By Collins Ughalaa
As the 2019 governorship election draws nearer, one of the leaders and governorship aspirants in the Imo State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, has formed a new group called the Concerned Imo State APC Stakeholders, saying that Governor Okorocha does not have the right to produce his successor in 2019.
Senator Araraume and the Governor have been on a running battle over who succeeds the Governor in 2019 under the APC party, leading to the suspension of some LGA chairmen of the party who were accused of attending a meeting called by the former Senator during which they were accused of taking oath of allegiance to him.
In a press release signed by Agunwa Emeka Nzeribe (State Coordinator), Hon. CY Onyekwere (Okigwe Zonal Coordinator),
Hon. Raymond Anyanwu (Owerri Zonal Coordinator), Barr. Robert Okwuego (Orlu Zonal Coordinator), Comrade Innocent Agunanne (Director of Strategy/Mobilization) and Lady Chinwendu Mbalisi (Director of Women Mobilization), the group said
“That as a democratic party, any duly registered member wishing to contest any elective position is free to make his or her intention known to party members, in line with the Nigeria Electoral Act. That the Governor has no right to determine who becomes the party candidate at all levels in the state and has no power to stop any aspirant from contesting”.
Mr. Agunwa Nzeribe who is the State Coordinator of the new group is the Director of Media and Publicity for Araraume’s Destiny Organisation, while all other members of the group are staunch loyalists of the former Senator.
The group lamented “that recent actions and inactions of some leaders of the party in Imo State, if not properly checked will cause serious harm in our electoral fortunes in the forthcoming general elections.
“In a bid to ensure that the dream of progressive minds that formed this party did not go down the drain, we, the members of this great party of Imo State Chapter, came together with one purpose and formed this forum known as, and called ‘Concerned Imo State APC Stakeholders'”.
The group noted “That All Progressives Congress (APC) is a registered political party in Nigeria with its registered office situate in Abuja, with a functional manifesto and Constitution.
“That there are clear-cut procedures stipulated in our Constitution and manifesto for suspending and/or expelling erring party members or executive officers.
“That the activities and functions of a State Government are quite different from those of a political party, and that we use this medium to ask the State Government to stop interfering with the activities of APC in Imo State, for the simple reason that the functions of the Government and the party are not same.
“That the purported suspension or expulsion of any member of APC by the Imo State Government is ultra vires, null, void and of no consequence whatsoever”.
The Concerned Imo State APC Stakeholders also spoke on the, Governor’s plan to conduct mock primary election for all aspirants in the party, saying that the mock primary election is foreign to the APC manifesto and constitution.
“That the so-called ‘mock primaries’ as announced by the present Imo State Government is alien to the Constitution and manifesto of APC, and that the State Government is not empowered by any section of the APC Constitution or manifesto to schedule modalities for conduct of intra party elections in our party.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC is the only organ/body saddled with such a responsibility, upon ratification by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of our party”, said the group.
The group added “That any member of the party or any party executive, from Ward to federal level in Imo State Chapter of APC is free to attend meetings called by any APC party leader and such meetings should not be viewed as ‘antiparty'”.
They also expressed displeasure “at the unwarranted humiliation, molestation, intimidation; and purported suspension and expulsion of members of our party in Imo State”, stressing, “that the Constitution and manifesto of APC remain supreme, and members, no matter how highly placed must abide by it.”
The APC group also called on “the good people of Imo State not to see Imo State Chapter of APC in the eyes of the misguided actions and activities of the present government in the State, but to rather use other APC controlled States in this country where rule of law, internal democracy and above all, where the tripod cardinal objectives of APC, namely, security, economy, and anti-corruption
Crusade are practised to its fullest as their benchmark”, even as they said “that no responsible member or members of a political party will indulge in such reckless, undemocratic tendencies as being witnessed in the state, with our Congresses and National Convention just a few weeks away.
“Again, with barely one year from the general elections, no responsive, responsible government, or member of a political party will indulge in such heinous acts, underlined by the reckless and undemocratic attempt at suspending and expelling its members.
“What is expected of any serious minded government or political party at this point in time is to intensify its membership drive, and create the conditions for mutual coexistence among its members”.