They don’t come any bigger in the political waters of any state. One is a former Senator and sitting governor of the state. The other is a former governor and a sitting Senator. They are political heavyweights of the highest calibre in the state.
Hope Odidika Uzodinma, governor of Imo State was elected Senator representing Imo West Senatorial District in 2011, got re-elected in 2015 under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and saw off his tenure in 2019 when he contested for the office of the governor under the banner of the Progressives Congress (APC).
Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2011 and became governor of the state same year, flying the flag of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). He remained in office until 2019 after gaining re-election in 2015 under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to which he had decamped in 2013.
In 2019, Okorocha was declared winner of the Imo West Senatorial seat vacated by Hope Uzodinma.
From the PDP in 2011, Okorocha left for APGA when he could not get the gubernatorial ticket of the party with Uzodinma playing a major role in Ikedi Ohakim securing a return ticket. In 2018, Uzodinma jumped to the APC in his quest to realize his governorship ambition when the odds clearly did not favour him in the PDP. As was expected, Okorocha did not favour him, but he wrested the ticket anyway from the incumbent governor and his anointed son-in-law, Uche Nwosu.
On Sunday, February 21, 2020, Senator Rochas Okorocha was reported to have been arrested and questioned by the Police in Imo State after he was said to have unlawfully gained entrance into Royal Spring Palm Estate belonging to his wife, Nkechi but had gone under the seal of the state government.
Regaining his freedom after several hours with the police on Sunday, Senator Okorocha, while speaking to newsmen on Monday accused Gov. Uzodinma of sending thugs and policemen to harm him. He said his adversaries failed in their mission as his personal aides where on ground to ward them off and ferry him to safety.
“I want to add that the IGP (Inspector General of Police) should order the immediate arrest of Chinasa Nwaneri and Eric Uwakwe. They led thugs that injured one of my orderlies and staff with machetes. They also shot Uzor, my in-law, shattering his feet with bullets”, Senator Okorocha said.
In his reaction last Tuesday, Gov Uzodinma dismissed Okorocha’s claims, alleging rather that it was the Senator who personally stormed the seized property along Akachi Road in Owerri with thugs, injuring some policemen and civil defence operatives in the process.
The governor who addressed State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja explained the circumstances that led to the seizure of the contentious property and accused Okorocha of breaching government order and inflicting bodily harm on security operatives.
“He went there with thugs himself, wounded the policemen there, wounded the Civil Defense people. A Civil Defense officer is currently still in the hospital. He (Okorocha) then broke in to the estate”, he said.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor had earlier issued a statement indicting. Okorocha of working with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state to undermine the government.
“It is on record that the senator recently said he is working in cohort with the opposition to achieve his political ambition, and he has not hidden his romance with key PDP figures in Imo State to undermine the All Progressives Congress (APC) government of Governor Uzodinma”, the statement read in part.
Of course, groups and factions in Imo State politics have since been speaking, issuing veiled threats on various platforms and media spaces while the generality of the people watch helplessly as their leaders and their supporters engage themselves in a battle for supremacy over their common patrimony and political relevance.
Reacting to the development in a press chat with The Tide in Port Harcourt, legal practitioner and public affairs analyst based in the Rivers State Capital, Barr. Arochukwu Paul Ogbonna described it as a show of shame devoid of integrity on the part of the leaders who constantly generate conflict situations to feather their nests and leave the people with no material benefit.
“The development is a show of shame. It shows the extent to which the ruling class in Nigeria can degenerate in their contest over power; in their contest over the common wealth of the people and creating controversy and rearing insecurity all over the place.
“What has happened in Imo does not show any sign of integrity nor that any of them is worthy of commanding the respect of the people in the position of leadership”, Barr. Ogbonna submitted.
He bemoaned the likely division, confusion and disillusionment the conflict between the political giants could have on the people and advised the citizenry in the state to remain united and refuse being dragged into the fray and thereby lose their (people) power over the ruling class.
“It is going to divide the people the more and definitely, as it happens in local politics, it’s going to be triggering up crises, quarrels, fights and even bloodbath among the loyalists. So, it goes to reinforce and goes further to fortify the argument we have raised in the past that the ruling class in our society are the harbingers of insecurity, they are the creators of insecurity, they are the ones who generate the crises that undermine the entire system and compromise everybody.
“A sitting senator, a sitting governor fighting … definitely it’s a means to excite the people and before you know it, various factions will start fighting and the police will have much more than enough on their hands to handle”, he lamented.
