By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
More trouble is in the offing for the embattled outgoing governor of Imo state, Rochas Okorocha, if feelers from the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC are anything to go by. Multiple sources close to the party hint on an outright expulsion of the governor before the March 9 governorship election.
Recall that the APC’s National Working Committees, NWC, led by its Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, at its meeting on March 1, suspended both Okorocha and the Ogun state governor, Ibukunle Amosun, over alleged anti-party activities. The NWC has, also, recommended both governors to the party’s NEC for expulsion.
“Okorocha and Amosun have to be prevented from benefiting from their brazen anti-party activities by crowning candidates of unknown parties governors”, one of the sources explained.
Uche Nwosu, Okorocha’s son-in-law, and Adekunle Akinlade, Amosun’s boy, moved to the Allied Peoples Movement, AMP and Action Alliance, AA, respectively, after losing APC guber tickets. Both candidates left on the promptings of their godfathers, governors Okorocha (Imo) and Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) .Nwosu decamped from the APC to AA after losing the APC guber ticket to Senator Hope Uzodinma.
Okorocha, according to reliable sources, is set to inflict mortal blow on the APC should the party insist on disgracing him further. “He is determined to go down fighting and if the APC insists on stripping him naked, he will ensure the party too goes down with him, at least in Imo state”, a prominent member of Imo APC faction loyal to the governor, told The Source.
Governor Okorocha’s suspension Friday alongside Amosun, VON DG, Osita Okechukwu and Niger Delta Minister, Uguru Usani Uguru, confirms this Magazine’s report late last year that the Adams Oshomhole-led NWC of APC was waiting for the appropriate time to strike at highly placed party chieftains it considered recalcitrant and working against the party’s interest.
Party insiders inform that the APC national leadership was not prepared to watch Okorocha and Amosun install non- party members as their successors, and at same time prance the National Assembly, Abuja, as APC Senators. Both Okorocha and Amosun are Senators-elect. The source was told that the suspension was to come early Febraury, but the fear of backlash, especially, its likely effect on the party at the presidential polls, held the party leadership back.
It was particularly feared that suspending Okorocha before the presidential election could cost President Buhari votes, no matter how meagre, in the South east.
The Source learnt that the APC was ready to sacrifice the senatorial seats of the two governors in order to stop them from having their ways at the governorship election. To this end, the expulsion hammer, it was gathered, could come down on the two governors few days to the election. Political and legal analysts suggest that since the two men were elected Senators on the platform of a political party, and are yet to take their seats in the upper chamber, their expulsion from the party that gave them victories could invalidate their election.
This magazine had reported, a few months ago, that Okorocha’s suspension and expulsion late last year by a faction of the party in the state loyal to Senator Uzodinma, would be upheld by the National Working Committee of the party.
Meanwhile, several top members of a faction of the party sympathetic to Okorocha have told The Source that while they are not comfortable with Uche Nwosu, candidate of AA, as the governor’s successor, and are not working for him, they will not work for the APC candidate, Senator Uzodinma either.
“To this end I can confirm to you that a solid grand coalition of anti- Nwosu/AA and Uzodinma/APC is in place, and is working for Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. We reject Nwosu because the governorship of Imo state is neither a family business, nor a learning ground for political experience”, one of them told the magazine.
The Source further learnt that Okorocha is not averse to the coalition, and will be springing a surprise on the APC should the party push him further by expelling him. If the party expels him before the election, the magazine was told, the governor will ask his son-in-law to stand down, and will then go on air and ask all his supporters and those of Nwosu in AA and APC to vote PDP/ Ihedioha. It was learnt that should this scenario play out successfully and Ihedioha emerges victorious, Nwosu will be rewarded with the post of Secretary to Imo state government.
Okorocha’s trump card in checkmating APC/ Uzodinma is Orlu zone.The governor in the last National Assembly election, allegedly, won 10 out of the 12 local governments in the zone to clinch a seat to represent it in the Senate, and is hoping to use the same template of his senatorial victory to frustrate Uzodinma’s victory in the guber polls.
Ironically, both men hail from the same zone. While Uzodinma is from Omuma, headquarters of Oru East local government, Okorocha hails from Ogboko in Ideato South local government. The two councils are part of the 12 that make up Imo West senatorial district or Orlu zone.
The implication of any guber candidate in Imo having an Orlu zone in his kitty is that the zone is the largest in the state, and determines where the guber pendulum swings. Out of the 27 council areas in the state, 12 is in Orlu while Owerri and Okigwe zones share the remaining 15 between them.