Between now and its inception as an amalgam of two opposition parties, with a motley mix of disaffected Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members, the All Progressives Congress (APC) appears to have gained some momentum that even surpassed its best expectations. It garnered the presidency and, later, the governorship of Imo State.
Yet, in recent times and despite being in power both at the centre and in Imo State, there is this palpable downward spiral that is sure to adversely affect the party’s chances in the governorship poll.
While it is easy for many discerning minds to see why APC is losing its way and thereby gravely hurting its standard-bear, Hope Uzodinma, the party itself seems sadly blinded by much hype and vainglory, while it continues, as it were, to be persisting on a path of self-immolation.
First, Ndi Imo are evidently tired of hearing the same hackneyed singsongs and negative in-house campaigns against itself that have become the hallmark of APC since its ranks emerged from a bruising civil war that felled Governor Rochas Okorocha and Uche Nwosu and threw up Uzodinma.
After all that nastiness, one would have expected that the party would quickly put its house in order and present a united front in the run-up to the hotly contested gubernatorial election. But that did not happen.
What followed was Senator Osita Izunaso running to APGA, Ararume running to APGA, Uche Nwosu running to Action Alliance (a briefcase party), and other ranks running in all directions, all in a common and despicable desperation for tickets.
And then this: Okorocha has sworn that Uzodinma would be governor only over his dead body. Pray, how then can Hope have any hope of winning when his own party is fighting him from within and without?
Second is the party’s well-worn mantra on fighting corruption. APC talks about corruption, especially against its own governor and Emeka Ihedioha, without producing a single evidence of corruption against these persons. When pushed to the wall, their fringe elements go wild and start cursing and desperately pointing to all manner of conjecture, rumours and outright lies.
APC also, seeming to be speaking for Uzodinma, constantly talks about sending people to jail for corruption without stating how it is going to go over the heads of the judiciary and due process to accomplish that overnight.
Is the party implying that it will suspend the Constitution in fighting corruption against the outgoing administration? Or, will the presumptive Uzodinma administration go rogue and federal to charge Ihedioha for being corrupt when he was Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives?
Or is it that they will try and jail Nwosu for being guilty by association with Okorocha? And why would APC jump into the fray to be prodding Senator Anyanwu against Ihedioha?
Third is allowing and otherwise encouraging Uzodinma and his supporters to continue to prop him as a sectional candidate in the hope of clinching the Orlu vote. Even worse, Uzodinma appears to be basking in such infamous glory of being an Orlu candidate that already has 12 local government areas in his electoral kitty. While this may work with some fringe sectional partisans, it is at the same time alienating APC’s Owerri and Okigwe faithful and even sensible Orlu people who are embarrassed by such arrogant “born to rule” mantra.
And to say that this has permanently hurt APC and Uzodinma is stating what everybody but the APC/Uzodinma already knows. Uzodinma and his party fail to understand that the reason Achike Udenwa won in the past was because they garnered quantum support from Okigwe and Owerri zones.
Therefore, campaigning on a fundamentalist Orlu support transitorily may whip up some sectional sentiments but in the end it scares away multitudes, including those from even Orlu, elite and grassroots alike.
Fourth is Uzodinma’s troubles with the law, which had caused his arrest (or invitation) by federal law enforcement agencies. Instead of going to great lengths to array credible public defense or explanations, APC unleashed media attacks on Ndi Imo who dared question Uzodinma’s integrity. Uzodinma himself became visibly angry and utterly defensive when questioned on these by the media, thus suggesting that he is an intolerant person, and that he might have something to hide.
If anything, this conduct will surely result in terrifying voters that had initially considered voting for Uzodinma just for the heck of the “change” and the Orlu factor he has been touting. Yet, to this day, APC and Uzodinma persist in sweeping the criminal allegations under the carpet and demonising anybody who raises them as genuine issues for the election.
Fifth, in the few places APC initially appeared to be doing well, the popular angst generated by Uzodinma’s many unresolved matters is beginning to scare away even core APC apparatchik from Uzodinma. Most notable is President Muhammadu Buhari, who did everything (in plain view) to distance himself from Uzodinma when he came to Imo State on a campaign stump.
In addition, it is no longer a secret that many APC candidates for House of Representatives and Imo State Assembly are now so afraid that their continuing to campaign for Uzodinma may cost them their election. These candidates’ most recent poster-campaign publications are remarkable for tellingly excluding Uzodinma’s bust or image.
It has become so bad that some of the candidates are said to be campaigning for other governorship candidates by night while posturing as APC by day. Ditto for many APC donors who are now reportedly refusing to donate more funds for cash-strapped Uzodinma’s campaign.
This whole thing does not make any electoral sense and the informed Imo electorate is observant and taking notes that will surely and negatively bear on APC on March 2, 2019.
The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the forgoing is that APC is struggling with a certain sense of alarm that it cannot wean itself away from a self-inflicted malaise that is about to sink its chances of winning the keenly contested gubernatorial election.
•Ajoku wrote through [email protected]