PROSPECTS OF PROTEST VOTE IN IMO
The neglect and lack of performance by the previous governments in Imo State has galvanized voters to become active participants in the on-going election which of course the incumbent; Governor Ikedi Ohakim is fairly or unfairly bearing the brunt of the collective outrage of Imo voters.
All these combined, at the back drop of formidable candidates for governorship has made Imo politics a very interesting one and a true test of our democratic process and the vindication of the mantra of free and fair election.
The incumbent as expected clinched the PDP ticket for the 2011 governorship election. But considering that primaries within the purview of internal party structure and machinery, many political watchers and analysts are not surprised at the outcome of the PDP primaries that produced Gov. Ohaikim as the candidate for the upcoming election in Imo state.
But in all these, nothing has hurt the governor and made him incredibly unpopular among Imo voters like the alleged physical assault of a catholic priest.
The irony of this issue is that even the people talking about it and expressing their grievance do not even know exactly what really transpired. Which is a good news for the governor and his team who should have used that window of opportunity to set the record strait and even re-energise that voting base. Sadly the Governor's team has not done a good job in handling this political land mine. Instead they appear to be wishing it away, but it is not going away. As should be expected his political opponents are bracing up to fully exploit this single alleged 'SIN' in the coming election, and if anyone thinks that it will not hurt the Governor (if the vote counts), then that person does not understand the power of catholic church and the entire Christendom who found the alleged action of the Governor as offensive as the catholic faithfuls.
This bloc of voters (huge numbers) across the entire state are ready to cast their 'PROTEST VOTE' against the Governor and underscore their outrage if the Governor and his team do not make a pragmatic move to remedy this situation.
The sentiment that this singular issue arouses trumped every other 'SIN'attributable to this current administration, and come election day, with well organized grass root mobilization they may decide not necessarily to vote for Senator Ararume or Rochas Okorocha but instead to cast a protest vote against Ohaikim – and that is as losing the election as it can get.
But the Governor and his supporters or operatives should not have elaborate celebration. In fact, if they are euphoric, they should think again because the real challenge and the politiking just began in earnest.
But Ohaikims Political Burden and undoing is not necessary in the hands of his formidable political opponents.
So far the primaries have been throwing up some predictable surprises. Democracy and Democratic process in-spite the imperfections of our unique brand of do or die politics, the process seems to be gaining traction.
At least, candidates are having sleepless nights, and their supporters and strategists are busy doing all manner of political horse-trading and checkmating. The era of anointed candidates is not yet history but if things keep at this pace, we might as well be on our way to a more matured and sustained democratic process that will enable credible and responsible candidates to have a level playing field in the political grand slam (arguably the only game in town) in Nigeria.