By Mba Ogbonnaya
It is no news that the that Rochas Okorocha failed to clinch Imo governorship seat by proxy. His son-in-law, Uche Nwosu failed in spite of money rains and thuggery. Imo people ended the reign of impunity and iberiberism in most appreciable manner. It is important to note that the feat could not have been achieved if not for the bravery of some Imolites who resisted Okorocha and fought gallantly to oust the former governor and his disciples.
It is important to note that transmutation of Okorocha from a mere politician to an emperor if not a dreaded dictator was most puzzling because his first tenure in office was most appreciable that he became the most popular Governor in Nigeria. His unrepentant stance to foist his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu and affront to the extant laws of the land in the reckless way he went about demolition and taking over of people’s property, brought so much fear in the polity. This made the people believe that Okorocha would always have his way coupled with his total control of both the conventional and unconventional security agencies with subservient Security chiefs.
In the wake of Okorocha’s second term in office, there was unfortunate loss of freedom with fear of intimidation, molestation and murder that pervaded the polity, which the psychological impact is yet to completely go away.
The battle over who takes over the All Progressives Congress, Imo State chapter was fierce, which led to the polarisation of the party. This led to the unfortunate exit of some of the heavyweights in the party, which includes Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, Hon. Uche Onyeagocha and many others.
In the heat of the raging battle, Senator Ararume defected to All Progressives Grand Alliance, a move that many could not come to terms with. It was reported that Ararume and Senator Osita Izunaso defected to APGA after a two-hour meeting with the national chairman of the party, Chief Victor Oye. Ararume had left with the reason that APC was no longer viable for him to realise his ambition of becoming the governor of Imo State while Izunaso settled to vie for Orlu Senate.
A renowned political activist, lawyer and former House Representatives member, Hon. Uche Onyeagocha, also left APC on the ground of Okorocha’s anti-party activities. In an interview he accused Okorocha of engaging in ant-party activities. His words: “I left APC because I could no longer continue to be in the same party with the governor of Imo State. If you have him as a friend you don’t need an enemy in your life. Here is a governor who had refused to campaign for his party’s presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. When the present Director – General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON) Osita Okechukwu said that the governor of Imo State did not campaign for APC and Buhari people thought that it was a joke but that was the truth.” Onyeagocha who joined APGA would later would later dump the party to support Rt. Emeka Ihedioha for internal wrangling occasioned by Ararume’s alleged hijack of the party. He said his primary aim was to pursue Owerri zone agenda of producing the next governor of the state.
While all these were going on, one man who gave everyone the impetus to fight is the former deputy governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere. For the first time after 26 years of friendship and being political associates that Madumere would openly disagree with Okorocha. Our source disclosed that Madumere before the seeming irretrievable severed relationship, Madumere would naturally tell Okorocha the truth and would present facts and figures why he should refrain from a decision. He revealed that Okorocha schemed him out of the whole political arrangement following his stance on equity and justice, thereby campaigning for Owerri zone governorship, which is contrary to Okorocha’s game plan of building a family political dynasty.
According to Madumere, it was agreed upon to allow Owerri zone produce a governor and he did not have the face to go back to them to plead anybody’s case other than an Owerri zone agenda.
With the exit of the political heavy weights in the party, Madumere as a strategist freely gave Hope Uzodinma an opportunity to join in the political war dance to first retrieve the party from Okorocha, then any other thing can follow. That free for all battle where every political machinery was freely used came to a deciding spot when Alhaji Ahmed Gulak led APC committee conducted guber primary election where Hope Uzodinma emerged. Though embroiled in controversy, that primary election ended Okorocha’s tight hold on the party but leaving the party even more polarised.
Okorocha as it were with huge state resources at his disposal would not fail to fight back. The next step would be to challenge the outcome of the primary election. Having his eye on the ball, Madumere quickly called for the support of Uzodinma by other aspirants. Madumere led 5 other aspirants who in a press conference acknowledging Uzodinma’s emergence, a position that swept Okorocha and his son-in-law off their feet. It was an uppercut that dazed Okorocha down to the canvass.
