Imo APC Ward Congress: What Really Happened – By Onwuasoanya FCC Jones
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had for the past few months been embroiled in plans to conduct fresh congresses and national convention in order to usher in new leadership or re-legitimatize the leadership of the Party across the four tiers of the Party’s leadership structure, viz; the ward, LGA, State and national. This move tallies completely with the provisions and proclamations of the Party’s Constitution and the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In fact, the Party was almost already at fault in law, having failed to conduct mini conventions and the congresses since after 2014, when it held its maiden national convention.
Those who are averse to democracy and democratic ethos but somehow found themselves at the center table where democratic dishes are served and are in fact among the chief chefs of our insipid democratic meals were comfortable with the non-conduct of these congresses and in fact went ahead to lay a dangerous booby-trap that would have amounted to putsch against the Buhari led administration and the APC as a political Party, by ensnaring the Party’s NEC into adopting an illegal tenure elongation gambit. This democratic putsch was countered by the strong forces led by Vice-President Professor Yemi Osibanjo and Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha who convinced the President to immediately order for a reverse of that NEC decision and immediately commence with processes leading to the national convention of this great Party founded as a rescue train for our democracy.
This reversal did not go down well with majority of the Party’s enemies, especially those who have found themselves in the NWC and the moles of the opposition who were already celebrating that the APC will not be in existence by the time 2019 elections are conducted as they had already sent their goons to courts to dismember the Party in the judicial abattoir. The John Odigie Oyegun led NWC was immediately bought into the bargain that Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State was their chief-enemy, because of the governor’s insistence that democratic ethos must be followed to ensure that the Party is salvaged from the hawks and that the Party stays in line with its own rules. Governor Okorocha’s next mortal sin against the Oyegun led NWC is his insistence that a former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole should become the next national chairman of the Party, in order for the Party to be renewed, restored and ready to sweep off the remnants of the oppressive and corrupt elements in Nigeria come 2019 general elections.
As a leader committed to the core ideas of democracy and rule of law, Governor Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha returned to Imo State to begin serious mobilization of Party members across the State for the congresses. From the day the National Convention and Congress Planning Committee of the Party was inaugurated and the timetable for the congresses published, no day passes without the governor summoning a meeting of the Party’s leadership structures across the State. He made sure that the Party’s leadership structures were well informed about the activities of the Party at the national level and the roles each member of the Party was supposed to play towards making the Party stronger. He consulted widely with the grassroots structure of the Party, led by the State Development Councils across the 305 wards of the State. For the governor and his team, all that was needed is an election and nothing else. Therefore, the governor concentrated all his efforts at mobilizing the ordinary members of the Party for the congresses.
On the other hand, some stranded politicians in the State whose only idea of democracy is the; “the hijack of political power by civilians through brigandage and sometimes, criminal methods” pitched permanent tent in Abuja, the federal capital territory, going from one office to the other, bribing their fellow felons with the sole intent of hijacking the Party’s structure from Abuja without recourse to the ordinary people. These men and the few unconscionable women among them galvanized a large financial war chest from among themselves with the sole intent of buying off the process instead of buying into the people’s dreams.
The governor regularly emphasized that his biggest political strength lies in the ordinary people; the artisans, the peasants, the youths, the women and indeed those considered the church rats by the big men and top players in the system. Governor Okorocha always kept the people abreast of latest happenings within the Party and charged them to remain focused on sustaining the gains of the people oriented governance he has initiated in the State. Conversely, the league of Imo oppressors got themselves into a team of hijackers and concentrated on plans to take the power away from the ordinary masses. Of course, they believe that with their strategic positions in the Party, one as the National Organizing Secretary of the Party and another as the Secretary of the Party’s National Convention and Congress Planning Committee, they were in good stead to wrest powers from the people. Therefore, while the governor expended funds mobilizing the ordinary people, they expended their own ill-gotten funds gratifying the Party’s hierarchy, the security apparatus and even the electoral umpire. Their few men in the State were busy compiling lists of some dead, some non-existing and some animals names which they planned to smuggle in as officials of the Party through their acolytes who are presently in charge of documentation and planning in the Party’s national office.
On 5th of May, when the congresses of the Party was supposed to start at the ward level, the real members of the Party in the 305 wards of the State were already in their wards waiting for the Party’s officials and monitors to conduct the congress, but the moles within the Party, including one of them whose only claim to the Party’s membership was a television appearance few days ago, where he declared that he had joined the APC, lodged in Owerri, the State capital putting finishing touches to the lists they had already compiled and waiting to hijack the Party’s election materials and officials for the purpose of manipulating the process.
Unfortunately, these moles almost had their way in their bid to hijack the Party from the ordinary people for whom the Party is meant for. As the day tires, the governor became worried that the officials of the Party sent to conduct the congress did not have the materials with which the congress was supposed to be conducted. He began to ask questions. Already, all the true Party members and the governor’s foot soldiers were already in their local wards preparing for the congress, but there were no materials or officials anywhere around. At this stage, a number of the Party’s real members, especially, the youths were getting agitated and spoiling for war. Correspondences were established from the 305 wards in the State to Owerri, and the reports they got were not satisfactory enough. Most of these Party members across the wards went ahead to conduct the congresses on their own, improvising election materials where necessary, while the others like in my own ward of Umuokwara/Umuezeaga ward in Ideato North LGA went for the affirmation method, whereby majority of the Party’s present executive were returned unopposed after their nomination had been affirmed by majority of the Party members present.
