A new twist has cropped up in the Imo State chapter of APC as the congresses to elect Ward, LGA, State Executives ahead the National Convention slated for June this year are concluded.
The latest development is the decision of the camp of the governor to “appoint” or “declare” Hon Chris Oguoma as the state Acting Chairman of the party in Imo State.
After boycotting the previous exercises to elect Excos at the LGA and State congresses, the faction loyal to the State Governor came up with Oguoma who on Wednesday and took over the party secretariat that was gutted by fire two weeks ago.
It would be recalled that the party had held a State congress earlier where Chief Hillary Ekeh, and others were elected as State Exco members. Apart from being supervised by relevant bodies needed to be in place for the congress, the national secretariat of the APC also accepted the results and the Appeal Committee report acknowledging the outcome of the congress in favour of Ekeh.
But in a swift reaction, Oguoma in disagreement to the outcome of the congress has been anointed by the State Government and allies to take charge of the party.
Signs that it was the handiwork of the governor to have Oguoma become the acting chairman manifested when the Chief of Staff to the governor, Chief Uche Nwosu and members of the House of Assembly who are pro-Okorocha, led by the Deputy Speaker, Rt Hon Ugonna Ozuruigbo paid a solidarity visit to the new Acting Chairman at the burnt office on Okigwe Road/IMSU Roundabout.
Our Correspondent noted that on arrival to the party secretariat both Nwosu, the son inlaw of the governor tipped for governor by Okorocha and allies in 2019 and Ozuruigbo on behalf of the lawmakers donated money running into millions for repair of the burnt office and logistics. Their presence and money gifts were clear indications that the coming of Oguoma has roots to Okorocha.
The action of the governor, who is the APC Governor’s Forum Chairman, is seen as an affront not only to the party, Chairman, Chief John Oyegun but also the leadership of APC at the national level. Okorocha had in the past not hidden resentment to the leadership of APC National Chairman, Chief Jon Odigie- Oyegun, after accusing the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party of aiding his opponents to rattle him at the home front in the battle for the soul of APC.
APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi who called the bluff of Okorocha while reacting, merely advised the governor to look inwards at the State level for a solution to his woes than raise unnecessary claims against the party leadership.
Okorocha’s action of appointing an Acting Chairman of the party in the person of Oguoma, is seen as a direct confrontation against the Oyegun led NWC after the committee set up by the leadership had concluded on the congresses and result of elected officials recorded. APC spokesman had at another interaction told newsmen that the party won’t condole parallel congress or give attention to Excos who emerged from congresses authorized committees didn’t handle or recognize.
The Oguoma issue may raise the anger of the APC leadership on Okorocha and followers.
However, it was gathered from top government sources that the decision of the governor and his cronies to install an acting chairman is based on an earlier decision that before the Saturday 19th May 2018 date of congress, on Thursday 17th May, and injunction purportedly issued by a federal High Court in Owerri barred Hilary Eke, Ugochukwu Nzekwe among others allegedly suspended by over 20 members of the state Exco to pave way for Oguoma who is zonal chairman of Owerri zone to assure capacity position after they were suspended.
The claim of governor’s camp is hinged on the belief that the subsistence of the purported court injunction gave Oguoma powers to assume acting capacity based on the status quo ante as ordered by the court.
Meanwhile, the end of the party congresses in Imo State have raised up another political mark in the State chapter of the APC with the Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha not captured in the scheme of things.
After showing signs that of a capacity to control the affairs of APC, the aftermath of the congress only showed that Okorocha could be described as a “paper tiger” if the later developments are considered.
In what could be described as a democratic coup, blogger and online news operator Ifeanyi CY Njoku wrote “After a successful conduct of Ward and LGA Congresses of the Imo State chapter of the All Progressive Congress, and subsequent upheld of the exercise by the party’s electoral appeal panel and by extension the National Working Committee, NWC of the party. Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Anayo Ethelbert Okorocha who was completely schemed out in the exercise by a powerful Imo APC stakeholder coalition, led by Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, Senator Osita Izunaso, Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu, Chief Tony Chukwu, Chief Uzoma Obiyor, Hon Emeka Nwajiuba, Hon Jasper Azuatalam, Prince Eze Madumere, Sir Jude Ejiogu, Hon TOE Ekechi, Hon Longers Anyanwu, and many others. The Imo Governor became apprehensive of his political future and fate, especially as regards his determination to install his Son-in-law, Uche Nwosu as the candidate of the party and by extension the Governor of Imo State come May 29, 2019, while he return to the National Assembly as Senator representing the twelve LGAs of Orlu Zone.
“Worried that all his protests , petitions and demonstrations against the hijack of the APC structure in Imo State by those he referred to as ingrates fell on the deaf ears, the lukewarm attitude of President, Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Prof Osinbajo, Leader of APC Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Secretary to the Federal Government, the Chairman of All Progressive Congress, Chief John Oyegun and members of the National Working Committee, etc, Governor Okorocha returned to Owerri, the Imo State Capital to seek for self help.
