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Okorocha’s APC crisis linked to high-handedness, family affairs tactics—Party faithfuls

More facts have emerged on why the crisis rocking the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in Imo State may not end as soon as possible or end faster with the collapse of the Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, as the party leader.

Investigations showed that trouble seemed to have started from the very first time the governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha decided to anoint his Son-in-law, Mr. Uche Nwosu as the party’s sole guber candidate without recourse to the heartbeat and other political indices in the state.

Already, there had been a build up of anger amongst party faithfuls over instances of use of close family members in key political appointments especially since the beginning of his second terms in office.

Besides, many party faithfuls who spoke to Business Hilights in Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe, accused the governor of high handedness in the administration of the state to the extent many indigenes see Okorocha’s administration especially during this second term as purely a family affair and they have fears that with the anointment of his Son-in-law, the family affairs administration will become endless.

With the prevailing misunderstanding, a regular guber candidate and former lawmaker, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume cashed in and stood as a leading political figure in the conduct of both Ward and Council Congresses in the state with stable results.

However, as part of his fighting for survival, on May 7, in Daura, President Muhammadu Buhari’s country hometown, Okorocha had told newsmen, after a closed door meeting with the president that no ward congress held in Imo, saying “We expect internal democracy and internal democracy is the way to go. Those kinds of funny politics that were played must stop. A situation where people want to carry ballot boxes, steal results, looks so primitive.

“I intimated Mr. President and we will make sure that such things must stop,” Okorocha said then.

Otherwise, the governor and his supporters boycotted the local government APC congress and insisted that a fresh date for the ward congress be fixed before the local government congress.

The governor, while addressing his loyalists, announced that there would be no local government congress in the state until the crisis of the ward congress was rectified

But in the wisdom of the state chapter of the party, they went ahead with the local government congress, regardless.

In a swift response, Imo State APC chairman, Mr. Hillari Eke, told newsmen in Owerri, the state capital, on May 14, that the ward and local government congresses were concluded successfully in the state.

Business Hilights gathered that about three weeks ago, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, attempted to reconcile the governor with Imo Stakeholders but it ended in deadlock.

As if the visit to Buhari’s hometown was not enough, last week, the embattled Imo State Governor,  Rochas Okorocha paid President Muhammadu Buhari another visit, precisely on Thursday at Aso Rock villa, this time in company of former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole.

The meeting, held behind closed doors, has political watchers wondering, with some already concluding that it may not be unconnected to the controversial Ward and Council primaries held in the state.

However, Hillary Ekeh, state chairman of the APC, who has refused to acknowledge the suspension order on him by the state exco, averred that Governor Okorocha’s visits with the President are meaningless, insisting that the party stance on the congresses are final.

Ekeh said that the congresses were duly conducted in accordance with the provisions of the constitution of the party, reaffirming that the governor’s visit will be of no impact.

“It is not possible. We do not need to go to Abuja to visit the President. The congress committees have already written their report – which is the final journey – and they did that in accordance with the congress guidelines. It is not ‘Kalu and Kalu Nigeria Ltd’, this is APC,” he said.

According to him, “The party has a constitution, Oshiomhole is an aspirant, if he wins, he will also come in to be sworn-in to guide and defend the constitution of the party. Even if he wants to amend the constitution of the party, it is the NEC that would do that. So Okorocha’s visits do not have any influence. Maybe Oshiomhole is going to solicit for the President’s support for himself.”

On why the state congress election was held at a different venue, Ekeh alleged that the invasion of the state party secretariat earlier by thugs caused the relocation of the election to another venue, of which the national leadership of the party was already aware.

Explaining more on having held the congress run into the night, Ekeh argued that “It is only a novice who does not know that elections can enter into the night; this is a congress where government thugs set the party office on fire, and the congress guidelines say that the congress must take place at the party secretariat, and if the party secretariat is not convenient for the congress to take place there, that the chairman of the congress committee would chose another public venue that is not a residential house by himself and inform the state chairman of the party, who in turn will inform the delegates of the new venue. The chairman could see that the place was burnt and besieged by thugs and police, then he went round to chose another place after writing to the national party. So there is no guideline that says the party cannot hold at night.”