The Imo State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal disappointed the People's Democratic Party and its candidate in the last governorship election in the State, when the Tribunal refused to grant the prayers of the PDP legal team, for Ugwumba Uche Nwosu's petition to be struck out. Feelers within the Imo governor's camp indicate unease among major players in the camp and the governor himself.
The suspicion that Governor Ihedioha has accepted the imminence of his sack from office, became clearer when he summoned an emergency meeting of the leadership of the People's Democratic Party at the Government House, Owerri. Led by the State Chairman of the Party, Ikemba Babatunde Charles Ezekwem, the meeting which was held behind closed doors, with due care taken to ensure that only senior Party leaders and select members of the governor's kitchen cabinet were in attendance, is believed to have dwelled on preparations for a run-off election in the State.
Governor Ihedioha is suspected of being the major financier of the brewing crisis within the camp of his major rival in the last elections, His Excellency Ugwumba Uche Nwosu and his Action Alliance. The Imo governor is accused by analysts and observers of instigating the embattled national Chairman of the Action Alliance, Barrister Kenneth Udeze to withdraw the petition from the tribunal, while also reaching out to the Deputy governorship candidate of AA and former Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Achon Ihim to withdraw his membership of the AA.
However, the embattled AA national Chairman may have tactically decided to issue Chief Ihedioha with a dud cheque, by not applying for the AA petition to be struck out, rather requesting for the name of the Party to be struck out from the petition. By this, the petition of the AA remains, while the name of the Party will be restored by the Appeal Court. Legal practitioners who were consulted on this have enlightened that a subsisting Supreme Court ruling demands that a party in a joint suit must obtain the consent of the other party before withdrawing its name from a matter in which they jointly sued. In a case, where the other party declined consent, the matter is expected to continue with both parties.
Also, the legitimacy of the AA faction's actions has been cast in serious controversies, as majority of AA NWC and NTTC members have suspended the duo of the national Chairman and the national Secretary, while the National Legal Adviser of the Party, whose responsibility it is, to appoint legal representatives for the Party has disowned the lawyer who argued in favor of withdrawing AA's name from the petition.
Some strategists in the PDP had believed that with the purported withdrawal of the AA from the tribunal, the matter in the tribunal would have become dead, hence, their failed motion on 1st July seeking a discontinuation of the matter. It must have been the thinking of the PDP, that dismissing Ugwumba Uche Nwosu's petition would be a done deal. With the obvious failure of this particular strategy, the PDP is said to have resorted to the next option, which is focusing all its energy and resources towards preparing for another round of governorship election.
A top chieftain of the PDP who will not want his name mentioned made it clear after the Monday ruling that the Party is now focused on preparing for a run-off election. According to him;
"Ugwumba Uche Nwosu has survived our first major ambush, so we are going to activate the second option. Every effort of the Party will now be focused on preparing for another round of elections. We are no fools, we understand whom our major headache is; that is Ugwumba Uche Nwosu and his AA, so we are going to take deliberate measures to ensure that we reasonably undermine them and completely weaken them."
Part of the strategies adopted by the PDP towards undermining the AA and its candidate is by investing heavily in demonization of the part administration of Senator Owelle Rochas Okorocha, who is closely linked with the AA governorship candidate. The thinking of the PDP is to try as much as possible to dilute the enormous goodwill enjoyed by the Rescue Mission administration by advertising the past administration as a failure, while denying its huge achievements.
A top aide of Chief Ihedioha was recently heard boasting that the Party would splash smelly muds on Owelle Rochas Okorocha, and that such mud would inadvertently affect Ugwumba Uche Nwosu.
"The PDP cannot lose this power that has been given to it on a platter of gold. We shall deliberately criminalize Okorocha and everyone that is connected to him. We aim to incite Imo people to stone him or any member of his family wherever they are seen."
For this purpose, a vociferous lying machine, Jasper Ndubuaku has been recruited in the guise of heading a bogus Recovery Committee. Jasper, a former lawmaker has been about town with all manners of silly takes that have mostly made him appear drunk than lucid. In one of such claims, he declared that Owelle Rochas Okorocha looted furniture and utensils at Concorde Hotel in order to set up his Willow Wood Hotels.
Conscious Imolites have dismissed him as a drunk joker, because anyone who knows Imo well would know that Willow Wood Hotels have been in existence in Owerri, Abuja, and some other cities of Nigeria, long before Owelle became governor of Imo State. People are also aware that the Concorde Hotels and Casino was already ran aground by 2011, as the structure and all furniture in the hotel were at different stages of dilapidation before Governor Okorocha intervened to rescue the hotel. Owelle Rochas Okorocha completely transformed that hotel from a a nest of cockroaches and reptiles to a five star hotel. It was consequently renamed to The New Concorde Hotels, Owerri.
The defection of the AA deputy governorship candidate to the PDP is also another futile investment by the PDP, as his purported defection is an afterthought that does no harm to the ongoing petition. What the tribunal is concerned with are actions that took place as at March 9th 2019. And as at that date, Acho Ihim was a member of the AA and its deputy governorship candidate. The Tribunal is not concerned about what happens after March 9th, so by law, Acho Ihim will even be sworn in together with Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, if the petition asking for Ugwumba Uche Nwosu to be declared winner succeeds. What happens after the swearing-in, will be another matter.
Even if Rt. Hon. Acho Ihim refuses to present himself for swearing in as Deputy-governor, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu is empowered by law to nominate a fresh Deputy-governor. The Logo incident, where James Faleke refused to be sworn in with Yahaya Bello is a good reference.
It is clear that our governor is not having the best of times, and while one should not begrudge him his rights to putting the necessary machineries in place for a run-off election, Imolites should be concerned about the fate of the billions of Naira in his care. Like the picture accompanying this post shows, we are already seeing Ihedioha's back, even before we saw him sit.
IMO MUST MOVE FORWARD!
BY ONWUASOANYA FCC JONES