Two days after President Muhammadu Buhari was declared the winner of Nigeria’s presidential election, the cracks within his party have again come to the fore.
Buhari is considered a rallying point for diverse interests within the APC. All interests within the party worked together for his victory.
However, some officials of the party, including two of its governors had declared they would support candidates of other parties for governorship and state assembly elections in their states.
On Friday afternoon, the APC announced the suspension of the two governors, Rochas Okorocha of Imo and Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun.
Two others suspended were the Niger Delta minister, Usani Usani, and the Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu.
The NWC also recommended the expulsion of the governors and the presidential appointees from the ruling party in a recommendation sent to APC national executive committee, the party’s highest decision-making organ, for ratification.
All four suspended officials are known allies of Mr Buhari who played controversial roles during the presidential campaign rally in Ogun and Imo. In both states, Mr Buhari made statements that suggested he was asking party supporters to vote for the governorship and state assembly candidates of their choice irrespective of the party.
Messrs Amosun and Okorocha have had running battles with the party leadership after their preferred candidates for the upcoming governorship and state assembly elections were rejected by the APC.
Both governors, who won senatorial seats on the APC platform last Saturday, are now backing their preferred candidates who defected to other parties.
Reacting to his suspension, Mr Okorocha said the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, has ‘thrown caution to the wind’ in his politicking.
He said the chairman is working to destroy the party in the South-east zone.
Mr Okorocha made his position known in a statement sent to Punch newspaper.
“Adams Oshiomhole was determined right from the outset to destroy APC in the South-East and unknown to party chieftains from the zone who had genuinely supported his chairmanship,” he said.
The Imo governor said Mr Oshiomhole, with the suspension, was playing politics of 2019 and 2023.
“He is playing the politics of 2023 in 2019 and in playing it, he has thrown caution to the wind. In all the South-East states there are crises and all arising from the fraudulent manner he conducted the primaries.”
Mr Okorocha did not elaborate on what he meant by “politics of 2023 in 2019,” but there has been intense tussle within the APC that after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure in 2023, the presidency should move to the South. Messrs Okorocha and Okechukwu are at the forefront of it moving to the South-east while major politicians from the South-West including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and ex-Lagos governor Bola Tinubu want the presidency to go to the South West. Mr Okorocha, should he remain in the APC till then, would be a contender for the presidency from the South-east.
In his statement, Mr Okorocha narrated how he played a major role in the formation of the APC.
He lashed at Mr Oshiomhole for backing a governorship candidate with ‘five corruption charges’ and ‘travel ban. He was referring to Hope Uzodinma, a senator who is the APC candidate in Imo in the March 9 gubernatorial election.
“In 2015, Governor 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.
“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.”
Mr Okorocha boasted of his exploits in terms of winning elections for his party in the last polls, accusing Mr Oshiomole of cutting short the celebration mood.
“In the February 23, 2019 Presidential and National Assembly election, Governor Okorocha won in ten, out of the twelve local governments 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.
”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 election, even when he played safe in 2015 and 2019 in Edo State without any known pressure.”
“Again, Oshiomhole coming up with the purported expulsion this time was only acting out of the fear that God in his infinite Mercy could give Governor Okorocha a role to play in the Senate, in the overall interest of the nation.”
“The truth is that Oshiomhole is only labouring in vain to play his own part of the deal that warranted his giving out the tickets of the party to non-deserving elements like in the case of Imo.”
“Finally, APC especially in the South-East and in Imo, in particular, will outlive Oshiomhole. Men like him hardly sleep with their two eyes closed. They always sleep with their eyes open because they have murdered sleep with their actions and inactions. And unfortunately for him, the purported expulsion can’t stand because the law has taken care of it even long before now.”
Okechukwu not briefed
In his reaction, the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, said he was yet to be notified of his suspension from the APC.
“One has not gotten a letter of suspension from my great party,” he said.
Mr Okechukwu said contrary to the party’s belief that his actions affected the performance of the party in the just concluded election, he worked for the party.
“One had taken time and resources to campaign vigorously for my great party and even set up the Zikist-Buharist-Movement (ZBM), an offshoot of Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) of which am a foundation member.
“It is on record that with ZBM we toured the nooks and crannies of Enugu and indeed the South East, canvassing for votes for our great party.
“Am also instrumental to the most consistent advert placed in several media in the South East, on behalf of our great party” he said.
He, therefore, said they should not be blamed for the performance of the party in the South East.
“Accordingly, one should not be blamed for the triumph of bigotry in Enugu State and South East in general.
“Our chairman should not blame me for hoisting some unpopular National Assembly candidates for the APC in our zone.
“For I am at a loss how one contributed to the failure of his darling candidate, Mrs Juliet Ibekaku Nwagu in Egede, her home town and Udi local government her primary local council in the five that make up the senatorial district.”
He also believes the suspension may not be unconnected with those who “want to sideline their enemies in this season of contestation.”