Dr. Austin Uganwa
Imolites watched with disgust and disbelief on Friday, May 11, 2018 as All Progressives Congress (APC) state secretariat on Okigwe Road in Owerri, Imo state capital went up in flames. For several hours thick smoke that oozed from the fire incidence enveloped the sprawling city causing severe environmental pollution. Those who had activities within the premises scampered for safety as they ran for their dear lives. There was palpable confusion and hysteria in the place. At the end of the incidence monumental damage had been recorded as most of the facilities in the secretariat were razed.
The above agonizing reality was one of the shocking and shameful episodes that characterized APC’s Ward Congress in the state and constituted one of the party’s open displays of scandal. There were however several other bizarre manifestations that have dreadfully underpinned the party Ward and Local Council congresses which have been highlighted in the later part of this piece.
However, the wrecking of the party secretariat was the climax of the debilitating and episodic crises that have engulfed the party and was reinforced at the commencement of the congresses . Although this piece was not designed to apportion blames on this wicked and weird act of arson, it has been focused on bringing to the national burner APC’s brand of politics which is imbued in bitterness and desperation. It is this kind of worrisome reality that has intrinsically left our hard earned democracy in troubled state.
Accordingly, the question many people have not failed to ask is whether in a sane democratic milieu intra-party struggle for power and relevance should be taken to the terrific and desperate extent of wanton destruction of property and lives? Many have actually wondered why political propriety and decency are evidently in short supply in the ruling party, APC .
As a result not a few Imolites across the state have hidden their disparagement over the APC leaders’ drift into wreckage just to score a political point. This open political sore has for several days now remained a wide-ranging topic of discussions in several informal meeting places such as drinking palours, eateries, newsstands, village squares and so on in the state. Church ministers are even not left out as many of them have made the cross fire in Imo APC, issues of sermon and oration on the pulpits
Given that abnormality in its entirety is one of the critical features of journalistic news item, the media personnel have not failed to feast on the APC’s show of dishonour. Several local and national media organizations both print and electronic media have had it as their prominent news bulletins with banner headlines since the outbreak of the crisis. And this has evidently had far-reaching negative impacts on Imo state and the ruling APC.
Evidently, the APC Ward and Local Council Congresses have in no small way thrown up the deep-seated and strikingly sharp cracks palpable in the party in the state. It has also strengthened the horrifying and alarming factions that have become the lot of APC leaders in the state. The gladiators of the factions include: Governor Rochas Okorocha, the APC lawmakers in the state and the executive members of the Rescue Mission on one hand.
However, the other divide is a mixed bag of old and new leaders. Operating under the aegis of Imo Coalition group and headed by Senator Ifeanyi Ararume the other key members of this faction are: The Deputy Governor, Eze Madumere, Senator Osita Izunaso, Organizing Secretary of APC , Chief Jude Ejiogu, Senator Hope Uzodinma who joined the party a couple of weeks ago and Senator Ben Uwajimogu. Chief Ikedi Ohakim, former Governor of the state who is another new entrant into the party is believed to be a staunch member of this faction. The singular agenda of this rump is to stop Governor Okorocha from achieving his much orchestrated and mouthed move of handing the party’s governorship ticket to his in-law, Uche Nwosu
Since the commencement of the party congresses Saturday, May 5 2018, the cross-fire between the two factions has taken several disturbing and abysmal dimensions. Apart from setting fire to the party secretariat, Protests of various proportions have been organized both in Owerri and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. On several occasions manifestly enraged youths have taken to the streets of Owerri to protest the outcome of the party’s ward congress and the plan to conduct the local council and state congresses. They disturbed public peace and constituted nuisance by harassing and molesting road users thereby causing heavy vehicular congestion. Owerri and indeed the entire state have not known peace since APC commenced its incontrovertible doomed congresses thereby adding to the dense burden that has been weighing the Imolites down since the commencement of APC administration in the state
Besides, the embattled Governor Rochas Okorocha took a hurried trip to Daura, President Muhammadu Buhari’s hometown, cap in hand, to beg for the cancellation of the ward congress. The APC lawmakers are certainly not left out in the tragic drama, the utter confusion and debacle sprawling the party congresses. They abandoned their legislative duties on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 to join the Abuja protest for the cancellation of the ward congress and rejection of any purported local council and state congresses.
The growing catastrophe that trailed the ward congress in the state resulted in the intervention of the party’s National Working Committee that decided to reschedule the local council congress which was originally fixed for Saturday, May12, 2018. Instead of assuaging the crisis this move rather deepened the fiasco. Ararume group defiantly organized its own local government congress on Monday, May 14 while Governor Okorocha faction boycotted it absolutely. The plan of Governor Okorocha faction is obviously to hold its own on another date which would undoubtedly plunge APC in the state into a messier state.
Strangely, both Governor Okorocha and Senator Ararume have been engaging themselves in altercations, washing their dirty pants in the public. Governor Okorocha through his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo has labeled Ararume a political prostitute whose plan is to destroy APC in the state. According to him, Ararume’s agenda is to kill APC in the state in the same manner he destroyed the other political parties he pulled out from before joining APC. But Ararume who has been speaking through his Director of Contact and Mobilization, Chief Vitalis Ajumbe stated that the Coalition group is concerned about rescuing Imo APC from the devastating level Okorocha has subjected it. The rage is still unfolding at heightening latitude; the battle therefrom has continued to escalate without end in sight to the detriment of the Imolites.
Apart from the unassailable and gross misrule of the state by the APC controlled government led by Governor Okorocha, the wide-ranging crisis that has been bedeviling the party over its congresses is a further confirmation of APC’s incompetence and ineptitude to rule the state. It is on this score that many Imolites have been demonstrating their skepticism towards APC and therefore prepared to vote the party out in 2019
However,the argument canvassed in some publications that the Coalition group headed by Senator Ararume has come to rescue the party from Okorocha and to restore Imolites confidence in APC is pedestrian, hollow, feeble and absurd. The question is whether there is any fundamental difference between Okorocha and Ararume or Okorocha and Madumere, another key member of the Coalition? While Ararume threw his weight behind Okorocha’s candidature in the 2015 governorship election, he ceded his son to serve as a powerful Commissioner in Okorocha’s government. Madumere has worked with Okorocha for more than a decade before being appointed by Okorocha as his Deputy after removing the former Deputy Governor, Jude Agbaso in dubious circumstance.
Evidently, the three of them have for years now been joint travellers. It is just the desperate crave for governorship ticket that is the point of departure and not any desire for restoration of confidence. Imolites should therefore be wise and rise en masse in 2019 to end the growing level of insanity and impunity evident in the state by settling for a credible alternative, which to my modest assessment, is the People’s Democratic Party.