AN OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR HOPE UZODIMMA
SUBJECT: IMO APC AND THE TRAVAILS OF A RULING PARTY
Your Excellency Sir, we earnestly congratulate you on your well-deserved emergence as the Vice-chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum and equally commend you for accepting the assignment to chair the Primary Election Committee of our great Party in Edo. We wish you a successful exercise and pray that these new responsibilities given to you by our Party’s leadership shall reflect on the fortunes of our Party in the Southeast.
As founding youth leaders of the All Progressives Congress in the Southeast, who stood in defence of the Party’s interests, even when it was most unpopular to do so in our part of the country, we feel it is expedient to call your attention to some salient issues in the Party, in your State. Imo, being the only State in the Southeast under the APC, should have been the State where the Party is most vibrant in the region, but we have observed most unfortunately, that this is not the case. Conversely, any observant political watcher would be wondering if the State is really being governed by the APC, or a splinter group of the People’s Democratic Party. We hold this opinion due to the following incidents that have taken place since your emergence as the governor of the State.
- DISLOCATION OF FOUNDING APC MEMBERS FROM YOUR GOVERNMENT: We had enquired from some of your very close aides and associates as to reasons for your seeming mistrust for all the founding members of the Party in the State and the response has always been that none of them supported your emergence as governor. In fact, one of your commissioners in responding to an informal inquiry on the issue by one of our members categorically stated that; “His Excellency knows whom he owes gratitude for his emergence both as the Party’s candidate and subsequently as governor of the State. The so-called APC members were either in AA or supported PDP secretly.” As unfortunate as this statement is, we have strong reasons to believe that this is the mindset of not just all your associates, but also that of yourself.
While, you may have emerged as the governor through your personal efforts and those of your very close associates in Abuja and elsewhere outside Imo State, we must remind you that you wouldn’t have been made governor, if some people had not sacrificed time and resources to build the Party on whose platform you became governor. If these individuals had not sustained the Party in the State, especially, within the seven months of PDP’s stint in power, you wouldn’t have seen anyone to celebrate your hard-fought and controversial victory at the Supreme Court with you. Remove founding members of the APC who were with you at Heroes’ Square during your swearing-in, and you would have had a near empty venue to take your oath of office at.
- REJECTION OF MEMBERS OF IMO APC COALITION : Without the efforts and sacrifices of members of the Imo APC Coalition led by former Deputy Governor of Imo State, His Excellency Prince Eze Madumere, Dr. TOE Ekechi, George Eche and many others who severed ties with the prime mover and undisputed founding father of the APC in the Southeast, His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha, over misunderstandings over the latter’s choice of successor, you wouldn’t have secured the ticket of the APC. Recall, that it was Prince Eze Madumere who procured the court order that eventually cleared the coast for you to be cleared by the NWC of our Party as the governorship candidate, against all odds. Remember, too, that your candidacy was given some legitimacy when six out of nine aspirants, who were of the Coalition endorsed the controversial Gulak report on the Imo APC Governorship Primaries.
One would expect that you would give these people who sacrificed so much, some accomodations in your government, but that is not the case. Your administration has rather gone ahead to mete the most humiliating treatment to some of the leaders of this fundamental group within the Party in Imo State. For instance, you have displaced Eze Madumere, a former Deputy-Governor with your Commissioner for Commerce and Industry as apex leader in Mbaitoli LGA.
Also, out of the 27 House of Assembly candidates of the Party in the last election, only two were found worthy to be appointed into your cabinet. This is even as just one of them won election into the House of Assembly, following an Appeal Court judgement in his favour.
- VINDICTIVE PROBE OF SENATOR OKOROCHA: Our Party’s key manifesto is hinged on eradicating corruption and ensuring that those who held public offices in the past are made to account for their stewardship. However, we frown at any probe that is hinged on vendetta and witch-hunt. We have no reason not to believe that the ongoing probe and harassment of former Governor Okorocha and members of his family is not inspired by vendetta. This is especially, as the panels that are carrying out these probes were set up by the ousted PDP administration and at least 90% of its members are card-carrying members of the opposition PDP.
We had expected that on assuming office, you would have dissolved these panels set up by the PDP and set up your own panel, who would be more transparent, fair and uninfluenced by partisan considerations in carrying out their assignments.
Sir, we wish to remind you that in politics, you do not give your opponents the tools to repair your house, because he will certainly open holes in the house that would eventually cripple that house. No matter, what reservations you may have against Senator Okorocha and his political bloc, you should understand that they remain members of your Party, and at the end, whatever the ‘sins’ are found in him by the PDP probe panels will be used against the Party tomorrow and this will definitely affect the electoral chances of the Party, going forward.
We humbly appeal to you, to disband these PDP panels, and if you must, inaugurate new panels to investigate the activities of the Okorocha administration in a more transparent manner and without premeditated outcome.
We have also noticed deliberate and systematic media and institutional attacks from your appointees and very close associates against Senator Owelle Rochas Okorocha. This action, no matter who authorises or sponsors them are harmful to our Party’s viability in the State.
No matter what may be anyone’s misgivings against Senator Owelle Rochas Okorocha, you cannot wish away his nationwide political clout and far-reaching popularity which translates to a magical winning wand for any Party that he supports in any election. Our observation is that Owelle Rochas Okorocha still retains the most formidable grassroots political structure in the State, more than any politician in that State. We therefore, expected that you would exploit this great political asset for the greater good of our Party.
