From: Agunwa Emeka Nzeribe
Owerri, Imo State
Subject: Imo – The Mistake Of Okorocha Should Not Be Repeated
My Governor, I will be straight forward. I am glad that some people close to you knows I am your avid follower and supporter. So the issue of impudence does not exist at all. I am being straightforward because I know how busy your office is. More so, the security challenges which you must be at alert, with constancy, to keep under control. You are doing well. All your enemies who by extension those of our state Imo, shall not just fail, but abashed.
My Excellency, political events of 2017 and 2018 prior to 2019 governorship election in Imo State are still very fresh in our minds and heart. In APC, Owelle Rochas Okorocha as Governor of the state, in a bid to foist his son inlaw on Imo people, named his die-hard followers, Ndi-Agburu. When he thought he had gained firm grip of the party, by extention, Imo, a splinter group known as Imo State APC Coalition was birthed. While Governor Okorocha continued to loose viable opinion moulders in his camp in the ensuing party politics melee, such loss was to the advantage of the Coalition. Governor Okorocha was at that time beclouded, thinking that he had conquered Imo State by mere announcement of the retirement of Imo politicians from age 50 and above. Such comedy; such hubris!
My Excellency, needless to emphasise that Imo State APC Coalition with focused leadership and purposeful followers roundly defeated Governor Okorocha and his Ndi-Agburu at the congresses, from Wards to State. The then National Working Committee of APC led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun ratified all the congresses, and it favoured Imo State APC Coalition. The coming of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as National Chairman gave Governor Okorocha a lifeline. The rest is history.
APC And Present Events:
My Excellency, I was physically present at Heroes Square, now Ndubuisi Kalu Mini-Stadium on the day of your inauguration as Executive Governor of Imo State. Once again, congratulations on your victory as the duly elected Governor of our dear state, Imo. It was an ecstatic day. And I will celebrate it again and again.
My Excellency, on that day, I saw Senators Rochas Okorocha, Ifeanyi Araraume and Osita Izunaso. I saw members of House of Representatives, State House of Assembly members and other top Imo leaders of APC extraction. With major players at your inauguration, my joy had no bounds. My thinking was that unity and peace had returned to our party. Unfortunately, the rude awakening has come that joy has a slender body (apologies to Ola Rotimi). I no longer see these men.
My Excellency, the just concluded Wards to State Congresses in the state has handed the entire structure of the party over to you. Yes, not the structure of the state.
My Excellency, of course, you are the leader of the party in the state. But therein comes the question of whether you can work and walk alone come 2023/24? If you appoint me to answer this question, I will enthuse that it will be a near impossibility to build a strong, viable party by excluding major players within the party. We may not survive the next election with a polarised house. This is an open truth a good number of your hangers-on know, but may not tell you.
Envisaged Turning Point In Imo Politics:
My Excellency, I pray that as you navigate through the political waters of APC, you should put an eye on developments in the opposition party. For instance, with the recent adoption of a strong Imo son as a consensus candidate for the position of National Secretary of PDP, I forsee a strong realignment within PDP after their National Convention. The emergence of Senator Samuel Anyanwu as National Secretary of PDP could be a turning point in Imo politics. There is a possibility of his supporters who joined your camp when he was defeated at the PDP primaries returning to him, especially those of them who feel they have not been adequately recognised by your leadership.. There is also the possibility of a formidable alignment with aggrieved leaders in APC with the envisaged new PDP leadership in Imo.
The Way Forward:
My Excellency, permit me to reiterate that I am one of your secret disciples. I have never been in close contact with you, before or now as governor. But I admire you as a person, especially your reward-system. This is even as some people express doubts over your willingness to extend same love and kindness to the larger CampHope Family made up of new believers of Hopism.
My Excellency, should you go the Chief Ikedi Ohakim way by not winning your reelection, I will be badly hurt, emotionally. This is exactly why I wouldn’t want you to believe that you are in total grip of Imo State with your present total control of the entire structure of the party. It can just mean a smokescreen.
My Excellency, do well to remember that politicians hate being redundant or retired, especially, when they have deep pockets. Please, let your actions or inaction not be an elixir, or unifying factor to strange bed fellows. My Governor, please do not not repeat the mistake of Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
My Excellency, I am glad that you know this game more than I do. You have been at the top for years. You know boardroom politics more than I do. As your distant disciple and a young man close to the streets, I wish to drop these penny advise. And I consider it invaluable.
My Excellency, as hard as it may be, you may wish to revisit the entire congresses in the state. Try to accommodate the major players. Allow them to make meaningful input on the lists.
In The Event Of Winner Takes It All:
My Excellency, may it please you to be reminded that if the list of Wards to State Executive Officers of our great party remains as presently constituted, the likes of Senators Rochas Okorocha and Ifeanyi Araraume will definitely leave APC. In the likely case this happens and they form an alliance with the new leadership of PDP, will we be able to withstand their firepower?
