By Deacon Chike Okafor, PhD
Call me a twenty first century Nostradamus and you may not be entirely wrong because, you will agree with me, that, I aptly captured the essence of Gov. Hope Uzodimma flying the first ever Imo unity ticket and how it will translate into a seamless victory for the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Governorship election of 11th November 2023.
Unarguably the most Peaceful election ever in Imo
The dust has settled, and fast too, immediately after the Returning Officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), for the Imo 2023 Guber election, Fashino Abayomi Sunday, announced His Excellency, Distinguished Senator Hope Odidika Uzodimma as winner of the election, and so we can sit back for stock checking and house – keeping.
Against all the threats and presentiments that heralded the election day, many a voter nursed some uncanny feeling of fear, for a day expected to be replete with violent happenings and reports and so, many decided ahead of time, to shun the over four thousand polling units across the state, in a bid to stay safe. It was not to be, because, the election day and the peace that pervaded it, took everyone else by surprise.
It will go down, in history, as the most peaceful and transparent election ever conducted in this State!
Harmony of the elites and masses support
A major factor, in every election, is the elite. Give it to the masses, they deliver the block votes, because the elite is just meagre fraction of the population, but the masses are wont to move in the direction of the elite. Thus, the first sign of the successful outing of Gov. Hope Uzodimma is that he did not hide the fact that as a leader of note, he had the capacity to attract the right support, from the elite of the State. And he did.
In Nkwerre Local Government Area, for example, it was certain that the result will be in favour of the Governor, for obvious reasons. If you choose to discount the presence notable aides of the Governor such as Nze Chinasa Nwaneri the Special Adviser on Special Duties, and the Chief of Staff, Eze umuokobia, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehie, you will have to acknowledge names that made PDP tick, in times past, notable among them being Chief Azubuike Achigbu (Akasha Nwata) and others. You will have to acknowledge Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, a former Chief of Staff to former Governor Rochas Okorocha and so on. And then you wonder why the Deputy Governorship candidate of the PDP, Hon. Jones Chudi Onyereri could not help himself to his own Local Government area!
In Ikeduru Local Government Area, it is not a surprise that the PDP candidate, Sen. Samuel Anyanwu was unable to deliver, seeing that the likes of Chief Charles Amadi (Charlvon) and his House of Reps member son, Hon. Akarachi Amadi were on ground, alongside the Deputy Governor of the State, His Excellency Prof. Placid Njoku and host of others. The unity of purpose was evident.
In the same vein, in Obowo Local Government Area, the cream of power brokers was recently boosted with the entry, from the PDP, of some of the erstwhile financiers of the opposition party to the APC, including but not limited to Prince Chima Anyanwu, Chief Eddy Anyanwu(Osisi), Engr Chidi Okeke, Chief Emeka Okpokoro, just to mention a few. This addition to the APC helped to make lite the burden of surmounting any obstacle towards delivering the APC Governorship Candidate, during the election.
The elites are the people who individually cannot do much, but together, they can sit and decide that nothing can be done. They are men and women of timbre and calibre who have the wherewithal to fund the process, and dictate the pace. Because, irrespective of the enormous power of a Governor, he cannot be everywhere at the same time.
The support of the masses also came handy, as the elites cannot execute their own plans without the common man. The campaign train of Governor Hope Uzodimma, even as he toured Okigwe North, Okigwe South, Ideato Nation and Orlu Federal constituencies, which are rated as flashpoints of disturbances, in varying degrees, the masses were always with him, in a reassuring manner.
First Imo Election, since 2003, to be concluded without rerun, cancelation of sorts.
This election, among many firsts it recorded became, also, the very first Imo Guber election to be concluded in barely 24 hours timeline. After the Governorship election that returned Gov. Achike Udenwa for a second term of office, in 2003, which, incidentally, had Hope Uzodimma on the ballot, as the flag bearer of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), subsequent Guber elections always dragged for days and even weeks, leading to rerun elections. It happened in 2007, where APGA and PDP were at their wits end, before Chief Ikedi Ohakim came through from the PPA. It happened in 2011, when Gov. Ikedi Ohakim of PDP eventually lost to Rochas Okorocha of APGA. It happened again in 2015, where rerun elections held between Gov. Rochas Okorocha of the APC and Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP. Let’s leave the 2019 matter for a later day.
The widespread win with incredible margin speaks volume.
As not just a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) but also an ardent supporter of the State Governor, Sen. Hope Uzodimma, we worked hard to deliver our candidate and win the election, yet I must admit the margin of the victory astounds me and many others. The resounding win, even in the neck of woods, is a loud statement that the social media propaganda orchestrated and executed by people, mostly outside Imo State, is only aimed at tarnishing the image of the Governor, but not a true reflection of the mindset of Imo people towards him. There is no contesting the outpouring of love from the masses as evidenced in the peaceful voting and peaceful winning, like never before experienced. Only those who have participated in active politics will appreciate that fact it is difficult to canvass votes for an unpopular candidate and even at odd options, it harder to rig where you are not popular and lack public sympathy.
In this case of this election, people were very outspoken and deliberately so, that there is one Hope, in the contest, and they will rather support Gov. Hope Uzodimma again, than any other of the candidates, on the ballot.
Support needed to tackle insecurity and increase the infrastructural development strides.
With the election now done and dusted, and the Governor dutifully made his acceptance speech, the next step, in line with the drive for a united Imo State, where Peace will thrive and development will be the goal, there is need to ensure that the harmony of the elite and the masses is not sacrificed on the alter of electoral victory. It should rather be harnessed, in full, to tackle the insecurity menace which, no doubt, created a great deal of distraction for the Governor, in the past three years. The huge resources expended on the security architecture of the State could have been deployed to other uses, to the overall benefit of the greater number of Imo people and for posterity.
A new dawn in Imo.
Finally, and behold, it is a new dawn in Imo State. The victory of Gov. Hope Uzodimma ushers a new dawn in the political reality of Imo State. As against the malignant reference to the Supreme Court, as having brought the Governor into Douglas House, in January 2020, we now have in our hands a freshly baked mandate, and what an incontrovertible mandate it is!
And while it is good for us to have given this mandate, in trust, with all our hearts, it is also imperative that we give the governor all the support he needs, to succeed, confident that he will not betray our trust or let us down, till he sees of his fresh four year mandate, in January 2028, to the Glory of God.
Hon. Deacon Chike Okafor writes from Umuokeh, Obowo LGA, Imo State.