Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, remains unbending over his endorsement of his Chief of Staff, Uche Nwosu, who is also his son-in-law, as his successor. Okorocha is billed to leave office on May 29, 2019, after serving as governor for eight years.
He first came to office in 2011 on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and later decamped to the All Progressives Congress (APC), where he contested election in 2015, and won.
He has since then assumed the position of APC supreme leader not only in Imo state, but also in the South-East geo-political zone.
It is against this backdrop that he single-handedly chose his son-in-law to succeed him; brushing aside the aspiration of his deputy, Eze Madumere, to fly the APC gubernatorial flag in 2019.
Governor Okorocha had earlier promised that he would support any governorship aspirant who gets the nod of majority of stakeholders from across the 27 local government areas of the state.
However, when members of APC from Owerri Municipal Council Area paid him a courtesy visit, Governor Okorocha announced his endorsement of Nwosu, thereby laying to rest any suspicion about his choice of a successor.
Nwosu, a graduate of Urban and Regional Planning, hails from Umuokwe, Eziam-Obaire in Nkwerre Local Government Area of the state.
Governor Okorocha first appointed him as his personal assistant, and later made him deputy chief of staff to the President of Rochas Foundation. He later became national secretary, Action Alliance (AA), a political party, spear¬headed by Okorocha.
When Governor Okorocha assumed office in 2011, he named Nwosu as Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Urban Planning, as well as deputy chief of staff (Operations).
In 2014, Okorocha appointed Nwosu as substantive chief of staff, a position he holds till date. He is said to be the ears and the eyes of the governor; deciding who sees his boss and who doesn’t have access to him.
Meanwhile, Nwosu has received torrents of endorsements from several groups and associations in the state.
For instance, 20 members of Imo State House of Assembly, recently endorsed him as successor to Governor Okorocha.
Also, the Ugwumba Movement, Ugwumba Vanguard, Ugwumba Initiative Club, and Ugwumba Ladies, have endorsed Nwosu as the next governor of the state.
Governor Okorocha argues that his choice of Nwosu was informed by his humility, unassuming disposition; his trustworthiness, and loyalty.
“Nwosu is the only one who has remained the same man since I knew him despite the perks of his office”, argues Okorocha.
But some political commentators argue that since Okorocha and Nwosu hail from the same Orlu senatorial zone, political power should shift to another zone, especially Owerri zone which is yet to produce a governor of the state since the inception of democratic rule in 1999.
Nevertheless, when Okorocha assumed office in 2011, he abolished the zoning of elective political offices in the state.
The unwritten zoning arrangement came into force in 1999, following which Chief Achike Udenwa, from Orlu zone governed for eight years.
He handed over to Chief Ikedi Ohakim, who hails from Okigwe zone. Ohakim was governor for only four years, as Okorocha truncated his second term bid.
By 2019, Orlu zone would have had 16 years; Okigwe four years; and Owerri zone yet to produce a governor since 1999.
This is probably one major hurdle facing Nwosu. His Nkwerre local government area, falls under Orlu zone.
“How can Nwosu who comes from Orlu zone be governor in 2019, when his zone would have held power for 16 years?” queried one APC chieftain who doesn’t want his name in print.
Meanwhile, The Restoration Coalition, a group of APC seasoned politicians had at a press briefing in Owerri some weeks back, condemned the move by Governor Okorocha to install his in-law as his successor.
The Coalition led by a former Information Commissionerin the state under Okorocha, Dr. Theo Ekeji, urged Governor Okorocha to be very “sensitive to the name, integrity and sanctity of Imo people as an entity and the thrust, honour and dignity that go with the governorship enterprise.”
The party stakeholders also warned that with the way Governor Okorocha is handling his succession plan, the APC is headed for a “shameful, abysmal and colossal failure in the state in the 2019 elections,” saying that the governor should be called to order.
“We are embarrassed because this theatre of the absurdity, as we have confirmed, has the full backing and financial muscles of Imo State Government as the persons being endorsed, one Chief Uche Nwosu, and his son In-law is also his serving Chief of Staff.
“As a matter of fact, this is an anomaly and points to a dangerous and destructive party politics in Imo State,” the group said.
The group maintained that candidates of APC would score low votes in the Presidential, Governorship, National Assembly and House of
Assembly elections in 2019 if Governor Okorocha insists on forcing Nwosu on the electorate..
But in a swift reaction, the Governor’s spokesman, Sam Onwuemodo said: “The avalanche of endorsements for Uche Nwosu, for the 2019 governorship, by Local Governments, groups and individuals cannot be adjudged undemocratic and never contravened any known law or ordinance.
“Endorsement is a public statement or action show¬ing support of something or somebody. It has been part of our democracy. And it is surprising that some people have been losing sleep over the several endorsements the young Uche Nwosu has been getting.”
However, an APC faithful, Hon Lawrence Achinihu, insists Nwosu is the best candidate Okorocha has presented, while Dr. Henry Okafor, has gone ahead to float a movement tagged “Owelle, show us the man and go to sleep.”
But it appears that after declaring his choice, the Governor Okorocha has lost his sleep.
Apparently irked by the succession plan, the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Diocese, Dr. Anthony Obinna, flayed the spate of endorsements for Nwosu. He said Nwosu lacked the requisite skills necessary to pilot Imo State.
Imo APC spokesman, Chief Nwabueze Oguchienti, told journalists after a stake¬holders meeting in Owerri that there were cracks within the party over who succeeds Governor Okorocha, saying that the task ahead is to re-unite the party to win the next general elections.
A political analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of the unknown described Nwosu’s aspiration as an aberration, saying “except mediocrity is allowed, he (Uche) cannot succeed his boss.”
He asked: “Do you know that when Ohakim brought a world-class consultant firm to conduct a test for the recruitment of 10,000 graduates, Nwosu failed the test.
“So, is it possible that he is now qualified to govern our State? Did he go for leadership training? Let him tell us where and where he has gone to horn his skills. Must everything revolve around the governor and his family?”
Many people here say that Okorocha sees himself as the South-East version of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who currently controls Lagos and the entire South-West politics.
But can he really succeed in becoming the political god-father of Igboland? Only time will tell.