Ahead of the forthcoming governorship election in Imo state, Governor Hope Uzodinma has made a significant change in his deputy position. He has replaced his Deputy, Prof. Placid Njoku, with a female candidate, Mrs. Ekemaru Chinyere Ihuoma. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the final list of candidates, revealing that Governor Uzodinma submitted Mrs. Ekomaru's name as his running mate.
Mrs. Ekomaru, who is from Umunoha, a community in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of the state, is the wife of a former governorship aspirant of the PDP in the state, Chukwuma Ekomaru, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. This change comes after Governor Uzodinma and Prof. Njoku were elected as governor and deputy governor, respectively, following the Supreme Court's nullification of the election of Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the declaration of Mr. Uzodinma as the winner of the governorship election in January 2020.
The final list of candidates for the off-cycle Governorship elections in Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo States, scheduled to be held on Saturday, November 11, was approved by INEC during its regular meeting on June 6, 2023. Apart from Governor Uzodinma, the list includes candidates such as Douye Diri, the incumbent governor of Bayelsa State and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate; Timipre Sylva, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in Bayelsa State; Ododo Ahmed Usman, the APC candidate in Kogi State; Leke Abejide, the African Democratic Congress (ADC) candidate; and Dino Melaye, the PDP candidate of Kogi State.
Barr. Festus Okoye, the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, stated that the decision to release the final list aligns with the provision of Section 32(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, which requires the publication of the list no later than 150 days before the election day. The list was uploaded to the Commission's website and social media platforms, and it will be published in their State and Local Government offices in the affected States on June 8, 2023, just ahead of the statutory deadline of June 9, 2023.
Okoye further mentioned that the list reveals the participation of all 18 political parties fielding candidates in Kogi State, 17 in Imo State, and 16 in Bayelsa State. Additionally, it shows that two political parties are fielding female candidates in Bayelsa State, one in Kogi State, and none in Imo State.
The official campaign is set to begin on June 14, 2023, in line with Section 94(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 and will conclude on November 9, 2023, which is 24 hours before the election day. However, there have been concerning incidents of violence involving political convoys in Kogi State, resulting in the destruction of vehicles and properties. The Commission urges political parties and candidates to conduct their political activities with civility and decorum, emphasizing the importance of peaceful electioneering for a