Defeated 2 Incumbent Imo Governors at their time in office and floored an ex Governor’s bid for a senatorial seat.
His Excellency Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha was not the first Imo Governor to fall victim to Senator Hope Uzodimma’s political ingenuity at the tail end of his tenure as Governor.
Success without successor is failure they said and Owelle in the last year of his tenure as Imo Governor was embroiled in many controversies over who will take over the mantle of leadership from him. A quandary that cost him precious relationship and political alliance across other political zones in the state, including the infamous falling out between him and his friend and personal aide of decades deputy governor Prince Eze Mmadumere .
Owelle’s fracas with Eze Mmadumere which escalated to his near successful but yet unsuccessful impeachment of Eze Mmadumere distorted the APC political landscape in Imo. Political stakeholders of APC who are of different political zone to the governor wondered why Mmadumere despite his long relationship with Owelle was not deemed fit by Owelle to govern Imo after him, since he was well positioned on the premise of equity as he is from the Owerri Zone, and Owelle’s attempt to impeach Mmadumere also portrayed him in bad light to some of the party leaders in the state who saw him as taking an emperorship approach to governance by trying to become the first Governor in Nigeria’s 4th republic if not entire political history to impeach the two deputies that he won election with, this tipped the balance.
Though Owelle then as Governor was still with the almighty executive power of the state and has an unfair advantage but the challenge of effectively marketing his Son in law to Imo people was tough because the media was rife already with accusations of nepotism on his side and Hope Uzodinma’s defection from PDP to APC in April 2018 created a triangle of sort among the power brokers between Owelle the governor , Senator Ifeanyi Ararume and Hope Uzodinma as a senator representing APC at the federal level. Senator Ifeanyi Ararume left for APGA at the tail end of the internal fracas after having fallen out with Owelle , who in vengeance relieved Ararume’s son his position as a commissioner in the state that he appointed him in gratitude to Senator Ararume’s previous assistance to him during the Imo governorship election rerun with which he defeated Ihedioha in 2015.
Senator Hope Uzodinma remained in APC and determined to muscle his way through. Pitching his intent for the position of the governor at the APC primaries created a tension of sort, as an experienced politician in the state,and one of the old block who has been in the political power play of the state very early in the 4th republic. Owelle having lost his deputy to the internal APC opposition found himself almost alone ,as the whole issue culminated in a controversial double primaries in which Owelle’s camp and Hope Uzodinma alongside his cohorts organized two different primaries with two different results, while one electoral committee sent by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) to conduct the exercise was led by Ahmed Ali Gulak, the second was led by Brigadier General Ibrahim Agbabiaka (rtd). The party national hierarchy was bent on accepting the Gulak led primaries result as he was the official person empowered by the party National Working committee to conduct the primaries.
The issue went to court and senator Hope Uzodinma who is no stranger in election tribunal had okorochas’s petition that his son in law Chief Uche Nwosu was the right winner of the APC primaries and the party’s guber candidate knocked off by Justice Kemakolam Ojiako, who in his judgement, affirmed that the October 1, 2018 primary election in which Uzodinma emerged as the winner, was credible and relevant. Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha became defiant and started trading words with Oshiomhole the APC national party chairman accusing of taking bribe, Oshiomhole retaliated by suspending Owelle Rochas Okorocha for anti-party activities as he continued supporting his son in law Chief Uche Nwosu who dumped the APC for Action Alliance (AA) on 4th December 2018 in his bid to achieve his dream of becoming Governor of Imo State in the March 2019 election.
Flashback to 2011 Chief Achike Udenwa’s Loss To Hope Uzodinma
Flashback to 2011, Chief Achike Udenwa Imo Governor from 29th May 1999 to 29th May 2007 under PDP had only one political dream after his time as governor ,which is to become the senator representing Orlu Zone at the senate. Chief Achike after serving out his 8 years as Governor, gained appointment In December 2008 by President Umaru Yar’Adua who appointed him Minister of Commerce and Industry. After the unfortunate incident of Yaradua’s untimely demise, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan relieved him off the office in March 2010 by dissolving his cabinet ,this left a bitter taste in the guts of Chief Achike Udenwa who among other reasons accompanied by this defected to the now defunct political party Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) on 20th December 2010 leaving Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the party that he was its first governor in the 4th republic in the state of Imo.
Unfortunately for him Senator Hope Uzodinma has the same ambition and this time was in the PDP that Chief Achike Udenwa has left ,the road to Senator Hope Uzodinma’s victory against Achike was marred with controversies as well because just like his recent APC primaries ticket he was also involved in an imbroglio over who was the right candidate of the PDP in the 2011 Orlu Senatorial Zone election which was equally decided by the Apex court.
According to information available on Wikipedia, Uzodinma won the PDP primary for the Imo West Senatorial race on 9 January 2011, gaining 2,147 votes, while the incumbent Senator Osita Izunaso came second with 891 votes. However, on 5 February 2011 a Federal High court declared that Izunaso was the candidate of the party for the senatorial seat since Uzodinma had not been cleared by the PDP’s electoral panel headed by Orji Nwafor-Orizu.
