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Imo 2019: Araraume, APGA and Anambra political musketeers

By News Express on 12/10/2018

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Though unambiguous, the title of this piece needs a clarifying response. The response or answer, expectedly, should emanate from the cabal of Anambra political musketeers constituting the national leadership of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and a few political undertakers from Imo, acting as their canvassers.

This assumption is empirically made with boldness and temerity having monitored APGA in Imo State and its political misfortune for about two decades. After years of unpalatable political trajectory, many had expected the party to harness its promising potentials and political solidity with a degree of sincerity, diligence and dialogue to re-launch itself to Douglas House.

Apparently strengthened by the array of seasoned professionals, technocrats and men of integrity as governorship aspirants, APGA was credibly perceived as the alternative party with capacity to produce the next governor of Imo state. The party's chances, indeed, skyrocketed upon seeming irreconcilable crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The outgoing governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, is entangled in an endless supremacy battle with other leaders over his insistence to foist his son-in-in-law as successor, under the platform of the broom-waving party. The crisis-ridden Imo APC and its combatant leaders have taken their dirty greed-driven political battle to a crescendo, which may cost them the governorship and other elective positions in the forthcoming election.

Before Sen. Ifeanyi Araraume's foray into the party at the eve of conclusions for the primary elections; abandoning the Imo APC coalition ship, Imo APGA already had a surplus of good governorship materials. They include the immediate governor of the state, Dr. Ikedi Ohakim, Chairman of ABC Transport Plc, Mr Frank Nneji, Hon Uche Onyeagocha, Chief Charles Onyeagboka, Dr Sam Amadi and Chief Bright Nwanne.

Others are Hon Daniel Kanu, Hon Nick Opara-Ndudu, Chief Okey Eze, Chief Humphrey Anumudu and Mr Stanley Amuchie, an astute banker who just resigned as group general manager, Zenith Bank Plc.

Prior to this moment, APGA, as a political party, had its footings and stronghold in Owerri zone. The survival of the party in Imo State is largely attributable to some key personalities from Owerri zone, including Capt Emmanuel Iheanacho, former minister of Interior, a BoT member of the party as well as gubernatorial candidate in Imo State during the 2015 general elections. Every decent calculation made by the party towards the forthcoming governorship contest in Imo State had favoured Owerri zone that has suffered political marginalisation. Recall that since the return of democracy in 1999, Owerri zone has not had a shot in Douglas House. From the time the Old Imo State was created, Owerri zone had less than two years under the aborted regime of Evan(s) Enwerem.

Unfortunately, Anambra's cash-and-carry politics which dangerously manifested in Araraume's last minute entry into the party didn't consider some of these obvious but decisive factors. The Heartland State, incidentally, turned to goldmine and oil wells to these musketeers. They began to fleece the aspirants through all manner of payments, including exorbitant nomination and expression of interest forms. They, criminally, coerced the aspirants into making whopping monetary donations under the guise of book launch. They even released their aides who flooded Imo extorting money and posing as givers of the tickets.

Not yet done, the Anambra political buccaneers introduced corrupt measures totally unknown to the Electoral Act and the party's nomination process. They printed forms for delegates in each of the elective positions, and foisted same on poor APGA members at the cost of N10,000. With the positions of the State Assembly, Federal House of Representatives, Senate, governorship and presidency, the Anambra APGA managers raised for their pleasure and affluence several millions of naira.

But, the greatest undoing by these Anambra political merchants is the show of lack of capacity to organise and conduct primary elections to justify the huge sums collected from the aspirants and their followers. If APGA had packaged events that could be adjudged by any stretch of imagination as primaries, and probably return the highest bidder as its governorship candidate, that alone could have watered down the anger.

Rather than doing something like that, the Anambra political merchants and their co-conspirators from Imo fled Owerri and regrouped in Awka and Abuja to manufacture a list that reportedly returned Araraume as the governorship candidate. Other elective positions were indiscriminately awarded to their preferred aspirants.

