By Henry Ekpe
The ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, has not known peace in Imo State since prior to, and after the 2019 general elections.
Unfortunately, this restiveness within the party has also affected the entire Imo State, because it is the APC that is in power, and occupying the Government House, Owerri.
It follows to say that the Body cannot be healthy when the head is devasted. APC, in the first place, appeared in the Imo political lexicon in 2013 when the party was freshly birthed, and then sitting Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha brought the party in the State, after dumping the All Progress Grand Alliance, APGA, under which platform he won his first term in 2011.
Okorocha continued to nurse APC as a private Business and tailored it towards his political permutations, and especially for producing a successor, until 2019 when some other political heavy weights began to join the party for the 2019 general election.
The former Governor had a firm hold on the party and produced freshly minted youths as members of National Assembly, and Imo House of Assembly.
But when it came to producing who succeeds him things got tough, as Okorocha could not be left alone to handle that all important matter.
Despite his deep pocket and large followership as a sitting Governor that has patronages to dispense, he met a brick wall in his bid to foist a successor.
Okorocha’s Belief that he had Imo APC in his pocket got a jolt when it was not feasible for him to determine how the 2019 Imo Governorship ticket panned out in APC.
In short, Okorocha could not produce his perceived successor, which was his son inlaw Chief Uche Nwosu.
Eventually, the rug was pulled off his foot, through a high wire political conspiracy, hatched by the former National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adam Oshimhole and the now incumbent Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma.
Shockingly and bewildered, Okorocha lost his “Baby” when Uzodinma emerged the Governorship candidate of the party. And he did everything possible to regain the APC governorship ticket for his son inlaw, which till date ended in a bizarre legal “Lockdown”.
This was the genesis of the crisis that has trailed Imo APC up till now.
However, there was a lull in the war after the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP won the 2019 Governorship through Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha.
Since the enemy of my enemy is my friend, Senator Uzodinma (APC), Senator Ifeanyi Araraume (APGA) and Uche Nwosu AA, (representing Okorocha in this Battle) all teamed up together to give Ihedioha a fight of his political life.
Okorocha had to put all his efforts in removing Ihedioha when he saw that some Judiciary Panels set up by the Ihedioha Administration were gradually bringing their Noose near the ex-Governor’s neck.
So, as Ihedioha demolished his challenger at the Tribunal to Lower Courts, Okorocha who fought Uzodinma to finish, even though he flied APC flag in the Governorship race, openly reconciled with Uzodinma and Araraume to form a big Cabal to remove Ihedioha from office.
On January 15, 2021 when Uzodinma was sworn-in as Governor, Okorocha, Uche Nwosu and Araraume were at Heroes Square Owerri to witness the event.
They even asked their followers to join forces with the Uzodinma followers, as it was assumed that the fight was over, since their common enemy, Ihedioha, has at last left Douglas House.
Even Uche Nwosu who ran under Action Alliance, AA, automatically became APC member, from where he had moved to AA.
But political Prophets who saw what happened at Sam Mbakwe Airport Owerri the day Uzodinma arrived Imo from Abuja to be sworn-in, sensed that it was not yet uhuru for Okorocha, who suddenly forgot how he did everything within his power as a sitting Governor to stop Uzodinma from being Governor.
At that Airport drama, Okorocha had moved to shake Uzodinma, in the presence of Oshomhole, Governor Fayemi and some other APC Hench men.
Uzodinma, after he shook Okorocha’s hand joking said “I don catch you”. Oshimhole who heard that quickly covered up the open danger signal.
After Uzodinma had settled down as Governor, Okorocha presented some of his demands to the new Governor which include disbanding some of the Panels set up by Ihedioha to look into the Okorocha eight years outing.
Unfortunately, Uzodinma refused, allowing the panels to continue with their jobs.
While that was still raging, the issue of Okigwe Senatorial bye-election came up.
It was this election that Araraume also measured his own new political relationship with Uzodinma whom he escorted into Imo State on the day of his swearing-in.
Araraume was shocked when rather than support his dream of returning to the Senate, the Governor went and brought out a young man, Frank Ibezim to confront Araraume.
The matter went through APC primary, to the Court, and finally Ibezim inaugurated today as the Senator representing Araraume nay Okigwe zone in the Red Chamber.
Therefore, Imo APC has been at war with self, follow internal crisis rocking the party even since 2019 elections.
Having humiliated Senator Araraume in Okigwe Zone, caged Okorocha in Orlu Zone through Government Whitepaper, and chased Ihedioha out of office through Supreme Court, Uzodinma now sees himself as the only Cock that crows in Imo politics.
Presently, the latest battle ragging is for the soul of Imo APC, a party which Okorocha insists he brought into Imo State.
However, indications are that Okorocha despite his fervently struggle to get a grip of Imo APC now, will lose in the end.
The APC National Secretariat has said that it wants to make peace between Uzodinma and Okorocha, for the party to have enough strength to confront the PDP, which it recognized has strong followership in the State.
The argument from the party is that it cannot afford to lose Okorocha and his followers, including Araraume and others in the National Assembly because of Uzodinma.
But the million naira questions are; Is Uzodinma ready to play second fiddle with Okorocha in Imo APC? Can he control the party structure effectively with an Okorocha in the party? Can two Captains be in the same Ship?
On the side of Okorocha: will he accept to genuflect before Uzodinma as his Supreme Leader in Imo APC? Will Okorocha agree to share the APC structure in Imo with Uzodinma assuring the Governor agrees?
These are the issues now tearing the ruling APC party in the State apart, while the citizens watch bemused with bewilderment while Leadership suffers ruddlessness as represented in the entire State that looks fallow.
As it stands now, it is clear that Uzodinma will not relinquish an each of Imo APC to Okorocha.
The reason is that when Okorocha was Governor he was the Supreme Leader of APC in Imo State.
Therefore, how can it get to the turn of Uzodinma and the status quo wants to be changed?
Already, Uzodinma’s close Allies have said that Imo APC will be more peaceful and manageable if only Okorocha will show his back at the door.
The say that Okorocha cannot be controlled, because he is not a team player, except where he is on top and incharge.
In the other way round, the Okorocha camp said that no person can push him out of a house he saw its foundation, finished the construction work, and supplied the furniture inside it.
Okorocha’s followers maintain that Uzodinma has no clout to control Imo APC structure as Okorocha did, despite the fact he is the Governor now.
The argument is based on the story that Imo APC is fractured into various Cells, with Okorocha controlling the bulk of the members via his former Aides and others who benefited through his “BabiAla” reign.
It is said that Uzodinma loyalists are just his “CampHope” Group, who are mainly PDP members in spirit, but only APC in name since they had no alternative than to follow their principal into APC after he won his case in Supreme Court.
The story is that real APC members in Imo State are those who followed Okorocha from APGA to the party in 2013 when APC was formed, and have remained in APC until the “fair weather” politicians whose only presence in Imo APC is that Uzodinma is the Governor, and not that they are APC members in the real sense.
These are the people who were given opportunity to join APC during its revalidation exercise that is still on in the State, the argument said.
Whatever be the case, is glaring that Imo APC, despite being in power has created a lot of distractions and problems for Imo people they came to Govern.
And there is no gain saying that this problem in the party has diverted enough energy that would have been used by Government to tackle Imo problems. The Imo APC problem has permeated into all sectors of the state living the masses confused. Imo populace has been pleading to the War Lords in Imo APC to sheath their swords and face Governance to no end.
But the worrying Question is: When will Imo APC know peace? The people are disturbed.