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How election landed Imo elders at crossroads

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By Chidi Nkwopara, Owerri

Imo State elders have never been so divided as they were during the period leading to the 2019 governorship/House of Assembly elections in the state.

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South-East Voice in Owerri surveyed the activities of the elders which showed that they were no longer united as they used to be. During the political period, they were seen scrambling for the endorsement of different candidates using various platforms.

The elders at a point were seen bulldozing their way to crown a governorship candidate of their choice thereby engaging in endorsements and counter- endorsements in their bid to garner political recognition.

The dramatic endorsements were seen and perceived as one of the requirements which any governorship candidate must get in order to become the next Imo State governor.

South-East Voice observed that members of different political parties whom candidates got an endorsement from, would conspicuously display the so-called endorsement to suggest they were ahead of their opponent as such scenario would push their opponents to solicit for their own endorsement by another section of elders. That, and more, gradually became part of the campaigning process for the emergence of a new governor.

South-East Voice  also noted that the elder’s council had their different reasons for the endorsements of Ihedioha, Uzodinma, Ohakim and other candidates

The Imo Elders led by Francis Dike who endorsed the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Emeka Ihedioha, now the Imo State Governor-elect, made their stand known to South-East Voice thus: “The council  consulted, interviewed and evaluated candidates from registered political parties, their respective manifestos and resolved that the manifesto presented by Chief Emeka Ihedioha was the best and satisfied the aspirations of the people of Imo.

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It said they resolved to endorse Ihedioha of the PDP as the candidate to be voted for at the governorship election on March 9.

“Finally, we the members of this council drawn from the three geo-political zones of the state, individually and collectively appended our signatures as evidence of our agreement to the resolutions of this communiqué which endorsed Ihedioha as the governorship candidate to be voted into office come March 9, 2019.

“The council also resolved in the meeting to send delegations of elders to the state Police Command, Military commander, Department of State Services, DSS, and other law enforcement agencies to hands off from aiding anyone with the intention to intimidate the electorate or manipulate the electoral system in favour of any candidate.”

Also, Hope Uzodinma, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, got the anointment of the Imo elders, headed by Edmond J. K Onyewuchi who described Uzodinma as a rescuer, at a point Imolites seemed to have a feeling of despair.

According to Onyewuchi: “We are annoyed that Okorocha is trying to make Imo State his private business. IMO people have been asking us the elders why we are quiet. We got angry when he said there is zoning and later we discovered that his plan was to install Uche Nwosu the next governor of the state.

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“If we keep quiet, the generation yet to come, will not forgive us. If we had allowed this, he would enslave all of us.”

Onyewuchi recalled how the journey to stop Imo State from sliding to danger started.

“At this point, we the elders came out and asked who can rescue us politically. We called the aspirants from Owerri zone and they told us to look for a man God will use to defeat this terrible thing that is about to befall the state.

“We started to look around and God directed us to a man that is constant, patient, obedient, God-fearing and have a passion for human development, that man is Hope Uzodinma. I was sent by the elder’s council to go and talk to him to come and help us.

“Uzodinma told me that he is not for the governorship, that he is going for the Senate and that he wanted to be the Senate President.

“We are doing this for the interest of our children. Thank God, he accepted and abandoned his ambition.  Uzodinma went for the primaries and he won.”

Onyewuchi as of the time before election begged that “Nobody should sit on the fence because, without Uzodinma, Okorocha would have succeeded. It is God that stopped Okorocha.”

Also the governorship candidate of the Accord Party, AP, Ikedi Ohakim got the backing of the elders headed by Ralph Obioha.

On how they arrived at the endorsement of Ohakim, he said: “We arrived at the endorsement of Ohakim after an in-depth consideration of the presentations from the candidates which were open-minded and devoid of any bias or prejudice on principle/policy measures.”

According to him, the yardstick that earned Ohakim endorsement as contained in his manifesto  was his preparedness to conduct “Prompt local government elections, autonomy of local government areas, the Imo State Charter of Equity, it’s restoration in order to engender harmony and  enthronement of good governance in Imo State and commitment to accounting for all state funds and its uses.”

The elders believed that it was only Ohakim’s candidacy that  had “a  proven workable blueprint to govern Imo State.”

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