- Other Aspirants Kick
- Okorocha’s Role In Controversy
As the clock ticks toward the November 16 governorship race in Anambra State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is mired in confusion over who picks its ticket.
The development came following the presentation of Senator Chris Ngige as the consensus candidate of the party in the forthcoming election by leaders of the party in Abuja, yesterday.
The adoption of Ngige came about as the South-East interim Deputy Chairman, Senator Annie Okonkwo, who was in the race for the governorship ticket, stepped down for Ngige.
Announcing the withdrawal of Senator Okonkwo, during a meeting of leaders of APC, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State revealed that his decision to step down for Ngige was borne out of the spirit of brotherhood geared towards moving the party forward.
Okorocha also revealed that Senator Okonkwo would lead the campaign of Senator Ngige as they prepare to take over Anambra State.
Okorocha said: “We have the masses and I can assure you that victory is guaranteed for APC in Anambra State. Today, I want to present to you one of the people who is the initiators of this merger. His name is Annie Okonkwo. He will go down in history as that man who rose up from the East and ensured that the Igbo are part of this merger.
“We have resolved and agreed that there will be primaries in Anambra, in accordance with our party regulations and constitution. In his magnanimity, Senator Annie Okonkwo will lead the governorship campaign of Senator Chris Ngige. Our party is a party of unity. Our mission is one. Our mission is to save the lives of numerous Nigerians while saving the lives of the poor Nigerians.”
Okorocha warned that the party must put its house in order and use Anambra governorship poll as a litmus test towards future elections in the country.
“For the South-East and for Anambra elections, there is no cause for alarm. Anambra election will be the test case for APC. It will be the first stage for APC. Therefore, this party must do all it can to deliver Anambra for APC,” Okorocha warned.
The Imo governor further warned the party to de-emphasise religion and ethnicity that have been associated with APC to garner the support of Nigerians.
“Our victory in 2015 has been signed, sealed and delivered,” Okorocha said, adding: “To do so, we must unite. To unite, we must de-emphasise ethnicity and religion in APC.
“We must ensure that our presidential candidate, governors and local government chairmen are men of integrity and not based on where they are from. Let him who is competent rule this country irrespective of where the person comes from.
“Leaders must not be chosen on the basis of their religion, but on what they can do. For so many years, we have celebrated failure and ignorance in Nigeria. APC is a child of circumstance. Nigerians are waiting anxiously for this party. We must not fail them,” he added.
Meanwhile, Daily Sun can authoritatively reveal that Governor Okorocha was instrumental to the presentation of Ngige as the consensus candidate of APC in Anambra.
It was gathered that Okorocha, in what seemed a political masterstroke, had single-handedly taken it upon himself to ensure that there’s not only primaries to pick the governorship candidate for APC in Anambra but also to have Ngige as the sole aspirant.
Sources revealed that Okorocha had met with the aspirants in the party, who were campaigning to be the candidate on Tuesday night and persuaded them to step down for Ngige. It was learnt that the aspirants refused, insisting that there should be primaries to pick the candidate and that if Ngige won they would accept the result.
Daily Sun learnt that yesterday morning, before the commencement of APC meeting, Okorocha also tried to get the aspirants to accept his proposal for them to step down for Ngige. Again, the aspirants refused.
At the meeting, it was gathered, he seized the opportunity of addressing the gathering to announce that other candidates had stepped down. Reports stated that the governor spoke after Senator Okonkwo agreed to step down. The announcement had created confusion in the meeting, which was attended by only a few leaders of the party.
Reacting to the emergence of Senator Ngige as the consensus candidate, one of the aspirants on the platform of the APC, Godwin Ezeemo, described it as the wishful thinking of Okorocha.
He said the Imo governor would not be allowed to become an overlord in an election that concerns people of Anambra State.
His words: “Governor Rochas Okorocha is not from Anambra State and he would not be allowed to become an overlord in an exercise that is for the people of Anambra State.
“As far as I am concerned, the announcement of Senator Ngige as the consensus candidate of the APC in Anambra is complete falsehood. It is merely the wishful thinking of one man in the person of Rochas Okorocha,” he said.
Ezeemo said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) does not recognise consensus arrangements, insisting that there must be primaries for the aspirants running on the platform of the APC in Anambra State.
He said before now, leaders of the party had all agreed that there must be a level playing field for all the aspirants and maintained that nothing short of primaries would be accepted by his teeming supporters.
He stated: “When did Rochas Okorocha become a native of Anambra State and somebody that would now dictate what happens to people of the state. We are going to resist any imposition in the coming election because that is not what the constitution says.”
Efforts made to get Senator Okonkwo’s reaction proved abortive. Calls to his mobile phone were not picked. Also a text message sent to him was not replied.
When the interim spokesperson of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed was contacted to clear the air over the emergence of Senator Ngige as the consensus candidate, he declined comments, saying Daily Sun reporter was at the Abuja meeting.
But in his text message to Daily Sun, Senator Ngige said: “I thank our party’s leadership and party men, my co-aspirants, especially Senator Annie Okonkwo for the honour, and for finding me a fit person to fly our new party’s flag for the upcoming Anambra governorship election, while Senator Annie Okonkwo will lead the campaign to victory.”
Source: The Sun