In the National Executive Committee meeting of the All Progressive Congress (APC) held yesterday, April 9, 2018, two issues were strikingly outstanding. The first was the waiver granted to the party executives from national to the ward levels to contest elections without resigning, and the second was President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of interest to re-contest for the position of president in 2019 election. In this piece, my interest is in the first and as it relates to Imo State which has experienced a lot of political tossing in the ruling party.
The enthusiasm of the state party officials which was on the speed lane during the 2015 election that led to the emergence of the governor, Rochas Okorocha, was surprisingly brought to a halt after the elections. No thanks to the Rescue Mission government which abandoned them. I still remember vividly, how the state party chairman, Chief Hilary Ekeh, was repeatedly neglected in functions and meetings of the state government. In many government’s functions and meetings held at government house or Rochas’ Spilbat Estate, the party chairman and his executives would not be recognized. No one would even know that the party chairman was around, may be, you would only have idea of his presence if anyone who exchanged pleasantries with him addressed him by his portfolio. It was as bad as that, of course, that was for the ones he was even informed. He had no say in government appointments and policies.
The Bible in Proverbs Chapter 28 verse one, “The wicked flee when no one pursues”. So as election year approaches, the dribbler governor, Owelle Okorocha, started his normal political gimmicks and kungfu. Feeling that the party excos he abandoned with reckless disdain would not support his personal interest, he started making some covert and overt attempts to remove them from office. Amongst these moves was the taking of a long list of other manipulable party members whom he regards as people from his ‘agburu’ who would be loyal to carry out any of his self-interest agenda with the installation of Uche Nwosu, his son-in-law, topping the chat.
That was when the foremost chieftain of the party, Sen. Ifeanyi Araraume, had to intervene. Araraume, whose major turnoff in life is injustice, simply said no. He had a stand, and his message was very simple – NO ONE MAN OWNS THE PARTY. DO NOT REMOVE ELECTED PARTY OFFICIALS THROUGH THE BACK DOOR. IF THEY MUST BE REMOVED, IT MUST BE CONSTITUTIONAL, IF NOT, LET THEM BE. This national key player stood in for these executives to the last point. A thing he will do for anyone any time any day.
The February 27 NEC meeting had a broad look at the situation and decided to extend the tenure of the executives by one year, siting predictable internal crisis which may arise from the party elections as a reason. However, in the the March 27 NEC meeting, there was a new twist to it where President Buhari withdrew his support to the tenure elongation. At that point, Imo political activities were in the news again. The governor was placed on the public table as a double standard person by his media handlers. A man who was kicking for the immediate removal of party excos went further to move a motion for their dissolution. When it didn’t sell, they ran back home and said that the tenure elongation was an honour well deserved. They congratulated Oyegun and other executives in different levels denying that Rochas never called for their removal. He further rushed into giving out cars to few of the LGA party chairmen. Then, when the tenure elongation was stepped down, they rushed back home again and said – oh, Buhari has vindicated Rochas, that it was the best thing and that they had been expecting it.
Today, the party convention has been settled for, and a waiver has been granted to the existing party executives from national to ward levels. Imo State APC has just been saved from an inpending disaster which could have arisen if Gov. Okorocha had carried out his plan of setting up handpicked interim party executives. The alleged long list which the governor had again gone to Abuja with, hoping that the Technical Committee which recommended the waiver would have gone for dissolution of existing executives. If he had succeeded, Imo APC would have suffered a stroke which it may not recover from, any time soon. This is a victory for the party, it is a victory for the lovers of peace and justice. We must commend the Distinguished Senator Ifeanyi Araraume who have stood his ground all these time resisting any imposition of alien party executives by the destroyers. There is need now for the state and LGA executives to unite for a strong front having known those who want to destroy them. Shouldn’t the remaining LG chairmen at this point join forces with the famous G-16 who have been outstanding in resisting Owelle’s manipulation of the party and illegal imposition of party excos? Now that they have been granted opportunity to remain on seat and re-contest, they should use it judiciously and make the whole state proud.
Duke C. Duke wrote in from Owerri.