The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha has been declared the winner of the 2019 Imo State governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as Imolites fiercely rejected the attempt by Governor Rochas Okorocha to impose on them his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu as his successor.
Prof. Francis Otunta, returning officer for the election, made the pronuncement close to midnight on Monday, saying Ihedioha polled 273,404 to beat his closest rival, Uche Nwosu of the Action Alliance (AA), who scored 190,364, to finally realize his dream of leading his Imo People as governor.
Prof Otunta, who is the Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Umundike, Abia State gave the total registered voters across the state’s 27 local government areas as 2,221,008 and the total accredited voters as 823,743.
He said a total of 25,130 votes were cancelled across the state with total valid votes as 714,355 while the total votes cast is 739,485.
The former deputy speaker of the Nigerian House Of Representatives had in 2015 unsucessfully sought to unseat incumbent governor Okorocha of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Mr. Okorocha was not on the ballot this time but he had thrown everything behind the governorship bid of his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu of the Action Alliance (AA) – an ambition that put him (Okorocha) at loggerheads with APC leadership and badly divided the party in Imo State.
The APC candidate, Hope Uzodinma, weakened by the crisis that tore his party apart, came a distant fourth with 96,458. He simply went into the contest like a man without kinsmen.
Okorocha’s vision of his son-in-law as the only suitable successor in a state with one of the highest percentage of educated and qualified people in the country did not only balkanize his party, it aslo elicited the fury of Imolites, who felt insulted.
They came together in solidarity on Social Media, working tiredlessly against what they labelled Okorocha’s “evil plan” to enslave them. It morphed into some kind of movement.
In any case, AA’s Uche Nwosu did surprisingly better than expected, coming second with 195,364 despite the resentment his candidacy generated among Imolites. However, there were allegations of substantial vote buying, using state funds.
The AA candidate has however rejected the results, claiming that there ought to be a rerun because Ihedioha “did not meet the constitutional requirements”.
APGA’s Ifeanyi Ararume finished third, polling 114, 676.
The results from Ohaji/Egbema LGA were corrected on the orders of Prof. Otunta after it was discovered that returning officer for that local govt had allegedly falsified figures in favour of Uche Nwosu of AA.
He was later handed over to the police.
Ihedioha’s victory calms a jittery Imo electorate, who had vehemently kicked against Uche Nwosu’s looming governorship but had feared that he may ultimately realize his father-in-law’s plan for him through crooked means.
The PDP’s candidate’s triumph is a typical happy-end political story, having been seen by majority of Imo people as the most qualified among all the contestants and the “Man for the right Time” to rebuild the state and drain the swamp created by governor Okorocha’s corrupt and oppressive governance.
It sparked wild jubilations across the state after he was declared the governor-elect.
The youth flooded the streets of Owerri with chants of “who say men no dey; men dey!”
Mr. Okorocha was propelled to power in 2011 by massive grassroot support, enjoying tremendous goodwill in his first days in office. Unfortunately, he squandered that with his anti-people policies and arrogance. He shocked the populace with his insensitivity and insatiable appetite for land acquisition.
Now, having failed in his bid to instal his son-in-law as governor, Okorocha is now confronted with a new political battle of keeping his Imo-West Senatorial victory, which he was said to have gotten by foul means.
Recall that the returning officer, Prof. francis Ibeawuchi for that election had said on national television that Okorocha was declared winner of the Senate race “under duress”.
Meanwhile, INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu last week said that there will be no certificate of return for any candidate who was declared winner of an election under duress.
Mr. Yakubu did not mention Okorocha by name but it was a veiled reference to his case.
Governor Okorocha fancies himself as the politician of Igbo extraction most qulaified to succeed Mr. Muhammadu Buhari as president in 2023. But should he fail to keep the senate win that he is accused of getting dubiously, he might as well kiss Nigeria’s political arena goodbye.
Be that it may, Imolites, like they did with Okorocha in 2011, have put their trust in Ihedioha, as they now eagerly look forward to a better life with him as governor.