Sen. Rochas Okorocha, the immediate past governor of Imo, has lamented the humiliating treatment meted out to him by his party the All Progressives Congress (APC), in spite of his sacrifices and financial contributions to the party.
Okorocha, the senator representing Imo West Senatorial District, told newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday that he got evil reward from APC for his commitment to the course of the party especially in the South East. He noted that he had to go contrary to his kinsmen and political associates just to ensure that the party was placed on a sound footing in Imo and in the South East, but was surprised that he reward was suspension.
“If you recall I was called all sorts of names like ‘Okoro Hausa’ and that I was building mosques and all that were associated with it. But I kept deaf ears because I felt that I was on the right course with my people. I was instrumental to bringing Adams Oshiomhole as national chairman of the APC and he cannot deny that fact.
“I took the troubles of APC in the South East and the APC I see now can easily tell Gov. Emeka Ihedioha to come to its fold if only he can fight Rochas. That is really an unfortunate situation and it has weakened my spirit and my faith to the party because I thought we are family working to advance the course of this nation. But the way it is going, it does not look like there will be a solution. And there seems to be silence everywhere.
”I don’t even know my stand about my suspension because for some time, I don’t know what is happening in APC. But for the silence all over, it just looks as if it is normal. So, I am just waiting and thinking of what next to do but I am still a member of APC and I love the party and will support it,” Okorocha said.
According to Okorocha, there is need for a change in the party’s leadership to ensure the party does not collapse after the exit of President Muhammadu Buhari. Okorocha added that Buhari’s reputation appeared to be the binding factor of APC in addition to the fact that the North was arguably the major decider in Nigeria politics.
“I have never thought of leaving the party; I feel that time will take care of most things but my only worry is that the party may disappear with the exit of President Buhari. For the moment, Buhari seems to be the strongest pillar upon which this party is built. If nothing is done to correct the injustices in our party at the national level, then, I fear that this party may disappear with Buhari’s exit.
“Our party is already busy thinking about presidency in 2023 and not supporting the issue of governance which is what we have right now. The score of our party or its assessment depends on what we have done with governance and what we have done with politics. These are some of the problems we have and thinking that being APC is a platform to catch political power.
“People have begun to zone where the president will come from and where he will not come from, leaving the issue of governance; so, these have been some of the challenges we have as a party but I hope they will be addressed. But that cannot be complete unless we do some surgical movement in the leadership of the party,” Okorocha added.
He noted that Nigerians would judge their leaders on the basis of what they had done as a government before they could decide what to do with them in 2023. The former Imo governor further said that he was not in a hurry to make decisions on the next line of action following his suspension from the party. He, however, revealed that his in-law, Uche Nwosu, would return to APC from AA if he eventually reclaimed his governorship mandate.
On the allegations of misappropriation of funds during his tenure as the governor of Imo, Okorocha challenged Gov. Ihedioha to try to surpass his record rather than the negative campaign against his administration. He also said: “I challenge any government to do 50 per cent of what I achieved in Imo. I left N48.5 billion for the new government to take off. It is either the government of Ihedioha is confused or it is not relevant, if not, no normal thinking person will begin to witch-hunt me after all that I achieved in Imo.”
He blamed his travails on some unnamed top leaders of the APC whom he accused of conniving with opposition elements in the state to undermine him politically. Okorocha commended the judiciary for upholding his election describing the tribunal’s ruling as a “proof of his innocence” after INEC accused him of obtaining victory through duress.