Disquiet in South East APC over Okorocha’s leadership gaffe
It is not yet clear whether the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is the one desperately looking for an inroad to the South East zone through Governor, Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, or the people of the zone are the ones trying to find their way into the central government having realised the implications of not being adequately represented at the federal level.
Since the 2015 general elections when the zone massively voted for the ousted Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the erstwhile president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who was defeated by President Muhammadu Buhari, there had not only been a cry of marginalisation of the Igbos in federal appointments, the zone also lost its chances of producing key principal officers of the National Assembly or the ruling party.
However, recent activities of Okorocha, who by virtue of his position as chairman APC Governors’ Forum, indicate that he may be trying to reposition the zone to gain influence in the ruling party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
But the manner he is going about who leads the Igbo people in the APC family ahead of the 2019 elections is causing confusion and sharp reactions among other stakeholders in the zone.
This may have led to what some observers described as subtle gang up among other APC’s stakeholders in the zone against the perceived arrogance and unilateral tendencies of Okorocha.
It has been observed that the controversy created by the governor’s endorsement of the former president of the Senate, Ken Nnamani, as the leader of the APC in the zone generated, may not settle in a short-while.
Irked by the governor’s endorsement of Nnamani, some keen-watchers felt Okorocha was attempting to play a smart-game on other leaders from the area, the outcome of which appeared to have achieved the opposite.
However, some of Okorocha’s supporters felt that by virtue of him being the only governor on the platform of the ruling party in the zone and also the chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum, he has the right to rally support for the party in the zone as well as determine its leader. But those opposed to the idea kicked, saying: “Okorocha’s move was an attempt to ask a day-old chicken to lead older chickens. Nnamani is a political neophyte in the APC, who recently decamped from the PDP to APC.”
Perhaps, one of the things that pissed off those opposed to the development was the choice of words that Okorocha deplored while endorsing Nnamani.
The governor had in his words said, “Now that Igbo leaders are together in APC, Nigerians will hear us. There is a vacuum of leadership in the South-East APC. I am a governor. My brothers, Dr. Chris Ngige and Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, are ministers, hence, the importance of Ken Nnamani coming at this time. I decline the leadership of Ndigbo in APC. With Ken Nnamani, the question of who is the leader of APC in the South East has been answered. Ken Nnamani is the leader of APC in the South East.
“Senator Nnamani should then work with other leaders like Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Jim Nwobodo and a host of others to give Ndigbo political direction.”
He also declared that the Ndigbo will go ahead to support president Buhari for the eight years he is going to lead the nation, saying: “This is the time for Ndigbo to come and work together. We are also going to use the Anambra election to show that APC has arrived in South East.”
He blamed the zone for playing what he called bad politics in 2015, which led to its lost, adding “we are not anywhere because of our bad politics.”
Nnamani’s response also compounded the situation when he said, “Ndigbo are nowhere near the national leadership of the APC where decisions are made, and even at the National Assembly and other strategic areas and levels.”
He said, “Some of us going into APC are not doing so because of hunger, but in the interest of the Igbo. We should play politics of ideas, and avoid abusive words. Ndigbo do not have the ingredients for opposition politics. We do not have the media or business or money to play opposition politics, but we won’t ask for handouts.”
Since the January 28th event, which has been dismissed by many as a partisan political Bazar of sort, the zonal leadership and those of the various States have since assumed a chaotic and divisive status with some prominent party stakeholders condemning the purported endorsement of Nnamani. Apart from the fact that they noted that Okorocha was insincere as he snubbed the members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) from the zone in the event, they felt his action was bound to cause disunity among the party men and supporters in Igboland.
Expressing his displeasure, the national auditor of the party, George Muoghalu said, “One thing about leadership is that a leader is never appointed. You can elect a chairman; you can elect a secretary, a governor or a president. A leader evolves from among the people.
“It is your activities, your relationship and the level of communication you have with the people that determine your leadership. It is not by appointment and I believe everyone understands that. You don’t appoint a leader; you don’t elect a leader except in a case where you have the constitutional provision. But in a situation where you are talking about the South East as a people, leadership will always evolve from among the people and among those who are leaders in their own rights.
“Onu, Ngige and others are leaders that have earned their status and there was no day we conducted an election to say that we elected them as our leader, they evolved. I am also a leader by every structure of imagination but it has to evolve from among the people.”
Disassociating the Ebonyi State chapter of the APC from Okorocha’s action and pledging its loyalty to Dr. Onu’s leadership, the acting chairman, Pastor Eze Nwachukwu Eze described the governor’s decision as an attempt to ridicule the APC in the South East “it was a mischievous gimmicks of Governor Okorocha who will stop at nothing to discredit the party at all times. His recent adoption of distinguished Nnamani as his leader in the South East is an attempt to give what he does not have, which amounts to a joke and APC Ebonyi disassociates itself wholly from the charade.
“For avoidance of doubt, the APC South East zone unequivocally stated that Dr. Onu remains the number one APC leader in Igboland. He not only founded the APC but has remained resolute in building on the gains of the merger that brought the party into existence
“Nnamani, a leader in his own right, should be wary of the likes of Okorocha who seek to destroy him. In the first place, leaders are not appointed by fiat. It is common knowledge that leaders evolve over time where their qualities become glaring that they naturally ease into the leadership role. All revered leaders in the world, past and present have passed through this road.”
He insisted that the infamous declaration of Imo state governor amounted to mischief, and called on the national leadership of the party to call him to order to avoid causing more harm. “The party is currently registering new members and planning ways to improve her fortunes in subsequent elections while one man, who wants to see himself as a pseudo god, is busy building non-existent empires and living in a dream world,” Eze added.
The Guardian gathered that from sources that the zonal leadership disapproves of the endorsement and would soon make its stance known.
A source in the party hinted there was a plot to ‘tame’ Okorocha, claimed that Onu and Ngige are not happy with the actions of the governor and that they were working to prove that leadership should evolve from one’s comportment and deeds.