There are clear indications that all is not well with the Imo State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Indeed, recent utterances from its leaders and major stakeholders equally lend credence to the fact that the party is currently battling to stay afloat, sustain its achievements, as well as achieve steady growth, development, and progress.
Be that as it may, the fight for relevance between Governor Hope Uzodinma, and his predecessor, Senator Rochas Okorocha, has so far done more harm than good to the party in the state, just as it has become a cause for concern to party members cum loyalists.
Worsening the scenario is the fact that the party is still yet to regain consciousness from the recent leadership crisis, which is still rocking it. With the stronghold of opposition parties in the state, especially the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), the party has a lot of grounds to cover to remain relevant.
At the moment, there are still a number of court cases seeking to establish the authentic/legally recognised leadership of the party in the state. Currently, the two claimants to the leadership of the party in the state are Mr. Marcellinus Nlemigbo, and Mr. Daniel Nwafor.
The Nlemigbo-led faction, which has Uzodinma backing is a child of necessity, which was engineered by the then Adams Oshiomhole-led national leadership, to function as the caretaker committee of the party pending an election for new executives.
The Nwafor camp, which has Okorocha’s backing, functioned as the elected executive of the party has emerged from the July 2018 congress. But Oshiomhole’s decision to “replace” them with a caretaker committee initiated the ongoing crisis.
Nlemigbo’s emergence then, according to Oshiomhole, was to enable the party to address internal issues that bedeviled it prior to the governorship primaries in 2019.
The move by Oshiomhole was challenged by the Nwafor-led faction at an FCT High Court, Abuja in suit No FCT/HC/BW/CV/103/2018. The ruling here went in their favour.
The court in its judgment insisted that the Nwofor-led party executive should be allowed to complete its tenure as the legally recognised leadership of the party in the state, and issued a perpetual injunction to any further action from the party’s hierarchy.
But that was not to be as the Mai Mala Buni-led National Caretaker Committee (NEC), which replaced the Oshiomhole-led committee recognised the Nlemigbo camp as the authentic leadership, and even extended its tenure as the state’s party executive.
Expectedly, this development did not go down well with the Nwafor-led group, which has, on many occasions, and through several means reminded the Buni-led party’s national leadership of its existence, as affirmed by the Abuja court judgment.
Hence in a December 22, 2020, dated letter addressed to Buni by Nwafor, he appealed to him to accord him the recognition as the authentic chairman of the party in the state in the interest of peace, stability, and progress of APC in the state.
Nwafor insisted that the continued existence/recognition of Nlemigbo group was not only an aberration, but null and void in the eyes of the law, and should be treated as illegality.
“Sir, I urge you to humbly recognise the Court of Appeal Judgment that has once again reaffirmed us as the legitimate executives of Imo State APC, and find ways to work out with us to heal this our party in Imo State and move it forward,” the letter read, adding: “You know that your recognition of Prince Marcellinus Nlemigbo as the caretaker committee chairman in Imo State in the eyes of the law is null and void and of no effect now because it is even subjudice since you have filed an appeal at the Supreme Court against the November 9, 2020, Appeal Court judgment.
“We reaffirm that we are the duly congress- elected and court reaffirmed legitimate executives of Imo State APC, and we do not intend to abandon our office till July 2022.
“Nigerians are watching. I urge you to find the courage to do the right thing, Your Excellency.”
While this letter was still on the table of Buni and in the face of all that transpired during the selection of the party’s candidate for the Okigwe Zone senatorial by-election, which is still in contention, Okorocha, who is currently representing Imo West at the Senate declared that the party was in the throes of death.
A statement by his media aide, Sam Onwuemeodo accused Uzodinma of de-marketing and destroying the party in the state.
Okorocha insisted that since Uzodinma assumed office over a year ago, he has not done anything to solidify, or consolidate the party, instead, he has aggravated the existing leadership crisis in the party.
The former governor, who was, no doubt, the arrowhead in the formation of the party in the state, made his position known while commenting on his absence at the APC southeast zonal stakeholders meeting, which held in the state recently.
The statement read: “How many people did you see at the meeting? How many House of Reps members were there? Did you see Senator Rochas Okorocha, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, and other leaders of the party there?
“It is almost one year since Hope Uzodinma became governor and he has not called any APC leadership meeting in Imo State. At the appropriate time, we will separate truth from falsehood. That meeting was a political jamboree.
“All those who brought APC to South East were not there and you called it APC stakeholders meeting. We challenge them to bring the 2015 and 2019 booth results. Okorocha produced senators, House of Reps’ members and House of Assembly members for the APC.”
