It’s an unarguable fact that Senator Hope Uzodinma has silently emerged as the King David of Imo Politics, who has risen from Omuma in a small village in the Oru East LGA of Imo State, from an average background; has worked and walked his way with doggedness, from the lowest rung of the political ladder to the apex seat in Imo politics of today.
Elections in the 4th Republic of Nigeria have always been controversial, fraught with allegations of voter fraud, most electoral contests are decided in election tribunal, with all factions crying foul, the poll process has not been transparent enough to convincingly determine outcome of most elections in the nation.
There is no election process in Nigeria that is not followed with numerous contenders taking to court to challenge the results, some are able to reclaim their lost victory, as others lose their declared victory at the court.
Owelle Okorochas taste of the permanent Bitterness in defeat
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.
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 Uzodimma’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 to, 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.
The 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 judgment, 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 him 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 2019 in his bid to achieve his dream of becoming Governor of Imo State in the March 2019 election.
Emeka Ihedioha the victim of his legal team’s oversight
The judgment 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 their misinterpretation of the facts that Hope who seemingly came fourth in the results that was announced by INEC rather regained his lost votes that weren’t accounted for in the Emeka Ihedioha influenced result.
From the night Ihedioha was announced the victor of the 2019 election, political pundits in the state were of the belief that is not yet uhuru because his victory was lacking totality on many grounds, and all who are in the technical know-how of the result was expecting at least a rerun in the state.
Few others were of the belief that the results were doctored, 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, 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.”
From Hope Uzodinma’s electoral victory at the polling stations in 2011 which was nearly snatched from him through court process, his APC 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 that is fraught with illegalities lies in the judicial process and on the apex court to give the final judgment, 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 judgment and Imo Statesmen have realised the importance of giving all their support to the Government of Hope Uzodinma to ensure it succeeds so that Imo People can exploit all opportunities and dividends of democracy he has to offer them till the next election, which without peace in the state to allow the Governor to deliver on his lofty dreams for the state, will not come to pass and the ultimate losers will be the ordinary Imo man and woman.