• Uzodinma, Okorocha
The feud between Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State and his predecessor, Senator Rochas Okorocha, is threatening the fabric of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
In the run-up to the 2019 general elections, one comment from then Governor Rochas Okorocha to then Senator Hope Uzodimma did not escape notice from Uzodimma, and which, perhaps, fashioned Uzodimma’s future relationship with Okorocha.
On January 29, 2019, at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri, where President Muhammadu Buhari was about to present the party’s governorship flag bearer for the general elections, Okorocha who sat next to Uzodimma, bent low and whispered to him, “You can never be a governor in Imo State.”
Uzodimma looked sharply at Okorocha, gave a rile smile and looked away.
Okorocha’s words would have come to pass if fate did not play a cruel trick on the eventual winner of the governorship election in the state, PDP’s Emeka Ihedioha.
On January 14, 2020, less than seven months after his assumption of office, the Supreme Court, in a monumental judgment declared Uzodimma as the governor; thus throwing Okorocha’s wish to the trash can.
However, if Okorocha’s wish that he would get a soft landing from the constant harassment from Ihedioha by having his fellow party man as governor was anything to go by, he was soon to be proven wrong.
Though he might have gotten a temporary respite following Uzodimma’s victory, as the governor’s attention was focused on consolidating his hold on power and extricating himself from the clutches of the Supreme Court following the application for a review of the judgment by Ihedioha, the boat turned when Uzodimma, now fully settled, decided to toe the path of Ihedioha in continuing the probe of Okorocha’s administration.
First on Okorocha’s worry was the numerous panels of inquiry set up by Ihedioha to probe his administration.
On top of the list was that the eight years of local government administration in Imo where billions of naira was said to have gone down the drain, and secondly on the fate of APC leadership in the state.
The party had been factionalised following the attempt by Okorocha to foist his son-in-law as his successor.
This led to the emergence of two factions: one led by Daniel Nwafor and the other by Marcon Nlemigbo.
While Okorocha’s wish was to have his installed executive led by Nwafor retained, Uzodimma had inclination towards Nlemigbo’s leadership.
On these scores, Okorocha sought an audience with Uzodimma and Uzodimma thereafter said, “Now as the APC governor, I had a meeting with the former Governor Rochas Okorocha.
He made two requests when I met him.
Unfortunately, those two requests were too difficult and if not impossible for me to grant and I feel that did not go down well with him.
The first request was for me to dissolve all the commissions of inquiry set up by Ihedioha on his administration for which I saw from the records that they have already spent huge sums of money for those people to do their work.
I told him clearly that it will be too difficult because the mood of the people is in favour of having those commissions to continue.
Now that was the first thing.
I told him to hold on if the commissions finish their work we will look at the areas we can help, but in the meantime if there are monies he can return so that we can use it to work while the commissions finish their work; that I will be happy to partner him on that.
“The second request was that he will want me to allow the Dan Nwafor executive to continue.
“I asked him why.
‘He said it’s because he wants to run for the position of the president of the country and he needs the structure.
“I said, have you asked me what I would run, because if what you want to run for is what I want to run, then I have to keep my own structure of the party.
“Eventually we got a judgment that court recognised Nlemigbo as chairman.
“Although, they have gone to court, if the court decides otherwise, I have no problem.
“I decided to support Nlemigbo at this time because, one, he is an experienced party administrator and he has gone through this road severally.”
Uzodimma also claimed that Okorocha asked him to recall the sacked elected local government chairmen
These words from Uzodimma might have been the root cause of the disaffection between the two Orlu men.
However, Uzodimma’s words did not go down well with Okorocha.
Speaking through his Special Adviser on Media, Sam Onwuemeodo, Okorocha faulted Uzodimma’s comment that he fell out with him because he refused to disband probe panels, allow Daniel Nwafor to continue as APC Chairman in Imo and recall sacked local government chairmen.
Okorocha said he had no problems with his successor; but that the governor was the one creating problems for himself and also inventing problems where they did not exist, and described Uzodimma’s recent attack on him as one example of such ugly developments.
Okorocha said, “The government in Imo as we speak or as we write, is APC in name, but totally PDP faction in structure and in actions.
“The governor has not done anything to show that he is of APC and that his government is that of APC.
“The government is made up of those who were with him in his own faction of the PDP.”
He was inaugurated in January, 2020, as governor.
The key or the main stakeholders of APC in the state and their supporters were all at the inauguration, including Rochas Okorocha, Ifeanyi Araraume, Uche Nwosu, et al.