Governor Uzodinma, who reacted through his Senior Special Assistant on Print Media, Modestus Nwamkpa, described Okorocha’s claims as one coming from a “sinking man.”
He said that it was obvious that Okorocha has lost interest in APC and “should therefore quietly leave the party instead of feeding the public with falsehoods and making bogus claims.”
Nwamkpa said, “Okorocha was only angry that on Uzodinma’s watch, the APC had gained ground in the South East, a situation which saw the defection of the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, to the party.
“Throughout Okorocha’s reign as governor, he never called any APC stakeholders’ meeting, but Governor Hope Uzodinma, in less than one year has been strengthening APC in the state, and in the entire region.
“I am aware that Okorocha wants to leave the APC, and his plan is to destroy the party before he joins another party. But we will not let him have his way,” Uzodinma said.
Speaking on the survival of APC in Imo State and beyond, the former publicity secretary of the party in the state, Jones Onwuasoanya, accused the party’s national leadership (as currently constituted) of not abiding by the law and constitution guiding the party.
Onwuasoanya said: “The APC is its problem. Until the party reviews its strategies on crisis management and resolution, there would hardly be any reprieve insight for her as an organization. In fact, I will not be completely surprised if we wake up in the nearest future to hear that the party no longer exists.
“An organisation that does not abide by its own laws has lost every right to continue to exist as a legitimate organisation, and the APC as presently constituted is a contraption of illegality.”
Speaking specifically on Imo APC, he said, “what happened was that a set of people invested energy, money, their names, and integrity into building a party from nothing, and when it was time for those people to be rewarded, some hawks sat down in Abuja and sold off the party to complete outsiders. Of course, because they were either the highest bidders or they held up the best of promises in helping to actualise the agenda of those who sold the party to them.
“The consequence is that if you go down to the grassroots in Imo State today, there is nothing like APC. You could see something like Camp Hope, but that’s mostly a group of hawks, looking for what to eat, rather than serious politicians who understand what it means to play politics or to win elections.
“So, we have a situation in our hands, where it is impossible for the APC as a political party to win even a councillorship seat anywhere in Imo State, because even the governor whom the party structure had been sold to, is not even a member of APC. His claim to the membership of the APC is as false as any claim can be.
“It is a party you could wake up one morning and hear that the court has nullified every action taken by anyone currently parading himself as an officer. This will throw everything into chaos; this will also affect those who may have won nominations on the party’s platform. So, why would I invest or advise anyone to invest his resources in a party that has lost both moral and legal rationale to continue to exist?” Onwuasoanya concluded.
The Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Ogu Bundu Nwadike said that the current Imo APC, which according to him does not have any structure across all levels in the state, “only exists in the imagination of only a few thoroughly confused stomach infrastructure politicians in Imo State.”
In a recent statement, the Imo PDP Spokesman said: “Apparently, what’s paraded today as ‘Imo APC’ must be anything but certainly not an identifiable chapter of the APC in Nigeria.
“The structure-less situation of Imo APC has protracted and lingered for over three years, when in 2018, things fell apart in the party, following a failed attempt by the party to conduct party congresses.
“Till date, things are no longer at ease in Imo APC. At a stage, there were at least six active factions in the party, with each faction bent on making the party ungovernable.
“Now, the point in focus is that the time has come for members of the public to correctly read, interpret, and decode the handwriting on the wall. And what it’s all saying is: “Imo people beware of APC!
“How can a true party operate in a state for months and years without structures in the critical areas of wards and local government areas? It only means, in principle that the APC doesn’t exist in real terms in Imo State. The party exists only in Douglas House, where Senator Hope Uzodimma with his Camp Hope loyalists and apologists and sycophantic aides and agents are gathered to orchestrate and perpetuate the alleged unlawful looting of the commonwealth of Imo State and Imo people.”
Nwadike continued, “Recall that a faction of the Imo APC once accused Uzodimma of not being of the APC. Events since thereafter have continually proved it right and correct that APC isn’t in charge in Imo State. There’s rather a strange sole trader, one-man show going on in Imo State. And that sole trader in Douglas House is Senator Hope Uzodimma.
“It’s pertinent to remind members of the public that during the 2019 general elections, APC lost the presidential election in Imo State. And APC didn’t win any seat in the Imo State House of Assembly, the National Assembly. Ultimately, the APC lost woefully as it finished a distant fourth on the table.
