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‘Why Southeast APC is against Rochas Okorocha’

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Benjamin Uwajumogu

Senator Benjamin Chukwuemeka Uwajumogu, the only Senator on All Progressives Congress (APC) before defectors joined, in this interview with Assistant Politics Editor, LEO SOBECHI, gave insight into the problems dogging Southeast zonal chapter of the party.

The Southeast caucus of APC is not playing as a team, what do you think is responsible for that?

OVER 90 percent of the members of Southeast caucus of APC are united in our decision that Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu is our leader.

We were united in our decision that we should return the original three members from the zone in the national working committee, including Emmanuel Eneukwu, George Moghalu and Osita Izunaso.

When I say 90 percent of the leadership, which includes myself, Senators Andy Uba, Hope Uzodinma, Sonni Ogbuoji.

These are the people with us on this issue, former governors, like Senator Jim Nwobodo, who governed the former old Anambra State, other former governors like Sullivan Chime, Martin Elechi, Orji Uzor Kalu, joe orji and so many other leaders in zone.

Former senators, speakers, like Eugene Odoh, Stanley Ohajuruka, members of federal house, like Acho Obioma and indeed, the leadership of the five states chapters and we signed our documents reflecting all of these.

So, there is no way a tree can make a forest no matter how huge it is.

But it is like the reported infighting among governor Rochas Okorocha, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and Senator Chris Ngige, is impacting on the rift in Imo State APC?

Like I said earlier, Ngige is one of those who is with us in this process, Ogbonnaya Onu is also with us, even his (Okorocha’s) in-law, who coincidentally has not been feeling very well presently, in the person of Prof. Anthony Awuka, the minister of state Education, is with us.

Ngige is aware of these things, because he has experienced some of it in the past and they are only saying that this cannot continue.

One man cannot personalize and appropriate the entire party to himself. It’s affecting the party in the sense that there is no cohesion.

Whether we like it or not he’s the governor; he has a lot of resources, he’s the only one who attends the Governors’ Forum meetings and there is no other governor in the southeast to counter him.

But, the damage he is doing to the party are very obvious and can be seen by even the blind.

People cannot pretend, even at the presidency, that they don’t know what’s happening.

The president is privileged to have security reports from different agencies responsible and if they are not giving the president the right reports about what is happening in Imo State, then I think he needs to review his security processes.

The fact remains that we care about APC, we want APC to win, not only in Imo, but also in the southeast.

And if APC is going to win, we must take out that factor that’s working against it, its not a personal thing.

I wish he wasn’t doing this, we did our best to ensure that there is a change, but then the fact is that there is no changes and we are asking that these things be changed, done in a different way.

From your perspective, what are the critical issues troubling Imo APC?

The issue is that major stakeholders of the party are in total disagreement with the governor on the management of his government and his decision to impose candidates to put in the party election and in the forthcoming primary.

As it is today, he has a list of candidates for all the 42 positions in Imo State mainly the 27 house of assembly members, three senators, 10 federal house of representatives, the governor and deputy which he has reserved for the son-in-law and some other person, which we don’t know right now.

That’s where we have issues with the governor, its unacceptable and the issues of the congresses of course, he canvassed at the last minute after everybody has agreed that the structure should continue.

The governor said the party should dissolve the NWC for election to take place, the plan was to promote the slate for candidate that will impose his will of the party and that we rejected, its why we are where we are today.

But, the governor described you as an ingrate saying he was instrumental to your election as a Senator?

We are also instrumental to his election as the governor, the party is supposed to be a family, where it’s all for one and one for all and if there is an election it shouldn’t be such a great thing for the governor to support a candidate.

It is said in many places that the governor didn’t want to support me.

Initially, during the first election he didn’t support me.

And the second election that didn’t take place, we didn’t see his support.

Then finally, when he had no choice than to come out and support me he did.

The fact is if we didn’t personalize government he should realize that my victory is for APC and not a victory for Rochas Okorocha.