Suffice to say at this point that I am not in any form standing against Araraume's renewed governorship bid. As a matter fact, I admire his doggedness and resilience, which extol him as a strong politician. However, the way and manner the Isiebu Mbano-born businessman and politician bulldozed, dismantled and outsmarted everyone to snatch the gubernatorial ticket of APGA in Imo State will politically work against him. No doubt, he showed enough capacity and financial war chest to convince the Anambra musketeers and clandestinely secured their support; the only sacred fact Araraume should bear in mind remains that Imo 2019 governorship election is entirely an Imo affair.

This development becomes more worrisome as investigation revealed that he never consulted with key stakeholders of the party. As a matter of fact, Araraume has not at any point shown regard to APGA as a party and its leaders. Instead of securing a good deal via negotiations, Araraume paid his allegiance and submitted his loyalty to Anambra political musketeers. He reportedly paid a huge sum to them to secure the Awka and Abuja deals. His declaration later at the Owerri party secretariat was merely an exercise of finalizing his top-bottom approach to the deal.

There is no gainsaying that Ararume's APGA governorship candidacy has just dumped seeds of political crisis, discord and bitterness. His governorship project is projected by many political analysts to suffer a huge setback in Owerri zone, as mass exodus looms in the party. Almost all the governorship aspirants and their followers from Owerri zone have started packing the bags and baggage from APGA to begin a political journey to another platform.

With Dr Ikedi Ohakim reportedly moving to Accord Party (AP) with many others, Araraume will not have a field day in his Okigwe zone, since the former governor is still a force to reckon with in the zone.

In the same vein, Onyeaguocha has opened discussion with the PDP governorship candidate, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, who, as it stands, remains the only hope for Owerri zone in 2019. Before activating his second plan, the outspoken and fearless Onyeaguocha lambasted the national leadership of APGA and accused its national chairman, Chief Victor Oye and the governor of Anambra State, Chief Willy Obiano, of fleecing the aspirants.

He stated: “The APGA governorship primary election which supposed to hold in the state on Friday, 5th October, 2018, could not hold and was rescheduled on the following day being Saturday, 6th October, 2018 which also could not hold. The election was later shifted to Sunday 7th October 2018, and also could not hold. In all these three days which the election suppose to take place, there was no delegate list, no returning officer and INEC officials. So, any one who goes about claiming that there was a primary election in the state or claiming to be the governorship candidate of the party in the state is just deceiving himself.

"We, therefore, call on the public to disregard any rumour or claim by anyone who describes himself as the party's standard-bearer.

“However, we also express our dissatisfaction and total disappointment on the leadership of the party led by Victor Oye and Willy Obiano for not having the capacity to conduct a simple governorship primary; rather, they are only interested in duping aspirants huge amount of money. It is a pity and very unfortunate that APGA today parades functional criminals as leaders. It is, indeed, a shame.”

Uncertainty also awaits Araraume in Orlu Zone, where a colourful Sen Hope Uzodinma or Hon Uche Nwosu, Okorocha's son-in-law, is likely to emerge through an ongoing harmonisation as APC governorship candidate. This suggests that Araraume, who may be fighting his last Imo gubernatorial battle, is politically walking on a tight rope.

Can Araraume salvage the tsunami that is about to hit and destablise Imo APGA? What can his Anambra political masters do at this critical movement to help win at the poll? Can Owerri zone accept Araraume's candidacy, and on what basis? What is APGA and Araraume putting on the table for Owerri zone? What mission or vision is driving Araraume's 2019 governorship project? What constitutes his electoral message? Beyond uprooting Okorocha and his family members, what agenda is Ararume pursing?

While expecting Araraume and his team to respond to the above posers, his capacity to weather the storm and probably launch himself into the hearts of those critical stakeholders of Imo APGA, whom he never consulted ab initio, is one of the things political watchers are desirous to observe.

•Uzoukwa, a seasoned journalist and PR practitioner, is currently pursuing his Doctorate Degree on Mass Communication in Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri.

Source News Express

Posted 12/10/2018 10:26:58 AM

 

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