We are concerned that the crisis that has engulfed our Party in States like Edo and Ondo may replicate itself in Imo, if you do not immediately take steps to arrest the ugly trend of festering mistrust, disunity and humiliation meted to critical leaders of the Party in the State.
As devout supporters of the APC, we are concerned about the fortunes of the Party, first; in the upcoming Senatorial bye election in Imo North and the general elections of 2023. We are afraid that if our Party goes into these elections, divided, as it presently is, then, we risk losing the only State in the Southeast that we have in our kitty. This, if it happens, will not be a good record for you, especially, considering the enormous resources and goodwill invested and risked by our Party in ensuring your emergence as governor of the State.
- THE UCHE NWOSU FACTOR: Among everyone who made your victory at Supreme Court possible, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu’s contribution is most significant. His decision to withdraw his appeal before the Supreme Court panel was most strategic, considering that a panel of the Supreme had affirmed his position as the authentic candidate of the APC, as well as that of AA, hence, disqualifying him on the basis of double nomination. Do your lawyers not tell you that had Uche Nwosu continued with the pursuit of his matter in court, the outcome of the case would have been different? There would have been two likely scenarios; one is that the Supreme Court panel that affirmed you as the duly elected governor would have taken notice of their sister panel’s ruling and disqualified both of you as candidates in the election, hence, leaving the battle squarely between Senator Ararume and Chief Ihedioha. The second scenario would be for the Supreme Court panel to ignore the ruling of their sister panel and consider Uche Nwosu’s very valid and prominently true argument on Ihedioha not meeting the Constitutional two-third, hence, declaring a runoff between the two highest scoring candidates. Uche Nwosu sacrificed this glaring opportunity, just to ensure that the Party returns to power in Imo State and in his own words; “For the State to Move Forward.”
Beyond that, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu also directed all his supporters to coalesce with the CampHope to give you maximum support. His ferocious foot soldiers in social media gave and continues to give the PDP media hirelings a good dose of challenge, whenever they try to harass your administration.
Have you imagined a situation where Uche Nwosu rejected the outcome of the Supreme Court judgement in your favour and teamed up with the PDP to challenge the ruling? Today, you wouldn’t be governor, as the State would have been too ungovernable that the Supreme Court would have had no option but to reverse itself. Uche Nwosu’s decision to step down and support your emergence gave you a semblance of acceptability in Imo State, but you obviously have taken that for granted.
So far, we are yet to see any action taken by your administration to show any kind of gratitude to the young man, who was undoubtedly, the most popular candidate in that Governorship election, rather we notice a disturbing maltreatment of the young man and his supporters. The idea that most of your supporters and associates seem to have about this
- THE DISDAIN FOR ARARUME AND HIS APGA DEGECTORS: Distinguished Senator Ifeanyi Ararume is another person whose sacrifices towards your emergence as governor cannot be swept under the carpet. For a politician who expended huge sums of money in his bid to win the governorship of the State, yet, turned around to immediately lend his support after your clearly controversial victory at the Supreme Court, is more than enough sacrifice.
Ararume did not stop at telling his supporters to lend you their support, but went a step further by literally shutting down the entire APGA set-up in Imo State, by leading all of them to join the APC. This includes the State Working Committee of the Party and more than 75% of the Party’s candidates in the general elections.
Today, we notice a glaring disregard for these sacrifices from Senator Ararume and his Destiny political family. You are accused of personally sponsoring the disqualification of one of his loyalists who was nominated by the President to serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Character Commission.
- DISREGARD FOR THE LEGITIMATELY ELECTED APC LEADERSHIP IN THE STATE.
It is regrettable that the crisis in the State chapter of the Party has persisted even after your emergence as governor. Would it be asking for too much to plead with you to take immediate steps to reconcile warring factions within the Party in the State? We believe that this would save the Party the risk of exposing their nomination processes to unfavorable judicial interventions.
Instructively, key members of the contentious Caretaker Committee have been appointed into your cabinet, while the elected LGA and ward executives of the Party have been left in limbo. Unfortunately, you neither deal with those LGA and ward executives elected during the rescheduled Congress of July 21st and 22nd nor those loyal to the Coalition camp in the APC. You have rather recognized factional ward and LGA executives of PDP, as your preferred APC leadership at the grassroots. Unfortunately, most, if not all of these people are not registered members of the APC.
It is some people’s belief that you now see everyone in Imo, including the masses and the elite as Prisoners of War. That you have conquered them and made them irrelevant, hence, you can afford to operate however you want to. We disagree with those who hold such opinion and plead that you prove them wrong.
As the leader of the Party in the State, we advise that you play a fatherly role by bringing all contending parties to the round table and find a lasting solution to the imbroglio which the Party is currently enmeshed in.
Your Excellency Sir, there are a number of other issues we would like to bring to your notice, as regards the fate of our Party in Imo State, but we will have to pause here and wait for your response to the issues outlined above.
We are confident that you, as a listening leader and loyal Party man will look into these issues as quickly as possible and take steps to address them, to galvanize our Party members in Imo and revitalize our Party’s formidable structures across the State for the good and progress of the Party and the State, consequently.
Remain blessed Sir.
Chika John Uzondu
Comrade Martins Oputa