Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, has warned that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) risks serious setback in the 2023 general elections if its National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, continues with his present leadership style.
Okorocha, who blamed Oshiomhole solely for APC’s loss of key states in the South-East to the opposition People Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2019 general elections, made the disclosure, yesterday, after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
He warned that any attempt to further sideline the South-East in election and selection of principal officers of the incoming 9th National Assembly will worsen the party’s chances in future elections, especial-ly in the zone. According to him, Oshiomhole’s actions are capable of reducing the APC to a regional party, with serious setback ahead of the 2023 polls.
“He (Okorocha) should be ashamed today that he connived with the PDP to rig the Imo guber election in favour of the PDP justbecause his son-in-law lost the governorship ticket of the APC. Okorocha’s greed has destroyed his political career and he may not resurrect from it. “Our candidate in Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, is very popular and not a political lightweight like Okorocha, who could not even deliver himself in the senatorial election, not to talk of delivering his son-in-law’s governorship ambition. Okorocha used the resources of the state to work against the APC, yet he lost woefully.
“Whether Okorocha likes it or not, the APC is in safe hands under Oshiomhole and he will continue to pursue policies that will unite and strengthen the party, and which will ensure that the collective decision of the party and not that of Okorocha is supreme.
APC will continue to soar higher beyond 2023, it is only Okorocha’s political career that would be destroyed before 2023. Okorocha should hide his head in shame.” Speaking on the debate over the leadership of the 9th National Assembly and possibility of having a repeat of the 2015 scenario, Okorocha said: “I have been watching carefully what is happening in the National Assembly, it’s a very interesting drama. But, all I ask of them is that they should consider the South-East in their calculations.
“This nation will not be properly balanced if the South-East is not carried along properly in the affairs of the National Assembly. Nobody seems to be talking about the South-East, it looks like the South-East doesn’t have a place anymore, that is wrong, politically speaking and that will not be good for APC. Because there is going to be a bigger APC after President Buhari must have left the seat. “My fear now is that APC might have a serious setback in 2023 as the Oshiomhole- led executive is actually turning APC into a regional minority party, which shouldn’t be because of his mistakes. Right now, in the whole of South-East, we don’t have an APC governor. So, if there is any discussion in Nigeria now within the APC governors and President Buhari, there would be nobody from the South-East.
This is what the APC chairman has done in the zone. “I think it’s a capital attempt to frustrate the efforts of the South-East, but I appeal to every Nigerian to support the cause of the South-East. The cause is germane and it should be supported in whatever position that is due them. They shouldn’t think about giving South-East whatever position for giving sake. You can’t just wake up and give them any position.
The South-East is a key zone in this country and if we don’t get the number one seat, we should get the number two seat.” Asked why his party was not making any case for him to be issued with a Certificate of Return after he was declared winner of the Imo West senatorial election, Okorocha said: “I won’t be surprised because you know the imposition we suffered in the party. When you say the party, you talk about the leadership of that party; it’s not the party.
“I don’t have problem with the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, I only have problem with the chairman of the party, who took it upon himself to do the wrong thing against me for just no cause and to fight a battle that he can never win. He is the one that is behind all these impositions. Can you imagine, as I speak to you, the APC candidate in Imo State did not win a seat; APC does not have a councillor in Imo State now. It does not even have a member of the House of Assembly. But, the AA candidate has eight seats in the Imo State House of Assembly, two House of Representatives seats and they have one senator about to come to the Senate.
“This is why internal democracy must be respected. Let the will of the people prevail rather than this imposition. It is unfortunate what has happened in Imo State. At least, I have been vindicated for the fact that I said the APC candidate they are imposing on Imo people is not popular and he came from the opposition. For the first time, APC doesn’t have a seat in Imo State. When I was running the affairs of the party, we won 24 seats in the House of Assembly, we had governor, federal house members, but today, APC does not have any because of imposition,” he said. Okorocha maintained that withholding of his Certificate of Return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is unconstitutional as the returning officer, who claimed that he was forced to declare him (Okorocha) as winner of the election has not been able to name who held him hostage to make the declaration under duress.
He described as gangsterism, INEC’s declaration of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Emeka Ihedioha, as Imo State Governor-elect, saying such if not corrected, a time would come when a mad man could be conscripted and declared winner of an election in the country. Okorocha said Ihedioha didn’t win two-third of votes in the 27 local government areas in the state as required by law, adding that the votes cancelled were more than the margin with which the PDP candidate won. His words:
“The governorship candidate of PDP never won that election because the election flouted section 179 of the constitution, which says that you must have the highest votes and you must have 25 per cent in two-thirds of the local governments. Now, this gentleman who was declared the winner by the same INEC, had 135,000 votes from 24 local governments, but had over 130,000 votes from his three local governments. “Of course you know, he didn’t win that election. But, even at that, we had the highest mark. The returning officer of INEC was never patient to even calculate to know that there was 200,000 cancelled votes and there was supposed to be a rerun, thereby flouting that basic provision of the constitution, which says you must have 25 per cent in two-third.
“So, as far as I am concerned, there will be a rerun in Imo State and the professor that did that should either be de-robed or should be charged for that serious offence of not respecting the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. What this means is that someday, one crazy person might just walk on the street and take one mad man, give him result sheet and declare him winner even if the man does not belong to a party.” The governor said notwithstanding his problem with the ruling party, he maintains a cordial relationship with President Buhari and was in the Presidential Villa to invite him to commission several federal and state funded projects in Imo State before the end of May. According to him, “As a matter of fact, Buhari is a great man, he is a man of wisdom, a visionary leader. That is why you see some of us going along with him.”
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