In a significant political development, Hope Uzodimma, the incumbent Governor of Imo State, has been declared the victor of the state’s governorship election. This announcement was made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) following the election that took place on Saturday.
The declaration was made by Prof. Abayomi Fasina, the Returning Officer for the election and Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State. The announcement occurred on Sunday morning at the INEC’s state collation centre in Owerri, the state capital.
Governor Uzodimma, representing the All Progressives Congress, secured a resounding victory with a total of 540,308 votes. His closest competitor, Samuel Anyanwu of the Peoples Democratic Party, trailed significantly with 71,503 votes. Athan Achonu of the Labour Party and Anthony Ejiogu of the All Progressives Grand Alliance followed, garnering 64,081 and 6,392 votes respectively, while Jack Ogunewe of the Action Alliance received 5,756 votes.
Prof. Fasina stated, “I, Prof. Abayomi Fasina, was the Returning officer for the Imo state governorship election held on November 11, 2023. That the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Good Hope Uzodimma, having scored the highest number of votes and satisfied the requirements of the law, is hereby declared the winner of the election and returned elected.”
The results further revealed that Uzodimma achieved a clean sweep across all 27 Local Government Areas of the state. This victory paves the way for his second term in office, with the swearing-in ceremony scheduled for January 14, 2024.
The election, however, was not without controversy. Callistus Ihejiagwa, the State Agent of the Labour Party, was forcibly removed from the state Collation centre after protesting the announced results, claiming manipulation in favour of the APC candidate. Similarly, the State Agent of the PDP, Kissinger Ikeokwu, left the collation centre in response to the results.
Both the PDP and Labour Party had called for the cancellation of the poll on Saturday night. In a press conference, Samuel Anyanwu of the PDP alleged that the election was rigged in favour of Uzodimma. Tony Nwulu, the deputy governorship candidate of the Labour Party, accused security agents of colluding with INEC staff and APC members to rig the poll, demanding that INEC cancel the election.
As the dust settles on the Imo State governorship election, the declaration of Hope Uzodimma as the winner by INEC marks a significant moment in the state’s political landscape. Uzodimma’s victory, while decisive in terms of numbers, raises critical questions about the electoral process and the integrity of democracy in Nigeria.
The overwhelming victory of Uzodimma, sweeping all 27 Local Government Areas, is a testament to his political strength. However, the allegations of electoral malpractice and the subsequent protests by opposition parties cannot be overlooked. These claims, if true, undermine the very essence of a democratic election, which is to reflect the will of the people.
We believe that for democracy to thrive, every election must be conducted in a free, fair, and transparent manner. The allegations of rigging and manipulation cast a shadow over the legitimacy of the election results. INEC and other relevant authorities must investigate these claims thoroughly. If found to be true, appropriate measures must be taken to rectify such injustices and prevent their recurrence in future elections.
The incident involving the State Agent of the Labour Party, Callistus Ihejiagwa, is deeply concerning. Using force in silencing dissenting voices is a dangerous precedent in a democratic society. All political parties and their representatives must be allowed to express their concerns in a safe and respectful environment.
The role of security agents in the electoral process also warrants scrutiny. The neutrality and impartiality of security forces are crucial in ensuring a level playing field for all candidates. Any deviation from this principle not only questions the fairness of the election but also erodes public trust in the institutions meant to safeguard democracy.
As we look forward to Governor Uzodimma’s second term, these issues must be addressed to strengthen the democratic process in Imo State and Nigeria as a whole. The government must work towards fostering an environment where every vote counts and the voice of every citizen is heard. Only then can the true essence of democracy be realised.
Did You Know?
- Imo State, located in the southeastern part of Nigeria, is known for its rich cultural heritage and is often referred to as the “Heartland State”.
- The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Nigeria was established in 1998 to oversee elections in the country, replacing the previous electoral commission.
- Nigeria’s electoral process has evolved significantly since its return to democracy in 1999, with several reforms aimed at enhancing transparency and credibility.
- The All Progressives Congress (APC), to which Governor Uzodimma belongs, was formed in 2013 as a result of a merger of Nigeria’s four biggest opposition parties.
- The use of technology in Nigerian elections, such as the introduction of the Smart Card Reader in 2015, has been a significant step towards reducing electoral fraud and ensuring the integrity of the voting process.