The All Progressives Congress (APC) used to be seen as a pariah party, an outcast of a sort, under the leadership of Rochas Okorocha as the governor of Imo State. The party was deserted by the elite and even the masses during Okorocha’s era. That was why the party was hamstrung or in dilemma in fielding quality candidates in the 2015 general election.
Therefore, it was not a surprise to many when People’s Democratic Party (PDP) swept almost all the entire seats for the National Assembly. PDP won eight (8) House of Representatives seats and the entire three (3) Senatorial seats in Imo State.
With the entrance of Senator Hope Uzodinma and other bigwigs into the party in early 2018, the fortunes of the party improved rapidly in the State. That explains the reason why the party made a better performance in the 2019 general election in the presidential, gubernatorial, National Assembly and State House of Assembly elections.
Okorocha’s domineering style of politics which gives the impression or the delusion of grandeur that he should always be the only Iroko in the forest made it difficult to sell APC among the electorate of Imo State. Without the divine entrance of Governor Uzodinma into the party, APC would have become extinct in the state since 2019.
The fortunes of the party has been multiplying in geometrical proportion since Uzodinma became the governor of Imo State on January 15, 2020. Uzodinma’s likeable personality and accommodating spirit have been the most potent magnet attracting people in droves to Imo APC. Those who swore never to have any dealing or affiliation with APC during Okorocha’s era have recanted or changed their minds about the party. The rate of influx of people into APC in recent time has been astronomical.
However, Governor Uzodinma must not be deceived by this apparent change of fortunes for the party under his leadership. As the governor of Imo State, Senator Uzodinma is both the dejure and the defacto leader of the party in the State. Okorocha, even though a former governor and now a Senator, must queue behind the governor as far as the leadership of APC in the State is concerned. There can never be two captains in a ship.
Coincidentally and paradoxically, both of them swapped positions. Governor Uzodinma was a Senator when Okorocha was the governor. Today, Okorocha is a Senator and then Senator Uzodinma is now the Governor of Imo State. By this extrapolation, nothing should make Rochas Okorocha to feel more superior to Governor Hope Uzodinma in politics and party leadership. Governor Uzodinma is too big a politician for him to pocket.
The recent birthday celebration of Senator Okorocha had exposed the disloyalty of some party faithful who claimed to be loyal to incumbent Governor Uzodinma. In the various advertorials by Okorocha’s loyalists, some of whom are current members of the National and State Assemblies, they referred to Okorocha as their leader or even went ahead to refer to him as the leader of the party in the state. If Governor Uzodinma had taken his time to read the messages in the birthday advertorials word for word, line by line, he would have discerned where the loyalty of those well wishers lies.
With the Supreme Court pronouncement of Governor Uzodinma as the governor of Imo State on January 14, the governorship election of the state will no longer be conducted during the general election of the country as it used to be. It now means that Imo State has joined the league of states with staggered gubernatorial election. These states include, Anambra, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Osun, Edo, Kogi, Ondo, and Imo.
Governor Uzodinma must realize that Presidential, Senatorial and House of Assembly elections will be conducted first before his own reelection which is likely to take place several months after the general election.
Against this background, he’s bound to expect a lot of betrayals and saboteurs from fair-weather loyalists when and if he will seek a reelection. As the leader of APC in the state, all party faithful must show total loyalty to him. No sitting on the fence. All party faithful must choose between Uzodinma and Okorocha now that it is still day time before the night comes. He must be wary of those party faithful who praise him in the day time and run to Rochas during the night to malign him.
And, that’s why the governor must be very thorough and circumspect in choosing those who will fly the party’s tickets for all the elective seats in 2023 if God keeps us alive.
• Maduako writes from Owerri