“With plan to stop Saturday May 19th scheduled State Congress of the ruling All Progressives Congress which will produce the State Working Committee of the APC and possibly replace his former political ‘boy’, Chief Hillary Ekeh now turned man and his albatross “, the blogger accused Governor Okorocha of enlisting the support of Ohaji-Egbema /Oguta ex-militants he was alleged to have granted amnesty as a decoy to achieve political gains .Ifeanyi CY Njoku further said “Assured of maximum corporation; as a powerful force of coercion or intimidation against any opposition to his plan. Maximizing the power of his office, as Imo Chief Executive with enormous power and access to state treasury, a court injunction was secured by 4:30pm Friday evening, and a no gathering and movement order by the Imo State Police Command issued. Okorocha’s foot soldiers went to town celebrating, “who born monkey”. “I am in charge the Governor boasted”.
“On Friday evening, around 5pm, his nemesis; Imo APC Stakeholders coalition all returned to Imo State with a chartered Aircraft that landed at Imo Airport, followed by another aircraft carrying State Congress Electoral Committee, INEC Observers from Commission head office Abuja, Police Officers from Force headquarters Abuja and DSS, they all went straight to a hotel in Owerri waiting for Saturday May 19 for the scheduled conduct of the APC State Congresses across the Federation.
“On the fateful day, while the Abuja Coalition used the night to brainstorm and strategies on how to overrun the Governor with full compliments of State apparatus, Governor Okorocha was busy mobilizing suspected thugs, and State Security architecture to deal with anybody who challenges his authority.
“Imo State police command deployed trucks of Police van and personnel to the Imo State University junction state Secretariat of the party burnt few days before as a way to stop the Abuja group not to access the facility for the state congress. The Police Public Relations officer through a press statement warned the good people of Imo State of the danger of coming out on the said day for any form of gathering or assembly in the name of party congresses, coupled with a court order to be served within 48hrs of issue.
“In order to evade services and avoid disobedience of the court order while keeping to the rules of engagement as stipulated in party’s constitution and extant laws, the Imo APC Stakeholders coalition mobilised their members and delegates from the 27 LGAs of the State and proceed to the venue for the state congress in observance to the law. Between the hours of 5am to 6am on Saturday May 19, the scheduled date for the State Congress, all delegates had arrived the venue for the congress at Ehime-Mbano magnificent council hall. It’s Imo APC State Congress, the party office previously burnt, any venue approved by the Party State Working Committee, SWC, led by Chief Hillary Ekeh is recognized by law as long as it’s within Imo territory. Ehime-Mbano Council Hall was idle.
“Governor Rochas Okorocha with more than 200 security operatives including state own security outfits, more than 20 buses loaded, the governor was suspected to have embarked on search operations looking for anywhere with resemblance of gathering of APC Congress, touring all the Local Government Areas in Owerri zone, disguised as project Inspector, Okorocha’s long convoy went to Okigwe Zone and houses of Top members of the Imo APC Stakeholders coalition were monitored. After a an unsuccessful search operation, in a decoy, Governor Okorocha ended up at the project site of Okigwe Township stadium where he granted a press conference calling the Imo APC opposition group cowards.
“But unknown to him, while he was full of himself, calling the opposition leaders names, smart and tactical opposition group were in a mini stadium hall in Ehime-Mbano LGA carrying out the accreditation and voting to elect would be State Working Committee members of the Imo State chapter of the All Progressive Congress.
“Youths of Ehime-Mbano had all gathered at the boundary leading to the Hall and field in solidarity to their worthy son, Chief Tony Chukwu and possibly chase away any Invader including Okorocha himself. For No institution or government has done to Ehime-Mbano Local Government Areas what their son Chief Tony Chukwu has been able to do, so the traditional, religious institutions, men, women and youths can risk anything to protect whatsoever is the interest of their revered son, no wonder, APC Coalition opted to choose Ehime-Mbano as best destination.
“By 4pm, the accreditation and voting was over, and Chief Hillary Ekeh, Hon Ugochukwu Nzekwe, among others were reelected as Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Imo State chapter of the All Progressive Congress and duly returned by the Imo APC State Congress Electoral Committee and acknowledged by the Chief John Oyegun led APC National Working Committee as duly elected.
“And it was all jubilation in the streets of Owerri, and across the 27 LGAs of Imo State how the Governor of Imo State Owelle Rochas Okorocha who developed to an emperor was caged, palmed off and humiliated by members of his party as a prelude to a revolution awaiting him from Imo pensioners, civil servants, traders, artisans, politicians commercial transport workers, Imo electorates, etc.
“How has the mighty fallen, truly absolute Power intoxicates. Okorocha’s Imo, a planned political estate has started to crumble. And Imo people are happier for it!” the blogger added.
In a related development, some of the All Progressive Congress, APC LGA party chairmen have started returning the campaign vehicles given to them by Governor Rochas Okorocha few months. This action indicates that the governor is suffering more defections with believers of Rescue Mission quitting gradually and in droves.
When the NWC of APC agreed to extend the tenure of elected party officials in the state, Governor Rochas Okorocha came back to donate branded Sienna vehicles to about 14 of the lawmakers said to be loyal to him.
But after the congresses when things began to fall apart in Imo APC, the party chairmen who are not part of the support for the governorship bid of Uche Nwosu, especially those of Owerri zone have started returning their vehicles to the governor.
Though no official reasons were made public by the officials when the submitted to their TC Chairmen, but reporters were told that it might not be unconnected to a charge from Government House, Owerri asking those who are not part of their political clan (Agburu) to return vehicles handed over to them.
As at the time of this report, the party chairman of Owerri North, Apostle Ihebom and that of Ngor Okpala Tony Anaelewechi have duly complied and vehicles returned. They are no longer part of the Rescue Mission.