It seems that Nwafor-Orizu had been influenced by the December 2010 petition. The judge ordered the PDP to submit Izunaso’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the candidate who had received the most votes among those qualified to run. A Court of Appeal issued a stay of execution on 17 March 2011 while the case was being decided, leaving Uzodinma free to campaign. On 5 April 2011 the Court of Appeal upheld the 5 February high court judgement and declared that Uzodinma was not qualified to run and should not represent himself as a candidate. Uzodinma appealed this decision with the Supreme Court.
In the 9 April 2011 elections, Uzodinma received 85,042 votes, ahead of former Imo Governor Achike Adenwa of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) with 64,228 votes and Rajis Okpalan Benedicta of the All Progressives Grand Alliance with 57,110 votes. On 5 May 2011 the Supreme Court overturned the earlier decisions and declared that Uzodinma was the valid candidate and therefore had been elected. The decision was influenced by the minutes of a 5 January 2011 meeting of the PDP’s National Working Committee that was attached to the April appeal to the Supreme Court. The meeting had overruled Nwafor-Orizu’s decision to disqualify Uzodinma and rejected the December 2010 petition, saying “there was no evidence that Chief Hope Uzodinma has been convicted for murder, armed-robbery, obtaining money by false pretense and or for bankruptcy”.
The Dec 10 petition is still regarded by followers of the new governor as simply accusations that emanated from a petition against him and which he was on 10 February 2009 arrested and detained by EFCC citing a public petition to the PDP and the agency on 10 December 2010 on behalf of a group claiming to be indigenes of Orlu that gave reasons why Uzodinma should not be selected as Senatorial candidate. It said that in 2005 Springbank Plc lodged a complaint with against Uzodinma with the EFCC for fraudulent diversion and obtaining money under false pretences. The EFCC had filed charges, which had not yet been cleared. It also asserted that his company Transurb Technical Consult Ltd was effectively bankrupt. This didn’t stop Senator Hope Uzodinma’s emergence as an Imo Senator and come forward to 2020 as executive Governor of Imo State.
Emeka Ihedioha The Latest Victim of Governor Hope Uzodinma’s Political Ingenuity
The recent judgement of the Supreme Court that enforced Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to re-issue a certificate of return to Hope Uzodinma against the first that was given to Emeka Ihedioha last year has ignited mixed reactions among Imo people, some believe the act as an injustice of the highest order because of how Hope who came fourth in the general election was given votes that when tabulated is perceived to be higher than numbers of the registered voters in the state, while others are of the belief that Ihedioha as well doctored the results that he won the victory with,which means that the premise of PDP Victory in the 2019 election is on fraudulent manipulation of results as well.
After the 9th March governorship election in Imo in which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the final scores as follows: Ihedioha (PDP) 273,404 (winner), Uche Nwosu (AA) 190,364, Ifeanyi Ararume (APGA) 114,676 and Uzodinma (APC) 96,458. All the major losers of the election as mentioned above headed to electoral tribunal on different grounds to ascertain they actually won the election and not Ihedioha as announced by INEC which I believe each must have gone to court with their own collated result as evidence of their victory but only hope Uzodimma’s result claim was used to adjust the INEC result presented by Ihedioha to declare Hope as the original winner of the election.
Uzodinma approached the election petitions tribunal to argue that the results from 388 polling units were excluded from collation. that the exclusion of his scores from 388 polling units denied him a total 213,695 votes due to him from scores contained in Forms EC8A (result sheets) issued at the polling units and that Ihedioha scored only 1,903 votes in those units.
The tribunal did not grant him his prayer, Uzodinma headed for the court of appeal, where four of the judges ruled against him. But Oho dissented and held that (1) the Forms EC8A from the 388 units were wrongfully excluded (2) Ihedioha’s lawyers did not prove that the results sheets were forged (3) the DCP got the subpoena through the office of the IGP and needed not be asked to prove that he had the IGP’s consent to testify.
In the words of Justice Frederick Oho of the Nigerian Court of Appeal “It is also clear on the record that after the Appellants had explicitly set out in the Petition a schedule of all the polling unit results, which were allegedly excluded from collation at ward level by the 3rd Respondent (INEC), they led evidence through several witnesses to prove their case as contained in the Petition, by showing that, if those excluded votes scored by the 1st Appellant and those scored by the 1st Respondent (Ihedioha) in the 388 polling units are added to their respective scores of 96,458 and 258,259 votes, as declared by the 3rd Respondent (INEC), the outcome will show that the 1st Appellant (Uzodinma) won the Governorship election held in Imo State on the 9th of March, 2019 as the 1st Appellant’s votes will amount to a total of 310,153 votes whiles the 1st Respondent’s score will be a total of 260,162 votes.”
But there still seems to be a controversy of accuracy on the un-evenness of numbers tabulated with what is on the INEC voters register in the state of Imo and even void votes as well as people who were also absent at the polls to cast their ballot. But all these I believe will be sorted out in the shortest time possible when Supreme Court makes public their document of judgement.
From Hope Uzodimma’s electoral victory at the polling stations in 2011 which was nearly snatched from him through court process, his primaries debacle with Rochas Okorocha which was also affirmed in the court room,must have reinforced the idea to him that total victory in any electoral process lies in the judicial process and on the apex court to give the final judgement and must have inspired him to fight the issue to the end via the judicial process. Most Imo people have already accepted the outcome of the Supreme Court judgement and Imo political profiteers are already realigning their barber seats towards the new government.