Factionisation threatens APC Victory in Okigwe Senate Bye-election

• Okorocha accuses Uzodimma of running APC in name, working with PDP men

• You are not a party man, replies Uzodimma

The unending feud within the political fold of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Imo State that pre-dates 2019 general elections has persisted without an end in sight. The feud initially degenerated to three factions, but it has thinned down to two but strong contending factions.

Just before the 2019 general elections, APC had three factions. There was the Daniel Nwafor faction, allegedly engineered by then governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha. The second one, chaired by Marcelinus Nlemigbo, fought for the ascendancy of Senator Hope Uzodimma as Imo State governor, while the third had no chairman, but championed for the then deputy governor of the state, Prince Eze Madumere, to emerge governor.

Just recently, as they jostle for the replacement for Imo North Senatorial District’s seat heats up, Uzodimma, convened a caucus meeting to prune the number of APC aspirants from about 11 to a possible consensus candidate. But Okorocha was absent at the meeting. Senator Ifeanyi Ararume (from Imo North, also angling for a return ticket, was absent). It is expected that a candidate would emerge by September 3, as the election holds in October 31.

The deceased occupant of the seat and late Benjamin Uwajumogu had slumped at his home in Abuja and died in December last year.

The caucus, chaired by Uzodimma, raised a nine-man committee, chaired by the Secretary to the State Government, Cosmas Iwu, to screen the aspirants and settle for a consensus candidate. But the aspirants rejected the decision. As last Tuesday, no fewer than four aspirants, who are on are on Uzodinma’s side, have picked the expression of interest forms.

Those screened, The Guardian learned, are Chikwem Onuoha, Frank Ibeziem, Mathew Omegara, Rt. Hon. Acho Ihim, Chief Athan Achonu, Chief Eze Okoro, Prof. Chinedum Nwaebo, and Chief Mark Uchendu. But unconfirmed reports say Ihim, a former Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, is favoured by the governor. Another report has it that Ibezim, said to be close to the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, is also believed to be in the good books of the powers that be.

At the weekend, a statement from the Nwafor-led faction and signed by the Publicity Secretary, Jones Onwuasonya, advised aspirants to pick their forms at the national headquarters, Abuja.

The statement read: “Aspirants are advised to go to the national headquarters of the party at 40, Blantyre Street, off Ademola Adetokunbo Street, Wuse II, Abuja, precisely at the Directorate of Organization, to obtain their forms, as that is the only designated place for the purchase of expression of interest and nomination forms.

“This notice serves as official disclaimer on any individual or group of individuals who may claim to be selling forms on behalf of the party in Imo State.”

A renewed war of words sparked off between Okorocha and Uzodimma after the caucus meeting. The rift got messier with the former governor accusing Uzodimma of running an APC government in name, but Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in “faction, structure and action.”

Okorocha, who replied Uzodimma recently, through his Special Adviser on Media, Sam Onwuemeodo, maintained that Uzodimma was being economical with the truth on the allegation against him that he (Okorocha) gave some options to the Imo governor that could only be the panacea and conditions for the duo to settle their political differences.

But in his reaction, Uzodimma’s Senior Special Assistant (Print Media), Modestus Nwankpa, dismissed Okorocha’s allegation, accusing the former governor of not being a good party man. The governor insisted that for the eight years Okorocha held sway in the state, he used his “puppets and domestic members of staff” to run the party, stressing that he was unable to convene a caucus meeting of APC within the period, as Uzodimma has already done twice.

Okorocha’s statement read in part: “The Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, was reported to have made the following claims against Senator Rochas Okorocha,

“That Okorocha asked him to dissolve the probe panels set up against him by Chief Emeka Ihedioha. That Okorocha asked him to retain Mr. Daniel Nwafor as the state chairman of APC because of his 2023 presidential ambition. That Okorocha asked him to recall the sacked elected local government chairmen.

“The governor was said to have made these claims at a meeting of APC stakeholders at the Government House, where another vote of confidence was passed on him one week after those who branded themselves stakeholders had also passed a vote of confidence on him in Abuja.”

The statement continued: “Senator Rochas Okorocha has no problem with Gov. Hope Uzodinma. The governor is the one creating problems for himself and also inventing problems where they do not exist. His latest media attack on Okorocha is one example of such ugly developments.

“The government in Imo, as we speak or as we write, is APC in name, but totally PDP faction in structure and inactions. The governor has not done anything to show that he is of APC and that his government is that of APC. The government is Camp Hope Government made up of those who were with him in his own faction of PDP.

“Okorocha also asked the eight APC core members in the state, who Adams Oshiomahole forced to move to Action Alliance (AA) for the House of Assembly election, who also won, to go back to APC, which they did. Senator Ifeanyi Araraume asked the six members on the ticket of APGA to also move to APC. They did, which made APC to have majority members in the state House of Assembly with a few other PDP members, who moved to APC.

But what has the governor done in appreciation of all these gestures?

“Those who used him to fight Okorocha and put a deep cut in APC in Imo have not relented for reasons Imo people and Nigerians in general knows. Those people are not from Imo. They think they have annexed the state through the governor. But time will tell.”

The statement concluded by insisting: “Finally, it is too early in the life of the government in Imo for the governor to be fighting or having issues with almost every sector in the state. And why is he bringing the issue of Okorocha at this time? The governor should search his conscience and see whether he has left any stone or stones unturned.”

Madumere emerged, essentially to see that Uche Nwosu was not nominated as the governorship standard-bearer in the state. The then deputy governor was later impeached, but he reclaimed his office through the court. Madumere and his loyalists have joined Uzodimma to give him support.

The two factions, led by Nlemigbo and Nwafor are still in courts laying claims the authentic chairmanship. While one is holding on to the ruling of the court, the other holds on to that of the party’s National Working Committee.

What is certain is that Governor Uzodimma is utilising his power of incumbency to attract former loyalists and appointees under Okorocha to his camp.

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