As residents of Imo State file out for today’s election, there are fears that insecurity and loss of confidence in the electoral process might force eligible voters not to participate in the exercise.
Imo has been facing activities of unknown gunmen and other non-state actors for over three years, a situation believed to be a major threat to today’s election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it registered 2,419,922 persons for the election, out of which 2,318,919 have collected their PVCs.
Seventeen candidates are seeking to unseat the incumbent Governor, Hope Uzodinma of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, who is seeking a second term.
However, only two are viewed as real threats to his reelection.
Political analysts and development experts in the state have predicted how the incumbent governor and two other frontline candidates will share 2.3 million votes.
Prof Uche Amadi, a university lecturer, told DaiLY POST that the chances of voter apathy are high owing to two major factors: insecurity and a lack of trust in INEC.
He explained that there will certainly be voter apathy for two reasons: “The people may not want to risk their lives coming out to exercise their franchise, especially in crisis-ridden areas of Orsu, Orlu, Oru-east, Okigwe, Ehime-Mbano, etc., where several cases of killings, kidnappings, arson, and other vices have been recorded.”
He added that the people believe that the electoral umpire is compromised and will eventually do the bidding of the ruling party by declaring the APC winner of the election.
However, of the 17 gubernatorial candidates struggling for Imo State’s soul, the pendulum, according to the experts, is swinging towards Uzodinma, Senator Athan Achonu of the Labour Party (LP) and Senator Samuel Anyanwu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Senator Achonu, the LP Governorship Candidate is considered by Imo residents as a strong contender in the race and may not only be running on Obi’s wave but also his commitment to the common good.
Achonu is referred to as the “One Arm General.”
His ‘aku rule’ (invest home) plan has resulted in many industrial farms, making him the most likely of the competitors as the largest investor in Imo State.
Achonu supports the active involvement of local government, citing it as the root cause of instability.
Based on the overwhelming support Mr. Peter Obi, the presidential candidate, received in the state, Achonu contended that Imo belongs to the Labour Party.
Obi’s recent visit alongside the Governor of Abia State, Alex Otti, to Kanu Nwankwo Sports’ Complex in Owerri was a boost to Achonu’s campaign.
Meanwhile, PDP’s Senator Samuel Anyanwu, also known as Samdaddy, is another strong contender aiming to clinch the Imo seat for his party for the third time.
Senator Anyanwu expressed confidence in defeating Governor Uzodinma.
Having served as a senator, member of the House of Representatives, chairman of a local government, and party official, he is perhaps the most seasoned candidate.
His party, PDP, is probably his worst weakness, as well as his greatest strength. A lot of people are still angry with him for edging out Chief Emeka Ihedioha from the contest, and they are not making an effort to assist him in his pursuits.
The majority of the party chieftains in his senatorial district, Owerri zone, are currently working for Governor Uzodinma.
A political analyst based in Owerri, Barr Stanley Emana is of the view that the attack on the national president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Owerri is not good for the governor.
In the next few hours, it will be seen how any of the candidates will navigate through the odds against them.
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