Ahead of the February 16 and March 2 general election, one of the most disturbing questions within the fold of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC is whether the party will expel one of its arrowheads chieftains in the South East geopolitical zone, Rochas Okorocha.
Okorocha, the Governor of Imo State and only APC Governor in the South East has been suspended by the State Chapter of the party for alleged anti – party activities and accordingly recommended his expulsion to the APC National Working Committee, NWC.
Chairman of the APC Imo State Caretaker Committee, Marcellinus Nlemigbo identified the anti-party activities of the governor as; sponsorship of a rival political party, Action Alliance (AA) in Imo State and its governorship candidate, Uche Nwosu as well as open denunciation of APC and its governorship candidate in the state, Hope Uzodimma.
The caretaker Committee which said its action is in line with Article 21 (B) I-VI of the APC constitution wrote to the APC National chairman, Adams Oshiomhole informing him of the suspension and called for the governor’s expulsion.
According to Nlemigbo, “a letter by the Imo State chapter of the APC signed by the chairman conveyed the suspension to the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole. We regretted that Okorocha who is the party’s candidate for Imo West Senatorial District has vowed to undermine the APC and its electoral interest”.
But reacting to the suspension, Okorocha through his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo dismissed the action stressing that he still remains APC Leader in Imo, arguing that there is no faction of the APC.
Onwuemeodo said, “There is only one APC in the State with Hon. Daniel Nwafor as the Chairman and Owelle Rochas Okorocha as the leader. Any other group claiming to be a faction of Imo APC must obviously be a gang of 419ers or league of fraudsters who are experts in issuance of dud cheques and collecting billions for jobs not done.
“The only contentious issue in Imo APC is that the National Chairman of the Party, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, imposed a known PDP member and a known character in the state on the party as its governorship candidate, and by so doing pushing the party and its members to a very tight corner especially when it comes to the issue of marketing a candidate.
Okorocha has been at war with the Adams Oshiomhole led NWC of APC over the refusal to make his son-in-law Uche Nowsu the governorship candidate of the party for Imo in the March 2 nationwide governorship election while Nwosu with the backing of his father in -law has cling the governorship ticket of AA.
What remains uncertain is whether Oshimhole would use his vantage position as APC National Chairman to take a pound of flesh from Okorocha by implementing the recommendations of the Imo State APC EXCO to expel the governor less than a month to the election he is contesting for senatorial seat.
This would however be dependent on the decision of the party’s National Executive Committee, NEC in which Okorocha is also a member as provided by the APC Constitution. Article 21 of the APC Constitution provides that:
“Where it is proposed to expel a member of the Executive Committee, political office holder (governor), or a member of a Legislative House from membership of the Party, such a proposal shall be submitted to the National Executive Committee, which after deliberations on the matter may confirm or reject the proposal. A decision to expel a Member of the Party taken or confirmed by the National Executive Committee shall be submitted to the Board of Trustees for ratification”.
Speaking on the issue, Lanre Issa-Onilu, APC National Publicity Secretary who hailed the action of the Imo State APC EXCO said NWC would soon sit and consider the report, examine the facts and take further actions.
The APC Spokesman said, “What has happened in Imo shows clearly that APC means business and every member of the party is equal. Everyone has a vote. The vote of the street trader and that of the governor both are equal as far as APC is concerned.
“Let me say clearly, if you look at the party’s constitution, your membership starts from the ward level and there are certain disciplinary measures that your ward can bring to bear on you if you have gone against the laws of the party.
“So, I think the media should be commending this party. For the first time in this country it is possible for a sitting governor to be given a query and suspended by ordinary members of the party. That is what happens in advanced democracies. That is the world view that this party shares. That is why it is a progressive ideology, an ideology that recognises that every human matters and every member of this party is as important as any other person.
“We don’t have the facts yet, if they are bringing it to the NWC we will look at the issues and when we are looking at the issues somebody been governor, councillor or commissioner won’t play any role. We will look into that. We deserve some accolades for ensuring internal democracy.
“NWC has not met. When we meet and we see the report then we will be able to know if it is true and then relate with the facts and take further actions depending on what the facts are. Whatever they have done, they have right at the ward level once they comply with rules”.
As the Nlemigbo-led Caretaker Committee of Imo APC awaits the verdict of the Oshiomhole led NWC on Okorocha, the governor known for political battles was already fighting back as the dissolved Nwafor EXCO loyal him expelled the state APC governorship candidate, Uzodinma from the party.
Nwafor said Uzodinma was expelled on the basis of alleged inordinate and anti-party activities and accused him of running a parallel executive as well as working with a senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) instead of Okorocha who is contesting for the senatorial seat on the APC platform.
According to him, “Hope Uzodinma has been sponsoring the All Progressives Grand Alliance Senatorial candidate, Senator Osita Izunaso, instead of the APC Senatorial candidate in Imo West, Governor Rochas Okorocha. He has also been running parallel exco in his Omuma ward and issuing party cards without recourse to party excos.
“This is to inform you that the All Progressives Congress, Omuma Ward of Oru East Local Government Area in Imo State, has expelled Senator Hope Uzodinma from the party due to certain inordinate and anti-party activities perpetrated by him and his cohorts”.
But Issa-Onilu, APC National Spokesman rejected the purported expulsion of Uzodinma by the former State EXCO of the party and warned all APC faithful in Imo that the National leadership will not condone acts of indiscipline from members.
“We want to state categorically that the former Imo State Working Committee of the APC led by Nwafor was dissolved after majority of members of our party in Imo State lost confidence in their ability to lead the party to victory in the forthcoming general elections, especially due to their involvement in several anti party activities.
“Consequently, the NWC had since set up a Caretaker Committee in Imo State led by Chief Marcelinus Nlemigbo to pilot the affairs of the party in Imo State.
“Therefore, Nlemigbo remains the only recognised Imo State Chairman and any decision which does not emanate from this recognised Caretaker Committee as regards the affairs of the APC in Imo State is null and void.
“We call on our teeming supporters in Imo State to remain steadfast and disregard such reports as it does not have the blessings of the NWC.
“The NWC is paying keen attention to events as they unfold in Imo State and the party would always take appropriate measures to protect the interests of the party. Let it be stated clearly that APC would not tolerate indiscipline from any member of the party under any guise”, he warned.
James Kwen, Abuja