By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Vincent Ujumadu, Chidi Nkwopara, Anayo Okoli, Peter Okutu and Denis Agbo
There is a vacuum of leadership in the South-east APC. I am a governor. My brothers Chris Ngige and Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu are ministers, hence the importance of Nnamani coming to the party at this time. I decline the leadership of Ndi-Igbo in APC. With Ken Nnamani, the question of who is the leader of APC in the South-east has been answered. Nnamani is the leader of APC in the South-east — Okorocha
IT was a convivial meeting of sorts for selected Southeast chieftains of the All Progressives Congress, APC, convened by Governor Rochas Okorocha in Owerri to ponder on how the party could further penetrate the region that has been most resistant to the ruling party.
Asserting his preoccupation with state duties, Okorocha said he had decided to relinquish the leadership of the party in the Southeast to Senator Ken Nnamani, a former President of the Senate.
While the appointment galled some, foundation members of the party were quick to note that it was not the first time that Okorocha would make such unilateral appointments. Remarkably, Okorocha had at a similar meeting of Southeast stakeholders in July 2013 just after the formation of the party appointed Ogbonnonya Onu as the leader of the party in the region. Just as he did in that last month, at that 2013 meeting, Okorocha did not consult with anyone and appointed Onu unilaterally.
Nnamani who joined the party a week just before the Owerri meeting convened by Okorocha, by his entry became the highest ranking former office holder from the region to have joined the party.
High profile politicians
Among high profile politicians who recently joined the party are Senator Jim Nwobodo, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, Chief Emeka Wogu, Senator Chris Adighije, Senator Andy Uba, Dr. Tony Nwoye among others.
All of them who were former members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP entered a party that already had such high profile politicians like Dr. Ogbonnonya Onu, Senator Chris Ngige, George Moghalu among others. The unilateral appointment has generated strong responses from party stakeholders across the region.
The deputy chairman of APC in Enugu and member Constitutional and Electoral Reform Committee, Comrade Alphonsus Udeh said that Governor Okorocha did not need to announce Senator Ken Nnamani as Southeast leader given what he claimed as the former Senate President’s ranking as the highest ranking stakeholder in the State.
Udeh said: “Nnamani is a from our zone and he automatically fits into the position. We have so many ex-Governor in the zone but Senate President is higher than a Governor. Governor Okorocha didn’t need to announce it for us to accept him leader of the zone. He is the leader is he is acceptable to us,” said Udeh.
On his own account, the Enugu state Publicity Secretary of Buhari Support Organization, BSO, Mr. Chibueze Eze, said the appointment of Senator Nnamani as the leader of the party in the South East is a welcome development. Eze stated that it does not matter when Nnamani joined the party but that what is at stake is the soul of the party. “That is what is at stake. He is already a leader from where he is coming,” said Eze.
A former commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, who was the 2015 coordinator of Buhari campaign Organization in the state, Hon. Ejike Eze said “The discordant tune is not good for the zone. They should forget whether Ken Nnamani is joining the party today or not but he stands shoulder high.
“He has the moral character and because of his impeccable character and national outlook, he deserves it. It is high time the south east began to have somebody who can speak for us and that person should be a reputable character and he has displayed such character traits.”
Mr. Osita Okechukwu, the director-general of the Voice of Nigeria, VON, and a leading chieftain on his part said that Okorocha did the right thing saying that the announcement of Nnamani was of strategic value to the regional caucus. According to him the premise of the nomination was to lift the party in the zone given that Muhammadu Buhari scored a miserly six per cent of the total votes in the region
Erstwhile chairman of the state chapter of the PDP in Abia State, Chief Tony Ukasoanya, on his part described the media uproar over the issue as unnecessary saying that Okorocha did not appoint Nnamani the party’s South East zonal leader as the party’s constitution does not make provision for such. “No, it is not correct. Governor Okorocha did not announce Senator Ken Nnamani as the leader of APC in South East. What happened was that there was a meeting of South East stakeholders conveyed by Governor Rochas Okorocha.