My Excellency, let the result of 2019 election in the state be your guide. How many votes did your original followers score in their various Polling Units, Wards and LGA’s? Would you have been a governor if not from the results of the highly contested 388 polling units? As you add flesh to your camp, remember to add teeth.
My Excellency, you may say that Senator Rochas Okorocha and his diehard Ndi-Agburu used state apparatus to score over 100,000 votes (Uche Nwosu) in 2019, what of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume of the then APGA?
My Excellency, it is on record that foot soldiers of Senators Rochas Okorocha and Ifeanyi Araraume are still with them. They are ready to join any alliance without blinking an eye.
My Excellency, I don’t need to remind you of the mistakes of Senator Okorocha as governor. It is on record that some northern elites close to Mr. President visited Imo State severally on your behalf, pleading with Governor Okorocha to accommodate you. But he was defiant. Now, see how he has descended. His call to run for presidency sounds derisive and comical in the ears of his own people. A self inflicted woe. And everyone is apathetic.
My Excellency, I vividly remember how you said in your inaugural speech that your election was divine. Please, find my expressions kindly if I say that in 2024 election, you may be relying again on the strange miracles of 2019 for your electoral success if proactive steps are not taken. The time is now, and nigh.
2023/24 Election In Imo State:
My Excellency, as I have explained earlier, there will likely be an alignment and the coming together of strange bed fellows aimed at unseating you. The question is, will the odds favour you?
My Excellency, as a politician close to the streets, I understand the language of those living in the streets. The circumstances surrounding your assumption into office placed you on a very disadvantaged position in the minds of those living in the streets.
My Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha was able to get reelected due to relative good name he enjoyed as he was ‘loved’ by rural dwellers. But in your case, despite your honesty, your name comes to a good percentage of our people with mixed feelings.
My Excellency, I have done random opinion checks in various villages, markets, commercial buses, churches, large public gatherings, etc. To be modest, over 60% of the masses are not disposed to your administration. The reasons are not farfetched. On one side is Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and PDP factor. On another is Senators Rochas Okorocha and Ifeanyi Araraume diehard supporters. Lastly, the IPOB factor. No other governor has ever faced these hydraheaded battles.
My Excellency, I wouldn’t want Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers State to annex Imo State. “Imagine, if I join forces with Wike, chai, ebelebe ga egbu”, the words of Senator Rochas Okorocha recently in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Don’t allow this to manifest in Imo State in the next election.
My Excellency, no two elections are the same. The election of 2019 will be quite different from the forthcoming election. More so, the recently passed Electoral Act which approved electronic transmission of election results, will keep at bay many election infractions. Can we win with ‘one man, one vote’? Who are our foot soldiers in various Polling Units, Wards and LGA’s? How trusted and empowered are they to be able to withstand the envisaged stiff opposition? What percentage of your followers in CampHope are truly happy with you?
My Excellency, the announcement and instant inauguration of winners in the just concluded State Congress of APC could be revisited to accommodate your brothers. Use the window provided by Congress Appeal Panel to reach your brothers. Though, they need you, you should note that you need them more. They are your subordinates as you are the governor of the state. A phone call scheduling a meeting can suffice. If you find wisdom in my suggestions, please , act on them fastly before the gathering of what I call, The Big Storm.
My Excellency, you need not to be reminded that in the present Imo State politics, Senators Rochas Okorocha and Ifeanyi Araraume are not pushovers. While Senator Okorocha holds firm grip of more trusted and committed youths across our 27 LGA’s, Senator Araraume remained the most visible, consistent and forceful political figure with tested and trusted followers in the state from 1999 to date. The presence of Senator Araraume in our political landscape has been a major determining factor, negatively or positively in the state. In all your calculations, the duo must be taken into consideration. Since 2007, Senator Araraume assumed the position of a recurring decimal in Imo politics, a major factor that no serious aspirant whose constituency is Imo should wish away.
My Excellency, don’t fail to read the body language of Mr. President, same way Owelle Rochas Okorocha failed in 2019 by refusing entreaties from Abuja to Imo. Recent federal appointments given to Imo indigenes should equally serve as a pointer. If you are not disposed to a true reconciliation with your inlaw, Senator Rochas Okorocha, do everything possible to detach Senator Ifeanyi Araraume from him. I know what I am talking.
My Excellency, though, no one can read a man’s mind, with the recent appointment of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, and with proper understanding, he will jettison any ambition of seeking any elective political position, especially the governorship position, at least, for now until he serves out his term as Chairman, NNPC Ltd. With his appointment, you owe him proper recognition. The offer of first refusal is yours as a sitting governor come 2023/24.
My Excellency, I hope you give my suggestions favorable considerations. By doing so, we shall build a more united and formidable party. I wish you all the best as you lead our party and govern Imo State with the fear of God.
May Almighty God be with you, my governor. May you have the wisdom and insight of King Solomon.
Above all, may the collective will, especially the positive yearnings of Ndi-Imo prevail, in Jesus Name.
Agunwa Emeka Nzeribe, from Oguta LGA of Imo State is a founding member of APC Nigeria.