George Onyejiuwa; Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
The endorsement of Chief Uche Nwosu, Chief of Staff to the Imo State Government House ahead of 2019 governorship election in the state by Governor Rochas Okorocha, on Monday, has raised dust in the All Progressives Congress (APC) as various youth groups have distanced themselves from the purported endorsement.
Some of the groups that distanced themselves include the Agenda Vanguard (AV), Imo Youth Enlightenment Organisation (IYEO), Rochas Youth Alliance (RYA), APC Youth Vanguard (APCYV), Youth Equity Group (YEG), APC Youth League (APCYL) and the Imo Youths Agenda (IYA). Yesterday, the groups angrily stormed out of a meeting organised by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Youth Affairs, Mr. Kenneth Emelu, at the Imo Youth Centre, to lobby them to support the governor’s anointed successor.
Addressing a press conference shortly at the Imo Concord Hotel, the Commander of Agenda Vanguard, Mr. Ibeawuchi Nwannaeri. who spoke on behalf of other youth groups, said the APC would only support a candidate who emerges through a credible party primary irrespective of the zone he comes from.
Nwannaeri, however, described Nwosu as a good candidate for the position, but maintained that the party’s interest should be paramount in the decision.
“We don’t want to make mistakes, youths of Imo do not support endorsement of an individual; Nwosu is a youth and a good man, but the interest of the party should be paramount, no matter what, be it Madumere, Nwosu, Ololo or Ejiogu, what we are saying is they should emerge through the party’s primary,” Nwannaeri said.
Similarly, another party stakeholder and a former Commissioner for Information, Chief Vitalis Ajumbe, while reacting to the endorsement by Governor Okorocha, said there was nothing wrong for the governor to endorse any candidate, but warned that he has no right to determine who becomes his successor in 2019.
He said who becomes the next governor of the state should be determined by the electorate.
“Governor Okorocha has the right to support any candidate, but has no right to determine who becomes the governor; it is left for the electorate to decide.
“If he thinks endorsing his son-in-law would make him the governor, he is deceiving himself, it only shows that Okorocha wants to come back for a third term through the back door,” Ajumbe said.
Meanwhile, Governor Okorocha has said the reason he will support Nwosu is that “he possesses the qualities to be a good governor.”
The governor spoke yesterday, when the APC executives, leaders and traditional rulers from Oguta Local Government Area visited him at the Government House to enlist their support for Nwosu.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, Okorocha said “Nwosu can exercise regard for the poor and make sacrifices, which are good qualities.”
He said: “My happiness at the end of this administration is to see a worthy successor. Someone who will not destroy free education, one who will work for the state as if his life depends on it. I won’t impose anybody, but, I am entitled to support anybody who can do the job.
“People have been coming to say they want Nwosu in 2019. I am very democratic in my ways of doing things.
“Some people are coming up with the sentiments of zone, religion and so on, just to polarise our people. We won’t allow that. Imo people are one. And let the man who can deliver the goods be there.”
He said Nwosu didn’t come to him as a potential in-law but like most young men who had come to him to help them succeed in life.
“I don’t sell my daughters. That was why I didn’t consider how wealthy or poor he was before I allowed him to marry my daughter even at the level God has placed me. I saw the hand of God in the whole thing. He has a future for himself. He has sincerity of purpose. He means well. He said Oguta people are key to the development of the state.
“I commend you for finding one of my political sons worthy to be a governor. The projects in Oguta will all be completed. The Ministry of Tourism has been relocated to Oguta to fast-track the development of the area. Peace has been restored in Oguta. I have no personal interest in all these.”
The leader of the Oguta delegation and former Majority leader in the House of Assembly, Jones Uzoka said they came to present their resolution and urge him to support Chief Uche Nwosu to become the governor of the state in 2019, adding that Nwosu has shown both in conduct and in action that he would be an ideal governor.
He congratulated the governor for his numerous achievements in the state and said they could not afford to allow the state go back into the hands of those who wasted its resources for years.
In a related development, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that the only plausible reason why governor Okorocha endorsed Nwosu as his successor amongst his loyalists is to cover his illegalities and save himself from going to jail.
The party said it is not afraid of any candidate, adding that Okorocha‘s endorsement of his son-in-law, as the APC governorship candidate has confirmed fears that he views the entire state as part of his Rochas Foundation and urged the people to rise up against it.
Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Damian Opara, who stated this yesterday during a press conference, alleged that in the last six and half years of Okorocha’s administration, all major appointments and contracts have been given to members of his family, which he said violates the principles of equity and fairness.