The All Progressives Congress (APC) which currently calls the shot in Imo state can aptly be described as a house divided against itself, writes EMMANUEL MGBEAHURUIKE
In the words of the famous departed literary icon cum novelist Albert Chinuanumogu Achebe, “things have really fallen apart, hence the centre can no longer hold”.
The root of the ding dung within the broom wielding and ruling party in Imo State, the All Progressives Congress (APC), is the claim and counter-claim of who really is its authentic gubernatorial flag bearer for the 2019 great political battle.
Prior to the eruption of the raging intra-party squabble which originated from the anointing of Uche Nwosu as the party’s governorship candidate by governor Rochas Okorocha his father in-law the party was largely seen as a formidable indivisible entity with Okorocha as the highest priest, the Alpha and the Omega whose word was a command to all within the APC political family.
However, unknown to the Ogboko Ideato South born multi billionaire turned politician (Okorocha) the anointing of Nwosu was to deal a devastating blow to his once homogenous political empire.
To keen political observers in the state and beyond, the raging political inferno if left uncontrolled might eventually consume the party and usher in any of the opposition parties in the Douglas House (Government House) Owerri on 29th May 2019.
The two gladiators at the epicenter of the tug of war are governor Okorocha and his son in-law Nwosu on the one hand and the senator for Imo West (Orlu zone) chief Hope Uzodinma on the other hand.
While the diehard supporters of Okorocha and his Godson – Nwosu go by the nomenclature Ugwumba Movement (Ndiagburuanyi), Uzodimma who hails from Omuma Oru East local government area is backed by members of the opposition- “Coalition Alliance” within the party who are averse to the Uche Nwosu governorship project being championed by Okorocha.
Curiously, while the Ahmed Gulak led committee sent by the party’s National Working Committee to conduct the party primary declared Uzodinma as the winner of the gubernatorial primary, that led by Brigadier General Ibrahim Agbabiaka (retd) announced Nwosu as the authentic flag bearer for the same position.
The legal battle that trailed the controversy has not only deepened the polarisation of the party between the two antagonistic camps, but also brought Okorocha and the National Working Committee led by the National Chairman – Adams Oshiomhole on a collision course.
This is moreso as the two-time governor of Edo state is, despite pressure from Okorocha to back Nwosu his son-law is insistent on Uzodimma as the party’s officially recognised governorship candidate in the state.
To be sure, the legal battle that inevitably erupted over the political cacophony and which recently favoured Uzodinma has become a wet blanket to governor Okorocha and his legion of foot soldiers.
A competent source within the Okorocha inner cabinet boasted that the Uzodimma camp which has been clinking glasses and celebrating their victory might be living in a fools paradise as Nwosu has reportedly begun “PLAN B” ahead of the 2019 polls.
“You know that Owelle (Governor Okorocha) has never fought a battle and lost. He has been reaching out to a number of those who make things happen and this is why he has been shutting between Owerri and Abuja with Nwosu. At the end of the day, let us see who will laugh last and also laugh best.
To lend credence to this assertion, LEADERSHIP gathered that Nwosu, with the full backing of Okorocha has commenced talk with the leadership of one of the nascent fledging Political parties with a view to fly the party’s flag should the NWC of the party remain adamant on the Uzodinma candidacy.
The idea according to some APC stalwarts is that upon his victory at the polls and subsequent swearing in as governor, he would stage a come back to his original base – the APC.
Okorocha is said to be the champion of this project. This might have informed regular overt and covert meetings of the political disciples of Okorocha at the Ugwumba movement campaign office which situates adjacent the imposing Okigwe road roundabout Owerri.
As part of measures to keep the highly confidential plan B aglow, many redoubtable party, members are said to have been directed to retire to their respective local government areas for aggressive grassroots sensitisation of the rural dwellers on the need for continuity, of the Okorocha’s legacies beyond 2019.
The gubernatorial ticket logjam has reportedly compelled Nwosu to extend his olive branch to the leadership of the Orlu Political Consultative Assembly (aka OPOCA) for intervention.
OPOCA which is the umbrella body of all social cultural organisations in Orlu zone is also the highest decision making organ in the zone.
The game plan is for a roundtable discussion and agreement between him and Uzodinma who is an illustrious son of the zone, ostensibly to dissuade the latter to drop his governorship ambition in his (Nwosu’s) favour.
Curiously, the mission of Nwosu in this regard appears to have hit the rock as some Chieftains of the organization opposed to the Okorocha administration and all that it stands for are singing discordant tunes.
Dangling some mouth watering packages to a number of Uzodinma’s followers, Nwosu is also said to be contemplating reaching out to some traditional rulers and opinion minders who have the ears of Uzodinma’s to pressurize him to go back to the senate and to abandon the ticket for him.
In spite of the position of the Adams Oshiomhole committee, the Ugwumba Movement Campaign Outfit of Nwosu has remained undeterred in its mission to enthrone their principal as the next tenant of the Government House Owerri.
In a manner reminiscent of a pilgrimage to the Christian Holy land of Israel, the office has figuratively become a veritable rendezvous for all loyalists of Okorocha to fashion out more strategies on how to neutralise Uzodinma.
Nwosu who still exhudes confidence in the nation’s judiciary recently addressed party supporters at the popular Eagle Square Owerri shortly on arrival from Abuja during which he expressed confidence in the judiciary to proclaim him the governorship candidate of the party at the end of the day.
