With the stage set for former Governor Ikedi Ohakim to join the legion of aspirants I the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), ANGELA NKWO-AKPULU writes on how strong and fierce the 2019 governorship race will be in Imo State.
For political watchers in Imo State, it is no longer a secret that former Governor, Dr Ikedi Ohakim, has perfected plans to dump the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) any moment from now.
It is safe to address APGA as the new bride in the state as politicians are joining the party in large droves, under the belief that it is the only party that totally belongs to the Igbo’s, even as their motto “nka bu nke anyi” (this is our own) buttress that belief.
At the last count, Daniel Kanu; Chief Humphrey Anumudu; Chief Okey Eze; Frank Nneji and many others have all signed up to fly the guber ticket of the party come 2019 general election.
As at the last count, APGA has received over 16 aspirants, who have declared their intentions to fly the party’s flag at the 2019 governorship election in Imo State.
While many argue that Ohakim has had a shot at the plum job and should take a bow, the former Governor maintains that he remains the best qualified for the job, to bring Imo State out of the doldrums.
In January this year, Ohakim had at a press parley, declared his intention to govern Imo state for the second time saying “I forgot something in the Government House and am the only one that knows where I kept it”, in response to critics.
According to him, the biggest and thriving business in the state are morgues, because mortality rate in the state has quadrupled as a result of hopelessness in the polity.
Just two months ago, the Okohia in Isiala Mbano local government area born politician swore to what he tagged “Covenant Affidavit”, wherein Ohakim made 35 promises of his governance if elected as Governor in 2019.
His spokesman, Collins Ughalla told The AUTHORITY that the reason for the Affidavit was so Imo people can hold him by his words.
Ughalla said “Ohakim went to the Imo State High Court and swore to the Covenant Affidavit of 35 promises. This forms a legal bond or covenant between him and the people of the state. He wants Imo people to hold him by his words. Yes, Ohakim can be trusted. He knows the legal implications of a sworn affidavit. His love for the people of the state, his desire to recover Imo and put her back on the rail can make him go the whole hug”.
Further, he said “in the Covenant Affidavit, Ohakim is putting his integrity and freedom on the line. But what is freedom when the state and everything is on their knees? The love of Imo State and the people consumes Ohakim and he can no longer sleep while the state burns and the people cry”.
Ughalla contends that Ohakim is returning with a comprehensive master plan for the transport sector, having expressed deep concern “about the sufferings of commuters in Owerri metropolis since Okorocha banished tricycle (keke) without adequate alternative”. Further, he
promised to bring back the Imo Municipal Transport Service (IMTS).
According to him, his boss has already commissioned a study to look at the introduction of rail and other high-tech transport systems in the state. The rail and other high-tech transport models will take root in the state, so much that people will on their own decide to stop the use of keke, and not by any government’s order.
One thing that remains true is Ohakim’s passion for the State. He remains the only former Governor, who takes time to write his successor letters on good governance and the decline of it when he deems appropriate.
Meanwhile, current Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has warned that nobody should vote Ohakim because he is on a revenge mission, and will stop at nothing to deal with those he believed truncated his first return bid in 2011.
Ohakim hails from Okigwe zone which boasts of six local government areas, and is considered the least political zone of the State.
However, that will not deter him as he argued that Imo people across the 27 local government areas came to appeal to him to save the state from destruction in 2019.
Truth be told, Okorocha has constructed many buildings but which lack durability, to which Ohakim said “the Governor is suffering from edifice mentality. His only understanding of good governance are buildings, no human capital development, nothing more”.
One issue that cost him his 2011 ticket was the allegation that he assaulted a Catholic Priest which has been cleared, even fiery Priest, Revd Father Ejike Mbaka has exonerated him that it was a gang up against him.
Recently, the Catholic Prelate of Owerri, Most Revd Anthony Obinna at a ceremony, gave Ohakim an award of excellence in recognition of his contribution to the return of mission schools from government.
Political watchers have said by that award, the Archbishop has proved that the Church does not hold any grudge against Ohakim if any existed before.
The Catholic Church in Imo State forms a huge bloc as anyone they support like they did in 2011 and saw the emergence of Okorocha.
Presently, the state government is enmeshed in several court cases bordering on human rights abuse, and blatant disregard of court rulings and judgements. There are 102 cases in court, many of them bothering on land and human rights issues.
Further, judgement debts against the state is in hundreds of billions of Naira, and one wonders how Governor Okorocha will cope but Ohakim said he is the only one that understands the workings of governance before his ouster, and knows how to return the state to her glory days.
Except for a last minute change of plans, Ohakim will on July 20th officially decamp to APGA, though his spokesman, Ughalla refused to confirm the insinuation but one thing is sure, the political template will shift by his next political moves.