EMMANUEL MGBEAHURUIKE, spotlights the aspirants seeking to emerge candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the governorship election in Imo State.
Count down to the forthcoming general elections has set political stakeholders on edge. This is as a result of intensified overt and covert activities by the various political parties to secure victory at the polls.
Prominent among the strategies being fashioned by these power seeking political parties and their followers is the party primaries which will midwife candidates for the various elective positions.
Expectedly a number of party chieftains under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have indicated interest to vie for offices of their choice, ranging from those for state Houses of Assembly, National Assembly, governors and of course the presidency.
In Imo State, the picture is not different as a good number of revered political heavyweights within the party have thrown their hats in the ring for the gubernatorial contest.
The PDP which held sway in the state from 1999 to 2011 before it was dislodged from its Olympian height by the APGA is not making any pretense of its ardent desire to regain power next year.
Consequently, such political juggernauts as Chief Emeka Ihedioha, Senator Samuel Nnaemeka Anyanwu, Senator Athan Nneji Achonu, renowned legal luminary cum ex-commissioner for sports- Chief Chukwuma Ekeomaru and Professor Jude Ejike Njoku have commenced intensive and extensive campaigns to secure the gubernatorial ticket of the umbrella party.
Thus, a measured assessment and evaluation of the personalities, potentials and prospects of these gubernatorial contenders becomes imperative.
Already there are some schools of thought who believe that while some are really forces to be reckoned with in the politics of the eastern heartland state and are likely to occupy the Douglas House(Government House) Owerri next year, there are invariably those who are seen to be mere pretenders, who merely want to fly the kite just to be settled later to withdraw.
Chief Emeka Ihedioha
He is regarded as a staunch member and heavy financier of the party. Chief Ihedioha hails from Mbutu, in the Aboh Mbaise Local Government area of the state.
He is a strong political ally of former vice president Atiku Abubakar and a three time member of the House of Representatives where he represented the Ngor/ Okpala/Aboh Mbasie Federal Constituency during
which he eventually became the deputy speaker of the House (2011-2015).
He briefly served as the speaker of the lower legislative chamber following the exit of the then speaker- Aminu Waziri Tambuwal to pursue his governorship ambition.
Additionally, the former deputy speaker effectively and courageously deployed all arsenals and paraphernalia of office and emerged as the governorship candidate of the party in 2015 after a hotly contested gubernatorial primary of the party.
With intimidating local and foreign connections, coupled with a formidable redoubtable structure, Ihedioha is widely dreaded and revered in the politics of the state.
He is believed to wield the necessary political muscle and wherewithal to wrestle power from the APC in the state.
As a deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, the name Ihedioha
inevitably became a house hold name in all nooks and crannies of the state while his poverty alleviation programmes lasts.
He is said to be independent-minded. The
above not withstanding, there are some people who still believe that the former deputy speaker has a lot of bridges to cross to realise his gubernatorial dream.
First, he is seen by some as being pompous, arrogant and quick tempered. His geographical background-Mbaise is believed to be sectional, and domineering in nature.
The suspicion is that an Ihedioha governorship would translate into Mbaise governorship hence, the rest of the state would be subjected to the whims and caprices of his Mbaise brothers.
Samuel Nnemeka Anyanwu
He is a protégé of multi-billionaire business mogul and PDP Board of Trustees member, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu .
As the senator for Imo East (Owerri senatorial district), Anyanwu has not left anyone in doubt that he is interested to become the next occupant of the government House in Owerri.
He was a one time chairman of his Ikeduru Local Government Council and a former member of the state House of Assembly. He is young, vibrant and articulate and was reportedly installed in the Red chambers by his godfather who, despite stiff formidable oppositions subdued his opponent and sent the youthful senator to the Senate.
Although, a good mixer with manifest respect for elders and constituted authorities, not a few indigenes of the state see him as a stooge, and a puppet to his master, a green horn and political neonate who is yet to learn the art of governance.
Professor Jude Ejike Njoku
A professor of Agricultural economics (UNN). Njoku hails from Obiangwu, in the Ngor Okpala council area. Njoku was a former vice chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), a former commissioner for Education, lands and urbandevelopment.
He is a renowned scholar, quite, meek, urbane and retiring in nature. He is said to detest controversy and is believed to have innate leadership qualities.
However, many are of the view that he is too quiet and gentle to venture into the murky waters of the politics of the state.
Those who hold this view argue that there is a world of difference between academics and active participation in partisan politics.
To this group of people, the professor is best suited in a class room where he will let loose, his brain to flow like the waters of Babylon and empty into those of his students.
Senator Athan Nneji Achonu
He hails from the Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of Imo North (Okigwe Senatorial District). He was elected to represent his people in the senate in 2015 but he later lost the seat following a flaw in the electoral process that brought him to power which gave birth to a run election.
The business man-turned politician was eventually eased out of office following his defeat at the re-run election. Till date, he has not forgiven all those who had a hand in his ouster from the red chambers.
Fondly called one Arm General, Achonu has numerous political disciples who are ever ready to either swim or sink with him. He is said to be generous to a fault as he has reportedly offered scholarships to many indigent but bright students.
Conversely, he is said to be loathed by those who allege he is arrogant. He is said to have joined the race to play the spoilers game, having vowed to fight all those who in one way or the other had a hand in his shocking exit from the red chambers.
Achonu is seen to be unpopular by his people who usually keep him at arms length.
Chief Chukwuma Ekomaru (SAN).
He is a trusted party member from Umunoha, in the Mbaitoli LGA. A graduate of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Ekomaru is one of the political disciples and foot soldiers of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu.
He is said to have emerged politically through his political master who reportedly sponsored him
into the Federal House of Representative in the botched third republic when he represented the Mbaitoli Ikeduru Federal Constituency.
The young Ekomaru undoubtedly is not new in the bench as he has won several cases in court and has consistently defended the oppressed free of charge in court.
He was a former commissioner for youths and sports development in the administration of former governor Achike Udenwa – a position he got through the recommendation of Chief Iwuanyanwu.
It is generally believed that his youthful age is an added advantage for him. He is also a community mobiliser and a social critic.
However, the young Ekomaru may not muster the necessary financial muscle for the elections.