A former minister of foreign affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, House of Representatives member for Okigwe South, Chike Okafor and ex-information commissioner in Imo State, Dr. TOE Ekechi are among the few people that have been reportedly tipped to emerge as deputy to Governor Hope Uzodimma in his second term bid.
This is coming as Governor Uzodimma has reportedly dropped Prof. Placid Njoku, the Deputy Governor of Imo state, as his running-mate. Onwuliri hails from Ahiazu Mbaise LGA, while Ekechi and Okafor hail from Ngor Okpala and Obowo respectively.
It was gathered that the governor is consulting elders in the state to come to a conclusion on a possible candidate. The Governor on Friday submitted Ralph Nwosu’s name, the state Commissioner for Works, to INEC as a place holder for the number two slot.
The Works Commissioner hails from Oru West LGA of Imo state. It was gathered that the governor decided to drop Prof Njoku, a former vice Chancellor of the Michael Okpara University, Umudike, because of his age.
Prof Njoku is 76 years old and would have been over 80 by the time Uzodimma concludes his second term in office if he eventually wins. The consideration, our correspondent further learned, was to get a deputy who “would make things easier for the governor during the elections in November, considering where our opponents are coming from.
“To that effect, the governor is giving a serious thought to Mbaise/Ngor Okpala because of their bloc votes, especially Mbaise. Another reason for this is because Mbaise is not holding any position be it Senate, or executive appointment at the federal level. Even the house of representatives slot for Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala is not in Mbaise.
“Also, Okigwe South where Athan Achonu comes from is a possibility so as to contain him. Reason is that the possible candidate there, Chike Okafor, has enormous political goodwill that APC can benefit from
“So, I think the choice will still hover around Owerri Zone for the obvious reasons that the outgoing deputy is from Owerri Zone”, an APC source told our correspondent.
Although, the Governor is yet to officially unveil his running-mate, there has been serious lobbying from the two zones of Owerri and Okigwe.
While Owerri zone is insisting the deputy governorship slot be retained in the zone,the leaders of Okigwe zone have maintained that the position was last held by an Okigwe man (late Ebere Udeagu) as far back as 2007.
They said since after the regime of Achike Udenwa, the Imo State deputy governorship slot has been held by Owerri people ranging from Ada Okwuonu who is from Mbaise, Jude Agbaso from Owerri-north, Prince Eze Madumere from Mbaitoli and Prof. Placid Njoku who hails from Ikeduru, all from Owerri zone.