By Stephen Ubanna
Rochas Okorocha, an Emperor and governor of Imo state, south east Nigeria, appears not to have recovered from his problem with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which had annulled his election as the Senator representing as the Senator-elect representing Imo West Senatorial district in the February 23, 2019, Presidential and National Assembly election.
He may have played into the Commission’s hand by mobilising party thugs to force Innocent Uzochukwu Ibeawuchi, a professor and Returning Officer of the Imo West Senatorial district to announce his name as the winner of the election. The Professor had said that he was ”detained for days at the Collation centre ”, by Okorocha’s thugs to alter the result and announce his name as the Senator elect of the Imo West Senatorial district.
The report of the Returning Officer to Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, may have forced the Commission to omit his name on the full list of the elected Senators and those that were presented with certificate of Return on Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Abuja. The reason for the action, according to Festus Okoye, a National Commissioner, and Spokesperson of the Commission was because it was a victory obtained under ”duress”.
He was alleged to have gone to Abuja to participate in the electoral umpire event on Thursday but was disappointed that his name was still not been mentioned among the elected Senators to be given their certificate of Return. Putting up a bold face he was said told those who cares to listen to him that the Commission was ”planning something special to present him with his certificate”. He insists he had a peaceful election but the claim by the returning officer that he was forced to announce his name was only a ”ploy to destroy his political career”.
Okorocha is back to the political stand to do what he knows best: generating controversy. INEC had declared Emeka Ihedioha, a former deputy speaker , Hose of Representatives and governorship Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, as the winner of the March 9, election in the state. But Okorocha, the fallen Emperor of Imo state would not agree. The aggrieved Emperor has told those that cares to listen that Uche Nwosu, his son in-law, and Candidate of the Action Alliance, AA, won the governorship election in Imo state, an indication that he never worked for Hope Uzodinma, a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria and governorship Candidate of his own party in the state, the All Progressive Congress, APC. He had alleged that the Resident Electoral Commissioner , REC, in the state had worked with his political detractors in Abuja in Abuja, particularly the PDP, to declare Ihedioha , the winner of the election.
The Imo state Emperor and governor, may have emboldened Nwosu, his son In- law, to challenge Ikedioha victory in the Election Tribunal. There are indications that if he fails to make a headway in the Tribunal, he may drag the case to the Appeal Court and subsequently to the Supreme Court apparently to get justice.
As a prelude to heading to the Tribunal, Nwosu, the Okorocha son In-Law has rejected the outcome of the governorship election that produced Ihedioha of the PDP as the winner. The AA governorship Candidate had said that INEC and their collaborators in Abuja robbed him of victory. He stressed that it was wrong for INEC to have declared the PDP Candidate as winner of the Imo state governorship election.
The aggrieved , who may be described as a bad loser , claimed that Ihedioha did not meet up the Constitutional requirements to have been declared the winner of the election by INEC. According to Nwosu, the Constitution stipulates that apart from scoring the majority of the votes cast, the Candidate who emerges as winner must at least score 25 percent of the votes in two-thirds of the local government Areas in the state.
He disclosed that he scored 25 percent of the votes spread in 21, out of the 24 local government Areas of the state, which qualifies him to be declared the winner of the election.
Nwosu also alleged that the use of the Card Readers by the Commission was abused during the election. He had expected the electoral umpire to adopt the lead margin principle to declare the election in the state as inconclusive by ordering for a re-run in some local government Areas of the state where there were troubles. He may have spoken his mind and that of Okorocha, his father In-Law, when he said , there should have been a re-run between him and Ihedioha, the PDP Candidate, who were the two leading Candidates in the March 9, 2019, governorship election.
Residents of Owerri, the Imo state Capital , who spoke to The Value News Magazine said Nwosu and his father In- Law, Okorocha, should burry their head in shame and be courageous enough to concede victory to Ihedioha, the PDP Candidate and congratulate him for a well deserved victory.
The celebration of the people of Imo state over the political empire of Okorocha and Nwosu, his son In-law in the state was a signal that they no longer want to have anything to do with the duo.
The league of Imo Professionals in Lagos, the nation’s commercial nerve centre who are excited about Ihedioha’s vcictory in the state governorship election said the state had suffered untold neglect and development in the last eight years under Okorocha and his cabal. An elated Obi Anyawu , Spokesperson of the group said they are happy that the ”era of propaganda has come to an end in Imo”. The group, according to Anyawu had played a significant role in the realisation of the change in leadership of the state.
Many believe that the rejection of Okorocha, the Imo state governor, by INEC, on the ground that he secured his electoral victory under duress and the defeat of Nwosu, his son In-Law, who contested for the governorship election in the state , marked the end of Okorocha’s dynasty in the state. Political Observers believe that it would go a long way to whittle down his influence in the APC, as he may no longer reckoned with in the party because of his anti-party activities.
It also signalled the end of his Presidential ambition on the platform of the APC, if it is zoned to the south east in 2023. m The Imo state governor turned Emperor may have realised this early enough that he had said that his chances of contesting the 2023 Presidential election on the ticket of APC may no longer be possible.
There ae are forces in the party who may not even allow him to scale through the process to clinch the Presidential ticket of the party in 2023. One of them is Adams Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo state and national Chairman of the party who hated him with passion. Another is President Muhammadu Buhari, who would never support him because of the role played in the last President and governorship elections in the state, creating room for the opposition PDP, to make an inroad into the state and to clinch the governorship ticket.
It is not surprising why political watchers said the duo and other political heavy weights in the party, are waiting in the wings for him to make his declaration known before plotting their own paragraph to scutle him. ”You cannot eat your cake and have it back, they may have told Okorocha”.