But few weeks after the inauguration, the governor made his appointments of 106 people, including commissioners.
“He never deemed it necessary to bring in at least one known APC member in the state to make the list.”
As it stands, things appear to have fallen apart between the two men and the centre may not hold.
The rumble may create problems for Uzodimma in trying to have a firm grip of APC in the state.
The fact that he is a crossover from PDP to APC is not lost on the people and the circumstances of his assumption of office are still fresh.
There is still animosity in the air, with the governor trying to remove the stain of the Supreme Court judgment on his name.
Analysts are of the view that with more problems of governance to contend with, the renewed war with Okorocha is the least the party can afford at this time.
This is because Okorocha, as a former APC governor, still commands loyalty from majority of his party men.
Having inherited a fractured political structure, Uzodimma may be having a bigger problem controlling the “big boys” in the party.
This is complicated with the fact that Uzodimma has never been an APC man.
He still has his friends in PDP from where he crossed over to APC.
On top of all these, Okorocha still harbours animosity with his fellow Orlu brother.
Apart from their local politics, the former governor knew that without Uzodimma’s entrance into the race for the Douglas House, he would have succeeded in his succession plan.
Using Ahmed Gulak and a former APC National Chairman, Uzodimma snatched the APC apparatus in Imo.
Of course, all these are not lost on Okorocha and he may be looking for an opportunity to strike back.
This opportunity may provide itself in the oncoming election in Imo North Senatorial District where APC is testing its soul after the re-run election into the Isiala Mbano/Okigwe/Onuimo Federal Constituency in which APC snatched the seat from PDP.
The bigger test is who occupies the bigger Imo North Senatorial District made vacant by the death of its occupant, Ben Uwajumogu.
Already, the two factions: Nwafor (Okorocha) and Nlemigbo (Uzodimma), are squaring up.
This appears to be a litmus test for Uzodimma as most of the contestants are looking up for his support.
The problem appeared to have started from picking the party’s flag bearer for the election.
Both have opted for different modes of primary election.
While the Nwafor faction opted for direct primary, Nlemigbo went for consensus.
But there is a bigger problem for the Nlemigbo faction.
With the court’s recognition of Nwafor as the party chairman, Nlemigbo may be left in the lurch.
This is coupled with the fact that Nlemigbo is having a hammer over his head if he refuses to obey the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee’s directive to withdraw the suit he filed against the party’s recognition of the Dan Nwafor-led executive.
Uzodimma, while acknowledging the leadership of Nlemigbo may sacrifice him for the interest of the party.
He had also said that he was waiting for the outcome of the court’s decision before he took his stand on Nlemigbo.
It remains to be seen what the Gov. Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa reconciliation committee set up to reconcile aggrieved members of the party in Imo and Ogun states will come up with.
With all these, the opposition PDP is waiting on the wings.
It is a fact that the fortunes of APC in Imo plummeted with the Supreme Court decision and the new government is trying to finds its feet.
A columnist, Emeka Omeihe, writing on the Okorocha/Uzodimma feud, said these acrimonies were not the concern of Imo people, especially the workers and retirees who were groaning under the yoke of unpaid wages.
Omeihe who served in Ihedioha’s administration, said “that is not the real issue of interest to Imo people.
Their concern is about good governance and the capacity of those in power to deliver quality public goods and services to the constituents.
That is yet to happen.
Neither can self-serving altercations over the control of the party be of any help. Uzodimma said the mood of the people of the state supports the probes.
That is right.
Not only do they want the probes to run their full course, they yearn for a quick resolution to the plethora of allegations against the Okorocha government.”
Nwafor believes that the unity of the party lies on the shoulders of Uzodimma and Okorocha.
He believes that the sooner the two reconcile, the better for the party.
Nwafor, who sees a bright future for the party said, “The future of the party is bright.
But Governor Hope Uzodimma who is the leader of the party by virtue of being the governor should do more through his actions to unite the party more.
Okorocha for now is not fighting or has issues with the governor.
It’s incumbent on Hope to unite the party and carry everybody along.”
However, the Publicity Secretary of the party, FCC Jones Onwuasoanya, does not see any problem in APC.
According to him, the party will finally resolve the issues and become stronger.
He said: “The party will have a way of weeding impostors and forge ahead.
“We have only one authentic executive and another group of impostors.
“The national leadership will give the proper directive on the mode of primary to be adopted for Imo North.
“Ours is a democratic party with a good leadership and structure.
‘We’ll obey the directive of the national leadership.”