Imo 2015: Ihedioha’s chances, challenges

Following renewed pressure from some stakeholders for Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, to contest the 2015 governorship election in Imo State, Okodili Ndidi in Owerri, takes a look at the challenges before him and his chances

The plot to lure the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha, to join the governorship race in Imo State, has continued to mount with the recent subtle but firm call by his people to throw his hat in the ring.

Although it has been severally rumoured that the lawmaker has been nursing the ambition to take a shot at the number one position in the state, it has never been remotely or directly confirmed. But the recent move by politicians and stakeholders from ‘Mbaise nation’, comprising of Aboh Mbaise, Ahiazu and Ezinihitte Local Government Areas, has once more reopened the debate on the political calculations of the lawmaker.

Recently, in a well attended town hall meeting, held in his country home, Mbutu in Aboh Mbaise, the need to join the race was strongly impressed upon the Deputy Speaker by the conveners of the meeting.

The spokesman of the group that was made up of seasoned politicians and captains of industries, Dr. Joe Ndu, in his speech, noted that they have concluded that Ihedioha should contest the governorship election in 2015 on behalf of the people of Owerri zone, which has not produced a governor since the return to democracy in 1998.

He described Ihedioha as a politician with towering profile and enviable pedigree, insisting that he stands a better chance among other contenders from the zone.

Ndu, a former commissioner in the National Population Commission (NPC), said the choice of Ihedioha to lead the ambition of the zone, which is said to be favoured by the Imo State Charter of Equity, which advocates rotation of the governorship seat among the three senatorial zones of Okigwe, Owerri and Orlu, was influenced by the fact that he would provide a change in the  style of leadership, which would be well focused and characterised by a  distinctive sense of purpose and  direction.

“He will provide a government that will demonstrate a noticeable ability to halt and reverse the unemployment rate and increasing pauperisation of the state and will immediately restore the security of life and property in the state and protect the safety of the state itself which have been put in serious danger,” he stated.

Ndu also recalled that Ihedioha between 2007-2010 raised  his personal fund to  rehabilitate 14 primary and secondary school blocks within Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala just as he initiated and facilitated the process for the  construction of N1billion jetty at Imo River Owerrinta/Okpala, Imo/Abia state border.

He equally drew attention  to the construction of a 133 x33 KVA sub station located between Nguru and Ibeku, facilitated by Ihedioha and which, according to him, had so far attracted  over N22 billion from the Federal Government.

He stated: “It is also important to let this August audience to know that the sub-station will satisfy the electricity power needs of Mbaise  and their immediate neighbours,” adding that he (Ihedioha) had facilitated the construction of concillary  injection sub-station at Mbutu in Aboh Mbaise, Ahiara Junction, in Ahiazu Mbaise. Onicha in Ezinihitte Mbaise as well as in Ngor Okpala”.

Still lauding the Deputy Speaker for his giant strides in the areas of human capacity building and empowerment, award of scholarships, youth employment, Ndu argued that a revolutionary change is needed in pace and tempo  of governance in the state.

In his response, Ihedioha, expressed shock over the decision to draft him into the race. He said that as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, he has been engrossed with the task of making laws and ensuring the advancement of the nation’s democracy and had never considered the plan of vying for the governorship of the state.

He, however, said that, “I will not say no to my people. My commitment to my people will not. I won’t disappoint you; the voice of the people is the voice of the gods. I will go back and consult with my political associates and after my consultations, I will get back to you.”

With these veiled lines of words, the meeting was drawn to a close but the pertinent question is will he succumb to the mounting pressure? What are his chances and challenges of succeeding Rochas Okorocha. Will the support of his zone be enough to ferry him to Douglas House.

Even before the subject matter was broached by his people of Mbaise nation, Ihedioha had always been counted among the top contenders for the governorship of the state. The reason for this is not far fetched.

As a lawmaker, he had devoted the last one year to a sustained programme of empowerment for the people of the state, which included women and youth who cut across, political, religious and ethnic divide in the state.

Another reason that is counting in his favour is the Imo Charter of Equity, which demands that for equity and fairness, Owerri zone, where he obviously holds the highest elective position, should be allowed and supported by the other zones to produce the governor of the state in 2015.

Also within his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which is strongly overcoming the shock of defeat, he has been noticeably involved in the revival and reengineering of the party structure ahead of the 2015 election.

Although the party has assured that it will provide a level playing ground for all aspirants, the fact is not lost that for the party to reclaim its lost mandate in the state, a credible and winsome candidate should be fielded to compete.

A political analyst, Mazi George Ucheakolam, said that Ihedioha’s entrance into the race will positively impact on the chances of Owerri zone in the 2015 governorship election.

According to him, “Ihedioha’s experience and exposure will certainly raise the stake for the people of Owerri zone. I think he has the muscle to make a difference in the race.”

It has also been rumuored that a powerful caucus within the state chapter of the PDP is favourably disposed to  Ihedioha emerging the flag bearer of the party during the 2015 governorship election.

But the state Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Blyden Amajirionwu, said that the party has not endorsed anyone but will rather provide a level playing ground for all aspirants, no matter their the zone they come from.

Be that as it may, the recent unconfirmed report about how the Deputy Speaker singlehandedly paid up the rent for the state office of the party, which had accumulated into several millions of naira, is a strong indication that the Deputy Speaker may be oiling the party’s structure for this purpose.

Although there are still very strong contenders from Owerri zone, including Captain Emmanuel Ihenacho, a former Minister of Interior, Chief Jerry Chukwueke, a business mogul and major player in the politics of the state, political pundits are of the view that Ihedioha is one of the people to watch in the coming election.

According to Chief Izu Uzoaru, the lawmaker had evolved over the years to become one of the most powerful politicians not only in the state but in the entire South East.

But one of the major challenges the pro-Ihedioha group will have to scale, aside from getting his nod, is the fact that the PDP may not regain public confidence which it lost during the previous administration, before the election.

Also the fact that the incumbent governor, Rochas Okorocha, has warmed his way into the hearts of the people of the state after being adjudged as the most performing governor of the state, after Sam Mbakwe.

But events in the next few weeks will clear the air about the political future of the lawmaker. Will he run for the Senate seat as equally being speculated or succumb to the pressure and join the race for Douglas House in 2015? Answer to  these puzzles lies in the outcome of  Ihedioha’s consultations with his political associates as he promised his people.

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