The outcome of the governorship primaries of the Imo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is unsettling the party, writes EMMANUEL MGBEAHURUIKE
To the uninformed, it is nothing short of a political aberration of the millennium which can never be the best of example for any democratic society to emulate. Although, the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which ruled the state from 1999 to 2011, has had her party primaries preparatory for the 2019 great battle, the APC which currently calls the shots in the state appeared to have retrogressively metamorphosed into a theatre of absurdities with sharp discordant tunes. The broom brandishing party (APC) is undoubtedly currently yearning for a divine intervention for redemption and the crux of the matter is a devastating controversial party primary that has on two occasions produced two gubernatorial candidates, Uche Nwosu and the senator for Imo West, Hope Uzodinma.
Prior to the contentious party primary, the party had been polarised into two antagonistic camps following the adoption of Uche Nwosu as the party’s governorship candidate by the state governor, Rochas Okorocha, whose first daughter, Uloma, is married to Nwosu. This was to the chagrin of a number of party members in the state who saw this as a bitter pill to swallow, especially those of Owerri zonal extraction who firmly believed that it is their turn to take over power from the incumbent. Prominent among these rabid opponents of the anointing of Nwosu as the next tenant of the Douglas House (Government House) were the state Deputy Governor, Eze Madumere; Senator Hope Uzodinma, the senator for Imo North, Ben Uwajumogu; his predecessor, Godwin Ifeanyi Araraume, the state party chairman, Hilary Eke; former National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Osita Izunaso and one-time
Commissioner for Information, Dr. Theodore Ekechi
While this Group goes by the name, ‘Coalition Alliance’ those fiercely loyal to Okorocha and who are solidly in support of the Uche Nwosu governorship project go by the name Ugwumba Movement. The escalating unhealthy rivalry between the two rival groups eventually culminated in the conduct of separate party primaries. While one electoral committee sent by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) to conduct the exercise was led by Ahmed Ali Gulak, the second was led by Brigadier General Ibrahim Agbabiaka (rtd). Moving like a rudderless society and a rolling stone that cannot gather any moss, the All progressives Congress (APC) has vigorously acquired the notorious absence of team work and internal democracy among members. In the words of the famous but departed literary giant, Chinua Achebe, things now appear to have fallen apart, hence the centre can no longer hold. The insistence of Okorocha on Nwosu who incidentally is his son in-law and erstwhile Chief of Staff is the grandmother of the raging mesmerising squabbles that have torn the party into pieces. In retrospect, it was the same imposition of a gubernatorial candidate that brought the PDP down from its Olympian height in 2011.The crisis rocking the party Tuesday 2nd of this month, deepened when the party announced two different governorship primary election results to newsmen in Owerri. Hardly had the secretary of the governorship primary election. committee, Henry Idahagbon, announced his own version of the result at the party secretariat in Owerri when the state deputy governor Prince Eze Madumere brandished a different result signed by the Returning Officer of the election committee, Ahmed Ali Gulak, which received a thunderous ovation all over the state moreso as senator Hope Uzodinma was declared winner and the deputy governor Prince Eze Madumere as the runner-up in that election. In the result which he made available to newsmen, Idahagbon declared Uche Nwosu, Okorocha’s anointed son in-law as the winner of the party’s primary having according to him scored 455,655 votes to beat his arch rival, Senator Hope Uzodinma (Imo West) who he said pulled a total of 9,159 votes.Shedding more light on the result, Idahagbon said that Prince Eze Madumere scored 5,067 votes, Jude Ejiogu had 2,197 votes, George Eche 638 votes, Chima Anozie 595, Air Commander Peter Gbujie (Rtd) 9,351, Chris Nlemoha 556 and Engr Chuks Ololo 700 votes.
“Consequently, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu is hereby declared and returned as the APC’s Candidate for the 2019 gubernatorial election”, he stated.
Before announcing the result, Idahagbon disclosed that the 12-member state governorship primary election committee which arrived the state on an Air Peace flight visited the Police, DSS and INEC, held meetings with the aspirants and also paid a courtesy call on governor Okorocha as directed by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party. Aside this, he said that the committee appointed both the ward / LGA Returning officers for the conduct of the election around 3:30 pm. Idahagbo however, expressed surprise as he said that although the sensitive materials were sent to the police, the chairman of the committee, Ali Ahmed Gulak, he alleged, was with the result sheets which “we insisted should be kept in the custody of the committee secretary which we later released to the LGA returning officer”. “To our greatest surprise, the early morning of 2nd Oct., the security personnel numbering over 60, through their Commander, Superintendent Shem ordered us to leave the hotel for safety as our chairman has left for Abuja and has declared the result.” Invariably, no sooner had Idahagbon announced the result than the state deputy Governor Prince Madumere fired back, dismissing the results of Idahagbo as fictitious and grossly misleading. The enraged deputy governor who spoke to newsmen at his country home Achi Mbieri in the Mbaitolu LGA said that the result sheet authenticated and signed by the Returning Officer of the election committee Ahmed Ali Gulak showed that Senator Hope Uzodinma (Imo West) scored a total of 423, 895 votes to emerge winner while he (Madumere) pulled 128, 325 votes to come second. This, was reported to have met the expectation of the average electorate in the State who have been yearning for a change. Others were Jude Ejiogu 12,369 votes, Peter Gbuje 12,329 votes, George Eche 16,597 votes, Chuks Ololo 13,645 votes, Uche Nwosu 10,329 votes, Chima Anozie 11,071 votes and Chris Nlemoha 9,253 votes. “It is the glory of God that the Imo APC primary election was successfully conducted this morning (Tuesday) Oct 2018 in spite of the unprecedented intimidation, blackmails and threat to lives.
