By Chuks OLUIGBO
It is no longer news that the 2011 governorship election in Imo State was yesterday, April 27, 2011 declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. This, reports say, became necessary because from the results already declared, there seemed to be a stalemate between the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate, Incumbent Ikedi Ohakim (now that ‘incumbent’ appears to have become a title in Nigerian politics). Results from three local government areas, Ohaji/Egbema, Ngor Okpala and Oguta, were cancelled outright because it was alleged that elections were not concluded in those areas, while that of Mbaitoli is facing serious controversy. And there seem to be arguments that even if the remaining results were announced, none of the two candidates would be able to meet the required two-thirds majority votes for a clear win. Is there then going to be a run-off? We await INEC’s verdict.
Meanwhile, as at the morning of April 27 when results began to emerge, APGA had a clear win over PDP and APGA supporters took to the streets to celebrate, but it was too early in the day for celebration. The early results were only from Orlu, Mr Okorocha’s home zone. APGA supporters were shocked when results from other zones began to come out and at one point, PDP balanced up and almost overtook APGA. As at the last count, it was 12 LGAs to APGA and 11 to PDP. (I may not be totally correct because there are many contradictory reports).
Now, if I may refer to an earlier analysis, “Why Ohakim May Win Imo Guber Race”, I did make the following predictions about the Imo guber election: “Orlu zone will be divided between Ohakim and Okorocha, but Ohakim will win. The contest in Okigwe zone will be between Ohakim and Araraume, but Ohakim will win. Okorocha’s votes in Okigwe may turn out to be insignificant. Contestants like Ike C. Ibe and Emeka Nwajiuba may gather few sympathy votes in Okigwe, but that’s how far they can go. The parties they represent do not exist in Imo State. In Owerri zone, there will be a severe struggle between Ohakim and Okorocha. Okorocha’s deputy, Sir Jude Agbaso, is from Owerri zone. And so is Ohakim’s deputy, Prof Viola Onwuliri. Both parties will share the votes in the zone.”
Did my predictions come true? Let’s look at the details again. Imo has a total of 27 local government areas. 12 of these are in Orlu zone, 9 are in Owerri zone, while 6 are in Okigwe zone. From the results already announced, Rochas Okorocha won 9 out of 10 LGAs in Orlu zone. The remaining 2 LGAs are Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta where the elections were cancelled. In Okigwe, Ikedi Ohakim swept the 6 LGAs and came close to balancing up with Okorocha. The real contest was therefore in Owerri where the duo are still dragging over who leads. I was proved wrong in Orlu, but not in Okigwe and Owerri. Now what really transpired?
Few days to the guber election, there was an eleventh hour meeting between the supporters of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA in Imo State. The meeting held at the house of ex-governor Achike Udenwa in Amaifeke, Orlu. There, an agreement was reached as per the pattern of voting. In Orlu zone, APGA and ACN were to coalesce so as to give Owelle Rochas Okorocha a massive victory in the zone. In Okigwe zone, all votes from both parties would go to ACN to reduce the margin with which Ohakim would have won Okorocha, because, take it or leave it, Okorocha is not a march for Ohakim in Okigwe, any day. In Owerri, which was to be the deciding factor, the same voting pattern in Orlu would be applied. The rationale for this was that if Okorocha won the 12 LGAs in Orlu and at least 6 in Owerri, he would have got 18 LGAs, a clear two-thirds, and with the Araraume distraction in Okigwe, victory for Okorocha would have been a done deal.
To an extent, the APGA/ACN coalition did work. It was able to give Rochas Okorocha majority votes in Orlu zone. However, it was too late in coming. It was one thing to reach such an agreement, it was another to reach out to the thousands of party supporters out there to inform them of the new development. Much like the failed last minute attempt at coalition between Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and Ribadu’s ACN prior to the April 16 presidential polls, the APGA/ACN alliance in Imo State would have been more productive had it come at an earlier time.
Now that there is a stalemate and a possibility of a run-off, where will the balance tilt?