At four major outings by Sen. Hope Uzodimma, the APC governorship candidate in Imo State, incumbent Governor Rochas Okorocha had done everything humanly possible to sabotage the event, or to present the candidate as unwanted and unacceptable to Imo People. But on each occasion, the people have used the opportunity to demonstrate their massive support for Uzodimma.
When Sen. Hope Uzodimma, returned to Owerri on November 14, 2018 after his candidacy was finally confirmed by INEC, Okorocha did all within his behest to sabotage his reception by Imo People.
The campaign flag off on December 21 was no different. The governor denied him Dan. Anyian Stadium, hoping to make it impossible for the event to take place. But he failed. Imo people in their thousands occupied Uzodimma’s Campaign office at Okigwe road, and the street proper; from Library round about to IMSU junction, into the adjoining streets. The event was a huge success and a sure vote of the people for Uzodimma.
Also at the APC women rally on January 12, 2019, the government capitalized on the opportunity of the governor’s wife playing the chief host to try to shut out Uzodimma from the event. This also failed. Instead, the people used every opportunity at the venue, Dan Anyiami Stadium, to proclaim Uzodimma as their choice for next Imo governor. Instructively, when Okorocha tried to promote the candidacy of his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, he was roundly booed by the people.
The latest and the mother of all failures was the attempt by the out-going Imo Government to sabotage and derail the Presidential rally of January 29. Their plot crumbled on their faces. The plan was to ensure at all cost that Uzodimma did not come out of the rally shining as APC governorship candidate. But again, this failed in a most stunning manner; for not even a six-hour long wait could deter the crowd. It was a game of wits. A strange downpour and later a scorching heat, probably, meant to wear down the patience of the crowd for them to grow impatient and disperse. But as always they were resolute, resilient and remarkable in their expression of solidarity with the governorship candidate Senator Hope Uzodinma. They were there to make a statement that Governor Rochas Okorocha no longer controls the APC and that contrary to his claims of being the only crowing cock in the party, Senator Uzodinma and other patriots are now in the driver’s seat. That was why the crowd waited. And to the utter shame of those who had planned to sabotage or even abort the APC presidential rally scheduled to hold at noon at Dan Anyiam Stadium, the crowd stood like the rock of Gibraltar until 5:30pm when President Muhammadu Buhari, accompanied by the APC national chairman and other big wigs of the party arrived to a tumultuous welcome.
Although the game plan was for Buhari to endorse Uche Nwosu at the prompting of the traditional rulers, and perhaps leave from there, the President insisted on attending the presidential rally at Dan Anyiam stadium, hence the delay. And true to the image already created by Comrade Adams Oshiomohle that Senator Uzodinma was on the ground, the stadium was jam-packed. From Arondizuogu to Obizi in Mbaise, people poured in. From Mgbirichi to Ihube in Okigwe, they responded to just one message: Hope is the anointed one in whom Imo people are well pleased.
And for a second time, they showed how much they love and care for Uzodinma when they roundly booed Okorocha for attempting to disparage the distinguished senator before President Buhari.
However, by publicly claiming sole ownership of Imo APC, Okorocha merely confirmed to the world that he was still living in the impression that the party is his private estate. Sadly, for as long he refuses to come to grips with the fact that a political party is a public trust which belongs to all, so long will he continue to sink deeper into the rancid pit of political illiteracy.
Okorocha was aghast that the illusion he built around himself had been shattered. He had claimed before now, that without him APC was dead in Imo State, but what he saw that day was different. Instead of the APC showing signs of weakness, the party was waxing stronger and stronger. Actually it turned out that Okorocha’s presence in the APC was stifling its growth. His alleged ambition to privatize the state and the party to himself and family in essence triggered off the crisis in Imo APC which by the special grace of God was resolved in favour of the people.
It was therefore, an attempt at self-deception when he taunted the crowd that booed him. Was Okorocha saying that the coalition that fought and wrestled power from him is not from Imo State? Was he disappointed that the crowd still waited for Buhari and Uzodinma after he had held up the presidential campaign team endlessly? Or was he frustrated that Buhari refused to endorse his son-in law but instead stood firm with Senator Uzodinma by raising his hand and asking Imo people to vote for him? Or was it just the case of a bad loser who is yet to come to terms with the stark reality starring him in the face?
Whatever that might have been running through the mind of Okorocha at the stadium that day is no longer significant. What actually matters is that the rally was the final show down, before the elections, that brought the message home that Okorocha is no longer relevant in Imo APC and that the train has long left his station. That was why Imo people turned out in their large numbers and waited patiently to confirm to President Buhari and the APC hierarchy that the party is now thriving and booming under the leadership of Hope Uzodinma.
It was not surprising therefore when a record 22 political parties including n-PDP declared their support for Senator Uzodinma at the rally. Their leader, Dr. Fabian Ihekweme, explained that the APC has been fumigated and now attracts responsible people and parties with Uzodinma in charge. He said unlike before when the governor was chasing people away from the party, Uzodinma was attracting more and more people to APC and making the atmosphere conducive for them to make their contributions.
Yes, it was with excitement on the faces of Imo People that they watched as President Buhari raised the hand of Uzodinma and asked them to vote for him. The president’s action threw the crowd into a wild jubilation as they sang and danced around the stadium, forgetting how many hours they had waited for that moment. That action which was the climax of the presidential campaign rally in Imo State spoke volumes about the support enjoyed by Uzodinma. As the crowd cheered him when he spoke, it was evident that their hearts were with him.
Interestingly, Hope Uzodinma in his speech did not bear any grudges or bitterness towards his traducers. He only urged them to emulate president Buhari as a man of integrity and honesty. According to him, anybody who claims to love the president and yet goes behind his back to sabotage his party, the APC, is surely an hypocrite. Once again he promised to recover all the years the locusts have eaten in Imo when he becomes governor. He pledged to work with both the elites and the down trodden to achieve the shared responsibility and prosperity he envisages for Imo State.
And it is not any surprise that for the fourth time, through a major Public gathering; the Presidential Rally, Imo People, through their massive show of public support, voted for Uzodimma as their choice for next governor of the state.
Mbadiwe Emelumba is the director of Media and Special Duties, Hope Uzodinma Campaign Organisation-Daniels wrote in from Warri