Many Nigerians would have heard by now about the ward congress of the Imo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that went down last Saturday, much to the dissatisfaction of incumbent governor Rochas Okorocha. What many people may not know is what was at the root of the controversy in which one group claimed victory in the congress, while the governor’s camp screamed blue murder, as their principal dashed to Abuja to seek the intervention of the leader of the party and president, Muhammadu Buhari.
The congress is where all officials for each of the 300 plus wards in the state are elected. These officials are crucial for the primaries in the next few weeks to choose the party’s candidate for the governorship. At the root of the crisis is Okorocha’s plan to be replaced at Government House, Owerri by his son-in-law Uche Nwosu.
Sources close to those plotting to derail the governor’s plan spoke to Naijiant.com yesterday. It was revealed that Nwosu/Okorocha had already “shared” political appointments for the next eight years – with the confidence that Nwosu would be in charge of the state for two terms from 2019. The next stage of the Okorocha plan is for the son-in-law to be succeeded by the son, Ahamefula Okorocha. Okorocha’s governance has been tagged as a “familiocracy” by comedian Uche Ogbuagu.
The plan for the state to remain in the pockets of the Okorocha family was something other ambitious politicians in the state found hard to swallow. Our sources said a counter-plan was hatched under the leadership of Senator Hope Uzodinma, who brought in a former senator Ifeanyi Ararume and they reached out to most of the politicians in the state’s APC who had become disgruntled and marginalised by how Okorocha’s lootocracy was very family-centric. Those politicians also saw it as an affront to their over-bloated egos that a “small boy” like Uche Nwosu, that was seen as a “hungry errand boy” for Okorocha during their earlier days in the advance fee fraud (aka 419) business, was now rich beyond the wildest dreams of many from emptying the state treasury. One source claimed that Nwosu recently commissioned his multi-billion naira hotel in Owerri and alongside his father-in-law, owns a significant chunk of prime real estate in the capital. The source said Nwosu was the person that used to “post 419 letters” for Okorocha before he became governor.
The Uzodinma-led plot went beyond the APC. They reached out to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the state. Politicians from the other parties were told to shelve their political differences with the APC and join hands to get rid of the common problem – Okorocha. They were told that if he wasn’t halted in 2019, there was no chance for anyone else or any other party. They were also informed that when Okorocha was stopped, the co-conspirators could then choose to play party politics and decide who to support in the race for governor. So PDP, APGA and APC politicians ganged up across the wards and local government areas in the state to ensure Okorocha’s handpicked officials did not get in. The governor only managed to secure control of seven local government areas out of 28. This means that Nwosu’s chances of being the APC flag-bearer in the state are close to zero.
One source told us that the plotters said Okorocha will be stripped of everything he stole from the state in 2019. It was perhaps the intention to avoid losing the possessions he has acquired in the past seven years that drove the plan to keep the governorship in the family. Okorocha, when it dawned on him that he was losing his vice-like grip on the state, ran to Buhari to intervene. But the president has always been uncomfortable with Okorocha’s brazen looting and ostentation. He is also aware that the governor’s misrule is an electoral liability for the president as he seeks reelection in 2019. So he refused to get involved and told Okorocha that they should settle their differences at state level.
The national chairman of the party, John Oyegun, is said to be on the same page as those aligned against Okorocha. The governor is hoping that Oyegun’s likely replacement, Adams Oshiomhole, would be sympathetic to his cause and annul the results of the ward congress. But by the time Oshiomhole gets his feet under the table, it may be too late.
Okorocha’s options within the APC are increasingly becoming limited and he is already making noises suggesting he could be on his way out. He suggested this week that the PDP has infiltrated the party, ignoring the fact that he also was an ex PDP man. While there are few certainties in politics, there are some things certain here:
- Okorocha and family are damaged goods in Imo and he has antagonised way too many due to terrible governance and corruption.
- The overwhelming majority want him and family out.
- A man who has been involved in fraud for most of his adult life will not go quietly without trying whatever tricks he has left up his sleeve.