In Nigeria, the All Progressive Congress, APC remains one entity with sets of officials dictating affairs of the party from ward, LGA and state to the federal levels. But in Imo, the state chapter can’t be said to one entity, no thanks to intra party squabbles that may have left its rank and file in tatters.
Few months to the 2019 elections, the centre can no longer hold in the state chapter of the party that boast of being the only APC controlled state in the South East region. Judging from the schismatic dispositions of the party leaders and subsequent discordant tunes oozing from the playmakers, Imo APC has undoubtedly witnessed a split.
Only last week, the party’s leader in the state and governor, Rochas Okorocha encapsulated the division during a speech before the Peace and Reconciliation meeting of the APC in Owerri. Moved by unpalatable stories from the state chapters, especially that of Imo after the recently concluded primaries, the Adams Oshiomele led NWC set up Reconciliation and Peace Committees for each of the troubled geopolitical zones of the country. Kano State Governor, Umar Ganduje led the team who landed Owerri late last week for the task.
The Owerri itinerary of the peace committee and reactions trailing their outing indicate a “One APC, Two Parties” situation in Imo. Further details that one of the notable aspirants to the governorship aspirants, Uche Nwosu and majority of sympathizers of the present government in the state have dumped the broom party for another platform, confirm the existence of factions within a single party.
The disintegration ravaging the party got buoyed when Okorocha told the Ganduje committee that peace has become irredeemable in Imo APC. Speaking at a reception in honour of the committee, Okorocha said the crisis rocking the state chapter is “beyond repair” The governor, in his hilarious approach of trying to popularize Igbo words for competition in the race for inclusion into English dictionary, opined that there is “No mmekwataraism” in the Imo APC case.
While stating that he honoured the meeting because of relationship with the two party leaders on ground ( Ganduje and Senator Godswill Akpabio) opined that the situation at hand can no longer be managed. The governor who countered reports that he wants to dump APC for another party stated that “the situation at hand has gone beyond what we can manage” without going further to accuse Oshiomole , the national chairman of stealing the mandate of the people and allegedly inflicting “the worst political injustice in the history of Nigeria on the state”
Few days before the arrival of the committee, Okorocha who is the Chairman of APC Governors Forum had given an indication that his followers in APC, dissatisfied with the results of the party’s primaries that saw some of his favourites lose out may have no option than to call it quits with the party for a fresh platform. The governor further highlighted that he lacks the moral sanctity to hold them back from seeking political sojourn in another party even as he declared interest to remain in APC for his Senatorial ambition.
Okorocha went further to express that his governorship candidate for 2019 remains, Uche Nwosu, his the former Chief of Staff and son in-law, adding that in Imo people will chose personality ahead party interest in 2019 election.
A week after the revelation, Nwosu, Okorocha’s choice successor and supporters compromising losers of APC ticket have moved into Action Alliance.
At the expiration of the window period provided by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, AA has become the abode of Nwosu and others. Checks revealed that the Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Acho Ihim and about 18 lawmakers of APC extraction have moved en masse into the AA. While Ihim is Nwosu’s running mate for the governorship race, the 18 lawmakers who couldn’t get APC ticket for Imo State House of Assembly in 2019 are said to have been handed AA assembly flags.
The entrance of Okorocha’s faction of Imo APC into AA was not unexpected considering previous developments and public claim credited to the governor that his men are free to defect.
Earlier, the spokesman of the party in the state who has resigned had in a social media post reeled out names of “their candidates” excluding those not in the camp of the governor. From the release, the ticket holder of the governorship race, Hope Uzodinma was not included, rather Nwosu who lost out and has picked that of AA was named. Other non Okorocha compliant candidates like Austin Chukwukere of Ideato Federal Constituency and his Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta and Oru West counterpart, Goodluck Opiah were not counted. In their place were Paschal Obi and Kingsley Uju respectively. While Obi has secured DPP ticket, the first party Nwosu and the governor’s followers were linked to, Uju is said to be of Nwosu’s AA for the Federal constituency quest. In Okigwe zone, Nnamdi Obiareri is the choice of Rescue Mission than the APC ticket holder, Ben Uwajumogu. Simeon Iwunze is preferred to Mirian Onuoha. for Okigwe North Federal Constituency. In the Imo State House of Assembly race, the Team Okorocha including those without APC tickets are also in the lineup.
It has become obvious that two factions of APC exist in one party and unwilling to embrace peace ahead 2019 election. During the Peace and Reconciliation interface, while the committee met the Okorocha group at the Imo International Conference Centre, IICC, Owerri, the Uzodinma campaign office in the state capital was filled to brim by the Coalition members who earlier boycotted the IICC show.
It is obvious that the battle line has been drawn for another round of supremacy battle to determine the real power broker in Imo APC