TOPE FAYEHUN writes on the cold war between Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha and national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole over the just concluded primaries
he ongoing political drama occasioned by the just-concluded primary elections of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the country where major players in the party lost out, may be the beginning of the end to the once smooth relationship between some governors and the party’s chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
It is often said that politics can turn two jolly friends to a sworn enemy, the case of Oshiomhole and the Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha, is a typical example of such statement. The duo have been in a running battle since the party adopted Senator Hope Uzodinma as the governorship flagbearer of APC in the state, a move which has threatened Okorocha’s plan for his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu to be his successor
Consequently, the two actors have continued to attack each other on the pages of Newspapers. While Governor Okorocha accused Oshiomhole of pulling the ruling party backward, Oshiomhole
was said to have described the Imo Governor as an embarrassment to the party, adding that he will not allow him to have his way with his undemocratic tendencies.
Okorocha had believed that his former Chief of Staff, Uche Nwosu, would succeed him after the expiration of two terms tenure. Although, a primary was held where Nwosu was announced as the governorship candidate by the electoral committee headed by Ibrahim Agbabiaka.
But some governorship aspirants under a coalition known as the Imo Allied Forces, with Senator Hope Uzodimma and Eze Madumere, claimed that they were not part of the process, adding that they had gone to court to stop the primaries.
However, Agbabiaka, while declaring the results said that all the nine governorship aspirants participated in the exercise. He gave their names as Chuks Ololo, George Eche, Uche Nwosu, Deputy Governor of Imo State, Eze Madumere and Senator Hope Uzodimma.
Others are Air Commodore Peter Gbujie(red), Chima Anozie, Jude Ejiogu and Chris Nlemoha.
Also, while declaring Okorocha as the winner of the Imo West senatorial district primary election, Agbabiaka said, Okorocha garnered 141,127 votes to defeat Senator Hope Uzodimma, who polled 1,359 votes and Senator Osita Izunaso, 24 votes.
After the primaries, Okorocha approached the national secretariat of the party for the submission of Uche Nwosu name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as the winner of the APC governorship primaries in the state.
Okorocha said upholding Nwosu’s candidacy will “protect the high integrity of President Muhammadu Buhari and the integrity of the Party.” He added that Nwosu remains the “only hope” for the state, adding that the candidates of other parties would spell doom for the state.
“For some time now, I have been in Abuja fighting for the soul of Imo State from possible kidnap and subsequent destruction by political thieves.
“The only hope left for Imo State now is for Uche Nwosu to emerge as a candidate. Otherwise, there will be a total economic catastrophe when I leave as governor.
“Though they have spoken falsely and badly about our candidate, nobody can say that he was a fraudster in Lagos or that he was an armed robber in Benin or an arrogant man or a criminal. They have actually nothing to say about him except that he is my son-in-law.”
The National Working Committee (NWC) latter canceled the governorship primary which was won by Nwosu and upheld the exercise supervised by the Ahmed Gulak- led Election Committee which was won by Uzodimma
Speaking on the development Oshimhole said “Imo was not too good news for today, but not surprising they have to learn to begin to comply with rules, they have two fake results, none of them is genuine.
“We will disband and we will appoint a fresh committee (electoral panel) that will conduct transparent direct primaries that reflect the will of members of APC in Imo regardless of the interest and powers that are behind any of the groups.
“The truth does not require supporters club to stand, it has its hands and legs and we will do just that”.
However, Okorocha lost out in his bid to have Uche Nwosu, his son-in-law, as his successor when Oshiomhole hinted that the party had submitted the name of Hope Uzondima, a senator representing Imo west, to the INEC as its governorship candidate in Imo.
Oshiomhole, while speaking with reporters at the headquarters of the party in Abuja, maintained that he would always uphold the truth in the interest of the party and its members in Imo.
He vowed not to assist Rochas Okorocha, to use the “party instruments to build a political dynasty”.
While saying that the desperation of Okorocha to pick a Senate ticket and a governorship ticket for his son-in-law amounted to turning Imo into his family dynasty, the national chairman said, “Governor Rochas Okorocha, the chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, is a beneficiary of the court process, we rescued him. The primary conducted by my predecessor completely swept governor Okorocha out of the system-from ward, local government to the state.”
“What I am not able to do for governor Okorocha is to assist him with the instrument of the APC to help him to build a political dynasty. We have prepared the name of Senator Hope Uzodinma and submitted it to the INEC. If Governor Rochas chose to relocate to the Villa and use the grounds of the villa to try to intimidate me to create a dynasty, I won’t accept it.
“I will uphold the truth in the best interest of the APC members and indeed of the APC people in Imo state. The truth does not require a supporters’ club to stand, it has its own legs, and it can stand,” Oshiomhole said.
Oshiomhole also apologized to Archbishop Anthony Obinna of the Owerri Diocese and the entire Christian community in Imo State over what he described as the lack of respect exhibited to the church by Okorocha.
Oshiomhole alleged that Okorocha’s personal battle with the Christian community in Imo state was a matter between him and the Catholic Church.
In a swift reaction, Uche Nwosu, the son-in-law of Okorocha expressed shock over reports that Oshiomhole had submitted the name of Senator Hope Uzodimma as the party’s governorship candidate in Imo to INEC.
