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Imo Guber Primaries And Ihedioha’s Emergence

Nigeria's House of Reps Deputy Speaker,  Emeka Ihedioha

By Dr Austin Uganwa

Akin to several People’s Democratic Party governorship primaries held across the country last Monday, Imo state own has also come and gone leaving on its trails tough contest, appreciable records and forecasts that came to pass.

Days and even hours before the PDP Imo gubernatorial primaries was held most political watchers were unmistakable about one fact, namely; that Hon Emeka Ihedioha , Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives would carry the day. Even though they also acknowledged that Senator Ifeanyi Ararume and Former Governor Ikedi Ohakim were key contenders.

Nigeria's House of Reps Deputy Speaker,  Emeka Ihedioha

Nigeria’s House of Reps Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha

This explained why when Ihedioha arrived at the entrance of Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri venue of the event at about eleven in the morning, he was heralded by a large crowd. The crowd surged rejoicing to catch a glimpse of him, chanting solidarity songs. He waved, bewitching soft smiles, in apparent recognition of the cheers

Radiating in total aura of confidence, Ihedioha struck a picture of an Army General sure-footed of winning a fierce battle. The election which commenced at about 11 am with accreditation of delegates on Local Council basis was a study in transparency, openness, orderliness and tranquility. The security operatives were on top of their job, ensuring that law and order were instituted throughout the duration of the process.

This reality provided the delegates the desirable conducive environment to cast their votes freely and evidently wisely. Shortly before midnight the chairman Imo state PDP Governorship Primaries Committee, Hon Tengu Tsegba was ready to announce the result. After announcing the figures polled by each of the aspirants; he announced Ihedioha winner of the primaries to the admiration of many

Ihedioha polled 346 votes to   emerge the flag bearer of PDP in Imo state gubernatorial election slated for February next year. His closest opponents, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume and Chief Ikedi Ohakim, former Governor of Imo state scored 336 and 213 respectively to be placed second and third positions

Ihedioha captured the reasons behind his choice by the delegates thus: “It is as a result of your trust and confidence in me that I was elected as the PDP Governorship flag bearer in the 2015 general election”.

To him, the election was one of the best primaries ever conducted by any electoral committee of the party. “It was the most painstaking, thorough, transparent and credible primary election ever conducted in the history of primary elections of any political party in Imo State”, he said

Evidently, the emergence of Ihedioha as PDP governorship flag bearer in Imo state is symbolic in many respects. This is the first time since inception of this political dispensation in 1999 that a serving Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives would clinch the PDP gubernatorial ticket in spite of their efforts in that direction

Chibudon Nwuche who was Deputy Speaker, 1999 to 2003 was the first to pursue the PDP governorship ticket in Rivers state. He failed in the bid losing to the incumbent Governor Peter Odili at that time. Austin Opara who succeeded Nwuche also tried his hand at securing the governorship ticket of Rivers state. Even though he was the clear choice of the people of the state; Odili who was the Governor single handedly stopped him, instead gave the ticket to Rotimi Amaechi, who has been the Governor since 2007.

Usman Nafada who was Deputy Speaker, 2007 and 2011 was similarly unlucky. He also failed in his sustained efforts at getting the PDP governorship ticket in Gombe state to run for 2011 gubernatorial election. Apparently, the Imo reality has in no small way broken the growing jinx, a huge source of comfort for future occupiers of the exalted Office of Deputy Speaker.

Ihedioha has remained consistent in PDP since inception, unlike several other aspirants. Since 2011 when PDP lost Imo state to All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA), Ihedioha has been the leader of the PDP in the state and one of the major financial pillars, resulting in the survival of the party during the trying period.

Using his position as Deputy Speaker, he has been synonymous with empowerment programmes especially for vulnerable women and youths in the state, attraction of infrastructural development projects, distribution of education facilities and equipment in the state. Not a few political watchers believe that these realities contributed immensely to his emergence as PDP guber flag bearer of the state.

Armed with PDP governorship ticket, Ihedioha faces a bigger challenge of dislodging Governor Rochas Okorocha’s All Progressives Congress government in next year’s election. He appears set to achieve it. He has started by reaching out to his opponents during the primaries, delegates and all party stakeholders and indigenes of Imo state to join him as a united force in the struggle to reclaim Imo.

In a move to bring all stakeholders under one umbrella ahead of 2015 guber elections, he states: “I appeal to all my brothers and sisters who contested with me, all the delegates, PDP members and all indigenes of Imo in all walks of life to rally behind me and all other PDP Candidates for various positions, towards ensuring that the party records wide-ranging and resounding victory in Imo State in 2015 General Elections.”

Dr Austin Uganwa, wrote from Owerri

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