March 18, 2023, is slated for governorship and House of Assembly elections. The electorate will go to the polls to vote for preferred candidates of their choice and the outcome of the polls will certainly determine who fills various positions for the next four years.
DAILY POST examines the race to Imo State Government House and House of Assembly, among the three major political parties, as Nigerians are warming up to elect Governors and House of Assembly members across the country
However, it’s worthy of note that in Imo State, the governorship election won’t be held this Saturday due to the controversial Supreme Court judgement of January 14, 2020, that ousted Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP], as governor of the state within seven months and replaced him with Senator Hope Uzodimma of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The controversial judgement, which changed the Imo state governorship election calendar, also prompted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to set the date and timetable of the state and other off-cycle governorship elections for Saturday, November 11, 2023.
With less than 48 hours left before the state Houses of Assembly election, concerns have grown over alleged attempts by the ruling APC administration to rig the elections.
Although the Presidential and National Assembly elections in Imo State were said to have witnessed cases of irregularities, such as massive rigging of votes, and manipulations like rewriting of results in some areas, Saturday’s election would, however, determine if the main opposition party will make a strong come-back in its quest to retake the seat in Imo Douglas House during the governorship election.
No doubt, Imo State is currently governed by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), but there might be a twist in the expectations of the people as it concerns the assembly candidates.
After winning the presidential election, one senatorial seat, and more than four House of Representatives seats in Imo State, the Labour Party has emerged as a significant political force in the state.
Most residents of the state still think the outcome of the presidential election will influence the state Assembly election since the governorship election in the state won’t be held on the same day and as Obi factor is completely out of the political scenario ahead of the State Assembly polls.
But how the Labour Party will excel is yet to be deciphered as the party continues its push to establish itself as one of the leading political parties in the State.
Many political observers in the state strongly think the scenario in Imo State is extremely unpredictable when it comes to predicting which party would win the upcoming assembly election.
While Imo State’s opposition party, PDP and Labour Party persisted in raising concerns about possible INEC collusion with APC members to rig the forthcoming election, the opposition parties in their separate statements have called for the removal of the Imo Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. Sylvia Agu, over allegations of compromise and electoral malpractice.
They alleged that INEC under Prof. Sylvia Agu should not be allowed to conduct Saturday’s assembly election and governorship election of Nov. 11 in Imo because she allegedly compromised.
However, in Imo State, the voting pattern of the electorates is likely to vary this time because Imo State is divided into three Senatorial districts, Imo East, Imo North, and Imo West.
The Owerri senatorial zone in Imo East, made up of nine local government areas, has the most registered voters in the entire state. And, oddly, parades numerous party bigwigs, including Samuel Anyanwu, the PDP national secretary, and Chief Emeka Ihedioha, a former governor of Imo State.
After performing appallingly in the Presidential and National Assembly elections, losing eight seats and winning just one House of Representatives seat and no senatorial seats, the PDP is anticipated to use the Saturday Assembly elections to rebound.
The Imo North has only six local government areas, including Okigwe, Onimo, Ihitte-Uboma, Obowo, Ehime Mbano and Isiala Mbano. And, of the six local governments, Isiala Mbano has the highest voting strength followed by ihitte-Uboma, Obowo and Ehime Mbano.
If the process is free and fair, the voting pattern in the Imo North of the State may differ from what occurred in the presidential election.
The likes of Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, Chief Tony Chukwu, and former Governor Ikedi Ohakim all have a great influence in Imo North and may influence the voting pattern in the zone.
The Imo West, called Orlu Zone is made up of 12 local governments and the incumbent governor having come from Oru East, needs to win in Oguta/ Ohaji / Egbema, Oru West which is his federal constituency but now under the control of the PDP. The continued detention of the former Deputy Governor of Imo State surely will increase the chances of APC and make the contest a smooth ride for the ruling party.
It is the same story in Njaba/ Isu/ Nwangele/ Nkwerre, Orlu/ Orsu/ Orsu federal constituencies also, another strong bastion of the PDP. Political pundits in the state are of the opinion that the incessant insecurity in Orlu zone may also fuel voters’ apparty, thereby making it easier for the APC to. win.
Meanwhile, Imo PDP is expected to use the Assembly polls to resurrect, after performing abysmally in the Presidential and National Assembly elections, winning only one House of Reps seat and no senatorial seat.
PDP’s performance in the March 18 State Assembly polls would determine if it will make a strong come-back in its quest to retake the Douglas House in the state during the governorship election slated to hold on Nov. 11.