Of course, did I show appreciation? I did! I visited him with leaders of my electoral ward to show appreciation for his contributions, but of course, there are other people who contributed to the victory.

All the party leaders, including people like Ifeanyi Ararume and various other people, even those who are not in the party, somebody like Tony Chukwu, played a huge role in the election and much more, even though they weren’t in APC, they played a huge role in the election.

So, its not only the governor that assisted me, so he cannot claim that he was the only one that contributed to his victory in the gubernatorial election, all of us came together to work for the first election and even in the supplementary election.

So, it is supposed to be something like, all for one and one for all. It is why we have difficulties and misunderstandings.

The governor claims that it is people who fought him and fought the party from PDP and crossed over, that your group is supporting to take over the structure from him?

Senator Ararume joined us during the supplementary election and worked for the party.

He (Okorocha) was the one that went behind to Senator Ararume and made promises that he would support him for his gubernatorial election.

We weren’t the one who brought in Senator Ararume.

He joined in that election and it is generally accepted in the state today that the role he played turned the election in Okorocha’s favour.

So, is it after the election he has made sacrifices for, the governor would now say he (Ararume) wasn’t an APC member?

He declared for APC, Senator Hope Uzodinma joined APC and was given a waiver.

That waiver entitles him to all the right and privileges of all members of the party.

That is the way politics is, its like a church its open, anybody can come in at any time, also anybody can leave at any time.

Like I said, the biggest problem he has with all of us is his decision to appropriate the party to himself, making it a personal venture.

If he was a bit open I don’t think we will be where we are today.

On the flip side, could you say the battle in Imo is against Okorocha becoming a godfather or the process of creating another godfather?

I think it’s a process of chasing away a monster not a godfather.

Godfathers are interested in the people they mentor and when there are issues, they find amicable way of settling them.

They don’t become a monster that consumes those they have made.

If I were the only one that was having issues with the governor, it would be a different thing.

But, from 2011 till date, 90 percent of the people who brought him into political power, those who helped him sustain power, almost the entire membership of the house of assembly of the 7th session, which I belong to and indeed the commissioners and leaders of the party are all against him currently.

It can’t be a coincidence; we are talking about the crème de la crème of the party.

If you take a cursory look at those behind him and those against him, you will see that there is some imbalance and that’s why the center cannot hold for this party and we keep drumming it to the ears of the executives that there is a problem.

Anytime we continue and agreeing or giving him this chance, any attempt in the party to suppress the will of the people by allowing him control the APC structure in Imo State, it will spell doom for the party.

I say this in all honesty and knowing that what I am saying is true.

But if it comes to brass tacks, can your group guarantee that if you succeed in moving out the monster that APC will retain the governorship?

I can tell you that the mere hint that the governor seems to have lost the party structure gives APC a very huge boost.

People want to be part of APC. Its like a rebirth for our party and I can assure you if what we did is sustained, APC will be the party to rule, not only Imo State, but also the entire southeast.

A lot of Nigerians are very happy with what has happened in Imo state and they have expressed their happiness and support through reporters and I’m sure that even those who will read this interview will agree with me.

But, the major issue is that only Rochas Okorocha and his supporters, who don’t see the fact that he has really messed up, everybody knows.

In 53 years on this earth, I have not seen a situation where somebody treated the people who voted him to govern them with such levity and impudence.

There are allegations that the governor didn’t support the party during the 2015 presidential election, how true is that and why is it coming out now?

In 2011 there was attempt for Buhari to win the election, there was no posters of Buhari, there was no billboard of Buhari, there was no single poster and billboard of Rochas and Buhari.

In fact we were forbidden from talking about Buhari in our campaign.

So, you cannot claim to be the greatest supporter of Buhari today, because he has seen that Buhari has won the election.

Till date he hasn’t acknowledged the fact that he won the election in 2015 because of the emergence of Buhari as the president, because immediately Buhari won he visited Imo State on two occasions and warned the police and army in my presence about interfering in the election.

To this day he hasn’t agreed that those where the factors that made him win.


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