Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri

Governor Rochas Okorocha has responded to the challenge by former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, to return Imo State to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019.

Atiku, who was in Owerri for a meeting with stakeholders of the PDP in the state recently over his presidential ambition was reported to have said he would lead the struggle for the PDP to take over Imo and Nigeria in 2019.

Governor  Okorocha, who responded through  a press statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, noted: “What we do not take from anybody is blackmail against the government of Rochas Okorocha. We would do our best to set the record straight.

The former vice president would have done his meeting without scratching the governor and the government he heads in the state. And that is where we come in.

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“The former vice president should leave Imo and Governor Okorocha alone and face his challenges. And if he does not know,  Okorocha will defeat him in any part of the country, including his Adamawa State in any election involving two of them. He does not have what it takes to lead any struggle that will return the PDP to power in the state or the country in 2019. That promise was a false one.

“To say the least, that promise of returning Imo to PDP was deceitful, knowing full well that in 2011, Rochas ran on the ticket of APGA that had no structure on ground and defeated an incumbent PDP governor with a wide margin.

In 2015, he took the soul of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) to merge with other parties to form APC and defeated two powerful candidates of PDP and APGA, even with the PDP candidate having the federal might behind him. Interestingly, Alhaji Atiku was not in exile when all these happened.”

Governor Okorocha stated further that his achievements in eight years had succeeded in destroying PDP in the state.

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 “When PDP was in power in the state, the Imo airport was an eyesore, but today, it has become an international cargo airport with all the facilities available and courtesy of Okorocha’s administration.

The former vice president would have demonstrated statesmanship by commending Okorocha for that feat.

“Again, all the flyovers and tunnels Alhaji Atiku passed through in Owerri were not there when the PDP was in power for 12 years. The 12 and eight – lane roads the former vice president saw in Owerri when he came were not there when the PDP held sway.

The free education that has raised the school population of the state from 381,000 in 2011 to over one million in 2017, was not also there under the PDP.”

To further buttress his point on the “death of PDP in the state,” governor Okorocha claimed most influential politicians in the state formerly with PDP have all left to other parties.

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“And that is the reason all those who made the party thick in the state have all left to join either APGA or APC. Today, all the former gubernatorial aspirants in PDP are doing so in APGA, including Chief Ikedi Ohakim. They have left the PDP for two people.

So, the former vice president should have told the remnants of the PDP in the state to bear with the situation they have seen themselves instead of raising their hope by promising them that he would lead the struggle that will return the party to power in the state.

And on our part, we do not need to struggle for APC to sustain its hold on Imo since Imo people will continue to vote for the party,” the statement said.