“You may recall that I, along with numerous great party and indeed many Imolites have been advocating for an Owerri zone governorship candidate”, he said. Curiously, in another party primary presided over by Brigadier General Ibrahim Agbabiaka weekend, Nwosu reportedly defeated Senator Hope Uzodinma and the state Deputy Governor, Eze Madumere to emerge the governorship candidate for the 2019 general elections. Nwosu was said to have garnered a total of 269,428 votes to beat his closest rival, Engr. Chucks Ololo, who scored 6,428 votes in the rescheduled governorship primary. Uzodinma scored 2,729, while Madumere polled 2,646 votes to take the 4th and 5th positions respectively. A total of nine aspirants contested for the party’s ticket. They include Sir George Eche, Chucks Ololo, Peter Gbujie, Senator Hope Uzodinma, Uche Nwosu, Chris Nlemoha, Jude Ejiogu, Eze Madumere and Chima Anozie. Nwosu was returned as the governorship candidate about 3:20am, by the Governorship Primary Election Committee headed by Brigadier General Ibrahim Agbabiaka, (Rtd) alongside 11 others. Although, there were reports that some of the aspirants boycotted the exercise, Agbabiaka while declaring the results said that all the nine governorship aspirants participated in the primary election. Nwosu in his speech shortly after being declared winner, dedicated the victory to all the aspirants, adding that it was victory for the party and the state.
He enjoined the other aspirants to work with the party to ensure victory at the general election, stating that, “we are all winners and we should come together and prepare for the main election. I will soon commence consultations with my brothers that contested with me to see ways we can work together to give our party victory”. Meanwhile the state governor, Rochas Okorocha, clinched the Senatorial ticket for Imo West, polling a total of 141,127 votes to defeat a serving Senator, Hope Uzodimma, who scored 1,359 votes and former APC National Organizing Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso who got 24 votes. In the other Senatorial seats, Imo North, Nnamdi Obiaraeri pulled 67,438 to win the Senator currently representing the zone, Benjamin Uwajumogu, with 5,743 votes. Also, in the Imo East Senatorial district, Emma Ojinere floored the other two contestants with 41,562 votes who are Chima Anthony and Maxwell Igwe. Expectedly, Governor Okorocha did not waste time to congratulate Nwosu for winning the APC Governorship Primary election conducted by the Retired Brigadier General Ibrahim Agbagbiaka-led 7– member committee, and assured that Chief Nwosu will win the 2019 governorship election in the State for the Party.
The governor also thanked APC members in the State for seeing Uche Nwosu’s governorship project as a collective venture and for voting for him at the primary, and maintained that Chief Nwosu will not let them down. In a statement through his Chief Press Secretary Sam Onwuemeodo, the governor also commended the Retired General Agbagbiaka-led committee for Conducting a free and fair primaries in the State and remarked that Nigerians with exemplary character like General Agbagbiaka (rtd), should always be given National and Democratic assignments and not morally weak politicians who would abandon national assignments and flee by 4:00 am for personal gains.
He equally praised the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee, NWC, for insisting on transparent and rancor free primaries in Imo State and added that one obvious advantage of the Direct Primaries adopted by the Party in the State is that it has exposed politicians who only exist on the social media and in Abuja. The governor also appreciated the APC members in Orlu zone for voting massively for him in the primary for Orlu Senatorial zone, making him now the Candidate of APC for the zone in the 2019 election. He assured that APC in the State will deliver President Muhammadu Buhari, the governorship Candidate of the Party Chief Nwosu, all the three Senatorial Candidates and others in 2019. The result of the governorship primary election announced at the APC State Secretariat by the Chairman of the Committee with all the members reportedly present showed that Senator Hope Uzodinma had 2,729 votes, Hon. Uche Nwosu – 269,524 votes, Prince Eze Madumere – 2, 646 votes, Sir Jude Ejiogu – 3,456 votes, Sir George Eche – 2,454 votes, Barr. Chima Anozie – 3,248 votes, Air Commodore Peter Gbujie – 4,855 votes, Mr. Chris Nlemoha – 925 votes and Engr. Chuks Ololo – 6,428 votes.
In the Senatorial Primary for Orlu zone Governor Okorocha scored 141,117 votes, while Hope Uzodinma got 1,359 votes and Osita Izunaso,15 votes only.
With the unfolding political drama now consuming the once united political empire, the question on the lips of the electorate in the state is “who rules Imo after Okorocha next year” Uzodinma, Nwosu or Araraume? The future will tell.