By Collins Ughalaa, Owerri
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has responded to the apology to the Catholic Church in Imo State and Archbishop AJV Obinaa by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, describing it as an act of blackmail.
In a press by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, Governor Okorocha said that the party’s National Chairman should be advised to apply decorum or decency in his utterances as the National Chairman of the ruling party.
Speaking in Abuja during the weekend, the APC National Chairman apologized to Archbishop Anthony Obinna of the Owerri Diocese and the entire Christian community in Imo State over what he described as the lack of respect exhibited to the church by Governor Rochas Okorocha.
He said: “Governor Rochas Okorocha’s personal battle with the Christian community in Imo state is a matter between him and the Catholic Church. We in APC we are not party to that. We do not want our party to be dragged into such contestation because it will not be helpful to us. Our road to power is election by the people, we cannot antagonise the people.
“Even the ordinary man in Imo is entitled to respect not to talk of the leaders of the Christian community. And so we distance our self from all of those things that Rochas has done which some time has been a source of huge embarrassment to our party which sometimes we have been able to manage in house. So I sincerely apologize to Bishop Obinna and Christians in Imo State”.
In his response on behalf of the Governor, Onwuemeodo noted that though the party’s National Chairman was reported to have apologized to the Catholic Community, he did not mention what his sins were, thereby “kept his audience guessing”.
He said that the Governor will not behave like Oshiomhole in his response to what he called “deliberate blackmail”, adding that they “would not therefore throw caution to the wind like he did, when he was abusing or attacking governors in his party as if he is the Publicity Secretary of any of the political parties in opposition”.
He said: “If he had asked question, he would have discovered that members of the Catholic Church in the State Constitute the bulk of Governor Okorocha’s supporters especially at the grassroots. They voted for him overwhelmingly in 2011 and 2015 respectively. And he has never taken their support for granted. He has shown gratitude in several ways which cannot be catalogued in this response, including making them majority in his cabinet.
“And for Archbishop Obinna, the governor holds him in a very high esteem and has no personal problem with that outstanding man of God. But the truth is that the Archbishop perhaps expects the perfect Leadership expected in heaven to be established in Imo which is not possible. And that could be the reason he had had issues with Col Tanko Zubairu, Achike Udenwa and indeed Ikedi Ohakim”.
While noting that the Archbishop is the spiritual father of Governor Okorocha, he said that Okorocha “has never let” the Archbishop down. He called on the National Chairman of the party to “find out from President Buhari whether Governor Okorocha took him to the Archbishop in 2015 when he came on Campaign for a private meeting that lasted more than an hour”.
He said that taking the President to see the Archbishop in 2015 when he came to Owerri for campaigns as the presidential candidate of the APC “was a high demonstration of respect and regard.
“But guess what? Two days after, the newspaper owned by the Archbishop came up with a banner headline ‘Alhaji in Government House’ and part of the story was that the governor was taking young Igbos to the North to be Islamized. All these were part of the Campaigns to discourage Imo people from voting for him, APC and President Buhari. These are the issues.
“So, Comrade Oshiomhole’s apology was a badly tailored blackmail. And somewhat inciting. He is only trying to justify the blunder he contracted and dispatched Ahmed Gulak to commit in Owerri. And the man has put himself on trial. And that is the reason since that woeful and awful outing he has made more than nine claims to see how he could recover, but all to no avail. He murdered sleep and would remain awake”.
He continued: “We want to remind Comrade Oshiomhole that he is the National Chairman of a ruling party. His actions and utterances should reflect the dignity such office carries.
“For instance, when Governor Okorocha spoke to the media after meeting with Mr. President, one could see maturity in his speech. He didn’t start calling Oshiomhole names because calling names is meant for touts”.
He insisted that Oshiomhole “didn’t treat the concerned governors well no matter his reasons”, even as he called on him should not expect the governors he did not treat well to go home celebrating.
“He advised Oshiomhole, saying that “In the circumstance, his utterances and actions should be responsive and reconciliatory, to a very large extent, and not declaration of war”.