By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Daud Olatunji and Chinoso Alozie
THE national leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC has set machinery in place to whip Governors Ibikunle Amosun and Rochas Okorocha in line towards advancing the interests of the party in the governorship elections in Ogun and Imo States respectively.
Besides, the two governors who have sworn not to support the APC governorship candidates in their two states, the party, Saturday Vanguard gathered, is also putting focus on at least two ministers, Adebayo Shittu and Solomon Dalung, and also on the director general of the Voice of Nigeria, VON, Mr. Osita Okechukwu.
Amsoun and Okorocha were peeved by the decision of the national leadership to enthrone persons opposed by them as the APC governorship candidates in their two states. Both men have sworn to support their favoured candidates in alternative platforms but at the same time also support President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election bid on the basis of what they claimed as the performance of the president.
Governor Amosun in furtherance of his bid to sell his favoured successor, Rep. Adekunle Akinlade was as at press time yesterday locked in a meeting with the Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC chapter in Ogun State ostensibly to woo support for Akinlade. Governor Okorocha has on his part vowed to enthrone his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu as his successor and vowed to stop the official APC candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma succeed him.
The APC national leadership is, however, nonplussed over the issue affirming yesterday that the party was watching them for observance of anti-party behavior prior to applying strict sanctions.
“We have put machinery to monitor them and if you are not supporting the candidate of the party the only word to describe that is anti-party,” a very prominent party official told Saturday Vanguard yesterday on the condition of anonymity.
“They claim to be supporting Mr. President but working against the interest of the president’s party, how is that possible? The president needs a comfortable National Assembly majority and APC governors to help him to deliver,” the party official said.
One of the sanctions the official let slip was the possible dissolution of the state executives of the party, a development that would remove the control of the party from the hands of the governors and put them out of the loop in party affairs.
Remarkably, both Okorocha and Amosun are APC candidates in senatorial elections in their two states.
“If you are not supporting every candidate of the party then you are playing anti-party,” the official said as he vowed that the plans of the two governors against the APC governorship candidates in Ogun and Imo States would come to nought.
“All those plots will not work, they will fail, because the party will strongly support their candidates and we will make sure that we deliver our candidates despite the plots of these people.
“Fayose (former governor of Ekiti State) as a sitting governor was not able to deliver, so why are they elevating their powers,” the party official said.
“The party already knows what to do, but we are just waiting for the nod of the president because what they are doing is totally anti-party. Some ministers who didn’t get ticket are also saying the same thing.”
He cited the minister of youth and sports, Solomon Dalung who has been in a long rivalry with Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State and reportedly opposed his re-nomination as party candidate. He also cited the case of Shittu, the minister of communications who made a boisterous campaign first for the president’s re-election and then made an abortive bid for the APC governorship ticket.
The party official was also displeased with Mr. Okechukwu, the director-general of VON who has been in the trenches against national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who he accused of manipulating the primaries for selfish desires.
Amosun’s game plan in Ogun
Amosun was gifted the Ogun Central Senatorial ticket of the APC but all his loyalists including those who allegedly won the 26 slots in the State House of Assembly were stripped of the tickets. The outgoing governor it was gathered has pledged to work for the return of President Buhari but stop the APC in all other positions.
The governor had last week given the nod to his associates including Akinlade to defect to the Allied Peoples Movement, on whose platform they would be standing for the election. Incidentally, the APM and APC are almost next to one another on the ballot paper.
Amosun had said that he would not defect to another party but would work for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re election bid and work for APM candidates for other elective positions .
Amosun is the APC candidate for Ogun Central Senatorial district, but, it is being whispered in Abeokuta, the state capital that the governor has given his blessing to his Secretary to the State Government, Adeoluwa to pick the APM Senatorial ticket for the same constituency.
According to an impeccable source, “the governor is set to concede the seat to Adeoluwa by not campaigning for himself, so as to ensure comprehensive victory for the APM in all positions with the exception fo the presidential election.” Few weeks ago, Amosun had said he would work against the state governorship candidate of the APC, Dapo Abiodun.
A very close associate of the governor dismissed what he alleged as the conspiracy against Amosun saying that those fighting him do not have the structure to win the election.
Speaking recently on his situation, he said: “I remain in APC because that’s what those people want, they want us to leave APC but they are joking. I will stay in APC to ensure that Buhari wins in Ogun State and to let them know that they can’t subvert the will of Ogun State.
“Every day, I will campaign for President Muhammdu Buhari, we will do everything possible to ensure Buhari wins massively in Ogun State, but they should not miss it, I, senator Ibikunle Amosun, would not support anyone(Dapo Abiodun) they are bringing .“Why would a reasonable person lord people less than 10 per cent over the majority; it can’t happen. They know there was only one primary and they have called me to say that, and we have done everything possible to right the wrong, but, they were set on destroying the party.
“God will punish me if I stop Akinlade. All of you who are supporting Akinlade, you have my support and blessing. They are talking about party supremacy, what happens to party supremacy at the local levels?” Saturday Vanguard gathered that Amosun was planning to use his APC political structure in all the 236 wards in the state for his loyalists in APM.
The governor was said to have hinted his loyalists to continue working with the remnants in APC who are holding the structure of the APC for the APM.
The governor’s game plan, according to the findings was to ensure President wins the election in the state, but, work against the APC in other elections.
Okorocha adopts 2011 Strategy
In a bid to win the 2019 Imo governorship election, for his son-in-law Uche Nwosu, Governor Okorocha may have adopted the 2011 strategy with which he won his governorship election.
Saturday Vanguard gathered yesterday in Owerri, that Okorocha believed that he still enjoys untainted relationship with President Buhari, which he hopes to turn into an advantage during the election.
It would be recalled that in 2011, Okorocha contested under APGA, and with President Goodluck Jonathan, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as it presidential candidate.
In that election, many believed Jonathan’s body language was an added advantage for Okorocha, and he was able to get full support to clinch victory. Many said “federal might” played a role in Okorocha’s emergence. The Imo state commissioner for information, Nze Patrick Chidebere, told Saturday Vanguard spoke in coded acknowledgment of that plan when he spoke in a telephone chat.
He said: “The governor is in APC, and he had an agreement with AA, to support President Mohammadu Buhari for 2019. The governor will be in APC, he will support Buhari. APC in Imo state does not have a candidate as far as we are concerned. “There was no primary that could choose Hope Uzodimma, as the candidate of the party. If there should be a candidate of APC, it should be Uche Nwosu. Hope Uzodimma, is riding on a stolen mandate. “Okorocha can never support a man that emerged through a fraudulent process.
“Let me tell you, Hope Uzodimma, is the candidate of Adams Oshiomole, he is not the candidate of Imo APC. We in APC, we don’t see him as our candidate. Uzodimma is Oshiomole’s personal candidate.
Governor Rochas Okorocha is contesting for Senatorial election and he does not have enough time to campaign for any kind of APC, guber candidate in the state.”