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Battle for Okorocha’s Job Intensifies……

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In this piece, S.A takes a look at the political developments in Imo State as the 2015 governorship race gathers momentum
As activities for the 2015 elections gradually gather momentum, the quest for the political soul of Imo State continues to witness an increase in the number of contestants.

According to political observers, governorship elections elicit in Imo State uncommon interest due to the unique nature of its politics. The state has a fair representation of the three dominant parties – the ruling All Progressives Congress, the All Progressives Grand Alliance and the Peoples Democratic Party.
Before now, Imo had remained a core PDP state but the inability of the party to produce a governorship candidate in 2007 changed the equation as the state fell into the hands of the little known Progressive Peoples Alliance, whose candidate, Ikedi Ohakim, emerged winner. But midway into his tenure, Ohakim defected to the PDP, following complaints of overbearing influence by the founder of the PPA, ex-Governor Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State.
In 2011, Ohakim’s second term ambition was halted when his re-election bid suffered a loss. There were allegations of maladministration, highhandedness and disrespect for the clergy. He lost to the incumbent Governor, Rochas Okorocha, who came in on the platform of APGA but later defected to the APC.
APGA, which felt betrayed has been aiming at reclaiming its mandate come 2015. On the other hand, the incumbent, who had before now promised to be in office for only one term, changed his mind and is now desirous of a second term on the platform of his new party, the APC. But the PDP has vowed to reclaim the state at all cost. Imo parades a good number of PDP chiefs such as Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Senator Arthur Nzeribe, Nze Ozichikwu Chukwu, to mention a few. Thus, all the three parties are leaving nothing to chance in their quest to occupy the Imo Government House in 2015 but the quality and credibility of their candidates in the make-or-mar exercise will play a major role in determining the winner of the race.

Based on the foregoing, a brief perusal of the profiles and chances of the various aspirants jostling for the exalted position has separated the contenders from the pretenders.

Okorocha

Okorocha came in as the people’s darling in 2011. His popularity at the beginning of his tenure was at its peak as he was generally seen as the best option to wrest power from Ohakim whose popularity had dwindling drastically. Okorocha hails from Orlu zone which also produced ex-Governor Achike Udenwa who was in power for eight years (1999-2007). He rode to power on the goodwill of APGA and also enjoyed the support of the people at the beginning of his tenure. His decision to slash his security vote and plough back same for the development of education endeared him to many even as he was tipped for the prestigious position of Igbo leader at the demise of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. His oratory and outspokenness on national issues – especially those concerning Igbo interests – added an impetus to his growing popularity across the South-East. His massive developmental projects also counted in his favour.

But his rising political profile nosedived when he joined the APC; a step many political analysts believe was miscalculated. Despite the fact that Okorocha for now seems to be the only known governorship aspirant of the APC in the state, political observers say he has very slim chances of winning re-election for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is the consideration that if Okorocha is re-elected, his Orlu senatorial zone would have unfairly dominated the governance of the state, a development political forces in other zones, particularly Okigwe zone, have vowed to resist.

Okorocha’s critics also accuse him of working against the Igbo interest by distancing himself from governors from other South-East states. His opposition to the Presidency is also believed to have denied the state some federal interventions and goodwill, particularly, ecological funds. They say his fraternity with the North and the South-West over his rumoured vice-presidential ambition is not in the interest of the Igbo.

His free education policy is also believed to be neither here nor there. There is serious grumbling among ‘Imolites’ that the tertiary education policy of the governor, which makes indigenes pay less than non-indigenes, is rather injurious to the state as more admission slots are given to non-indigenes in a bid to generate more funds. These notwithstanding, the massive structures in Owerri, the state capital, as well as the transformation in Orlu are all to Okorocha’s credit. His supporters also believe he will coast to victory because of his transformations in the health sector. Time will tell whether or not the governor would be able to scale the hurdles before him.

Agbaso

Chief Martin Agbaso is one of the backbones of APGA in Imo State. But for some political opponents, Agbaso would have won the 2007 governorship election in the state. The Owerri-born businessman has since then maintained close ties with the APGA national leadership just as he did maintain a close relationship with the late Ojukwu. His political structure was very instrumental to Okorocha’s victory in 2011 when his younger brother, Jude, was elected the deputy governor but was later impeached when he fell out with his principal. Since then, the elder Agbaso, who felt disappointed in Okorocha, wants to unseat the governor come 2015. He is widely seen a strong leader of APGA in Imo State today. But the recent defection of an ex- Minister, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho (retd.), from the PDP to APGA, poses a serious threat to Agbaso’s governorship ambition as both stalwarts hail from the same political bloc in Owerri zone.

