How Okorocha, Okechukwu resisted Oshiomhole, APC’s ‘suspension’ order
Last Wednesday, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) took its fence mending efforts further when it announced the lifting of suspension ban on some of its members. Among those that benefitted were, the Senator representing Imo West, Rochas Okorocha and Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu. Both men are foundation members of the party in the southeast
The ruling party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Issa Onilu, explained that the decision was in line with APC’s “deliberate policy of fairness and actions targeted at ensuring harmony within the party across the country.”
He noted that the disciplinary measure taken against the chieftains spoke volume about the party’s capacity and willingness to implement its own rules and enforce discipline whenever an infraction occurs.
Okorocha and Okechukwu were among prominent members of the party that received the sledgehammer in March this year, at the wake of the general elections.
Announcing their outright suspension from the party then, APC alleged they undermined its fortunes in their respective states. Lanre Issa Onilu, had noted: “Importantly, the NWC is closely monitoring the activities of our members across the country, particularly in the states these suspended members belong to.
“We wish to reiterate that any member of our party who takes any action solely or in line with the directives of the suspended members to undermine our party’s candidates in the coming governorship and House of Assembly elections would face disciplinary actions”
“The NWC noted how the suspended members have continued to campaign openly for other parties and candidates that are unknown to our great party, even while they have constituted themselves as opposition to APC candidates in their respective states.”
Resistance To The Order
Both men never accepted that the party ever suspended them. In fact, no sooner had the suspension been announced than Okorocha and Okechukwu rose to its opposition. They had criticized it as a figment of the imagination of the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole to justify his alleged incompetence and misrule in the party. They had insisted that one man in a bid to satisfy his personal interest, against what ultimately should benefit the party, had jettisoned the rules of the party. They had made reference to certain provisions of the party’s constitution and why it should not stand.
Okorocha had said: “Oshiomhole was determined right from the outset to destroy APC in the Southeast and unknown to party chieftains from the zone who had genuinely supported his chairmanship. He is playing the politics of 2023 in 2019 and, in playing it he has thrown caution to the wind.
“In all the Southeast states there are crises and all arising from the fraudulent manner he conducted the primaries. In 2015, Okorocha had joined the merger that gave birth to APC at the risk of his second tenure and was called all sorts of unprintable names. Yet, he won the governorship election, delivered 24 out of the 27 members of the House of Assembly for APC, two House of Representatives members and one senator.
“In 2019, Oshiomhole felt that such a man should be treated with disdain. He handed over the governorship ticket of the party to Hope Uzodinma who has never resigned his membership of the PDP on the floor of the Senate like others did and giving all kinds of flimsy excuses.
“And if Oshiomhole had meant well for APC and Imo people in particular, would he have given the ticket of the party to a man facing five corruption charges and having travel ban slammed on him, to be the party’s candidate?
“In the February 23 elections, Okorocha won in 10 out of the 12 councils in Orlu zone to emerge winner for Imo West Senatorial District. He also delivered four House of Representatives Candidates on the platforms of APC and AA respectively, with one Senate Seat and two House of Representatives Seats outstanding.
“And when the APC members across the nation are still celebrating the success of the party in the Presidential and National Assembly elections, Oshiomhole in his wisdom or lack of it, felt that the best action in the circumstance was to suspend two governors who did well in the elections, even when he played safe in 2015 and 2019 in Edo State without any known pressure”
Although it came to Okorocha as a surprise, many knew that it was the climax of a political battle over the governorship ticket of the party between the NWC’s preferred candidate and that of Okorocha. While NWC allegedly wanted Hope Uzodinma, Okorocha threw his hat into the ring and opted for his son in law, Uche Nwosu.
Failing to secure the ticket of the party for the son in law, Okorocha had openly supported his movement into the Action Alliance (AA), where he campaigned for votes to enable him win the election. This, was aside the various verbal wars he exchanged with Oshiomhole over politics of the state. Apparently to dwarf him and energize Uzodinma, the party had slammed the suspension order.
Okechukwu, on the other hand incurred the wrath of the party’s national chairman (Oshiomhole) for questioning the rationale for cancellation of the party’s primary for Enugu West senatorial zone midway into the exercise. Okechukwu, who participated in the process held at the UNEC Stadium, was already coasting to victory against Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku, a presidential aide when Oshiomhole ordered the process to be stopped without any reason. Ibekaku was awarded the ticket some days later, a development that incensed Okechukwu and he went full throttle to call for the sack of the national chairman over alleged incompetence and corruption.
