By Barr. Emperor Iwuala
During the 2011 Governorship Elections in Imo State, there were a lot of factors that contributed to the victory of Owelle Rochas Okorocha. One of them was the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). It was very easy then selling Okorocha with APGA to Imo people. This among other things was because of the emotions the party carries and its attachment to the Late Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, quest for Biafran republic and the Igbo identity and interest. Therefore in 2011, it was very easy to whip up the sentiments of Imo people with the party’s symbol being the cock. It was easy and cheap to hoodwink the psyche of the masses into believing in APGA and Okorocha’s candidature even without much financial or material consideration. This was because the party in the state then had an already existing populist strong structure made up of many selfless faithful and loyalists who were ready to die for the course of Ndigbo.
Therefore, when Governor Okorocha picked the APGA gubernatorial ticked for the election in question, being an already poplar person then, it was like ‘a round peg in a round hole’. Therefore, Okorocha’s sermon for change in the political leadership of the state sailed through.
Regrettably, Okorocha’s sojourn in APGA has today left the party more devalued and weakened than it was before. Less than two years in office, the Governor tried to liquidate, trade-off and mortgage the party in Imo State to the newly formed Action for Progressive Congress (APC). One of his stated reasons is that APGA does not have any future for Ndigbo in the politics of Nigeria. He even went further to say that the party was not a political party in its strict sense but ‘a mere socio-cultural club’. Therefore, he has promised to ‘deliver’ the entire South East Geopolitical Zone of the country to APC.
Before the recent governorship election in Anambra State, Governor Okorocha joined forces with the APC candidate Dr. Chris Ngige to see that he (Ngige) emerged victorious. To achieve victory, the Governor was said to have spent so much of Imo State fund on the election. Members of APC also boasted for victory and made so much noise. But to my greatest surprise, when the results of that election started coming out, it became very obvious that the so called noise earlier made was empty noise as Dr. Ngige was placing third.
Some political analysts sometimes say that political parties do not have much to do to the victory of a popular candidate in elections. But the case of Ngige has proved this permutation wrong for I believe that APC was among the greatest factor for the failure of Ngige in the election under review.
All things being equal, Imo people may go to the polls again in the year 2015. Presently, Governor Okorocha has said that if he does not present himself for a second term that the ‘masses would lynch him’. Accepting to go for a second term, the Governor has also publicly made it clear that the programmes/projects he has for the state would take up to 8 years to be completed and therefore needed another term to complete them.
Authoritatively, apart from the party platform Governor Okorocha ran on in 2011 election, there were other factors that also contributed to his victory then. Some of them included the support he got from President Goodluck Jonathan, Senator Chris Anyanwu, the Agbasos, Capital Oil, Emeka Offor, the Catholic Church and members of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria in the state. Other factors include the Ohakim factor, the crises in the Imo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Ararume Factor, Udenwa Factor, Hope Uzodinma Factor etc.
Incidentally, as Governor Okorocha ascended to power, he gradually pushed all the said factors away from himself and his government including the so called APGA that gave him the first election victory in his life. He now parades himself alone as a ‘political iroko’.
Presently, APC is a merger of ANPP, ACN, and CPC. APGA did not join in the arrangement. However, Governor Okorocha tried to trade the name of APGA in the merger bid but could not succeed as the national leadership of the party rejected the whole arrangement. Therefore, the major players in APC today are predominantly the people from the South West and few from the northern part of the country.
It is instructive to note that the people from the Western part of the country Nigeria are known to push for political agenda that will benefit their region only. They are not after what benefits other parts of the country and it is this ideology that always guides their political activities.
On the other hand, Gen Mohammadu Buhari left ANPP because of the issue of running for the presidential election with the party’s ticket. He formed the CPC and got the party’s presidential ticket. Ironically, at the end of the 2011 general elections in the country, CPC was able to win only one state. This was so because the party had no other agenda outside making Buhari a president. Unfortunately, the defunct CPC is today being accused of raising the consciousness that has culminated into the present intensity the dreaded Boko Haram sect is operating with the Ibos recording the highest rate of casualties. Also, ANPP controlled states are also strongly associated with providing the haven for members of the same sect.
