By Emmanuel Aziken
The long-suppressed fury of members of the All Progressives Congress, APC in the Southeast against Governor Rochas Okorocha finally burst out last Tuesday. It came when Mr. Osita Okechukwu, the director general of the Voice of Nigeria, VON in an unusual step called out the Imo State governor as a liability to the party and its leading 2019 presidential aspirant, Muhammadu Buhari.
Okorocha, the only governor elected on the platform of the APC in the Southeast had come to regard himself as the visioner of the party in the Southeast region. He had in that vein about a year ago conferred the titular leadership of the party in the Southeast on the former president of the Senate, Senator Ken Nnamani. When party members from the region muttered, the governor went into a ramble on how foundation members of the party like Dr. Chris Ngige, Dr. Ogbonnonya Onu were unfit to lead the party in the region.
In Imo State, several pioneer members of the party have been scandalised by the political foibles of the governor. Undoubtedly, one of the greatest accidents of the Okorocha story in Imo is the muscling out of some of the party’s most conscientious members including Uche Onyegocha, the former member of the House of Representatives. Onyegocha’s historical position in Igbo political renaissance is signposted by the fact that he was the first person ever elected on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, having been elected to the House in the first election the party stood for in 2003.
Onyegocha’s moral fibre was further accentuated when he stood out as perhaps the only Igbo member of the House of Representatives who turned down the N50 million third term money. An early supporter of the 2015 Buhari presidential aspiration, Onyegocha like several early supporters of the president was frozen out from the government that was inaugurated. At home, the political foibles of his governor forced him out of the APC last year.
So when Okechukwu intervened last Tuesday to the effect that Governor Okorocha should not be seen as the poster boy of the APC in the Southeast, he apparently meant sense to some people. Mr. Okechukwu’s intervention came in the wake of the continuing brouhaha that arose from Okorocha’s plans to foist his son (in law), Uche Nwosu as the APC’s governorship candidate in the 2019 election in Imo State.
That scheme is already galvanising leading Imolites including Archbishop Anthony Obinna of the Roman Catholic Church to action. The Imo government, however, sees all such oppositions to its political schemes as treachery, and a call to battle. Okechukwu had in an interview with a national newspaper alleged “What we lost in APC is because of him.
He is a man who doesn’t believe in himself, and he tells himself lies.” Okorocha’s media team which does not waste time to respond to any criticism was swift with his spokesman, Sam Onwuemeodo replying thus: “Mr. Okechukwu is among of those who have the erroneous feeling that the only way they can grow in APC is by attacking or pulling down Governor Rochas Okorocha. And the man has been doing it religiously without a response from us.” Okechukwu, Dr. Onu, the late Prof. Dora Akunyili were among the earliest facilitators of the Buhari political project.
So when Okechukwu alleged as he did last Tuesday that Okorocha should not be seen as a poster boy for Buhari’s intentions towards Ndigbo, he probably may have stated the obvious. However, in the light of allegations of discrimination against Ndigbo by the Buhari administration especially, Okechukwu’s projections of himself as a better apostle of the Buhari philosophy could also be a tough sale.
So, head or tail, Ndigbo say that they are at a loss whoever between Okorocha or Okechukwu sees himself as a better champion of Buhari in the Southeast. That is what is called the devil’s alternative.