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2019 is just around the corner and political hopefuls are beginning to get endorsements from various groups and persons across the country. In Imo State, Governor Rochas Okorocha’s overt and brazen endorsement of his current Chief of Staff and son-in-law, Mr Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, to succeed him in Douglas House come 2019, has generated a lot of tension in the state.

Ordinarily, there is nothing legally wrong with a governor endorsing a candidate that he feels is eminently qualified to succeed him. But in the current circumstances, it is unethical as it drips of nepotism and the brazenness of it all stinks to high heavens. To put it in proper context, what Governor Okorocha is attempting to do is to install a stooge who is from the same senatorial zone with him (Orlu Zone), whereas the Owerri Zone where his deputy, Prince Eze Madumere, hails from has not produced a governor since 1999. This betrays insensitivity to other zones in the state especially the Owerri Zone. And it is a gross violation of the state’s zoning formula.

Since his assumption of office as governor in 2011, Okorocha has ruled Imo state like his personal estate. Aside his nepotistic tendencies, reflected in the appointment of his son-in-law and sister into powerful positions in the state government, his many gaffes in terms of policies and utterances; the giving of state awards to supporters of his private foundation, using state funds to mould statues in their honour and organizing lavish banquets, all these are indicative of the inability of the governor to differentiate between the state and himself. Like the French King Louis XIV who uttered those immortal words ” L’etat C’est Moi” meaning “I am the state”, Okorocha is Imo and Imo is Okorocha. The personalization of governance in Imo is an aberration to every known tenet of democracy.

Part of the problem is that the governor is surrounded by yes men who lack the courage to say no to him or to any of his self-serving and anti-people policies. Another is the fact that majority of the people in politics are in it because of the money hence would do nothing that would “pour sand into their garri”.

Meanwhile, Nwosu has also been endorsed by the state house of assembly and two local government areas in the state including his native Nkwerre local government area. It should be noted that in Nigeria’s monetized politics, endorsement of candidates are often a function of cash changing hands. As a form of appeasement to his long-suffering deputy, Prince Madumere, who has been working for him in one capacity or the other since 1998, Okorocha offered him the Imo East senatorial ticket, even as he intends to vie for the Imo West senatorial ticket.

There are fears among the opposition that the machinery of state could be used to rig the gubernatorial elections in favour of Nwosu. Those fears may not be unfounded with the recent verbal assault on the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Diocese, Dr Anthony Valerie Obinna, by the governor’s supporters, when the respected clergyman criticized the bad state of some roads in the state capital in his homily during a church service where Nwosu, and Okorocha’s sister were present alongside their supporters.. It is a harbinger of what will happen to opponents of Nwosu as we approach 2019. Already, the rumour mill is agog with alleged plans to impeach Madumere, by Okorocha’s kitchen cabinet, so as to provide a smooth sail for Nwosu’s gubernatorial ambition.

My thesis is that if Nwosu wins the APC ticket, the PDP or any other opposition party might benefit from protest votes within the ranks of the APC to produce the next occupant of Douglas House. History might be repeating itself based on what happened in 2007, when against all odds, Chief Ikedi Ohakim emerged as governor due to the infighting within the ranks of the then ruling PDP. On the flip side, due to the vagaries in politics, Okorocha might succeed in installing Nwosu as the next governor of the state. This means a continuation of Okorocha’s anti-people policies and the state will be under the grip of one family for the next four years.

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