Coming to Governor Okorocha and the APC option, I believe that the Governor has no real interest of Ndigbo at heart but may pretend that he has. Regrettably, if the Governor had laboured for APGA for a very long time before securing its governorship ticket in 2010, it would be hard for him to think of selling the party out so quickly. I think his best agenda in the APC is selfish and he is likely to pay dearly for it soon.
On the other hand, the same Anambra scenario may also be a reflection of what might happen to PDP in Imo State in the near future. While other parties were busy campaigning for the general election in Anambra, PDP members in Anambra were busy fighting for governorship ticket. Before they could finish that internal war, the general election was almost over.
In the year 1999, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State was an institutionalized party with reasonable level of public confidence. Therefore, it won governorship seat in the State with Chief Achike Udenwa as its Governor. In 2003, Udenwa was re-elected for a second under the same party. In 2007, Engr. Charles Ugwu was anointed by Udenwa’s political structure called the Redemption ’98 to fly PDP flag for that year’s election but his nomination was nullified by the Supreme Court courtesy of Senator Ifeanyi Ararume’s suit. Ararume then was not in Udenwa’s structure. Ararume was among the so called ‘ Abuja ’ Structure that finally controlled PDP in the state. Finally, in 2007, Udenwa’s faction nicknamed ‘Onongono’ worked against its own PDP to produce Ikedi Ohakim as Governor from the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA). Nevertheless, before the end of Ohakim’s tenure, he joined the PDP and later contested for a second term in 2011 as a PDP candidate. He later lost to Owelle Rochas Okorocha of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) who is currently in charge of the state’s administration.
However, for me, PDP as an institution last won Imo Governorship Election in 1999. In 2003, Udenwa was able to get re-elected because of his personal structure, the ‘Onongono’ group. When the ‘Abuja’ group doubted this feat, the same structure again proved it in 2007 by going outside PDP to have Ohakim produced as Governor from PPA. When Ohakimas a Governor later doubted the potency of this same structure, what remained of it also plotted for his defeat and it benefited Rochas Okorocha.
But the bitter truth is that Imo PDP got power but out of unnecessary exuberance, mismanaged it. Be that as it may, the greatest problem Imo PDP has suffered is internal crises. Too much ‘dribbling’ subjected the party to public contempt. You know, when a master dribbler dribbles every opponent in the field of play, if he does not see any person more to dribble, he may be tempted to start dribbling his team-mates and may end up dribbling himself also to score an own goal. Selfishness, greed, indiscipline, insincerity, injustice, lack of internal democracy etc destroyed the party in Imo. Whether we like it or not, some members of the Imo public see Imo PDP in bad light. Such things like election rigging and slogans like PDP!! Share the money!!! are associated with the party in the state. Ironically, it is not like that with the party in states like Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Delta etc. Therefore, the above is an enigma that needs to be urgently addressed. But unfortunately, the party has still refused to address this problem till the time of this write-up. And with Rochas as Governor now, members of the party are confronting the greatest opposition in their political life.
Therefore, if the party does not address some of the problems confronting it now before 2015, it will also suffer the same fate their counterparts are suffering in Anambra at present.
Accordingly, one of the ways PDP can reclaim its lost glory in Imo is to enshrine internal democracy, discipline and to present credible and populist candidates that will be acceptable to the masses. Anything short of these will be another funeral.
For APGA in Imo, the party is yet to recover from the havoc Governor Okorocha caused in it before opting for the APC. However, the leadership of the party is likely to fall on Chief Martin Agbaso and Senator Chris Anyanwu. But it is being rumoured that the duo are still in a cold war. We are yet to know if they have reconciled.
But for now, big congratulations to APGA in Anambra State.
(Iwuala can be reached on: 08037247295)