Nigeria: Ihedioha's 7-Month Bumpy Rule in Imo

(File photo).
16 January 2020

Owerri — The seven months reign of Emeka Ihedioha as governor of Imo State yesterday ended with the swearing in of Senator Hope Uzodinma of the APC.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on March 11 declared Ihedioha winner of the March 9 gubernatorial election in the state.

However, the three candidates of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Ifeanyi Araraume, Action Alliance (AA), Ugwumba Uche Nwosu and All Progressives Congress (APC), Hope Uzodinma, had hotly contested the election.

The legal tussle however came to a surprising climax on Tuesday, when a seven-man apex court, in a unanimous decision overruled the decision of the lower courts and declared Uzodinma as the winner of the election. The court asked INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Ihedioha and issue Uzodinma a new one.

The decision of the apex court took political watchers by surprise, but an indication that Uzodinma had something up his sleeves was when he was able to get a minority judgment from the five-man appellate court. Justice Frederick Oghwo, in his dissenting judgment found meritorious Uzodinma's argument that results from 388 polling units were unlawfully deducted from the declared votes.

Meanwhile, apart from the spate of litigations he had to contend with, Ihedioha had a tough time with Okorocha as he vowed to retrieve every Imo asset, which he claimed were looted by his predecessor. He also set up many commissions of inquiry to investigate every aspect of Okorocha's administration.

Ihedioha also assumed the mantle of leadership at a time some of the infrastructures in the state, especially roads were in a bad shape. The rainy season then did not help matters as flooding created craters on almost every road. So as the days wore on and he was not able to do much because of the rains, he was hurled a barrage of criticisms.

Despite the initial hiccups, however, Ihedioha was able to set up an administration that he could work with. He also appointed several aides and set up a structure that appeared smooth sailing.

However, when he has about to gain some level of stability, especially with many ongoing road projects, the apex court struck. For the people of Mbaise nation - Ihedioha's home - this was the most unsettling of all, given that they were looking forward to having a civilian governor of Imo State of Mbaise extraction, which had eluded them since the creation of the state in 1976.

But for the generality of Imolites, the situation is akin to the Igbo adage, Ndi n'ochi, ndi na akwa (while some are laughing, others are crying).

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