- Party to gov: Your comments uncharitable
Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has linked the crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) over its congresses to a plot by some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) to manipulate the internal electoral process of the party in order to achieve some selfish goals.
Okorocha, who is also the Chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum, pointedly accused the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and the National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso, of being less than transparent in the crisis rocking the Imo State chapter of the party, resulting in the disappearance of the result sheets meant for the ward congress in the state.
National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had in an advertorial on Sunday titled: ‘APC congresses: Why We Are Here’, blamed the crises rocking the party’s congresses across the country on “singular pursuit of self-interests” by some individuals. “They tried to scuttle congresses and to anoint themselves that they might retain their various positions beyond the agreed term.
They sought to do this without recourse to the will of party members who first voted them into their positions,” Tinubu said. Parallel congresses had been held in some states by various factions of the party, while deaths and arsons have been recorded in others.
Okorocha, who spoke to newsmen at the weekend in Abuja, insisted that the entire crisis, which has resulted in the burning down of APC secretariat in Owerri, the Imo State capital, parallel congresses and killing in some states, could have been avoided if the party had not allowed Oyegun and other members of the NWC to conduct the congresses.
“I think the mistake that is trailing the whole issue is that we appointed a convention committee chairman who is the governor of Jigawa State and instead of him to conduct the congresses and convention, the national chairman and his team are now the ones conducting the congresses. It is not done that way and that is why we have problems now. “Most members of the NWC have a conflict of interests in this matter.
They are conducting the congresses for themselves. “Like what is happening in Imo State where the national organising secretary (Izunaso) is conducting a congress to raise delegates that will re-elect him to come back as national organising secretary of the party, this is the problem. It is not done this way; that is where the lacuna is and I warned about this danger.
“If we had taken a neutral committee to run the congresses and convention, we will not be having these problems we are having today in Imo, Oyo, Rivers and other states. People have become judges in their own case,” he said.
The embattled governor expressed dismay at the sudden rebellion launched against him and his political structure in Imo State, alleging that it was the handiwork of those who did not like his opposition to the tenure elongation plot hatched by members of the NWC to perpetuate themselves in office.
“Initially, I spoke against tenure elongation and said it was not good for our party. But the national chairman of the party and some other members believed that there should be tenure elongation so that there will be no Congress as provided by the party’s constitution.
“I was a lonely voice on that matter until it became an issue that picked the interest of some party leaders and they supported my position. I told them the danger, that if we do not conduct this congress and we conduct primaries, those people who will elect our candidates would have been illegal. We might win an election and somebody whom we might defeat can go to court and claim our victory because we were elected by illegal delegates.
They disagreed with me, saying that the constitution allows the party to do without congresses because the party is supreme. But I said party supremacy cannot override the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Great minds like the vice president (Prof.Yemi Osinbajo) who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) also concurred with me on that position and that is where we are today.
They were giving the flimsy excuse that holding congress will divide the party, but we told them that the danger of not holding the congress is worse than not having the Congress.
You should do the right thing,” he said. On the controversy trailing the disappearance of electoral materials and party officials sent to conduct the congress in Imo State, Okorocha expressed disappointment that the national headquarters of the party had not been able to give a clear explanation on the development.
“I personally went to the national chairman’s office and when I met with Chief Oyegun, I did a request of him to declare his stand on this congress – whether it has been cancelled or not. He was not categorical with his statement as to whether it was cancelled or not, but he said that he was waiting for the outcome of the appeal panel.
“Shortly after that, the secretary of the appeal panel came to the party secretariat and we asked her about the situation in Imo State and she said that no congress was held in my state on that day as there were no electoral materials to do so,” he said.
The governor further expressed discomfort at what he described as the conflicting statements from Oyegun on the matter. Okorocha explained that Oyegun had earlier assured him that the ward congress will be suspended only for him to report that the results had been received at the national secretariat of the party. “I did ask the national chairman where are the result sheets and he told me categorically that they have received the result sheets.
The questions I asked were: Who submitted it? I am aware that the Police and DSS are looking for the result sheets. If the result sheets have reached the party office, then who submitted it? Anybody that submitted it should be able to tell security agencies how he was able to conduct the elections and brought the result sheets to Abuja.
“However, on Saturday, we are now hearing that the result sheets are not in the party office, but with some unknown persons caught in a hotel. This means that the party lied that it had got the result sheets.
So everything here looks funny; it looks like some kind of mischievous connivance by some people who are trying to make up things and cook up stories about the whole exercise.
“It is unfortunate that men who were elected into offices for their supposed integrity will condescend to lying and cheating, thereby debasing party principles. It is really very unfortunate, all because people want to get to power at all costs,” the governor lamented.
But the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, described the allegations levelled against members of the NWC as unfair and uncharitable.
In a telephone chat with New Telegraph, Abdullahi said Okorocha should be specific on what went wrong and who did what, rather than blaming the entire members of NWC.
“I think Rochas is not being charitable and, which I think is just, because of his particular experience. People like Rochas would not mind setting the entire village on fire because they want to win.
You understand. So, saying that kind of a thing is not right, it is unfair. “If he has any specific thing against anybody, he should say so, but making that kind of wild allegation that the NWC conducted the congresses to favour them is not fair.
“What did the NWC do that they were not supposed to do. There were guidelines for the congresses. Or was it that the guidelines were not followed by the NWC? So, I don’t understand the meaning of what he is saying. If he has problems with anybody, he should go and sort it out, but I think it is wrong for him to cast aspersions on the entire people working for the party.
“I think it is wrong and I take exception to that. If he has any grievances with people, he should say so and if he has anything with the chairman or Osita, he should go and sort it out with them rather than involving the NWC,” Abdullahi said. (New Telegraph)