… Receives Certificate of Return with running mate from INEC
Reelected Governor of Imo State, Sen. Hope Uzodimma and his running mate, Lady Chinyere Ihuoma Ekomaru on Friday received their Certificates of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), with Governor Uzodimma saying that he worked very hard to earn his re-election.
“I am glad to say that I deserve this victory because I strategised and worked very hard for it,” Governor Uzodimma remarked before officials of the INEC and others who turned out in their numbers at the Rockview Hotel Owerri after he had collected his Certificate of Return from the electoral umpire.
In her welcome address, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Imo State, Prof. Sylvia Agu, congratulated Governor Uzodimma and Lady Ekomaru for their resounding victory in the Saturday, November 11 governorship election in the State which she dubbed “generally peaceful,” and lauded all those who contributed in one way or the other in making the exercise worth the while.
Prof. Agu who thanked the 18 Political Parties for playing by the rules as set in the Electoral Act 2022, specifically appreciated the security agencies, the Civil Society Organisations, the Women groups, the Men groups, the Media, the Physically-challenged among others, who through their different engagements with the INEC, helped to make the exercise free, fair and credible.
She said the off- cycle election in Imo brings to an end INEC elections in 2023 in the State and assured of the preparedness of the body to serve the society creditably whenever the need arises.
After handing over the Certificate of Return to Governor Uzodimma and Lady Ekomaru, the INEC National Commissioner supervising the South East, Hon. Kenneth Ukeagu, thanked Imo people for the peaceful conduct of the election and lauded the partnership that existed between the body and different agencies in and outside the State that helped to make the process hitch-free.
Ukeagu reiterated the independence of INEC and its willingness to deploy technology to conduct elections for the benefits to the society.
Governor Uzodimma in his acceptance remarks, expressed his deep feeling of appreciation to God and Imo people, both of who made it possible for him to be re-elected for second and final tenure in office.
It was also an opportunity he used to reiterate that power will shift to Owerri zone when his tenure ends in 2027.
“Under my watch, Owerri zone will produce the next Governor,” he said and invited those who contested with him to join him to make Imo State a better place for all as his victory is the victory of Imo people.
Governor Uzodimma’s acceptance remarks read in full:
“A few minutes ago, I received the Certificate of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as the duly elected Governor of Imo State for my second and final tenure. I did so with a deep feeling of appreciation and gratitude to God almighty who made it all possible.
“I congratulate Lady Chinyere Ekomaru, the Deputy Governor-elect of Imo State, who has also received her Certificate of Return, making her the second female deputy governor of Imo State since the creation of our state in 1976.
“In my thank you address, which I gave shortly after I was declared the winner of the election, I acknowledged the contribution of all segments of the Imo society who worked hard for my victory. I also dedicated the victory first to God, from whom all powers come. I equally dedicated my victory to Imo people, including those who massively voted for me and those who voted for other candidates.
“Let me once more congratulate the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for conducting the freest, fairest, and most peaceful election in the history of Imo State on November 11th, 2023. With the assistance of the security agencies, INEC delivered what has been widely adjudged a credible poll, whose integrity can not be questioned.
“By upholding the sanctity of our electoral process, INEC has deepened our democracy with the assurance that our votes will always count. I therefore commend INEC for a job well done. I equally commend the security agencies and all those who worked tirelessly to ensure that the election held peacefully throughout the 27 local government areas of the state.
“I am aware that some cynics and naysayers have been stunned by my overwhelming electoral victory, which saw me receiving the majority of the votes cast in all the 27 local government areas of the state. As usual, these critics have been weaving their conspiracy theories without taking into consideration the factors that shaped my victory.
“I am glad to say that I deserve this victory because I strategized and worked very hard for it. This is the only way to guarantee victory in a democratic election, especially in a state like Imo where the people are mostly literate, republican and politically aware. This means they can separate the wheat from the chaff.
“Having said this, it is pertinent to highlight two issues that I believe propelled me to a clear and outright victory. One is my sterling performance as the governor in the last four years, and the second is the Imo Charter of Equity, which prescribes the orderly transfer of gubernatorial power from one senatorial zone to the other.
“When people speak of incumbency factor in aiding the re-election of a sitting governor, they misconstrue it to be the use of power and state resources to confer an unfair advantage to the candidate. For me, that is not the case. Rather, it means leveraging on one’s performance as a marketing tool in an election. For example, Imo people will readily attest to the fact that there is no community, no ward, and no local government that has not been impacted positively by my government.
“In the area of infrastructure, especially road infrastructure, I have made the difference. In all the sectors of the economy, our people have felt the positive impact of my administration. As various groups, including trade unions, were endorsing me for re-election some, people dismissed it as a political gimmick. But those who endorsed me have walked the talk with their followers.
“The result of their efforts is this resounding victory. The beneficiaries of our 3R mantra of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery showed me appreciation through their votes. The same is true with the thousands of youths whom I have trained and empowered. My opponents failed to provide an alternative blueprint for better achievements than mine, so there is no way I couldn’t have won.
“The second factor, like I mentioned, is the Imo Charter of Equity, which the Elders Council, traditional and religious leaders promoted to enthrone peace and order in the transfer of power in the state. Since I am from Orlu, these leaders endorsed me for a second and final tenure. They made an appeal to Imo people that only those from Orlu zone should contest the last election.
“Because the Charter does not abridge the constitutional right of anybody, our brothers from Owerri and Okigwe still contested. But they were rejected because they swam against the tide which the Charter represents. In other words, apart from my superlative performance, the Charter played a key role in my reelection.
“People voted to support the Charter so that going forward, our electoral process in the state will be rancour free and less expensive. The first takeaway from the Charter of Equity, going forward, is that under my watch, Owerri Zone will produce the next governor of Imo State in 2027.
“Now that the election is over, I renew my call to my brothers, who contested with me to join hands with my administration to continue to offer quality services to the people of Imo State. My appeal is that we should put the interest of the state and her people above our personal consideration. There is still time for everyone to buy into the Charter of Equity.
“As always, I am committed to running an inclusive government where the interest of every Imo man and woman will be accommodated. My desire is to leave a legacy of a tradition of rancour-free politics that guarantees all zones a realistic entitlement to the governorship of the state.
“Finally, I once again extend an olive branch to all aggrieved persons and groups and invite them to join hands with me to work to grow our state and make it the envy of other states.
“Thank you all, and God bless Imo State.”
Different individuals, groups and political parties who witnessed the handing over of the Certificate of Return to Governor Uzodimma and his running mate include former INEC National Chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu, members of the Inter Party Advisory Council, Traditional Rulers, members of the Clergy, politicians, business moguls, among others.
Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to the Governor