“And when Gov. Okorocha was making his speech, he said that he has been handling the office of Governor of Imo State and at the same time leading South East APC; that he wants to relinquish that of the leadership of the party job to Senator Ken Nnamani. It was not debated and nobody spoke about it after Governor Okorocha ended his speech.
“But the issue is that Okorocha’s parlance may not be right; however the truth is that there is nothing like zonal leader in the constitution of APC. What he made was just a suggestion. But coming to Sen. Nnamani, as a former Senate president, the number three man, in order of protocol, he has the reach to lead the South East APC.”
“What is important to APC in the South East is to popularize the party and win elections. There is need for us to have one voice and cooperate with one another to achieve our goal”, Ukasoanya said.
Great Division in Ebonyi: Pastor Eze Nwachukwu Eze and Hon. Ben Nwobashi who are both laying claim to the chairmanship position of the party expressed divergent views on the nomination of Senator Nnamani as Southeast leader of the party.
Eze, in a statement issued in Abakaliki described the development as a huge joke adding that the development was intended not only to ridicule the status of the party within the South East zone but also caused unnecessary disaffection in the party.
Observing that Okorocha will stop at nothing to embarrass the party in the zone, Eze said: “His recent adoption of distinguished Senator Ken 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 state disassociates itself wholly from the charade.
“For avoidance of doubt, we state unequivocally that Dr. Ogbonnaya 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. Senator Ken Nnamani, a leader in his own right, should be wary of the likes of Okoroacha who seek to destroy him.
Eze’s assertions were immediately dismissed by Nwobashi who in a statement, said the party was not in support of Pastor Eze’s views on Senator Ken Nnamani.
He noted that Eze was not authorized to speak on behalf of the party and any statement made by him does not stand the test of time and should be regarded as a side talk.
Nwobashi thus urged Governor Okorocha and Senator Nnamani to disregard the views of Eze. The leadership of the party in Anambra State is yet to take a final decision on the issue given the contradictory reactions by divergent interests in the state chapter of the party.
The chairman of the state chapter of the party, Mr. Emeka Ibe told Vanguard: “We held a meeting last week and directed that the decision on that matter should be kept in abeyance, pending a final directive by the leadership of the party.”
However, not all stakeholders are able to swallow the issue. The party’s national auditor, Chief George Moghalu had in the past opposed Okorocha’s action.
Even in Imo, Okorocha’s political base there is hardly a convergence of views on the issue. While most party stakeholders who spoke on the issue opposed their governor’s unilateral action, they all spoke on the condition of anonymity mainly on account of what they claimed were fears of reprisals. They faulted him for supposedly “taking the law into his hands.
A female politician from Isiala Mbano, described Okorocha’s appointment of Nnamani as APC leader in the South East as “most unacceptable, extremely insulting, uncharitable and a pronouncement from the wrong quarters and for the wrong reasons”.
She pleaded with Okorocha to distance himself from anything that would breed tension and anger within the party. “Such pronouncements can engineer acrimony and rancour within the party. Granted that Okorocha is our Governor, this should not make him to believe others are his slaves”, the woman said.
The Imo State Commissioner for Information, Tourism and Public Utilities, Engr. Obinna Nshirim, however, stoutly defended his principal. “The Governor was very right in choosing Nnamani as APC leader. Nnamani has all the credentials that qualify him for the position. His achievements as Senate President are not in doubt and his love for Ndigbo is unprecedented. I do not know why anyone would oppose the appointment”, Nshirim said.
Answering another question, the commissioner said that Okorocha did not want to double as party leader, stressing that he preferred being led by another fellow, who should be seen as the party’s arrowhead in the South East.
In his reaction, Chief Ugochukwu Nzekwe wondered why Ndigbo are worried that one of their own was named APC leader, instead of working hard for a brighter tomorrow in the Nigerian project.