The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State were yesterday locked in a fresh spat after the state government allegedly denied APC the use of Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri for the flag-off of its governorship election campaign.
Oshiomhole branded the governor’s action anti-party and derided his style of governance. Although Okorocha is an APC member, he is vehemently opposed to the party’s governorship candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma, whose election he has threatened to work against. The governor, who is supporting his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, for the governorship race on the platform of Action Alliance (AA), fired back at Oshiomhole, dismissing the allegation that he denied Uzodinma the use of the stadium as untrue, adding that only Oshiohole could believe it. Okorocha and members of the state cabinet boycotted yesterday’s campaign of APC.
Oshiomhole said: “For the workers who no longer know what a pay day looks like, I bring a message of hope. “When a governor will look at the face of his people and say there is money to do other things but no money to pay those who are working for the government. “I bring a message of hope that appointments into your government will be made on merit and not on family connection. “I bring a message of hope that when we talk of happiness, we will not domesticate it in the hands of a sister; that the happiness of the great people of Imo State will be the primary purpose of government under Senator Hope Uzodinma. “I bring you a message of hope that in constructing buildings and building roads, they will be based on due process. “One contract will not be awarded to three people. If it must be awarded, it must not be awarded to in-laws; it will be awarded to genuine business men and women of Imo State.
“I bring you hope that never again will your governor look at your leaders and abuse them because democracy is about people. “I bring you a message of hope that never again shall we govern on the basis of family connection: whether you know somebody or you don’t know somebody; you married from me, I didn’t marry from you; that shall not be the basis of winning the next election. “I bring you a message of hope that your money will be used to develop Imo land. “And through you, I bring a message of hope to the traditional rulers; that they will be able to preside over their domains without being intimidated by the governor. “I bring you a message of hope that from now on, we will govern in a way that will leave no man in doubt that democracy is government of the people by the people and for the people.
“I want to assure those workers who have been lamenting, those families whose husbands have not been paid for six months to nine months, and I want to assure those pensioners that the bailout money which President Buhari gave to governors, including the governor of Imo State, that was not used for the purpose, that money will be retrieved and our pensioners will smile again. “Never again will a governor of this state look at you in the face and say that your salary depends on when he wants and not when it is due. “Never again will someone use your money to print posters with a President Obama when he is doing the opposite of Obama. “I bring you assurances of hope that you are going to have a governor who will lead you by the power of personal example. “Let me say it without fear of contradiction that those who are printing President Muhammadu Buhari’s posters, putting his face and their own faces because their faces are unknown, their party is unknown and they will put Buhari’s face and put the logo of an unknown party, those ones are fake.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has APC as his party. He is our presidential candidate. President Muhammadu Buhari believes in and has adopted Senator Hope Uzodinma as the APC governorship candidate. “We want real democrats that will accept the will of the people. How can you explain that an APC governor will deny an APC candidate the use of the stadium that is built with tax payers’ money from Imo State?” Switching to pidgin English, Oshiomhole continued: “I hear say yesterday he talk am say he no wan give stadium because when he dey contest against (former governor Ikedi) Ohakim, he talk say Ohakim no give am stadium. So, he too go copy Ohakim. I say e good oh! If you copy who fail exam, you too you never fail? If you copy who fail exam, what will you get? He who copy failure will find failure awaiting him.”
In a swift reaction to Oshiomhole’s allegation, Okorocha, speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, said: “For those who know Chief Hope Uzodinma very well, they won’t be surprised that he could come up with this false claim on the issue. Only men like Adams Oshiomhole would believe him. “Since Governor Rochas Okorocha became governor in 2011, the Dan Anyiam Stadium has always been made available for all the political parties and candidates to use, not minding the political affiliations.
“The Stadium is the property of Imo people and Chief Uzodinma would not have been denied the opportunity of using the facility for the flag-off of his campaign if he had asked or applied for it. “He never applied to use the stadium, especially when a press release had been issued days before the flag-off of his campaign that the governor had directed that the stadium should be released free to political parties and candidates who would like to use it for their rallies or for other political activities. “As usual, Chief Uzodinma wanted to use the stadium issue to blackmail the governor and to continue to deceive men like Oshiomhole.
“The truth is that Chief Hope Uzodinma cannot raise up to one thousand people, talk more (sic) raising a crowd that would fill the stadium. “He does not have the capacity. He knows his handicaps. Where would Chief Uzodinma get the crowd to fill the Stadium? “Last time, he published a crowd of an event that took place in the north as the crowd that graced his rally when he was named the candidate of the party. And Senator Araraume’s men also used the picture of the same crowd. We exposed them on that. “Men and women of goodwill should ignore Chief Uzodinma’s claim for who he is.”