Besides the tantrums exchanged by some governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over governorship candidates in the 2019 election, BIYI ADEGOROYE writes that the party risks dismal performance in those states
The submission to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), of the names of Chief Hope Uzodinma and Prince Dapo Abiodun as governorship candidates of the All Progressives Congress in Imo and Ogun states respectively may just have marked the beginning of the war between the party chairman and the current governors of the states.
If by his action the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has dimmed the hopes of Owelle Rochas Okorocha to ensure his son in-law, Uche Nwosu, succeeded him, and cut short the desire of Governor Ibikunle Amosun, to get in his stead, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, the fact is that the rancorous tirade between the duo and the party leadership remains a cause of concern.
Oshiomhole did not stop at announcing that the party’s National Working Committee upheld the outcome of the party primaries conducted by the Ahmed Gulak-led panel, sent to the state by the NWC to conduct the exercise, after due consideration to take a high moral ground to avoid what could drive the party into ignominy in Imo.
He dropped the bombshell: “What I am not able to do for Governor Okorocha is to assist him with the instrument of the APC to help him to build a political dynasty…We have prepared the name of Sen. Hope Uzodinma and submitted to the INEC.”
Sources said APC leadership has been very perturbed that Okorocha, who currently holds the party’s ticket for the Senate, has been making spirited efforts to ensure his son in-law succeeded him as governor, an action which would make his daughter Imo State First Lady if the party wins in the 2019 elections.
“Besides, the matter has caused great disaffection in the party in the state, pitching leaders like Deputy Governor Uche Madumere, Senator Ben Uwajumogwu and several others against the governor. To make matters worse, the party is aware that the current Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Awuka, whose son is married to Okorocha’s second daughter, was a nominee of Okorocha. Awuka had earlier served as Secretary to the State Government during Okorocha’s first term” he said.
Expectedly, the party’s refusal drew the ire of the governor, hence his repeated visits to Abuja to effect a change, but an undaunted Oshiomhole said. “If Governor Rochas chose to relocate to the Villa and use the grounds of Villa to try to intimidate me to create a dynasty, I won’t accept it. I will uphold the truth in the best interest of the APC members and indeed of the APC people in Imo State. The truth does not require a supporters’ club to stand, it has its own legs, and it can stand,” he said.
To Okorocha, Oshiomhole’s action was deceitful and an indication that he was the brain behind “the film a man like Ahmed Gulak acted in Owerri as the leader of the 12-Member Committee sent to Conduct the APC Primaries in the State.
“It has also shown that disbanding Gulak’s Committee, cancelling all that emanated from that committee and setting up the Brigadier-General Ibrahim Agbabiaka Committee for the Conduct of fresh Primaries in the state were all deceitful. We will now work to know whether such deceit would destroy all that the duly and properly Constituted Agbabiaka’s Committee did.”
In Okorocha’s view, Oshiomhole needs to explain how Okorocha being in the Senate and Nwosu being governor would constitute a dynasty, because at best for now, it is blackmail. He said: “We know the reason for all these. Time will tell. It has nothing to do with Uche Nwosu being an in-law to Governor Okorocha. Even the issue has equally put our democracy on trial, whether being an in-law to a governor should become an inhibition to one’s political pursuit.”
However, Oshiomhole relied on court order for his action, and expected Okorocha to do same. “Okorocha, the Chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, is a beneficiary of the court process, we rescued him. The primary conducted by my predecessor completely swept Governor Okorocha out of the system-from ward, local government to the state.”
In what has been described as transferred aggression, the Imo State Governor, Mr. Rochas Okorocha, has withdraw security personnel and staff aides attached to the office of the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr. Eze Madumere, without clear reason.
In a government circular signed by the Imo State Head of Service, 12 postings were made and nine of them who were attached to the office of the Deputy Governor were posted out to different ministries.
Madumere condemned the action, describing it as unwarranted and expressed disappointment at the decision, recalling that since his acquittal from the impeachment plot in the Owerri High Court presided by Justice Benjamin Iheka, there had been gross disregard for his office.
Ironically, the State Commissioner for Information, Hon. Patrick Nze, in defiance of court ruling, reportedly said the state has no deputy governor, but a deputy governor designate. He declared categorically that Madumere is no longer in office, but has been impeached!
Amosun’s war on ‘expansionists’
If the altercations between Oshiomhole and Okorocha were ferocious, the tantrums traded by the former and Governor Ibikunle Amosun have been nothing less than acerbic. While Oshiomhole sees Amosun as an emperor in the making by anointing a successor, the governor accused the chairman of double standards and harbinger of “off shore rigging,” in the Ogun State primaries.
