BY FRED OBIOHA#
The Imo State chapter of the All Progressive Congress, APC is seriously balkanized as several power blocs have emerged over the 2019 governorship ticket of the party.
The APC governorship ticket is seen as the passport to Government House, Owerri considering the size, might of the party in the state in addition to “Federal Might” of the APC at the centre. Therefore anyone that picks the APC governorship ticket in 2019 is most likely to become the governor of Imo State.
Based on this huge factor, more than five power blocs have emerged in the party threatening its unity that may snowball into a huge crisis for the party in the state in 2019. The blocs are led by some top politicians who have shown interest in vying for the exalted position of governorship. For Okorocha, he is bent on installing a successor. As leader of the party, he leads the most potent and formidable bloc in in Imo APC.
His widely reported support for his Chief of Staff, Uche Nwosu, as his successor is strongly backed by his massive political structure not just in the APC but in the State that is made up of all his aides, commissioners, members of the Imo State House of Assembly, members of the Special Development Council (SDC) in the 306 wards in the state, members of the Community Government Council (CGC) in the wards in addition to several groups of women and youths who have benefited from his government.
A political analyst said Okorocha has “a political army in Imo State that can crush any opposition”
The APC party structure from the ward to the state level is also in the firm grip of the Rescue mission government which makes the governor firmly in control of the political apparatus of the party in the state except things change in the party before then. However, there is the belief that anyone Okorocha handpicks as his successor will surely scale through considering the massive political structure at his disposal in Imo APC and beyond.
Another power bloc in the APC in the state is led by Senator Ifeanyi Araraume who also runs a formidable political machine called the Destiny Group which he had built over the years. A serial governorship aspirant, Araraume is alleged to be in alliance with Senator Osita Izunaso, the national organizing secretary of the All Progressive Congress, APC. There have been reports in the media of an Araraume/Izunaso guber bid in 2019. In this bloc are some key members of the ACN and many disenchanted members of the APC who have ” fallen out” with Rochas who are now sympathetic to Araraume’s governorship cause.
Araraume is known to have an inelastic ability to wage endless political battles. During his stay in the PDP, he won two governorship primaries of the party in 2006 and in 2015 despite the odds. He was however denied the party tickets on these two occasions through high wire political conspiracies within the PDP. This therefore makes him a strong contender for the APC governorship ticket in the State and a huge threat to whoever Okorocha wants to field as his successor. He had thrown his massive support to Okorocha to return re- elected in 2015, a major move that aided the Imo Governor to scale through at the polls.
Another power bloc in the party is also run by some aggrieved members of the APC who were left in the cold by Okorocha’s Rescue mission movement. They are mainly old members of the Congress For Progressive Change, CPC who were never accommodated by the governor. Emeka Nwajiuba, a lawyer and former member of the House of Representatives,is the arrow head of the old Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) bloc in the state and he is said to have kept CPC members in the party in the state together. Nwajiuba is known to be a core Buhari loyalist. He is also alleged to have floated a group, the Grassroot Liberation Movement (GLC) which will set the pace for his governorship ambition to take off soonest.Members of the group are drawn from the old CPC and ANPP blocs who lost out in the power alchemy of the APC in the state.
The old APGA bloc in the APC in the state is said to be now driven by a former member of the House of Representatives led by Hon Uche Onyegaocha. Onyegoacha was elected to the House of Reps on the platform of APGA in 1999 and in 2007, he vied unsuccessfully for the governorship on the platform of the ACN. He was the APC Owerri zone senatorial candidate in 2015 which he lost to the PDP.
He has been very critical of the Okorocha government recently saying that the APC in Owerri zone will not consent to plans by Okorocha to have his in- law, Uche Nwosu as his successor. He had argued that it is the turn of Owerri zone to produce the next governor of the state. Newspaper reports said Onyegocha is a front for the Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere who appears to have been schemed out from the power play in Okorocha Rescue group for 2019. The bloc also have remnants of the old APGA and ACN in Imo APC who have been outplayed by the dominance of Okorocha’s Rescue missionaries.
Former Secretary to Imo State Government, Jude Ejiogu has constituted another bloc in the party with the establishment of a powerful Grassroot movement that will oil his governorship ambition when the whistle is blown in 2019. The strength and capacity of the group is little known and it remains how far the group will fly the ambition of the former banker.
The presence of these blocs paints a picture of an Imo APC that will may derail into turmoil when the time for electioneering kicks off. Pundits foresee a fierce scramble for relevance and power in the party especially when the Governor wants to push for his successor.