Outgoing Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha on Monday visited President Muhammadu Buhari, warning that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) risks serious consequences in 2023 because of the leadership style of the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
According to him, the party boss was responsible for the loss of key states to the opposition party People Democratic Party (PDP), in the last general elections in the country.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting with the president, he also warned against any attempt to sideline the Southeast region in election and selection of principal officers of the incoming 9th National Assembly.
Doing so, he observed, will impact negatively on the party’s chances in the region in future elections.
Okorocha observed that Oshiomhole’s actions were capable of reducing the APC to a regional party, noting that the party boss was fond of imposing his will on the party, which he said had resulted to APC not having any elected political office holder in Imo State after the last recent general elections.
Okorocha said, “I have been watching carefully what is happening in the National Assembly, it’s a very interesting drama. But all I ask of them is that they should consider the South East in their calculations.
“This nation will not be properly balanced if South East is not carried along properly in the affairs of the National Assembly. Nobody seems to be talking about the South East, it looks like the South East doesn’t have a place anymore, that is wrong, politically speaking and that will not be good for APC. Because there is going to be a bigger APC after president Muhammadu Buhari must have left the seat.
“My fear now is that APC might have a serious set back in 2023 because the Oshiomhole’s led executive is actually turning APC into a regional minority party which shouldn’t be because of his mistakes. Right now in the whole of South East, we don’t have an APC governor. So if there is any discussion in Nigeria now within the APC governors and President Muhammadu Buhari, there would be nobody from the South East. This is what the APC chairman has done in the South East.
“I think it’s a capital attempt to frustrate the efforts of the South East but I appeal to every Nigerian to support the cause of the South East – their cause is germane and it should be supported in whatever position that is due them. They shouldn’t think about giving South East, whatever position for giving sake. You can’t just wake up and give them any position. South East is a key primary zone in this country and if we don’t get the number one seat, we should get the number two seat.”
Asked why his party was not making any case for him be given a certificate of return, Okorocha said, “I won’t be surprised because, of course, you know the imposition we suffered in the party. When you say the party, you talk about the leadership of that party, it’s not the party.
“I don’t have a problem with the Working Committee of that party, I only have a problem with the chairman of that party, who took it upon himself to do the wrong thing against me for just no cause and to fight a battle that he can never win. No, he is the one that is behind all these impositions, can you imagine, as I speak to you the APC candidate in Imo State did not win a seat.
“APC does not have a councillor in Imo State now, it does not even have a House Member. But the AA candidate has eight seats in the Imo State House of Assembly, two Federal House and they have one senator about to come to the Senate.
“This is why internal democracy must be respected, let the will of the people prevail rather than this imposition. It is unfortunate what has happened in Imo State. At least, I have been vindicated for the fact that I said the APC candidate they are imposing on Imo people is not popular, he came from the opposition. For the first time, APC doesn’t have a seat in Imo State. When I was the leader of that party, when I was running the affairs of that party, we won 24 seats in the House of Assembly, we have a governor, federal house members but today, APC does not have because of imposition.”
On his recent controversial declaration as the winner of the Imo West Senatorial election, he said he was patiently awaiting his certificate of return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The governor has been denied his certificate of return by the electoral body over claims that he forced the returning officer to declare him winner under duress.
However, he maintained that he was the duly elected winner of the election.
He said: “As it stands today, I am just waiting patiently for the release of my certificate of return for an election that I duly won, and I am hoping that INEC will release my certificate of return. I have not contravened any section of the constitution and I have not done anything wrong not to be given my certificate. I pray and hope INEC would do what is just and what is right.”
Asked whether he discussed the issue with the president, the Governor said it was not necessary because the matter was a straight forward matter.
He argued: “I don’t think that would have been necessary to do because it’s a straight forward matter. INEC conducted the election, results were declared – the returning officer declared the results and I won, only, one week later to hear that somebody wrote a petition that he issued that declaration under duress.
“I say where? Was it in his private house or was it in the collation centre? It is the collation centre. SSS were there, police were there, international observers, INEC officials and many others.
“So, who actually put him under duress? The man has not been able to say that. Nobody has ever sent a statement about that but think INEC would want to do the right thing very very soon.
“Now, in the same way, the governorship candidate of PDP never won that election because the election flouted section 179 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which says that you must have the highest votes and you must have 25 per cent in two third of the local governments.
“Now, this gentleman who was declared the winner by the same INEC had 135,000 votes from 24 local government but had over 130,000 votes from his three local governments. Of course, you know, he didn’t win that election.
“But even at that, we had the highest mark, the Returning Officer of INEC was never patient to even calculate to know that it was 200,000 votes where there supposed to be a rerun, also flouting that basic constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria which says you must have 25 per cent in two-third, he doesn’t have it.
“So, as far as I am concerned, there will be a rerun in Imo State and the Prof that did that should either be derrobed as a professor and he should be charged for that serious offense of not respecting the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.
“What this means is that someday, one crazy person might just walk on the street and take one mad man, give him result sheet and declared him the winner even if the man did not belong to a party.
“And we are getting to stage in this country that once you are declared, you are declared. This is the crazy thing that is happening in Imo State and also it happened in Okigwe zone where a loser ran away with the result sheet.
“The person came fifth and is trying to return himself. Up till now as I speak to you the Okigwe senatorial seat has not been declared. I don’t know what INEC is waiting for because the man who won the election, they could not declare him.
“Now the person who ran with the result sheet, and the Prof ran away to the US, he is not back. So, there is a stalemate everywhere, I think INEC should revisit Imo matter.”
Okorocha said his administration has implemented several federal government’s projects in Imo state which he wants the president to commission.