Information was later to filter in that the election officials deployed from Abuja to oversee the conduct of the Party’s ward congresses in Imo had been hijacked by the same suspects. When these officials finally surfaced at the Imo Government House, they were without the materials with which the congress was supposed to be conducted. This raised serious eyebrows. Of course, this is a serious criminal infraction and felonious affront on the government of Nigeria and Imo State, especially. The governor took action. He insisted and correctly, too, that the congress would not hold, except the election materials were provided and openly distributed. The governor was not interested in using his powers as a sitting governor to intimidate any member of the Party, he was only interested in ensuring that the interest of the majority was safeguarded, that democratic processes were upheld and that the majority of Party members were not denied their rights to choose who leads them and who gets what from the Party at each point in time.
In Owerri, the governor was not letting things slip off. He had sworn to keep fighting on the side of the people, and there was no way he could be alive and watch the same oppressors from whom he rescued the people come back to hijack power and resume their oppression of the people. A number of APC youths from across the State had already started converging in Owerri on hearing about the criminal diversion of electoral materials and officials by the same league of Imo oppressors and their latest recruits. It is instructive to note that while members of the Party were in their different wards in the State conducting the ward congresses, this group who believe in hijacking of power converged for a party at the Party’s State Secretariat in Owerri. They had already hired disc jockeys, mounted canopies and hired chairs to celebrate their victory. They were dancing their fraud away, while the real democrats and true APC members were in their wards sweating it out to ensure a transparent, rancor free and credible Party congress as directed by the governor.
It is instructive too to note that from the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere to the least of these stranded and politically displaced politicians, none was found in their wards on the morning of that congress. Majority of them actually returned to Owerri from Abuja on the morning of the congress, and went straight, not to their local wards, but to either hotels, their campaign offices, or to the Party secretariat where they threw a party having been allegedly assured that their lists would be submitted at the national headquarters of the Party. It bears repetition that these men do not have any regard for the people, and a politician who does not have any regard for the people in the process leading to an election, will completely dislocate from the people, in policies, actions and inactions should they by any magic of politics take power.
The governor did not waste time in making sure that the Party’s youths did not get unhinged as emotions were already running riot when they learnt that the same old thieves and people persecutors had once again taken the route they are known for. The youths felt derided and were desperate to teach this league of oppressors a bitter lesson that they will not forget in haste. The security agencies in the State had to be involved to investigate the whereabouts of the congress materials and as well to reassure the youths that these oppressors will not have their way.
The governor ordered the questioning and detention of the congress committee members till they have provided the materials with which the congress would be conducted. The chairman of the committee, one Chief Okorie in his statement to the Police claimed that he had not been given the congress materials by the Party’s National Organizing Secretary, Chief Osita Izunaso. Curiously, Chief Izunaso denied having any knowledge of the whereabouts of these sensitive materials. However, another twist was added to the drama when the chairman of the committee who was technically in Police detention and helping police to investigate the whereabouts of sensitive materials meant for the Party congress in Imo State, disappeared, while under police custody.
Senator Osita Izunaso was arrested and detained by the Police because by the police’ preliminary findings, the former senator of the federal republic and serving national organizing secretary of the APC was at the center of this very criminal act. His home was cautiously searched. While the Commissioner of Police in the State, Mr. Chris Ezike has so far discharged his responsibilities creditably, Imolites, especially, APC members in the State are anxious to know what really happened to these election materials and how a suspect under police custody could escape. If election materials meant for the conduct of ordinary ward congress of a Party in a State could develop wings without trace, then, Nigerians will not be wrong to question the preparedness of the Police to ensure the safety of election materials during the 2019 general elections. The only way to restore confidence in the Nigerian electoral process is by ensuring that these sensitive materials meant for the ward congress in Imo State are not only found but also those found culpable in its disappearance are prosecuted according to the extant laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. While, a formal letter to that effect is in the works, the APC National Working Committee, as presently constituted has shown a high level of incompetence, corruption and treason and should therefore disqualify itself from office, forthwith, as they constitute serious embarrassment to Party members across the nation.
The Party can save itself further embarrassment by suspending the duo of Chief Osita Izunaso and Senator Benjamin Uwajimogu who have obviously appropriated the authority given to them by the Party to advance some clique and criminal interests. The Party’s NWC cannot continue to harbor these two men who have shown through their speeches and actions that are at a loss as regards what democracy really means and will do anything to derail even the most basic democratic principles. By their positions, Chief Osita Izunaso is the Party’s chief planner, while Senator Benjamin Uwajimogu is the record keeper of congress and convention materials for the Party. There is no how these materials for the ward congresses would have gone out without their knowledge and the fact that these materials got missing shows that they are either incompetent, corrupt, criminal minded or all of the above, and in any case, are not qualified to retain their positions in the Party.
For the meantime, the Party has been put on notice that even though some Party members across the State went ahead to conduct their own ward congresses, the absence of sensitive materials meant for that exercise has rendered every action taken in that regard null and void. Party members in the State are therefore waiting for further directive from the national headquarters of the Party on when the ward congress of the Party will hold in Imo State. This comes with an assurance that Imo APC members will continue to resist any attempt at derailing democracy in the State by the same league of oppressors who seem to have taken an oath before some evil deities that Imo people must not be allowed to enjoy the freedom they gained in 2011.
The governor has in a meeting he held with SDC members in the State reiterated his commitment to the safeguarding of the people’s interest and protection of democratic principles, no matter whose ox is gored. Those who have sworn to deprive the people of their right to choose who represents them in a democracy should know that they have automatically declared a war against the people and should not expect to have any peace. The action of the Imo League of Oppressors have shown a serious disdain for the people of Imo State and I am confident that Imo people, especially, the youths will not sit by and swallow this insult without meting appropriate responses.