Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
There were indications, at the weekend, that Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, might have settled for the Secretary to the State Government, George Eche, from Owerri zone, as his successor.
This followed alleged pressure to drop his Chief of Staff and son-in-law, Chief Uche Nwosu, as his successor in 2019.
The Daily Sun gathered that Okorocha, who travelled to the Peoples Republic of China with President Muhamnadu Buhari, called Eche from China, to immediately procure the party’s governorship nomination and expression forms; ahead of the primaries scheduled to hold later this month. It was alleged that Okorocha’s decision on who succeeds him, outside his earlier preferred choice of his chief of staff, might not be unconnected with opposition from the Presidency .
A source who declined to be named said: “Governor Okorocha had solicited President Muhammadu Buhari’s support over the issue of Nwosu succeeding him in 2019. It was said that president Buhari was surprised and promptly told Okorocha to shop for another candidate from Owerri zone since it is the turn of the zone to produce the next governor and that he should drop Nwosu forthwith.
“The president was also quoted to have told the governor that the stakeholders of the party he had spoken with said they don’t have any problem with him as a governor, but that the problem is insisting that Nwosu will be his successor. So, that was why the governor, who was still in China, quickly called Eche to proceed immediately to Abuja and procure the governorship nomination and expression of interest forms. Before this sudden change, Okorocha had given Eche the greenlight to contest for the Ngor-Okpala Aboh Mbaise Federal Constituency in 2019.”
The source also posited that as it stands, Eche, who earlier served as both accountant general and permanent secretary, during this administration before being appointed to his present position, would be the governorship candidate of the party for 2019.
However, it was equally learnt that there is disquiet in Nwosu’s camp, who is said not to be well disposed to the latest development over who becomes APC flag-bearer in 2019.
Nwosu had, last week, obtained the governorship nomination and expression of interest forms and had already scheduled September 12 for his official declaration to contest.
Attempts to get Nwosu’s reaction, through calls and text messages, went unanswered.
In a related development, Okorocha has officially declared intent to run for Orlu zone senatorial seat.
He made the declaration at the weekend, in response to calls by Orlu zone political leaders, who visited him at the Government House, Owerri, and urged him to contest the position.
The governor had, few months ago, given the hint that he might contest the 2019 election; to go to the Senate, for Orlu zone, but had remained mum afterwards, before his latest declaration.
His Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, confirmed Okorocha’s bid in a statement, yon Sunday.
The governor, however, has said he does not need any campaign or poster to win the election.
“And, since he made the open declaration to run for the senate, there has been high level excitement across the state and, moreover, in Orlu Zone, since one good turn deserves another.”