Iheanacho

The defection of the Emekuku-born politician to APGA is already causing ripples within the party. The financial capacity and educational background of the oil magnate have put him in good stead in the race. Another factor which seems to be counting in his favour is his perceived cordial relationship with the Presidency. He is believed to have maximised his opportunity as Minister of Interior to empower a lot of Imo indigenes and this has endeared him to many Igbo youths.

But analysts believe it would be difficult for Iheanacho, who is considered a newcomer in APGA, to hijack the party’s structures. Some believe his apparent popularity is because of his financial capacity.

Be that as it may, the people of Owerri zone are strongly gunning for the number one seat using two formidable platforms – APGA and PDP. They believe that should both Agbaso and Iheanacho fail to clinch the APGA governorship ticket the zone will press its governorship quest through PDP.

Ihedioha

The Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, is one of the prominent PDP governorship aspirants from Owerri zone that is generally believed would make a serious impact in the race. He is a three-term member of the House of Representative with vast political experience. The Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala federal lawmaker is also believed to have the needed resources and political clout to match Okorocha’s power of incumbency. His closeness with the Presidency is also a plus to his ambition. He also enjoys the overwhelming support of notable PDP heavy weights in Owerri zone.

But the odds against him include the growing animosity that he allied with House of Representatives Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, to negate the zoning arrangement of the PDP, which ceded the position of Speaker to South- West. His critics say he should not be allowed to be a beneficiary of zoning in his state because he worked against it at the national level.

Apart from the anti-zoning slogan against the deputy speaker which political pundits believe will soon fizzle out as the election draws nearer, Ihedioha appears set for the race to occupy the Imo Government House come 2015.

Anyanwu

Senator Chris Anyanwu, who has represented Owerri zone for two consecutive tenures, has not hidden her ambition to be the first female governor of the state. She is one of the most charismatic senators in the National Assembly. Her numerous empowerment programmes as well as her stance on national issues have endeared her to many. Her recent defection from APGA to the PDP seen by many as a strategic political calculation has further brightened her chances of realising her ambition.

But her major hurdle remains the fact that in the political circles many do not think the state is ripe for a female governor. Imo still parades a large army of political lords that may prove too tough for a woman to control.

Ararume

Senator Ifeanyi Ararume from Mbano in Okigwe senatorial zone is no debutant in the Imo governorship race. But for the stiff opposition of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007, when the former President openly campaigned against him despite being in the same party, there is a strong possibility that Ararume would have been Imo governor. Even when he took the PDP to court to reclaim his denied victory at the party primaries, Obasanjo, bent on stopping the multi-billionaire politician declared at a rally in Owerri that the PDP had no candidate for the election, thus paving the way for Ohakim to sweep the polls. In protest, Ararume defected to the Action Congress of Nigeria (now APC) on whose platform he almost realised his ambition in 2011.

Some of the things that may work in his favour are his contributions in the restoration of Imo and Abia states to the Niger Delta Development Commission when both states were unjustly removed from the commission.

Ohakim

The former governor, whose second term ambition in 2011 was shattered by Okorocha, has vowed to reclaim his mandate in 2015. His loyalty to the national leadership of the PDP seems to be working in his favour. He is also believed to have learned from his mistakes. But his public rating doesn’t seem to have improved.

Uzodinma

The Omuma-born Senator Hope Uzodinma, who represents Imo-West senatorial district, hails from Orlu senatorial zone that is being accused of dominating Imo governance. The PDP lawmaker’s popularity has been on the increase and many believe he may clinch the party’s ticket if he decides to run especially considering his closeness to Aso Rock. But his major challenge is the zoning formula as the PDP is less likely to try the people’s patience by giving its ticket to an Orlu man in 2015. Already, party stalwarts from Owerri zone have threatened to defect en masse with their structures and followers to APGA should the PDP deny the zone the governorship ticket

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Despite his “expulsion”, ADC presidential candidate, Kachikwu, makes INEC list

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Mr Kachikwu was expelled from the party last Friday by the Ralph Nwosu-led NWC.

The embattled presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Dumebi Kachikwu, has been named among candidates validly nominated by political parties for the 2023 presidential election despite his “expulsion” from the party.

Mr Kachikwu was among the 18 presidential candidates approved by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday.

The Ralph Nwosu-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party announced the expulsion of Mr Kachikwu from the party last Friday for alleged anti-party activities.

He was expelled along with seven other key party leaders following the recommendation of a seven-member disciplinary committee earlier set up by the ADC NWC. The NWC had earlier on 2 September placed the presidential candidate on suspension.

