Commentary:

Nlemigbo and Nwafor

Why APC may lose Imo North Senate seat

By Afam Echi

The perennial crisis rocking the Imo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), political observers fear may snowball into the loss of Okigwe Senate seat. This expectation political observers’, note may come to fruition if the warring parties do not come to terms with each other. Political pundits also opine that given the nature of mudslinging holding sway at present and the power play coupled with the ego of the war lords it is not likely that any may shift ground for the other.
For sometimes now the ruling APC has been engulfed in political crisis which factionalized the party into three major political grouping with each trying to outplay the other. At present there is the Camp Hope led by the Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma and Barr. Marcon Nlemigbo as the State Party Chairman. There is the Okorocha Camp and the Araraume Camp all who command some measure of influence.
The APC crisis is a fall out of the Okorocha’s strangle hold on power where he called the shots and wanted to remain the only cock that crows.
It was the conspiracy in the power play orchestrated by the then APC stakeholders which may have now collapsed into the other camps that saw Okorocha kissing the canvas. The result was the emergence of Gov. Hope Uzodimma from the APC primaries who came fourth in the election. Through the Supreme Court decision he became the governor of Imo State. Many had thought that that would end the unending intra-party crises in the only South East APC state.
The crises however, appear to be widening in scope. The governor on assumption of office selected his functionaries from only his Camp following what he tagged as the reward for loyalty. He made the others look like orphans and this it appears have not gone down well with them as they vow to have their own pound of flesh. The manifestations have continued in various forms of cold wars including the contest of who occupies the Council seats which is now a subject of court dispute.
The Council chairmen and councilors elected under Gov Okorocha have vowed to wrestle power from the Uzodimma’s caretaker functionaries in the Councils. That is the first sign that all is not well within the party. The probe of Okorocha which commenced with the ousted Gov Ihedioha but sustained by the Onwa Oyoko is another matter Okorocha and his loyalists have vowed to fight dirty. Uzodimma it seems does not give a hoot as he has stated repeatedly to recover every dime stolen by treasury looters. Okorocha has been strong and variously fingered in many sordid transactions.
Araraume, another political juggernaut is also believed not to be comfortable with the present state of things as he has no participation in the running of the government. The raging controversy of who is the actual chairman of the party in the state which is a subject of disputation in the court provides a form of entertainment for political observers as the combatants thrill them with their theatrical drama and verbal attacks over who controls the Soul of Imo APC.
While the young Daniel Nwafor claims that by virtue of Court rulings he is the authentic APC Chairman and parades himself as such, the not so young Barr Nlemigbo holds sway and is practically executing the responsibilities of the party chairman in the state while hoping that the apex court may eventually rule in his favour whenever the matter is brought for its attention. He is recognized by the party hierarchy in Abuja and attends all the National meetings.
This has raised serious concern about the party’s respect for the rule of law. Observers are wondering why a ruling party which mouths the rule of law could encourage undisciplined behavior of dissident group as manifested in the claim and counter claim. Who actually is the rightful chairman of the party would likely emerge from the fall out of the Imo North contest. Who among the combatants will file the name of the party’s flag bearer to INEC?
As at moment Nlemigbo is calling the shots with Hope Uzodimma and all the party’s aspirants appear to defer to them. Athan Achonu, a former 6 months senator has gone to Nlemigbo to seek his support and seem to have secured his nod what with the encomiums showered on the aspirant. If Nlemigbo files any candidate’s name and it appears eventually that he has no such powers that would be the undoing of the party. Is it possible that he would make a volte face at any point to save the party by yielding to Dan Nwafor? Sources close to Nwafor indicate that he has his fears that with the ragtag dispositions of the party it may likely lose to the opposition.
This is the million dollar question on the lips of political pundits. Would the party deliberately walk itself into a minefield knowing the consequences? So far the seat under contest is held by the APC courtesy of the late Senator Benjamin Uwajumuogu. Of the three senate seats in the state so far it is shared one a piece between the APC and PDP. It is clear that the challenge goes beyond capturing that seat but there is also a fight for supremacy.
Imo State is largely reputed to be a PDP state even though the APC is holding the reins of power as at present. Majority opinions seem to lean on the PDP recapturing the seat by taking advantage of the crises in the ruling party. So far there is no known rumpus reported from the camp of the party that has embarked on re-engineering its activities to get it right. This is underscored by the election of an experienced technocrat in business and former Minister Engr Charles Ugwu as the state chairman.
It is said that a house that is divided among itself cannot stand and this is what any strong opposition can capitalize upon to clinch victory. If care is not taken APC will trade off Okigwe Senate seat to power play even with its position as incumbent and its hold on power which puts it at vantage position.

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