By Prof Nnamdi Obiaraeri
Okigwe Zone is properly called Imo North Senatorial District under INEC delineation of Senatorial constituencies.
Unuarguably, from 1999, Okigwe Zone or Imo North Senatorial District was a traditional PDP Zone until the 2016 Court ordered Senate rerun election.
Historical records exist to show that before the 2016 Senate rerun, PDP had comfortably won the Okigwe Zone Senate Seat beginning from 1999.
The voting pattern changed in 2016 after the Court of Appeal invalidated the election of the PDP Senatorial candidate in the 2015 general election and ordered a rerun in Imo North Senatorial District.
In the said rerun election, I was privileged to have been serving as the Political Adviser to then APC Governor of Imo State and Progressive Governor’s Chairman HE Rochas Okorocha and also doubled as Deputy Head of the APC Rerun Campaign Council with Rt. Hon Acho Ihim, then Speaker of Imo House of Assembly as then overall Head of the APC Rerun Campaign Council for the election of Rt. Hon Benjamin Uwajumogu, now of blessed memory.
In that election, it was a very tough assignment convincing Okigwe Zone to embrace APC but eventually that feat was achieved as APC candidate won that Okigwe Senate rerun election including the APC candidate in the Isiala Mbano House of Assembly rerun election that held the same period.
The victory of APC candidate Senator Uwajumogu against the hard fighting Chief Athan Achonu of PDP and victory of APC in Isiala Mbano House of Assembly marked the return of APC majority control of the entire Okigwe Zone with APC State legislators in the six Local Government Areas of Okigwe Zone, although at that time, Okigwe South Federal Constituency was under APC control with Deacon Chike Okafor as the House of Representatives Member while Okigwe North Federal Constituency was under PDP with Hon Obinna Onwubuariri as the House of Representatives member.
Subsequently, in the 2019 general election, APC won the Imo North Senatorial District election with Senator Uwajumogu gaining a Second tenure but unfortunately, he died in December 2019.
Today, APC boasts of strong presence in Okigwe Zone as all six House of Assembly Members and the two Federal Constituencies in Okigwe Zone (Okigwe North and Okigwe South) are occupied by APC legislators.
The oncoming Senate bye election is to replace the deceased APC Senator and it promises to be a test case for APC and her winning streak under Governor Hope Uzodinma of APC.
It must be accentuated that this is the second election that will be conducted in Okigwe Zone since Governor Uzodinma became Governor of Imo State in January 2020.
The first was the 2020 Court of Appeal ordered repeat election in Okigwe North Federal Constituency which saw the APC House of Representatives candidate Princess Miriam Onuoha clinching victory against the top contending PDP Candidate who was angling for a second term.
That repeat 2020 Okigwe North Federal Constituency election into the House of Representatives was relatively easy to win because APC Chieftains in Imo State prosecuted it with unanimity of purpose.
At the APC House of Representatives’ candidate’s final rally that held in Anara in Isiala Mbano, nobody was left in doubt that APC will win the election with the presence of Governor Uzodinma, Deputy Governor Prof Njoku, Senator Rochas Okorocha and Senator Araraume amongst countless other movers and shakers at the epochal event and speaking in one accord.
This is the tenacity, positive spirit and oneness of mind that APC needs to successfully prosecute the Senate bye election in Okigwe Zone in October 2020.
Sadly, so far, the maddening crowd of aspirants, the 5G intrigues and opaque undercurrents surrounding the election of the APC candidate and the factional infighting amongst APC members across the State do not suggest that APC is ready to go into the bye election as a united front.
This is a worrisome development and one of the strong reasons why the Reconciliation Committee set up by APC National should visit Imo quickly and straighten out things amongst APC leadership and membership in Imo State.
This is key no matter what it will cost the Reconciliation Committee members to achieve peace in Imo APC.
Truth be told, APC cannot afford the luxury of going into the Okigwe Zone Senate election in tatters.
Already, the post- primary processes have been badly handled as not less than thirteen aspirants have procured the costly nomination form awaiting screening and participation in the Senate primary election.
One obvious implication of this rat race situation is that the outcome of the Senate primary election is highly likely to be controversial as only one person out of the crowd will be declared winner, assuming the election is free and fair, and if otherwise, you cannot guarantee what those aspirants who did not get “declared winner” will do thereafter.
Many aspirants in party primary elections have plan B!
Anyone who knows how elections are won will confirm that if a political party gets her primary election right, that political party goes into the general election with bright prospects of winning but if the primary is messed up or mismanaged, the chances of winning are dimmed.
Let no one pretend about this.
With the myriad of Senatorial aspirants and the looming prospect of a fractious or controversial party primary, things no balance welloo for APC in Okigwe Zone.
Ground no leveloo, Okigwe Zone people can cast protest votes if provoked!
How fast the APC is able to heal from the bruises of the primary election to be held in early September and come together before going into the Senate election in late October holds the ace for the fortune of the party in the Senatorial bye election.
We ask ahead of time, what then is the APC post- 2020 Senate primary election crisis management plan or peace and conflict resolution strategy in Okigwe Zone?
A consensus seeker is not necessarily a coward.
Mahatma Gandhi was emphatic that “unity, to be real, must stand the severest strain without breaking.”
Conclusively, the 2020 Okigwe Zone Senatorial bye election is for APC to win but, as they say, “something has got to give!”
A new normal is possible!
Prof Obiaraeri is my name, the ☆☆☆☆☆ 5-Star Civilian General etc