Uwajumogu: Race for Okigwe Senatorial District hots up

EMEKA NZE writes that the Okigwe zone or Imo North Senatorial District has begun meetings to find a replacement for late Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu who died last December as well as for the Okigwe North Federal Constituency. 

Although the Senate has not declared vacant the Okigwe Senatorial District seat nor has it sent a letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a bye election to fill the position, following the sudden death of Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu, the zone is agog with preparations to replace the late Senator.

At Umeze Ehime Mbano in Okigwe zone Imo state, political leaders from the zone converged at the home of a prominent politician, Chief Tony Chukwu to strategize on  who succeeds Senator Uwajumogu who died December last year. The other agenda of the meeting was said to be the January 25 re-run elections to fill the Okigwe North Federal Constituency. 

To this effect, the political stalwarts at the meeting, Blueprint learnt  tipped one Princess Miriam Onuoha for the Okigwe North House of Representatives seat which bye election.

Another issue said to been considered at the gathering was how to plan a befitting burial for the late Senator since the zone would play host to a lot of politicians who would be coming from all walks of life to Okigwe to pay their last respect to the late Senator.  

Those who were present at the meeting to mention a few were the convener, Chief Tony Chukwu, (Onweghi Ihe Kariri Chineke), the Minister of State for Education, Hon Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, former House of Reps member, Honorable Osuagwu Elias, Oil Magnet, Chief Emeka Igwe William.

Our correspondent gathered that there were also chieftains of the Action Alliance (AA) , a former member of the House of Assembly Hon. Mark Uchendu and other stalwarts of of the All Progressives  Grand Alliance (APGA).

Even though the meeting was said to be not much on party affiliation but of a gathering of Okigwe sons and daughters who said they were mostly concerned about the January 25th bye election into the Okigwe north Federal Constituency seat.
Apart from the Federal Constituency Seat, the Okigwe indigenes said they are more preoccupied by arrangements for the burial of Senator Uwajumogu.

However, the line-up gunning for the Uwajumogu position has emerged. Some of the gladiators for the Senatorial seat are said to be a former Secretary to the State Government, Hon Mark Uchendu, a former Acting Speaker of the House of Assembly, Londas Anyanwu, former State Governor, Ikedi Ohakim, a former Secretary of the State Government, Cosmas Iwu and former governorship candidate for the All Progressives Congress, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, amongst others.

But a prominent member of the meeting and former House of Representatives member,  Hon Elias Osuagwu who spoke with Blueprint said the meeting was not to nominate a successor to Uwajumogu but was convened to plan a befitting burial for the late Senator.

He said in a telephone interview “You are aware we lost our son and we are arranging his burial. He is our son who died on active service, he was representing our senatorial district and it’s not a question of party, we have passed the level of partisanship, we are arranging how to give him a befitting burial. 

“It is only after his burial we can talk about his replacement. We have come together as a senatorial district to plan a befitting burial for our son and already you know the Senate is still on recess and the Senate has not declared the seat vacant before taking about replacement. It’s when the Senate seats and declares the seat vacant, there will be another fourty days. So what we are planning now is how to give him a befitting burial. That was the reason for the first meeting we had and subsequent meetings will follow. We also mentioned about the re-run election for Okigwe north Federal Constituency.  

“On those who are indicating interest to contest for the position of the late senator, so many people people are indicating interest but we look at those interests as an abuse of the process as the late senator is not yet buried. When it comes to replacing the late Senator, you know it has to be a fresh election entirely. Since it’s going to be a fresh election, we have to look for our sons and daughters who have been there for us. We cannot consider people who will fly in from nowhere and say they want to be elected as Senator. We will only consider those who have done something for the people.  

“As I’m talking to you now, a lot of people are calling me to please project them but it is too early to mention their names now so that you don’t go about quoting me. If you mention their names now, people will see you as being selfish, that’s why I will not want to go public otherwise I would have mentioned some names who have already contacted me.” 

The ex lawmaker further stated, “Any indication of interest from any quarter in the zone will be looked at as an abuse. What is paramount now is to feel the vacant seat of the Okigwe North Federal Constituency and to give our son who died on active service a befitting burial.” We want to elect somebody who will be there for our people, we don’t want someone who will get there and go and look at Abuja and come back.

Blueprint however learnt that apart from the people that have indicated the interest to run and are making wide consultations in the zone to actualise their ambition, there are others who are being pressurised to come out and contest the bye elections.

But feelers from the state indicated that the gathering being summoned by the Okigwe indigenes to deliberate Uwajumogu’s burial and replacement has no input of the state government headed by the Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha.  

Those who advanced this argument said that their arrangements were yet to start if the governor has not made representations to the meetings. According to them, if there was anybody to consult in the burial or replacement of Uwajumogu,  the governor would be the first. Besides there is no doubt that he would prefer his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to produce the replacement.