time Okorocha would complete his tenure by May next year, Orlu zone would have had sixteen years in Douglas House out of possible twenty years. Against this backdrop, Okigwe and Owerri zones are more favoured to produce the next governor of the state. The people of Orlu may want to give in to good conscience and sound reasoning by rallying around candidates from Owerri and Okigwe zones. The awareness and campaign to ensure fairness and equity in the state is on the high side. Meanwhile, it is a fight to finish between Uche Nwosu and Hope Uzodinma in Orlu zone which will see votes in the zone splited between, thus giving Araraume and Ihedioha huge advantage.
Senator Hope Uzodinma is not without controversies. His ceaseless encounter with the EFCC and the court is inimical to his governorship ambition. His past will be brought to public glare and it may not be a story one with such ambition would want to associate with. Recently he was sued by Chima Akuzie of Isiala Mbano LGA for fraud related issues.
Even the Wikipedia attached this report to Uzodinma:
“In testimony to the Justice Chukwudifu Oputa Commission of inquiry in July 2001 it was alleged that Uzodinma had been involved in attempts to transfer money from the National Maritime Authority to the former military ruler Abdulsalami Abubakar.[6] In 2005 it was alleged that Dere Awosika, a close associate of the first lady Stella Obasanjo, had been involved in award of fraudulent contracts to herself and to Hope Uzodinma, a friend of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Awosika and Uzodinma’s companies were said to each have received mobilization fees of two hundred and fifty million naira. Uzodinma was said to have refunded part of the mobilization fee due to mounting pressure from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC ”
“On 10 February 2009 the EFCC arrested and detained Uzodinma. A public petition to the PDP on 10 December 2010 on behalf of a group claiming to be indigenes of Orlu gave reasons why Uzodinma should not be selected as Senatorial candidate. It said that in 2005 Springbank Plc lodged a complaint with against him with the EFCC for fraudulent diversion and obtaining money under false pretences. The EFCC had filed charges, which had not yet been cleared. It also asserted that his company Transurb Technical Consult Ltd was effectively bankrupt”
Imo State House of Assembly speaker, Rt Hon Acho Ihim, two days ago, defected with fifteen members of the APC in the House to Action Alliance(AA), and coming hours after the vocal publicity secretary of Imo state APC, Mr Fcc Onwuasoanya resigned his position, and the same week Okorocha’s son in-law defected to the AA, has shown that the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state is in disarray. Aside the massive defection, Uzodinma would have to face the harsh reality of working with political foes like Gov Okorocha, Hon Ugonna Ozuruigbo, Chike Okafor etc. He would also learn to work according to the dictates of the Okorocha imposed Daniel Nwafor led APC executive in the state. It is yet to be seen how the bittered Okorocha would abandon the governorship project of Ugwumba Uche Nwosu to back Uzodinma’s. But be that as it may, a troubled APC is still a force to reckon. It is the government at the centre and will surely rub shoulders with other big political parties in the country.
Again, owing to the administrative ineptitude of Buhari and Okorocha, Imolites may not want to associate with the party come 2019, but the logic is that Uzodinma, not Okorocha, is contesting and some persons may want to go for personality not party. If that happens, it becomes an advantage to Hope Uzodinma. Ultimately, should Buhari win the battle of 2019 against Atiku, the coast will be clearer for Uzodinma. Senator Hope Uzodinma is a guru in boardroom politics and with the support of Adams Oshimole, Buhari may be forced to ensure he does not lose Imo state to the PDP, and Imo may be in to experience that which happened in Osun state.
Structure is very vital in politics. Structure is not just having a campaign organization, it is not even having Local Government coordinators, it entails having people who are campaigning for you in every INEC ward and even in every polling booth. This, Hope Uzodinma cannot boast of in the 27 LGAs of the state. He may have them in Orlu zone, but it is not enough if one is serious with the business of becoming the next governor of Imo State. I have been informed by friends closer to Uzodinma’s camp that efforts are on ground to set up a formidable structure for the senator. However, with limited time, the structure will be hurriedly done thus giving room for charlatans, mediocres and men and women of little or no political value in their wards to hijack it. To match the formidablity of the structures of Uche Nwosu, Ihedioha, Araraume etc within this short period is something Hope Uzodinma may not achieve.
A notable politician in Imo State once said “What money cannot do in politics, more money will do it”. Politics all over the world is capital intensive. With this in mind and if Imo governorship election goes down to the highest bidder, Hope Uzodinma will find his feet against Uche Nwosu who is banking on the state treasury. Uzodinma does not find it difficult to spend to get what he wants. In fact, he is renowned for his love for hard currencies. With the Presidency in support of his pursuit, Hope Uzodinma will not have money in short supply to execute his campaign.
Aside financial strength, another thing a governorship candidate should have is massive goodwill across board. This factor played hugely to the advantage of Gov Okorocha in 2011 and 2015 general elections. Having the aura of goodwill makes you attractive even to the supporters of your opponents, who can jettison the interest of their party at the eleventh hour just to ensure your victory at the polls. Unfortunately, Uzodinma doesn’t enjoy much goodwill. This is not unconnected to his elitist lifestyle. He hardly attends social or political event in the state. Not a few believe that he feels more comfortable staying in Abuja than Imo State. The only goodwill Uzodinma enjoys is his role in ensuring that Uche Nwosu does not become the flagbearer of the APC in Imo. But such goodwill and action will be forgotten in a few weeks to come.