Worried by the lingering crisis enveloping the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State yesterday led members of the national peace and reconciliation committee, set up by the party to the presidential Villa for reconciliation talks with aggrieved members in South-west, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Yesterday’s meeting coincided with the final exit of Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha’s son-in-law, Chief Uche Nwosu, from the APC to Action Alliance (AA), which has given him its governorship ticket for the state.
Nwosu’s move followed the trend in Ogun State, where Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s preferred candidate, Mr. Adekunle Akinlade, abandoned the APC for Allied Peoples Movement (APM) to realise his governorship ambition.
Related to these is Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Geoffrey Onyeama’s, position that 2019 election is not a matter of `life or death’ for President Muhammadu Buhari, saying the president would be happy to accept the verdict of the electorate.
Governor Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State; former Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Professor Modupe Adelabu; Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside; and Mr. Sa’ida Bugaje who are members of the committee attended the meeting with Osinbajo.
The meeting, which lasted more than one hour inside the meeting room of the vice president, according to Shettima’s spokesman, Malam Isa Gusau, was a consultative discussion with Osinbajo, who is the highest public office holder from the South-west.
He said, “The meeting was part of on-going consultations and hearings from specific leaders and members of the APC from the South-west. The vice president gave an insightful overview of his understanding of the issues in each of the six states of Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo with thoughts of possible ways out.’’
He added that the committee members will be meeting other specific leaders in each of the states to get their positions so as to be equipped with the facts.
‘’The committee will on Wednesday, make public invitations to give sufficient notice for aggrieved members to appear during the committee’s sittings in Lagos, Ekiti and Oyo States to hear submissions from the six states that will be paired for each day’s sitting,” Gusau said.
Meanwhile, the son-in-law of Governor Okorocha, Nwosu, who dumped the APC, has formally picked the gubernatorial ticket of the AA in order to realise his governorship ambition.
Speaking yesterday at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri, shortly after his arrival from Abuja, Nwosu expressed confidence that he would emerge the next governor of Imo State on the platform of AA.
He disclosed that “injustice, impunity and lack of respect for party’s constitution” forced him out of APC.
Nwosu, who held the AA’s flag, said the entire APC structure in the state, except those supporting the senatorial ambition of Okorocha, had defected to the AA.
Nwosu, who described AA as a party with the ideal democratic manifesto, added that his ambition to succeed Okorocha was driven by the massive support he enjoys from the over 70 percent population of the state electorate.
He said AA would cooperate with APC to reelect Buhari and to also elect Okorocha as senator, while he would be elected governor on the AA platform.
Nwosu said, “We are going to work with APC to deliver Imo State to President Muhammadu Buhari.
We will deliver Governor Rochas Okorocha as senator because Action Alliance has no senatorial candidate in Orlu zone.
“I have no problem with President Buhari. My headache is the National Chairman of APC.
“It is a divine project and we are ready for the election. It is inter-party marriage between AA and APC in Imo State.”
APC’s factional chairman in the state, Mr. Daniel Nwafor, also told newsmen that Nwosu and others who dumped APC with him had pinched tent with AA.
“I can tell you authoritatively that Uche Nwosu wrote to us resigning his membership from APC and I have sighted the letter,” he said.
The National Secretary of AA, Mr. Vernimbe James, also told newsmen that the party has given its governorship ticket to Nwosu.
Before clinching the ticket of AA, Nwosu had approached the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) but the party refused to give him the ticket.
The National Chairman of DPP, Mr. Garshon Benson, who confirmed the development, told newsmen that Mercy Ibeh remains the governorship candidate of the party in Imo State.
“Uche Nwosu is not our governorship candidate. We wanted to work with them, but eventually it didn’t work out. There were few ethical issues that prevented the deal from being struck,” he said.
Although the DPP national chairman did not reveal the ethical issues that worked against the handing over of the party’s ticket to Nwosu, THISDAY gathered that the party came under severe pressure from prominent leaders in Imo State not to have anything to do with the embattled APC governorship aspirant.
The party was said to have withdrawn from talks with Okorocha and Nwosu to avoid incurring the wrath of the people, who are believed to have rejected the governor’s move to impose a successor on them.
Nwosu had lost out of APC gubernatorial primary after an Imo State High Court upheld the prayers of the Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, and quashed the gubernatorial primary held on October 6, 2018, by the Okorocha faction of the APC, in the state.
Justice Kemakolam Ojiako, who presided over the court, granted all the prayers sought by Madumere, including the prayer that the October 1, 2018, APC primary election was credible, relevant and met the parameters for the exercise.
Okorocha had alleged that what happened in APC primaries in many states presented interesting scenario as the party, which he said was known for justice, equity and fairness, had been dented by the National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole.
He said, “What happened in Imo was a clear case of injustice, where Uche Nwosu won the primary and was robbed of the ticket. This injustice must be addressed.
“However, in spite of the fact that my aides are leaving the party, I am still a member of APC and will not leave the party.
“I tried to persuade them not to leave, but they have made up their minds. I have done what I can to make them remain in the party, they disobeyed me. I don’t have any moral justification to stop them.”