■ My visit to President not unusual –Governor
From Stanley Uzoaru And George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Imo State is far from over as stakeholders of the party in the state have told Governor Rochas Okorocha that not even President Muhammad Buhari will save him from losing the party structure in the state.
On Thursday, Governor Okorocha accompanied by former governor of Edo State and prospective National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole paid a visit to President Buhari at the Aso rock villa, Abuja.
Speculations are rife that Okorocha’s latest meeting with Buhari after an earlier one with him in Daura may still not be unconnected with the controversial primaries held in the state.
But reacting to the development, the state chairman of the APC, Hillary Ekeh who has refused to acknowledge the suspension order on him by the State exco asserted that Governor Okorocha’s visits to the President are meaningless, insisting that the party’s stand on the congresses is final.
He insisted that all the congresses held in the state were duly conducted in accordance with the provisions of the constitutions of the party, reaffirming that the governor’s visit will be of no impact.
Ekeh said: “it is not possible, we do not need to go to Abuja to visit the president; the national, both the congress committee have already written their reports which is the final journey and they did that in accordance with the congress guidelines; it is not Kalu and Kalu Nigeria Ltd, this is APC.
“The party has a constitution, Oshiomole is an aspirant, if he wins, he will also come in to be sworn in to guide and defend the constitution of the party, even if he wants to amend the constitution of the party, it is the NEC that would that. So Okorocha’s visits do not have any influence; maybe Oshiomole is going to solicit for the President’s support for himself.”
On why the state congress election was held in another venue, Ekeh alleged that the invasion of the state party secretariat earlier by thugs, caused the relocation of the congress election to another venue the national leadership of the party was already aware of.
On the congress held at night, Ekeh said: “it is only a novice who does not know that election can enter into the nights; this is a congress where government thugs set the party office on fire and the congress guidelines say that the congress must take place at the party secretariat and if the party secretariat is not convenient for the congress to take place there, that the chairman of the congress committee would choose another public venue that is not a residential house by himself and inform the state chairman of the party who in turn will inform the delegates of the new venue, and the chairman can see that the place was burnt and besieged by thugs and police, then he went round to choose another place after writing to the national party, so there is no guideline that says the party can not hold at night.”
Meanwhile, Governor Okorocha has said that his visit to President Buhari with Oshiomole should not warrant raising an eyebrow.
The governor who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo said that as the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum and leader of the party in the state, he does not need anybody’s permission to visit the President.
He said: “Do not forget that aside being governor of Imo and indeed, of APC extraction, he is also, by the grace of God, the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum. So, from time to time, there could be reasons to warrant his going to see President Muhammadu Buhari. In other words, his visit to Mr. President at any time shouldn’t raise any eyebrow”
He noted that visiting the President with Oshiomhole and frontline aspirant to the National Chairmanship of APC should also not be seen as unusual.
“Yes, the governor had gone to complain of the bad politics played with the party’s congresses in Imo. The stealing of the sensitive materials for the congresses which were later found in a hotel in Abuja with the aides of those who made away with the congress materials. The ugly incident had a lot of security challenges which the culprits were obviously not mindful of. The disappearance of the congress materials could have led to major security challenges in the state if not the statesman’s way the governor handled the whole situation.”
It is also wrong for anybody to begin to link every visit of the governor to the President with the issues arising from the aborted Congresses in Imo. The governor visits the President and will continue to do so whenever the need arises” Governor Okorocha stated.
Leader of the Imo APC Stakeholders Forum, Chief Okey Ikoro has advised Okorocha to stop disturbing president Muhammadu Buhari and embrace the new state executives of the party who were duly elected through a valid state congress.
He noted that Okorocha’s constant meetings with President Buhari over a party issue is an indication the governor does not know that political parties operate on a constitution and rules, stressing that the president would not be able to help him upturn a validly held ward, local government and state congresses which were conducted according to the constitutional guidelines of the party.