Okechukwu, who insisted then that he never got any letter from the party, suspending him had attributed the abysmal performance of the party in the election to the unpopular decisions of the national chairman, which to him negated popular position.
“Our comrade chairman should not blame me for hoisting some unpopular National Assembly candidates for the APC in our zone. For I’m at loss how one contributed to the failure of his darling candidate, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku Nwagu in Egede, her hometown, and Udi Council, her primary council in the five that make up the senatorial district,” he had exclaimed.
Last Wednesday, when suspension order was abrogated, Okechukwu went public to insist that he was never “suspended”, explaining that the avalanche of goodwill messages and calls that called to congratulate him elicited the reaction.
“My Dear Compatriots, for the avoidance of doubt, sincerely one could have kept quiet, as silence is the best answer; but from the numerous congratulations it seems that the general public is unaware that the purported suspension was a big Fake News, as it is only Comrade Oshiomhole who can suspend party members in clear breach of the constitution of APC Constitution, however, may I as Christian forgive the drowning Comrade Oshiomhole over his transgressions for my purported sin was that one came hard on him over his misconduct in the 2019 APC’s primary elections, where he rigged me out in Enugu West Senatorial District. My election, a stone timed to kill two birds, one to send Senator Ike Ekweremadu packing and two; to garner 25% for President Muhammadu Buhari in Enugu State, an objective Oshiomhole stymied,” he said, stressing that his action violated article 21 of the party’s Constitution.
Okechukwu has maintained that “ the drowning Comrade Adams Oshiomhole instead of searching for straw to cling on should not only learn that rule of law governs our great party, but should rush home and quench the inferno he has simulated in Edo State, as charity has to begin at home”
Was The Suspension A Ruse?
Perhaps, this is the question that those who authored it are expected to answer. What has the APC achieved in the zone since the action was pronounced and denied by those it was meant to checkmate?
Does it qualify as a show of power by a single individual who was allegedly power drunk? To what extent has the “party’s capacity and willingness to implement its own rules and enforce discipline whenever an infraction occurs” been applied?
One ugly report that trailed the outcome of the 2019 general elections in the Southeast was the alleged complicity of its leaders in the zone that led to the signing away of most votes that should have accrued to the party to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Imprisoned Orji Kalu, the senator representing Abia north, confirmed this much at a meeting of the leaders of the zone in Enugu soon after the elections, when he called for a probe of roles played by individuals and leaders that denied the party votes in the zone. Kalu had insisted that some of the leaders openly worked for their opponents in the elections. As it is, the call did not see the next day.
In the Southeast, several state chapters are inflamed with members who create factions that have continued to unsettle the chapters among other anomalies happening daily.
A sanction as heavy as suspension from a political party should be made to correct anomalies, but in the case of the one under reference, it cannot be established how it impacted on the party.
Although, those who authored it said the men had been involved in “anti-party activities aimed at undermining in the zone”, the truth is that APC did not after all win election in the Southeast, even with the sanctions.
Even with the sanctions hanging on their neck, they were visible and participated actively in the activities of the party in the zone.
For Okorocha, that he was on suspension did not affect his election to the Senate, nor did he lose any of his rights and privileges in the party. Except the ticket that was denied his son in law, he has remained one of the strongest stakeholders of the party in the Southeast.
In fact, it was he that delivered the party in Imo State winning his election and was able to garner over 25% votes for Buhari in his state as well as other elective positions for APC.
In the case of Enugu State, where Okechukwu hails from, APC did not secure up to 25% votes for Buhari and did not win any position in the election in the state. Okechukwu, joined in the campaign for election of the APC in the state.
A chieftain of the party, Daniel Okpata said the purported suspension became unpopular within the party “because it was done in bad fate”, adding that, “those involved are members who were there at the formative stages of the party.”
“They were only calling recognition of party’s internal rules and you are busy shouting them down. Look at what happened in Enugu during the primary for instance, people have stayed from morning till evening and the process begun. Several persons had voted and left, only for a chairman to make a phone call cancelling the orderly exercise and changing the rules. It was unfortunate,” he said.
He insisted that those affected by the suspension did not lose anything, adding that, “Okorocha wanted to go to the Senate and presently, he is in the Senate. Okechukwu wanted to go to the Senate but was not given the ticket of the party. He is however, a strong member of the party and holding his appointment at the federal level.”
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