The All Progressives Congress, APC, put up a dismal performance in Owerri zone, failing to win the senatorial and the four House of Representatives seats in the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections
However, the only House of Reps seat in the zone, which is still up for grabs, is Mbaitoli/Ikeduru Federal Constituency, where re run polls will take place soon.
However, some aggrieved party chieftains in the zone have revealed damning facts why the APC failed woefully in the elections and overrun by the Labour Party, LP.
The LP did not only clinch the senatorial seat, but also won two House of Reps seats, to advance it’s rout in Owerri zone.
It’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, won the presidential election in the State convincingly, Owerri zone inclusive.
It is on record that the APC has never won in Owerri zone, especially the senatorial seat since 2015.
In 2023, expectations were high that the scenario will change, on the basis that Governor Hope Uzodimma has significantly improved infrastructure in the zone through massive construction of roads and other people oriented projects.
The political capital inherent from Uzodimma’s achievements in Owerri zone was expected to considerably boost the chances of the party, if leaders of APC in the zone had leveraged on it to convince the people to vote for the broom party after many years of neglect.
However, the APC’s outing in the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections in the zone was disappointing.
Several factors such as the ‘Peter Obi Tsunami’, lack of reward system in the party and mindless embezzlement of funds meant for the election by party leaders in the zone were fingered as reasons why the APC failed so baldly.
Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma displeased over the party’s shambolic performance in the elections, accused party leaders of sabotage.
“Those who withheld resources mapped out for elections or went to a corner to hide showed the highest level of sabotage.
“They should not sabotage themselves, because both God and government see such bad behaviour” a visibly angry Uzodimma told a congregation at Government House Chapel, Owerri last Sunday.
The governor captured the attitude of most party leaders in the zone during the elections.
Some of them bolted away with funds and logistics made available to them which was needed to aid the party to victory.
Mr Vincent Eke, a chieftain of the party from Itu in Ezinihitte Mbaise LGA, said some leaders of the zone failed the APC and have shown no remorse about it.
He said “On the day the presidential and National Assembly elections took place, most polling agents of our party were not paid in some local governments.
“They could not even canvass for votes because they were not mobilized. They were helpless.
“Because of the level of their frustration, some of them encouraged voters at the polling units to vote for the Labour party. It was that bad” he said.
He continued “In some local governments, there was no effective utilisation of logistics and funds released to ensure success for the party. Most of those funds ended up in private pockets to the detriment of the party and our candidates.
In Owerri Municipal, some polling booth agents claimed that they were paid six days after the presidential election.
One of them who spoke to INNONEWS on condition of anonymity said “We were not mobilized for the election. We went to the field empty handed. Our colleagues in the PDP were fully mobilized for the election.
“We were not given a dime on election day and when we were eventually paid six days after by our so called party leaders, it was pittance compared to the huge sums of money that were released to us to facilitate our work at the polling units.
Aside the factor of funds mismanagement by some party stalwarts on polls day, analysts contend that the APC in Owerri zone could not have also tamed the Peter Obi tsunami.
Steven Ekejiuba, a political analyst said the Obidients tsunami was so powerful for the APC or even the PDP to tame in Owerri zone during the Presidential and National Assembly election.
“It was a hurricane. And it was unstoppable. Not just in Owerri zone, but across the South East. And in the process, most voters lacked the patience to differentiate the good candidates running for Senate or House of Representatives. And this affected their chances” he said
“Owerri zone is the melting point of Imo politics. And it is unfortunate that the APC in the zone, either had no remedy to the looming tsunami or they were overwhelmed by the surge of the Obi phenomenon coupled with the naira redesign policy introduced by President Buhari which put the party in bad light before voters” Ekejiuba said.
Greg Opara, a chieftain of the party and leader of Owerri Zone Solidarity Front, OSF, one of the APC support groups in Owerri zone said it is unfortunate that in the zone, the ruling party always trails behind the opposition.
“We have never had so good in the zone.It has become a tradition for the APC to fail in Owerri zone. In 2019, it was the PDP that won almost all the nine local governments. And now in 2023, it is the Labour party, which is only nine months old.
“The Obi tsunami was not the major reason we lost so poorly in the zone. How come we won in Okigwe and Orlu Senatorial zones? Was it magic and if it was, why was such magic not replicated here.Was the Obi tsunami not strong enough in those areas?
“The truth is, leaders of the party in the zone have never lived up expectations.
“This is the reason why before the “Obi tsunami” came, Owerri zone had been the stronghold of the opposition PDP. And it will continue to be so until a major political surgery is done in the party” he stated.
Majority of aggrieved party chieftains also heaped the blame of the party’s dismal loss in the election on the doorstep of it’s leaders.
Opara said party leaders should give account of their roles after every election cycle.
He argued that punitive measures against party leaders who erred or sabotaged the party during the elections should be carried out, saying it is not enough to gloss over it
“The party needs to be reconfigured in Owerri zone. We have so many paper tigers parading as leaders in the party.
“They either lack followership or have lost touch with the people. And they sit as leaders waiting for every election cycle to come. In the end, they perform so poorly and keep us in this mess” Opara argued.