Mr Nwosu, in a statement issued late Friday, said the disciplinary committee found Mr Kachikwu guilty of allegations of gross misconduct, and gross violations of its constitution, among others.

But in its reaction the following day, the interim leadership of the ADC dismissed Mr Kachikwu’s purported expulsion.

The interim National Chairman of the Party, Patricia Akwashiki, in a statement, described the action of the erstwhile chairman, Mr Nwosu, as the antics of a sinking man clutching at straws.

The crisis rocking the ADC has its genesis in the call for the resignation of the national chairman by 27 state chairmen of the party, having spent 17 years in the office.

At the time of filing this report, we could not confirm if the party’s leadership had made formal or legal requests to the commission to remove the candidate from the list.

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Stella Obasanjo’s brother, John Abebe, arraigned for fraud

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Dr. John Abebe, the younger brother of a former First Lady, Stella Obasanjo, was on Monday arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday before the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja over allegations of fraud.

Abebe was arraigned alongside a former Head of Firstbank Plc, United Kingdom Correspondent Office, Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, before Justice Olubunmi Abike-Fadipe on six charges of conspiracy, stealing, and obtaining money under pretence.

Part of the counts against the defendants read: “That you, Dr. John Abebe and Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, on or about the 4th day of June 2013 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; stealing the sum of N120 million worth of property of Arsenal Technologies Limited.”

“That you, Dr. John Abebe and Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, on or about the 4th day of June 2013, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; obtaining by false pretence the sum of N120 million property of Arsenal Technologies Limited under the pretence that your property lying being and situate at 9, Magbon Close, Ikoyi-Lagos State, which you pledged as the security to the Arsenal Technologies Limited was unencumbered, which representation you knew to be false.”

“That you Dr. John Abebe and Inducon Nigeria Limited, on or about the 4th day of June 2013, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud and to gain for yourself the sum of $1,000,000.00 or its Naira equivalent from Arsenal Technologies Limited by false pretence to procure the execution of valuable security to wit; a deed of assignment between Inducon Nigeria Limited and Arsenal Technologies Limited, wherein you falsely claimed that the property lying being and situate at No. 9, Magbon Close, Ikoyi-Lagos was unencumbered and that you have full powers to assign and transfer the said property to the assignor; Arsenal Technologies Limited.

According to EFCC, the offences committed are contrary to Sections 280(1), (12), 8 (7), 285(1) and 278(1)(b) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Following their plea, the prosecutor, Sulaimon urged the court to fix a trial date and to remand the defendants in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services until the hearing and determination of the charge.

However, the defense counsel, Anthony Popo and Sam Etaifo urged the court to grant their clients bail in the most liberal terms.

While moving the bail application on behalf of Abebe, Popo told the judge that the matter before her is a commercial transaction between the first defendant and the nominal complainant, which he is ready to settle out of court.

He also claimed that Abebe had paid back the sums of $100,000 and N30 million to the complainant and had also deposited the title document of 26 acres of land and the documents of a property in London to show his seriousness to resolve the matter.

The lawyer further submitted that the defendant would not jump bail since he never violated the terms of the administrative bail granted to him by the EFCC.

The prosecutor did not oppose the application but urged the court to impose stringent terms that will ensure the defendant’s appearance in court for their trial.

In her ruling, Justice Abike-Fadipe granted the first defendant bail in the sum of N20 million with one surety in like sum.

She directed that the surety must be a resident of Lagos and must deposit the title document of a land property whose value must not be less than N20m

The judge also admitted the second defendant to bail in the sum of N10m with one surety in like sum, who must be a resident of the state.

Justice Abike-Fadipe further ordered that the defendant shall continue to enjoy the administrative bail earlier granted to them by the EFCC but if they failed after seven days to perfect the terms of the bail she granted them, they shall be arrested and remanded in prison.

She adjourned the case to December 6 for commencement of trial.

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HIGHGARDEN CELEBRATES WORLD CLEANUP DAY

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The Eleko Beach stretching over 5km was cleaned on the 17th of September 2022 by Volunteers from HighGarden Private Beach Club to celebrate the world Cleanup day.

World Cleanup Day is an annual global social action program aimed at combating the global solid waste problem, including the problem of marine debris. It is coordinated by the global organization Let’s Do It! World.

 

According to the MD of Highgarden Mr Wale Ewedemi “Environmental cleanliness and awareness is key to our values as a lifestyle brand, so we use the world Cleanup day to indoctrinate our customers and friends into one of our core lifestyle values”

 

The event that started at 9am rounded up about noon. Plastics and debri Collected were separated and marked for pickup.

 

The HighGarden Private Beach Club in Eleko boast of the first Glamping site in Nigeria.

@highgardenprivatebeach

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