As I was going through my works in my computer recently, I stumbled on a file titled ‘Press Release’. This file contains all the press releases I issued as the Director Media and Publicity Capt. Ihenacho Campaign Organisation. What got me excited was the volume of the press releases. This prompted me to do this write-up so as to share part of what we encountered working in Capt Emmanuel Ihenacho’s governorship project.
I joined the campaign train of the 2015 governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Imo State Capt Ihenacho around mid 2013. That time, Capt Ihenacho who is an ex Minister of Interior was still in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The person who facilitated my joining this political train was one of my mentors who was a former Deputy Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Chuma Nnaji. Hon. Nnaji was the Director-General of Capt Ihenacho’s Campaign Organisation then but later became the PDP Deputy Governorship candidate in the just concluded governorship election in Imo State. Subsequently, around February 2014, the ex minister joined APGA.
However, it was when the international mariner expressed his intention to join APGA that he started getting knocks, libellous publications and blackmail all targeted at tarnishing his image.
Some persons in APGA did everything to frustrate the man’s move to join the party. However, when the former minister finally joined the party, more media attacks were launched against him.
As the ex-ministers media aide, I was at the center of the whole media war.
The first was the publication in Wednesday May 14-19 2014 of Red Parrot Newspaper. The publication among other things stated that the former Minister had demonstrated regrets in joining the APGA because of factions and leadership tussle in the party.
The next was in Monday 19 and Thursday of 22nd May 2014 edition of the National Gazette Newspaper where it was alleged that Chief Martin Agbaso was demanding =N=1b, Deputy Governor’s slot, 5 commissioners, contracts etc. from Ihenacho to enable him (Agbaso) ‘step down’ and surrender Imo State APGA structure to the former minister.
Also in May 21-22, 2014 editions of the Midweek Nigerian Horn and Frontline Express newspapers, it was reported that Chief Agbaso in a press interview, among other things, was quoted to have accused Capt Ihenacho of being indebted to a financial institution to the tune of =N=10b.
Further, before the Court of Appeal judgement which reconfirmed the National leadership of Chief Victor Umeh group, there was this propaganda that Capt Ihenacho was pitching tent with the Maxi Okwu-Led faction of the party at the national level. Another report had it that Capt Ihenacho was supporting Umeh faction. This was targeted at provoking clash between Ihenacho and the above named APGA chieftains.
After Chief Umeh’s Court of Appeal victory, the Anambra-born party leader started re-structuring the leadership of APGA in Imo State. This might be sequel to Governor Rochas Okorocha’s exit from the party. Again, Capt Ihenacho became a victim of blackmail as the Emekuku Owerri-born oil mogul was accused of being instrumental to the restructuring. Not minding the various public statements, some persons continued to instigate some sections of Owerri-based print media to continue peddling the propaganda.
At the time the governorship primaries were approaching, the intensity of the media war against Capt Ihenacho was raised. There came the man Sam Ahanonu who was syndicating and sponsoring publications which alleged that Capt Ihenacho was involved in corruption, fraud, incurable debt and shady business transactions with some named persons and institutions. The acclaimed traditional chief also alleged that the former minister owed him the sum of =N=30 million naira. He even claimed that he went to court on the allegations. The police later declared Mr. Ahanonu wanted when he failed to honour police invitation on the publications. Afterwards, the man disappeared and nothing was heard about him again till the elections were over.
Before the primary elections in Imo State, many leaders of APGA in the state adopted Capt Ihenacho as their consensus governorship candidate for the 2015 governorship election in the state. This also opened another vista of media hype against the former minister from the Okey Ezeh-Led group. The climax was a court case instituted by one Kennedy at the Etiti High Court in Imo State wherein the court was approache to make an order disqualifying Capt Ihenacho from contesting the then approaching APGA governorship primary election. The sponsors of this suit even cooked up a court order that never existed claiming that the said high court had stopped APGA from screening Ihenacho as a governorship aspirant of the party. This was circulated in various media houses. However, the case was later struck out for want of jurisdiction.
Subsequently, after the former minister emerged APGA governorship standard bearer on November 8 2015, the media attack on him was raised higher. The runners up in that primary election Mr. Okey Ezeh and the former Chairman of the party in Imo State Prince Cletus Nwaka and their groups continued to cause confusion over the governorship candidature of APGA for the April 11 governorship election in Imo State. Not minding that the electoral body published Capt Ihenacho’s name as the authentic governorship candidate of APGA in the state, Mr. Ezeh continued to present himself as the governorship candidate also. This continued till the election was held.
As the elections were around the corner, another acclaimed APGA national factional leadership claimed to adopt the PDP governorship candidate. The climax of the propaganda was the allegation that Capt Ihenacho had stepped down for the PDP governorship candidate.
In all, it was not easy managing information in a state like Imo where lies, blackmail and malicious propaganda is preferred to truth.
In all, the above allegations, media hype, attack and propaganda against the former minister were false. We did a lot of refute and rejoinder on all of them but the whole thing presented APGA in bad light to the electorate.
It is instructive to note that before Capt Ihenacho joined APGA, the party was already having leadership crisis at the national level. However, his membership of APGA was a clarion call by many members of the public and APGA faithful.
Be that as it may, if Capt Ihenacho did not have the chance of winning the 2015 governorship election in Imo State, he would not have become a centre of blackmail. Nevertheless, the blackmail was only targeted to run an innocent man with an intimidating track record down.
In one of my press statements in September 2014 titled ‘Enough of this Falsehood against Capt Ihenacho’, I expressed by fears accordingly:
‘…Since 2007, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has continued to lose governorship elections in Imo State because of internal crisis. This should be very instructive to Imo APGA. Therefore, if Imo APGA exhausts its arsenal and inflicts itself with devastating ‘injuries’ in in-fighting, it will be left with a situation of helplessness and hopelessness when the main ‘battle’ starts. The party should remember that the Imo electorate is now more sensitive, sophisticated and enlightened and will hardly identify with a party that is engulfed with crisis, indiscipline and disorder…’.
Therefore, the above should be very instructive to members and lovers of APGA as the party re-strategizes for the future. Not minding that the conduct of the 2015 elections in Imo State was a charade, yet there is hope for the party if things are done well internally.
Members of the party should also know that there is a grand conspiracy in this country to annihilate APGA because of the kind of influence the party can command especially in the South Eastern part of this country. This was the same case with the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
Therefore, there is need for the party to avoid internal crisis because internal crises is the bane of any political party.
On the other hand, I want to thank all for the massive support they gave to Capt Ihenacho and APGA during the 2015 elections. I also want to thank immensely my boss and principal Capt Ihenacho who gave me the rare opportunity of serving in his campaign organisation as the Director Media and Publicity. The service has added another feather to my cap.
I will like to end this piece with an extract from the ex-minister’s recent press statement on the 2015 elections in Imo State.
‘… APGA has come to stay. APGA represents the spirit of Ikemba. APGA encapsulates the Igbo core philosophy of ‘onye aghala nwanne ya’. We will not let go and we will not let Imo and Ndigbo down. The struggle continues…’
From Emperor Nnabuihe Iwuala Esq. (KSC.)