Still insisting that he is the rightful owner of the party’s gubernatorial ticket, Nwosu who recently spoke through his campaign Director General, Chief Chidi Ibe blamed the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole for the woes of the party in Imo state and stressed that he cannot leave the APC for strangers whose membership of the party were still in doubt.
He said it was shocking that in spite of the clear inconsistencies in the process that threw up Senator Hope Uzodinma, the National Chairman of the party still upheld him as candidate in Imo state.
Ibe said: “We all know what transpired in the Ahmed Gulak primary election that purportedly produced Uzodinma. Gulak did not conduct any primaries anywhere in Imo state. It is on record that he told stakeholders and newsmen that the primaries will take place the next day but surprisingly by 4am the next day, Gulak absconded with electoral materials, only to declared Hope Uzodinma winner of a primary election that was not conducted.
When the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole was contacted, he promptly annulled whatever Gulak claimed to have done and disbanded the Gulak committee while mandating a fresh exercise which Uche Nwosu won.”
He continued: “So it is big dent on the integrity of the party to turn around and uphold the same Uzodinma that was produced by a thoroughly flawed process, as candidate of the party. It would have been expected that the party leadership should have asked some pertinent questions.
And instead of ordering the arrest of Gulak and Uzodinma, the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and his NWC are busy encouraging and promoting impunity in the party.”
According to the DG, Oshiomhole must declare his true mission in the APC – whether it is to build or to destroy the party. He argued that APC cannot have about 22 state chapters of the party in crises with all traceable to Oshiomhole and still claim we have a national chairman.
“The inordinate personal interest of Oshiomhole cannot jeopardize the collective interest of the party and also cannot be allowed to ruin the APC in Imo state.
“Senator Hope Uzodimma for all we know has not registered in the party, not even in his ward and Oshiomhole still wants to foist him on Imo people. We cannot leave the party for anybody. We are landlords and they are tenants; we are going nowhere because we invested and built this party in the state and Oshiomhole can’t just wash it all down the drain”, Ibe stressed.
Now that INEC has declared 2nd December as the deadline for substitution of names of candidate for the 2019 elections, Imo electorates are waiting to see who between Uzodimma and Nwosu will carry the day.
In spite of the raging political tide in the state against him, Nwosu in a manner typical of a Spartan that fights but never surrenders has continued to dare the National Working Committee of the party led by Adams Oshiomhole over its settled position on the governorship ticket.
For instance, in one of his recent outbursts, the former Chief of Staff to Governor Rochas Okorocha described the recent directive from the leadership of the All Progressive Congress (APC) mandating aggrieved party members to withdraw their court actions against the party or face sanctions, as an open threat intended to further intimidate and suppress aggrieved members of the party and deny them their right to seek justice.
Nwosu in clear terms noted that the National Working Committee of the party has shown grave insensitivity in their bid to browbeat aggrieved members to drop their valid cases against injustice and impunity.
Nwosu who insists he won the APC governorship primary in Imo state maintained that the directive of the NWC of the APC was undemocratic and unacceptable.
Adding that the threat of sanction will not stop him from pursuing his case to a logical conclusion and reclaiming his mandate.
He argued that before approaching the Court over his stolen mandate, he had made concerted efforts to have the leadership of the party resolve the crisis using internal mechanism, but to no avail.
He added that he had written several letters to the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole with the hope of getting him to intervene and resolve the matter at the early stage but was rebuffed.
The governorship contender also recalled that when he discovered that Ahmed Gulak was not coming to conduct the governorship primary in Imo but to deliver a certain aspirant, he raised the alarm through a letter to the National Chairman but was ignored.
According to him, “it is unfortunate that the National Chairman of our party is just waking up now after creating the crisis. He had enough time to resolve the issue before now but refused to do so. In line with the constitution of the party, I had exhausted all avenues to have my matter resolved using internal mechanism but nobody cared to hear me out and address my grievances.
“I personally wrote three different letters to the National Chairman and I have the acknowledgment but he never responded to any of the letters. My first letter was to inform him that Ahmed Gulak was not coming to conduct primary election in Imo, that he was coming to impose a certain aspirant but he snubbed me, the second was to complain about how Gulak absconded to Abuja to announce fake result, still he didn’t respond and the last one was to tell him not to substitute my name as the winner of the governorship primary.
“All these letters were never considered by the National Chairman who went ahead to substitute my name, he had a lot of time to resolve the issue but he did nothing and now that I am in court, I will pursue my matter to a logical conclusion and reclaim my stolen mandate. No amount of threat will make me abandon my mandate”.
Meanwhile Nwosu while brandishing the letter recounted that he had raised concern over the appointment of Ahmed Gulak as the Chairman of the APC Primary Election Committee for the State.
The said letter read in part, “I write to appeal to you Mr. Chairman to change the person of Gulak as Chairman of the committee because of his comment that he is coming to Imo state to deliver his friend Senator Hope Uzodinma as APC gubernatorial candidate”.
Nwosu restated that the letters were enough proof that he had followed the appropriate channels for seeking redress within the party, before approaching the Court.
Now that the December 2nd deadline issued by INEC to all political parties and their candidates to make final substitution of candidates for the polls, the Imo electorate are watching with keen interest and curiosity where Nwosu will eventually pitch his tent.