The Okigwe senate bye election, has opened a fresh chapter of political intrigues among leading political gladiators in the All Progressive Congress, APC, in Imo State.
There are ongoing undercurrents in the party, which will shape the performance of the party in the forthcoming Okigwe senate bye election.
This is the first major political battle for Governor Hope Uzodinma, who as leader of the party in the State, wants to ensure the APC produce the next senator for Okigwe zone.
He was reported in the media to have said he desires his “own senator”, on the basis, that Senator Ezenwa Onyewuchi (Owerri zone), is of the PDP, and Senator Rochas Okorocha, though of the APC, is not his ally.
Despite signalling, that he has no choice candidate among the litany of aspirants vying for the ticket of the APC for Okigwe senate, Uzodinma, and another major contender for the party ticket, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume are not on the same page.
This could be adduced as one of the reasons why there is so much political undercurrents trailing the APC Okigwe senate primary within the party.
Though Senator Araraume has consistently tried to downplay any indication of a feud with the Governor and has not even announced his intention publicly to run for the senate, he seems to be in the good books of the national leadership of the APC which granted him waiver to take part in the primary if he so desires.
Araraume and former Governor of the State, Senator Rochas Okorocha, are also said to be in tactical alliance, after Uzodinma allegedly reneged on an agreement with the duo shortly after he was sworn in as Governor.
Sources said Okorocha is strongly behind the Senator who in turn is backing the Daniel Nwafor faction as the State Executives of the party in the State.
Many believe that plans to have a consensus candidate for the party, was part of a game plan, to shut out senator Araraume from the contest.
But party sources said at no time, the consensus candidate option would have been used to frustrate anyone because Primary would have taken place to select a candidate for the party.
“It is a baseless allegation if anyone says the consensus candidate option, was targeted at stopping anyone. It was a plan to see if we could have a rancourous free exercise to have a party candidate” said a top party source.
State Caretaker Chairman of the party, Marcellinus Nlemigbo, had said the party has no consensus candidate.
Last week, the National Chairman of the party, Mai Bala Buni, directed that the APC will only support credible candidates who emerge from party primaries for legislative bye elections to be held in eight states, Imo State inclusive.
However, as date for primary comes close, the battle for the soul of the APC which has raged on for a long time, is another disturbing factor which may affect whoever emerges the candidate of the party for Okigwe senate.
Analysts contend that if Nlemigbo led Caretaker Committee conduct the Primary, what will be the fate of the party’s flagbearer, or eventual senator, in the event the Court or party leadership recognise the Nwafor faction, as the authentic leadership of the party?
These are said to be some of the salient issues confronting the party as it heads into the October 31 bye election.
But inside party sources said there is no basis for such fear as the Nlemigbo Caretaker has gotten the greenlight from the national leadership of the party, to proceed with the conduct of the primary and put in place necessary measures to ensure the APC clinch victory at the Okigwe senate bye election.
This newspaper gathered that Nlemigbo will soon constitute a Disciplinary Committee, to “discipline erring members of the party, particularly those seen as agents of destabilization who have continuously caused confusion in the party.
The Committee will be set up this week and may descend on the Nwafor faction.