While this make or mar fighting was going on, Madumere was facing Okorocha sponsored impeachment at the House of Assembly. It was battle royale for Madumere. Okorocha had directed the stoppage of any fund payable to him and his aides. It was a trying period but he remained focused.
At this point, Okorocha had practically whittled down the winning chances of the party, even as he pitched tent with Action Alliance, a party he secured its governorship ticket for his son-in-law.
Having rejected and refused all entreaties from the party leadership flowing from the Presidency to the Party national chairman, how much less the leadership at the state. Okorocha visibly embarrassed President Mohammadu Buhari when the latter visited the state for Presidential campaign. Okorocha had called his mixed political concoction perfect alliance. Realising the polarisation of the party in the state and its dire consequences, President Buhari made a statement, which put most people into confusion. He said: “What is more paramount is the unity and cohesion of our country. Vote any candidate of your choice.”
The strategic input of Madumere in ensuring that the political gladiators in APC bonded together and did not derail was the major factor that caused Okorocha not to have his puppet run on the platform of APC. Again his insistence in ensuring that election in his local government was not rigged in Mbaitoli local government area of Imo State, which is the largest local government with over 120,000 registered voters by Okorocha’s thugs for Action Alliance led to the totally emasculation of the estrange party. It was a stand-off like no other. This caused so much fear among Mbaitoli electorates, thereby causing highest level of apathy.
It will be recalled Madumere was also offered Senate by Okorocha against the wish of Owerri people to produce a governor, which Madumere rejected in-to-to. Again this would have divided Owerri votes and invariably helped Okorocha’s course.
According Chief Stanley Onuoha in his words: “Madumere’s decision to stand against Okorocha’s impetus in denigrating the people by having the effrontery to impose his son-in-law on Imo people was not only statesmanship, patriotic but gave us all the nerve to fight. If Madumere of all leaders could rise to the challenge coupled with the attacks, impeachments onslaught with financial squeeze, it aroused the fighting spirit of Ndi Imo. This to a large extent had a serious contagious effect in the polity.
APC readily became a battle ground where Okorocha and other elements did so much harm to have their way. One of the strategies Okorocha used was to ensure that all APC agents were dislodged during the presidential election and during the governorship election in the guise that Daniel Nwafor’s camp was the authentic APC against Marcelanus Nlemigbo’s group. This was despite Madumere’s last minute court order that sank Okorocha’s hold on the party and totally dislodged his son-in-law. Again, this master stroke through the court paved way for Uzodinma to mount the podium for governorship race. Of course, Nlemigbo’s group fought back and because of this forth and back movement, it was only natural that Peoples Democratic Party would reap from the crises in APC.
According to sources, Uzodinma played a good role as an old fox to wrestle APC ticket from Okorocha with Madumere’s strategic instinct coupled with other gladiators, especially other aspirants from Owerri zone. He observed that Uzodinma in his usual dearth-of-morality barnd of politicking shot himself in the foot by holding on to the ticket against the agreement that the governorship was going to Owerri zone. This again was said to have triggered up discontent and disenchantment among the coalition forces. This led to another sharp divide in APC with some wearing toga of either camp Hope or Coalition camp. However, all efforts to resolve this last minute crisis proved futile.
At the end of the election when winners and losers had emerged, Madumere realising that danger was still lurking, rather than join in the fray of argument and rejection, he congratulated Emeka Ihedioha who was declared winner, saying that it was time to heal the wounds sustained by Imo people following Okorocha’s impunity and anti-party policies. Again, this was statesmanship and it could only come from a sane mind with people’s interest at heart. Yes, Madumere lost everything, sacrifice everything and almost his life for a better Imo.
Theodore Ekechi also led a very crucial movement that helped in crumbling the elusive empire of an emperor after his Imerienwe declaration of Imo APC restoration Coalition who was very vocal against Okorocha’s third term agenda by proxy. He was a voice in the coalition that battled Okorocha to the ground. It was under this group that rallied round most of the coalition forces that wrestled Okorocha to the ground.
Imo liberation cuts across party lines, it shows indeed that Imo is a place where no one can claim to be greater than the people because a determined people will always prevail.
While Okorocha has continued to flex muscle, acting recklessly despite allegations of multi-billion fraud committed under his watch, some pundits have said that Okorocha’s total erasure is a matter of time.