“The reason for that poor performance and failure in the 2019 election was obviously because the party had no structures at the wards and local government levels.”
But for the Director-General, Imo APC Media Centre, Cajetan Duke, claim that the APC was gradually going under in the state was unfounded.
According to him, on the contrary, the party has instead recorded steady progress, adding that before the coming into power of Governor Uzodinma, and the emergence of the Nlemigbo-led caretaker committee, the party was almost in a state of confusion and abandonment.
Duke described the formation and inauguration of a caretaker committee to pilot the affairs of the party in the state as very strategic and symbolic in all ramifications, noting that the second coming of Nlemigbo leadership team, demonstrates the commitment of stakeholders to rebuild and reposition the state chapter for effective leadership and internal democratic culture.
He added: “It is also a reward for good work. There is no gainsaying the fact that Prince Nlemigbo and his team deserve commendation and accolades for their unequalled commitment and unmatched political dexterity in piloting the affairs of the party in the state, from a very disadvantaged position to the dawn of prosperity.”
Duke alleged that the emergence of the Nlemigbo-led caretaker panel was occasioned by Okorocha’s inordinate desire to lord himself over the party against the interest of the majority of the party leaders in the state.
“For every informed political observer in Imo State nay Nigeria, the All Progressives Congress, Imo State Chapter prior to the build-up to the 2019 general election was a relic of misfortune following the high-handedness and selfishness of the former governor Rochas Okorocha who, to the exclusion of relevant stakeholders, perfected his inordinate ambition to use the party as a mere platform to actualise his dream of a political dynasty in Imo State, through the ill-conceived governorship project of his erstwhile chief-of-staff and son-in-law, Uche Nwosu.
“Completely dissatisfied with the almost draconian and despotic leadership deposition of Owelle Okorocha and his provocative adoption of his son-in-law as his preferred choice of successor, without regards to the sentiments of the greater majority of stakeholders across the board, there was a relentless, fierce, and ruthless opposition against Okorocha by prominent leaders and stakeholders of the party, who mobilised themselves, irrespective of their individual political interests, to rescue the party and the state from a power-drunk despot.
“By the end of that political warfare that began with ward congresses, through the state congress held in July 2018, things had already fallen apart with the Imo State Chapter of the APC. While the war was still raging, the gubernatorial primaries of the party broke the camel’s back. By the time the dust generated by the volcanic governorship primary election settled down, the stark reality prevailed on Governor Okorocha that the coalition forces within the party had dispossesed him of his much-touted control of the party, with the emergence of Uzodimma as the flag bearer of the party.
“Not prepared to give up, Owelle Rochas while retaining the Imo West Senatorial nomination of APC, moved his political family, including, but not limited to all government appointees, local government administrators, councilors, members of his now-defunct community government council, Imo Security Guard, Imo Community Watch, etc into a rickety and obsolete political vehicle called the Action Alliance (AA), for the pursuit of his son-in-law ill-fated governorship ambition.
“This scenario, no doubt, created an unimaginable political confusion within the rank and file of our political membership across the state. Not satisfied with the unbecoming conduct of the then governor, which violated every relevant provision of the party’s constitution, the national leadership of the party, in its wisdom, and in the exercise of its constitutional responsibilities, dissolved all wards, LGAs, and state leadership of the party, with the appointment of a state caretaker committee led by an astute, and experienced political administrator, Prince Marcillinus Nlemigbo, to superintend the affairs of the party ahead of the general election pending the conduct of the next congress,” he submitted.
Duke also explained that on the assumption of office, Nlemigbo and his team met an obviously dispirited and demoralised membership, amongst other negative imprints occasioned by the perceived anti-people policies and programmes of the Okorocha-led administration.
Since the assumption of office by Governor Uzodinma on January 15, 2020, “there is no gainsaying the fact that the Imo APC caretaker committee has continued to play a critical role in the mobilisation of the goodwill of relevant stakeholders in particular, and Imolites in general through strategic government/party partnership.”
He added: “It is important to state that as a serving political party that appreciates its social contract with the people, the Nlemigbo-led caretaker committee has continued to engage and interact with the people on various government policies and programmes.
“While the party does not intend to interfere with the day-to-day activities of government, as a responsible political organisation that respects the trust and confidence of the people, it has taken several measures to ward off sponsored anti-government media campaigns, policy misconception, and bridge any communication gap between the government and the people.”
Amidst all these staccato narratives concerning Imo State APC, the glaring point is that the party needs a guardian angel to salvage it from its current state.