Oshiomhole accused Amosun of trying to act like an emperor, conducting his own primaries with the Ogun State SSG as Returning Officer, and APC under his leadership “does not have a place for emperors.” Justifying his position, Oshiomhole said, “He (Amosun) went on to announce what, to him, represents a consensus candidate. He announced one Akinlade as the next governor. He proceeded to announce another gentleman, whom he said would be the deputy.
“He went on to proclaim himself as the next senator through consensus and he says the current senator in his own senatorial zone, Senator Lanre Tejuoso, will step aside so that he, Ibikunle Amosun, at the end of his tenure as governor of Ogun State, will proceed to the Senate… He went on to also announce that the second senator also from Ogun State will step aside and another gentleman will come in place of that senator
“Governor Amosun…also unilaterally pronounced that of the eight seats of House of Representatives members, seven will not return…He went on to list other members of the House of Assembly who will seek re-election and those who will not seek re-election. All through, he announced about 40 names which, according to him, constitute consensus.
“Not done, governor Amosun went on to announce a particular gentleman, who will be the next Speaker…and another one who will be the next deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly,” adding that for a party that wants to win the 2019 elections, such action of the governor would be counter-productive.
Firing back, Amosun, who had earlier made repeated visits to President Olusegun Obasanjo in company of some prominent traditional rulers in a bid to reverse Oshiomhole’s decision, said the chairman’s “evil plan to hand over Ogun to Capo Di Tutti in Lagos and gang of rapacious expansionists in South-West will fail”
Amosun described Oshiomhole as a liar “who lacks respect for truth and decency,” and he nurses an evil agenda with his collaborators to hijack the government of Ogun State” in a statement by Adedayo Adeneye, the Ogun State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, who has also picked a ticket for the House of Representatives.
The governor, who condemned the “unsavoury language used against him by the garrulous party chairman,” however, said he would “not descend into the gutter to exchange words with him” because from his background, there are acceptable standards of conduct expected of people holding certain offices, a virtue he wishes Oshiomhole would exhibit.
Amosun restated that the only governorship primary held in the state was that of October 2, 2018 which produced Hon. Adekunle Akinlade as winner, whom he said initially emerged through a consensus arrangement “as allowed by the party constitution but was nevertheless subjected to a primary election when some gubernatorial aspirants disagreed with the outcome of the consensus arrangement.
“This is, however, without prejudice to the sanctity of the consensus arrangement which Adams Oshiomhole hypocritically tries to demonise. Nigerians will recall that Oshiomhole himself was elected National Chairman of the APC by consensus arrangement which witnessed all other contestants to the office being prevailed upon to step down for him (Oshiomhole).
“The ground on which Oshiomhole disputes the gubernatorial primary in Ogun State is that the result was not announced by the State Electoral Committee from Abuja, therefore, the governor resorted to self-help. We wonder why Oshiomhole accepted the result of the primary election in Lagos State whose result was also not announced by the State Electoral Panel. Why will the same scenario be acceptable in Lagos State but regarded as self-help in Ogun State? Is it because it was executed by the Capo Di Tutti in Lagos State?
“…As at today November 03, which is 24 hours after the deadline for submission of names of candidates for the House of Assembly, Oshiomhole has not given INEC Party Candidate Form (CF001) to any of the 26 candidates who won the primaries for the ticket to contest for the Ogun State House of Assembly.
“The primary was conducted on October 07 by the State Electoral Committee headed by Col. Ali Ciroma. This is despite the fact that the State Chairman of the party had kept vigil at the national secretariat of the APC in the last two weeks to collect the forms. If Oshiomhole is denying the outcome of the gubernatorial primaries because the State Electoral Committee shied away from announcing the result, what is the reason for denying all the 26 candidates for the House of Assembly freely elected by members of the APC in Ogun State? We want Nigerians to note the duplicity and meddlesomeness of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and his gang in the affairs of the APC in Ogun State.
“It is also important to note that Oshiomhole unilaterally replaced four of the nine winners of the primary election into the House of Representatives. This includes Hon. Mikhail Kazzim, a serving member of the House who won the primaries by defeating Olumide, the son of Chief Olusegun Osoba, with 28,802 votes to Osoba’s 4,209.
