May 7, 2007
How Iwu, Obasanjo ‘Elected’ Imo Gov-elect
Victory in the governorship election held in Imo State on April 28 was awarded to the People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) candidate, Chief Ikedi Godson Ohakim, because he was the compromise candidate of both INEC chairman Professor Maurice Iwu and President Olusegun Obasanjo, LEADERSHIP can now reveal. The deal to give Iwu the prerogative of selecting the next governor of his home state Imo, it was gathered, was sealed in 2005 when the professor of pharmacy was appointed INEC chairman. Here is what happened:
It was not for nothing that Iwu accepted to head an electoral body that would be the puppet of the PDP hierarchy. Apart from other juicy appointments promised him and the privileges he enjoys, Iwu, who comes from Okigwe senatorial zone of Imo State, was determined to produce the state governor from his Mbaino clan, which shares the zone with the Onuimo clan. When, therefore, the PDP top shots, including Obasanjo, left the Imo PDP executive for the INEC boss, his brother Cosmos Iwu emerged as the deputy chairman of the state PDP.
Iwu chose Senator Ifeanyi Ararume who, like Ohakim, also comes from Mbaino, while the state governor, Chief Achike Udenwa, supported Mr. Iyke Ibe that he had made Imo State trade representative in the United States. But Ibe did not make it in the PDP primary, and, after he lost, he moved to the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
Though Ararume won the primary, the PDP hierarchy in Abuja later opted for Engr. Charles Ugwuh, maybe to reward him for supporting Obasanjo’s third term bid when he was president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN). Ararume too was a pro-third term campaigner. The INEC boss was said to have felt betrayed but nevertheless encouraged Ararume to pursue his case to the Supreme Court.
Luckily for Iwu and Ararume, the Supreme Court ruled in his favour. So, when Obasanjo and the PDP said that the party had no candidate for Imo State governorship, Iwu ignored them. Governor Udenwa’s candidate, Martins Agbaso of APGA, was set to win through the usual method, prompting INEC to cancel the election while upholding the House of Assembly election held on that same April 14; the PDP won all but one of the 27 seats.
Iwu decided to shop for another candidate from his clan. LEADERSHIP learnt that before Obasanjo decided to support Iwu’s kinsman of the PPA (Ohakim), they considered other candidates: The APGA candidate lost because Obasanjo was told that APGA was not distinguishable from MASSOB, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra. Similarly, Iwu refused to support APGA’s Agbaso who comes from Owerri senatorial zone. They also considered the Accord Party candidate, Jude Nzeakor, who also comes from Mbaino, but he was dropped because he had just returned from abroad and was relatively unknown. As for the ANPP candidate, Ziggy Azike, who also comes from Mbaino, he was said to have always been part of the opposition in the state.
PPA’s Ohakim, who has now “won” the election, was anointed before the April 28 re-run in the state. But not before he was asked to append his signature to two postdated letters: the first, his resignation from the PPA; and the second, his defection to the PDP. Obasanjo, LEADERSHIP was told, is now in possession of the two letters that are similar to the ones signed by former Governor Chris Ngige of Anambra State in 2003.
The PPA presidential candidate and outgoing governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, aware of all that has been happening, has kept quiet and is waiting for the governorship to be given to his party first. It is not known if Ohakim will abide by the agreement to cross over to the PDP soon after he is sworn in or will ignore the letter and buy over the 26 PDP members of the House of Assembly.
The Anambra scenario may therefore be repeated in Imo State where almost the entire House of Assembly is PDP.