Nwosu, while maintaining that Oshiomhole cannot stop his governorship ambition, declared that he is APC’s authentic governorship candidate in Imo.
He also vowed not to leave the ruling party or abandon the mandate given to him by the people.
According to him, “My mandate is still intact, I still remain the candidate of the APC, I am very much shocked with the National Chairman who is speaking from both sides of likes mouth like a man of that age I thought he would have been upright.
“I am shocked that a man who has attained that age and who we should look up to as our role model has become somebody who many of us can no longer see as a role model again.
“I am shocked at the attitude of the National Chairman which does not give hope to young people that mostly look up to him for years.
“I will not leave APC, I still remain the authentic candidate of that party, I still have a valid Court Oder restraining the party from submitting any other name and also restraining INEC from accepting any other name other than my name and the matter is in Court.
“So if they go anywhere and got another Court Order without knowing that there is a subsisting Court Order that must have been done that in error.
“So the fact remains that I am the candidate of APC, it is just for a while and I will take up my mandate, I don’t have in mind to leave the mandate I already have for another party. My candidacy is secured and cannot be truncated by the National Chairman or any other person.
“I will never abandon the mandate given to him by the party members to be their governorship candidate for the 2019 election. We are disappointed over Oshiomole’s action, his statements and antics did not give hope to young people who hitherto had always looked up to him.
“After all Oshiomole’s son is a member of the Edo State House of Assembly, who he nominated and he is the Chairman of the party and he is saying that Okorocha’s Senatorial ambition scuttled my governorship.
“He is a man that is supposed to speak rightly and not deceive the people on air. I saw him on the Television when he was talking from both sides of his mouth. It is a pity that APC could have such a man as its National Chairman, I condemn his action and it is not acceptable.”
In his own reaction, Okorocha, through his chief press secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, said his administration was not surprised by the latest outburst of Oshiomhole.
According to Okorocha, “With all that Adams Oshiomhole had said and done, he has only shown that he was the brain behind the film a man like Ahmed Gulak acted in Owerri as the leader of the 12-Member Committee sent to Conduct the APC Primaries in the State. And it is unfortunate that the National Chairman could encourage Gulak to flee Owerri by 4:30 am to avoid carrying out the assignment he was sent to Owerri to do.
“It has also shown that disbanding Gulak’s committee, canceling all that emanated from that committee and setting up the Brigadier-General Ibrahim Agbabiaka Committee for the Conduct of fresh primaries in the state were all deceitful. We will now work to know whether such deceit would destroy all that the duly and properly constituted Agbabiaka’s Committee did.
“Also, ignoring the report of Prof. Osunbor’s Appeal Panel that declared Uche Nwosu the candidate of APC in the state was also an indication that Comrade had abinitio made up his mind on Hope Uzodinma. However, steps would be taken to prove that deceits do not pay. We won’t allow these deceits just go like that without having them challenged.
“And if the National Chairman of APC had monitored Owerri since he announced Chief Uzodinma as his preferred candidate, he would have appreciated the enormous implication of his faulty action.”
On the $2 million Ahmed Gulak alleged that Okorocha offered him to favor Nwosu, Onwuemeodo wondered why it took Gulak over one month to publicise his claim.
“All these are their antics to blackmail Governor Okorocha. How come he fled from the state by 4.30am and since that time till now, he had not revealed that he was offered such money by the governor,” Onwuemeodo stated.
Speaking on the issue of Oshiomhole’s apology to Archbishop and the Catholic Church, Okorocha said he had shown maturity by avoiding abuse and name-calling when he speaks to the media and called Oshiomhole to emulate him.
He said Oshiomhole’s apology to the Archbishop was a deliberate blackmail. The statement added, “In responding to that deliberate blackmail, we won’t toe the part of Comrade Oshiomhole.
“We recognize the fact that he is the National Chairman of a ruling party, which President Muhammadu Buhari is the leader, and we would not, therefore, throw caution to the wind like he did, when he was abusing or attacking governors in his party as if he is the publicity secretary of any of the opposition parties.
“If he had asked questions, he would have discovered that members of the Catholic Church in the state constitute the bulk of Governor Okorocha’s supporters, especially at the grassroots. They voted for him overwhelmingly in 2011 and 2015 respectively. And he has never taken their support for granted.
“He has shown gratitude in several ways which cannot be cataloged in this response, including making them the majority in his cabinet. The man has put himself on trial and that is the reason since that woeful and awful outing, he has made more than nine claims to see how he could recover but all to no avail. He murdered sleep and would remain awake.
“As a matter of fact, the National Chairman did not treat the concerned governors well no matter his reasons. He should not expect them to go home celebrating. In the circumstances, his utterances and actions should be responsive and reconciliatory to a very large extent and no a declaration of war.”
However, pundits observed that unless the post-primaries elections crises of the ruling APC is hurriedly nipped in the bud, it may spell doom for the party in the February general elections.
They observed that the greatest task before the governing APC now is how to return to power after the February 2019 general elections. The question on the lips of the observers is that, who among the two political heavyweights will blink first?.
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