“Oshiomhole removed Hon. Kazzim, who won the primaries and replaced him with the man he had serially defeated, not only in the last primary election but also in the general elections of 2015. In yet another instance in Ado Odo – Ota Federal Constituency, Oshiomhole substituted the winner of the primary for the House of Representatives, Hon. Rotimi Rahmon with the name of Hon. Jimoh Ojugbele, who did not even contest to go back to the House of Representatives but contested the primary for the Senate and was defeated.
“In his conduct, Oshiomhole is opening a new chapter in the history of elections in Nigeria – a situation where a gang of desperate politicians will sit somewhere in another state and write the result of an election that never took place; what our people creatively refer to as Offshore Rigging! This is what Oshiomhole and his gang are trying to foist on Ogun State. Lawyers say ‘you cannot build something on nothing’. Oshiomhole and his gang are trying to build a storey building of fraud on nothing.”
The governor also dismissed the claims of Oshiomhole that he withdrew the security of the State Electoral Committee, stating that Indabawa, Chairman of the panel, is a retired Commissioner of Police who came into Ogun State with a full complement of police team which he claimed was provided for him by a Deputy Inspector General of Police. Hence Amosun could not have withdrawn policemen he did not assign and over whom he had no control.
The summation of this, he said, was that the motive of Oshiomhole is
not the rule of law which he proclaims, rather, “an evil plan with some
collaborators, desperate to hijack the government of Ogun State and add
it to the harem of states under their rapacious gang of exploiters.”
According to him, the fact that Oshiomhole, who became the APC Chairman barely three months ago, “is already threatening to write the epitaph of the party in his 100 days of ignominy,” is very shocking.
And Amosun has a warning – “To Oshiomhole and his motley crew of co-travelers in ignominy, be assured that the music has just begun and we hope that you will enjoy the macabre dance to the music of justice.” He said by the Grace of God and the support of the good people of Ogun State, Hon. Adekunle Abdulkadir Akinlade will be sworn in as the new governor of Ogun State on May 29, 2019.”
Though Amosun has stood his ground on the matter, some party leaders are of the opinion that rather than implying that Oshiomhole is pandering to the interest of some leaders in Lagos, he has apparently feigned ignorance of possible interest of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, an indigene of the state in the party’s in the primaries.
Besides, Amosun is said to have failed to purge himself of his attachment to the ANPP/CPC, some of the legacy parties which formed the APC, at the expense of the larger interest of the party. But others believe that the governors predicated their action on the fact that Oshimhole as Edo State governor singly-handedly picked his successor and campaigned for him, wondering why the pattern has changed now that he is leading the party.
Whereas some have argued between legality and morality of the party’s leadership, others are already conserving possible consequences of the current mess in the party. Chief Chekwas Okorie, Chairman of UPP, said the imbroglio will have negative effect on the performance of the APC in both states as far as the governorship and other elections are concerned.
“APC will not do well in both states,” he said, adding that “The Presidency may not be too affected but still it would not be as it would have been if they had a united house, because a party divided against itself in this instance cannot stand.
“The issue is that the manner the National Chairman handled a lot of things fall short of expectation, and the public exchange of derogatory statements by all of them is not commendable and does not complement any of them as true leaders.
While Okorie blamed Oshiomhole, a former governor for two terms for high handedness, and urged him to display the political savvy and sagacity required to run a ruling party, he reminded Okorocha and Amosun to recognize his authority as party chairman whose signature is recognised by INEC and accord him such honour.
“As for Okorocha, honestly, the one I am surprised about is Amosun who has not been a controversial governor to the best of my knowledge and his loyalty to the president has been public knowledge, but controversy has been Okorocha’s second nature, either in the manner he is running his government or the greed with which he is trying to institute a political dynasty by force. We have seen some political dynasty in some countries like America but none was done by some kind of force. APC will not do well in Imo and Ogun, because they are currently suffering from internal crises,” he said.
From their current hard line postures, the end is not in sight for neither Okorocha nor Amosun, as both are still hopeful, though their preferred candidates’ names could not make INEC’s for the elections. Amosun’s reference to dance of justice and Okorocha’s last line- time will tell- have been seen as a recourse to court of law. But what are their chances?
If the matters are not resolved amicably, it is believed that the party might replicate the 2007 incident in Rivers State governorship election where Rotimi Amaechi was returned the winner by the court despite the fact that his name was substituted with that of Chief Celestine Omeha by the PDP.
But others have argued that that would not hold since the Supreme Court has ruled that those who were not involved in the campaigns cannot reap the result of such election. They argued that Amosun and Okorocha should not repeat the Gbenga Daniel mistake in Ogun State in 2011 and cause woeful defeat to their parties.