He advised the people of Imo State not to give in to the antics of their leaders and particularly urged the youths to always stand on the side of the law in their engagement with the political elite as they would gain nothing but frustration if they allowed themselves to be used as dispensable in the political power play of those who have gotten it all already and nothing to lose.
“I think the people of Imo State have not been blessed with very good leadership for sometime now and they have to come together.
“First of all, they need to come together. They must do everything humanly possible to stand on the part of the law; let them be very law abiding. Let, particularly, the youths refuse every attempt to use them as shield”, he said stressing that: “These are political office holders whom they expect good governance from; whom they expect to give them the best to represent their interest and to give them good services.
“For such people to fight and use their resources, fight over their resources and employ their resources to fight themselves means they will abandon governance for politics.
“So the youths should resist the temptation to be used as canon fodders, to be employed as supporters of A or B to go fighting political interests for the interest of political office holders. They shouldn’t be distracted. They should demand for political accountability, they should demand for openness in the political process and in the management of their resources at the state.
“But if they derail by allowing themselves to be used as supporters and used as thugs and touts to be fighting each other, then the political office holders have nothing to lose. They have reached a stage in their career where they’re comfortable and therefore the ordinary man will suffer. And the entire citizens of Imo State should resist the temptation of being dragged into the personal quarrel or disagreement of political office holders that have abandoned governance for politics”, he insisted.
To save the people the adverse backlash of the titanic clash of the Imo State political juggernauts, Barr. Ogbonna appealed to the traditional institution, leaders of thought, other notable stakeholders and the APC hierarchy within the Imo West Senatorial Zone in particular and the state in general to wade into the matter with a view to nipping the crisis in the bud.
“It is expected that the elders in their Senatorial district should call them to order, should ask them to exercise restraint and self discipline. Some of the things they drag into the media space are things they can resolve internally and issues worse than this had been resolved internally. When you drag it into the media space, you get innocent people involved and you over heat the polity.
“Let the traditional rulers, leaders of thought, opinion leaders and some other stakeholders, both within and outside the party see how they can bring them together to resolve this thing on the side of the people.
“Any attempt to get factionalised, I think they may spend the next four, five six, seven years or more talking about this one and only issue. As it happens in Nigeria, people will die, resources will be wasted and nothing will be achieved”, he admonished.
LG Polls: IPAC Hails RSIEC, Congratulates Winners
Less than 24 hours after the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission, RSIEC, announced the results of last Saturday’s Local Government Election held across the 23 LGAs of the state, the Interparty Advisory Council, IPAC, has come out to endorse the outcome or the polls, saying it was free, fair and credible.
Recall that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP won all the Chairmanship and Councilorship positions in that election as announced by RSIEC Chairman, Hon Justice George Omereji (Rtd).
IPAC Secretary in the State, Amangma Harry, made this known during a Press Conference held in Port Harcourt, Monday, 19 April, 2021.
Amangma Harry who is State Chairman of Young Progressive Party, YPP, appealed to other political parties who lost in the election to accept the outcome in good faith.
“At this point, we as active stakeholders and key players having understanding of the need to keep the River’s spirit alive and avoid unnecessary waste of lives and useful resources, that we are one people united to seeing a better Rivers State and also appeal to our colleagues, brothers and sisters to accepr the outcome of the election in good fate as a demonstration or true brothers partnering for the good of the state”.
While congratulating the winners of the just concluded 2021 Local Government election, IPAC urged them to extend hands of fellowship to all irrespective of political leanings.
Answering questions, IPAC PRO and ADC State Chairman, Leader Sampson said any political party which engages in protest against the outcome of the election is doing so on it’s own as IPAC does not authorise any political party to go on the streets.
“As IPAC we have done an overview of what the election was and we have taken a position”.
On his part, the State Labour Party Chairman, Prince Favour Reuben, clarified the situation in which PDP won all positions in the state, explaining that the situation in Rivers State is not different from what obtained in other states controlled by other political parties.
”If you go to where APC rules, no other party will win. So its not different from Rivers State and can never be different. If you go to Anambra State, APGA won everything. When Labour party was in power in Ondo State, we won everything even in the presence of PDP. They did not win even one Councilor”.
He advised those who felt aggrieved by the outcome of the election to approach the court to ventilate their grievances rather than take the laws in their hands.
Senate Confirms Usman As NPC Commissioner
The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Muhammad Usman as Commissioner for National Population Commission (NPC).
The Tide reports that Usman’s confirmation followed consideration and adoption of a report of the Senate Committee on National Identity and National Population.
Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Saidu Alkali, while presenting the report, said that the nominee possessed the requisite qualifications, integrity, leadership qualities and comportment to discharge his responsibilities.
According to him, Usman’s appointment satisfies the requirements of Section 154(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
The Tide reports that Usman was the Registrar of Federal University of Technology, Minna, between 2007 and 2012 and a member of African Council on Communication Education.
He is also a member of Association of Nigeria University Professional Administrators (ANUPA) and Nigeria Institute of Management (NIM).
Usman is also Fellow, Institute of Corporate Administration and Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR).
Meanwhile, the Senate has ordered an investigation into the alleged invasion of the Bodija market in Ibadan by officials of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) during which bags of rice and other items valued at N85 million were conveyed away.
The Senate ordered the investigation on Wednesday following the receipt of a petition from the Ibadan Foodstuff Sellers Association addressed to the President of Senate, Ahmed Lawan.
Immediately the petition was tabled before it by Sen. Kola Balogun (APC- Oyo ), the senate mandated its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate the matter.
In the petition to the Senate President, the association said inter alia:
“The above named association write to report the unfortunate night invasion of the Bodija International Market, Ibadan, and the forceful breakage of the Rice traders’ shops by men of the Nigerian Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit, Lagos, on March 31 to April.
“Our shops and warehouses were forcefully opened in our absence and the following items were carted away: 3,046 bags of Rice at N26,000 per bag – N79,196,000, 14 25kg Vegetable Oil; Cash of N4,862,000.00, and one 15kg bag of Gari.
“It is pertinent to report to you, Sir, that five shops still remain under special white padlock, the same that were put on the forcefully broken ones.
“The Ibadan Customs Unit has advised us not to unlock the locked shops for reasons unknown to us and owners of the shops have been rendered helpless.
“They cannot access their shops and neither can they trade in anything, their families have been suffering.
“We seek the intervention of your highly esteemed office for the immediate return of all the items and cash carted away from our shops and warehouses.
“We also seek Senate’s investigation into the reasons behind the forceful raid on our shops.
“We demand that such raid should stop henceforth and this one should be the last of such action on the innocent peaceful traders in our market.
“We demand that tight security arrangements be put in place in the market by the government to protect our products after closure from business activities of the day to avoid looting of our shops by hoodlums who might want to follow the illegal footsteps of the men of the Nigerian Customs Service.
“We demand that the Nigeria Customs should be warned against the use of the crude and cruel method of infringing on traders’ properties and products.
“That the action of the Nigeria Customs is seriously infringing on our rights to trade in legitimate items within the country as the midnight invasion violates all democratic principles.”
President of Senate, Ahmad Lawan, referred the petition to the Sen. Ayo Akinyelure-led Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition for investigation.
S’South PDP Wants Youths In Leadership Positions
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), South South Zone, has called for increased active participation of Nigerian youths in the political affairs of the nation.
The National Vice Chairman, South South of the party, Chief Dan Orbih, made the call on Monday in Benin when he received some youths led by Speaker Oyo House of Assembly, Mr Adebo Ogundoyin, .
The group, made up of youths from across the country, came to solicit for Orbih’s support in their quest for leadership positions in the country.
Orbih said their visit and request were apt and noted that this is the right time for active youths participation in politics.
“I am optimistic that they will bring in their ideas and strength in terms of numbers, to give dimension to the politics of the country.”
According to him, I want to identify with all that you have said today. First, we need greater participation of our youths in politics.
“I think the importance of your visit is that we all have a role to play, irrespective of political parties, to chart new course for our nation.
“And I can assure you that the message you brought to me today, I will take to the highest decision body of our party”.
The South South PDP leader further said that under the PDP, the party would accommodate the interest of youths and would encourage their greater participation in politics and governance.
“You are in a very safe company. All you have said in respect of youths in politics. Today, in Nigeria, PDP is the only party that accommodates the interest of youths,” he claimed.
He assured the visitors of his massive support for their desire and quest for youths inclusiveness in the nation’s politics.
Earlier, Ogundoyin said they were in his house to congratulate him on his assumption of office as the National Vice Chairman of the PDP, South-South, and to also pledge their loyalty and support in order for him to succeed in his task of moving the party forward.
Ogundoyin appealed to Orbih to rally round the youths to ensure that their dreams of becoming the President, Vice President, Senate President and other top political positions in the country are realised.
He noted that the recent agitation of youths in the country, the #EndSARS saga, could not be ignored any more.
“But we can’t achieve this without our voices being heard. So, active participation of youths in politics is the way forward,” he said.
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