Four years after 2015 election, there are strong indications that the Governorship ticket of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, for Imo State, will no longer be an all comers affairs if the number of aspirants wishing to grab it for 2019 election is considered
This time four years ago, the political firmament in Imo State was on fire largely ignited by the avalanche of persons who wanted the party’s ticket for the 2015 election. Despite the whopping N10m price tag placed for the governorship form and other attendant expenses that pushed the amount to about #15m, not less than 10 persons coughed out the cash and were part of the exercise.
But with the fast approaching 2019 election, the PDP may not have been attractive to many governorship aspirants again except for few who wish to use the umbrella platform to succeed the outgoing governor, Rochas Okorocha of the APC. A head count so far shows that most of those who were in the last “tea party” have either relaxed ambition to run or pitched tenth with APGA and APC.
The reasons for the shrink in size of aspirants gunning for PDP Guber ticket for next year election cannot be divorced from the fact that the aspirants do not want to take a risk going into an election with a minority party. One major factor that attracted the aspirants in the past election was the status of PDP in 2015 as a ruling party.
Undaunted over the chances of the party in the coming election, five clear aspirants have declared interest to run for the plum job through the PDP. The aspirants have been criss crossing the length and breath of the state seeking for the votes of the delegates ahead the party’s primaries coming in few weeks time.
Leading the team for the race is Sam Daddy, accompanied by Nnaemeka Anyanwu, Jude Njoku, Athan Achonu and Chukwuma Ekomaru.
The Mbaise born politician does not need elaborate introduction in the political hemisphere of the state, considering his profile, as a record holding three-time member of the National Assembly who represented Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency. The man with Green Cap symbol capped his sojourn in the House of Representatives with the position of House of Reps Deputy Speakership.
Part of his harvest in the office as Deputy Speaker, House of Reps was the PDP Guber Ticket he picked among the league of contestants made up of Ifeanyi Araraume and Ikedi Ohakim, a two- time Senator and ex governor of the state respectively.
Ihedioha went further to give Okorocha a run for his money in the eventual election leading to a rerun contest before the latter emerged the victorious and was declared winner after the supplementary election.
Positive Points; In terms of who gets the delegate blessings to become the flag bearer, Ihedioha has an added advantage to turn the game into his favour. It would be recalled that in the peak of the PDP schism during the Sheriff vs Markafi debacle, which shifted from the national to state level, the former Deputy Speaker was the point man of the Markafi group in Imo before the Supreme Court closed the case. This scenario gave Ihedioha a big mark to have easy access to the delegates than others since most of party excos in the Markarfi line up are partly his making.
Mores so, having ran the governorship race in the past with enormous political structures within the party, speculation is high that his loyalists will not hesitate to give him another chance to be on the driving seat again.
Another factor that can’t be ignored in paving the way for Ihedioha is his perceived contacts at the national stage of the party with respect to his position as a former Principal Officer of the National Assembly.
Having lost in the first race in 2015, PDP members might want to change tactics and approach the next election by trying to field another candidate other than Ihedioha. Despite the presence of federal might with its appurtenances that are helpful in the execution of election agenda, Ihedioha couldn’t disrupt Okorocha’s second term victory party. PDP has an option to look elsewhere now and the delegates may think otherwise about another chance to field Ihedioha if the new thinking reigns in the party.
Again, his chances to pick the ticket may not be brighter in the present dispensation due to the exit of some key political playmakers from his camp. For instance, Anyanwu, the Senator for Owerri Zone in 2015, now a co-guber contestant as well as another kinsman and Member representing Ahiazu Mbaise/Ezinihitte Federal Constituency, Ralph Igbokwe were his Man-Friday. Their departures with supporters may have created a vacuum in Ihedioha’s support base for the delegates votes.
The change of plans of the Senator Representing Owerri Zone, Samdaddy Anyanwu from a Second term interest in the Senate to a governorship bid, is generating ripples in the state chapter of the PDP.
After making intentions to return to Senate, Samdaddy thought otherwise and threw his hat into the ring for the governorship battle. Ironically, the Senator has only two elective offices to add to his ever growing political profile after becoming 2 term Chairman of Ikeduru LGA, two term House of Assembly Member of Ikeduru State Constituency and Senator of Owerri Zone. After skipping the House of Reps to be in the Red Chamber, Governorship is his next target.
One strong factor going for Sam Daddy is that he has not lost an election since he ventured into partisan politics. He has always won every contest, and to him, 2019 won’t be different. During the Udenwa era, he was the chairman of a local government. In 2007 Ohakim came in, he got House of Assembly position and a repeated journey in 2011. The next was senate and now guber in the offing.
Samdaddy is also pushed by the force of luck to succeed in his bid to clinch the ticket. As a first timer to the Upper Legislative chamber, he has made scintillating moves to entrench his name early on the record books of the Senate that warmed him into the heart of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. Saraki’s entry into PDP from APC has added a boost to his chances. There were speculations that Samdaddy knew that the Senate President will return to PDP, hence he opted for Governorship instead of Senate in 2019. Grapevine sources also have it that the likes of Samdaddy getting the governorship ticket remains part of Saraki’s bargain before rejoining the party.
The huge grassroots support Samdaddy is receiving in the course of his LGA tours and the attraction gained so far from notable leaders in the PDP, cannot be overruled as part of his advantages to cross the ticket hurdle. Across the zones and LGAs, many of the leaders of the PDP have been identifying with his project signalling strong support for his emergence. His affinity to a colossus in the field of politics, Emma Iwuanyanwu is another big plus that cannot be overlooked. The elder statesman is a respected figure who has allies across the zones calpable of giving Samdaddy support.
There is no gainsaying the fact that an ambush has been laid for him by jealous leaders of the party opposed to his ambition, who may not be comfortable with his decision to run for the governorship. In view of his earlier stand on a second ticket for Senate, some aggrieved leaders who are miffed that he made a U-turn to “spoil show” for their interests in the governorship race, might strongly attempt to stand against him. This scenario is already playing out in his Ikeduru LGA and the entire Owerri Zone where he hails from. The leaders are already divided on his ambition. Also he has been receiving series of blackmail and threats from the suspected leaders after each trip in the course of the consultation.
The popular view that he should rest in 2019 and allow others have a feel of the show in the spirit of “Mmanuakara di uto onye ratu Ibe ya aratu” might disturb his chances in the race. Samdaddy’s increased rising profile and election successes overtime no doubt have attracted a lot of petty jealousy against him, therefore, antagonists will try to ensure a cul-de-sac for his political successes in 2019. Also, the ambition of Ekomaru who hails from his Mbaike clan and one of the Iwuanyanwu boys in the field of politics might affect his chances. It is even speculated that Ekomaru’s interest may be an indirect means to checkmate Samdaddy in Mbaitoli/Ikeduru, his catchment area in Owerri zone.
By next edition Athan Achonu (one Arm General), a renowned professor, Jude Njoku and Legal luminary Chukwuma Ekemaru (SAN) will come into focus.
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