2015: OKOROCHA, NDIGBO AND APC MUSLIM-MUSLIM TICKET
When the All Progressives Congress, APC, which my former boss and incumbent governor of Imo state, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, outstandingly played significant roles to consummate was legally recognized as a political party by the Independent Electoral Commission( INEC), many Nigerians including Ndigbo rekindled their optimism for a new Nigeria hoping to witness the transformation championed by the new party.
Many political watchers upheld a certain conclusion that APC would ultimately translate to a credible platform with vast opportunities that would among other things end the political domination of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Okorocha's participation was seemingly driven by his concern and appetite to secure a better political platform for Ndigbo outside the PDP.
The governor has consistently attributed the dwindling political fortune of the south east zone and relegation of Ndigbo to the background to what he described as anti-Igbo posture of the PDP.
Probably for this reason, the governor has not hidden his disdain for PDP for denying Ndigbo five exalted positions in the leadership hierarchy of the country.
The five positions listed by Okorocha are President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of Federal House of Representatives and Chairman of the party.
The truth, however, remains that none of these positions is presently occupied by an Igboman.
This seemingly lopsidedness and marginalization allegedly meted out to Ndigbo by the PDP-led federal government however formed a strong political propaganda and leverage Okorocha needed to mobilize Ndigbo for APC .
While dismissing with a wave of hand the possibility of actualizing Igbo presidency under the PDP, the rescue mission governor who promised to do only one term and continue his presidential race in 2015, argues that the age-long project must be realized under the newly formed APC.
Okorocha later modified his 2015 presidential forecast for Ndigbo by promulgating a permutation that awarded either the president or vice to Ndigbo and a consolation of senate president or speaker of Federal House of Representatives.
The fact remains that Okorocha's motive for Ndigbo vis-a-vis his APC sojourn are well-intended and unquestionable.
However, recent developments and happenings in APC are gradually pitching the governor against Ndigbo.
Okorocha seems to be on his own as the former governor of Lagos state, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and his political ally and former military head of state, Gen.
Muhammad Buhari have risen to prove to Nigerians that APC belongs to them.
These self-appointed national leaders of APC have clandestinely initiated selfishly-driven moves to promote and actualize their personal political ambition at the detriment Okorocha, Ndigbo and Christians.
Okorocha's 2015 projections and aspirations for Ndigbo under APC have started hitting the rock.
The Muhammadu Buhari/Bola Tinubu ticket for 2015 reportedly mull by APC and the ongoing intrigues to return either return the interim national chairman, Chief Bisi Akande or national vice chairman south south, Chief Tom Ikimi, as the national chairman will completely make nonsense of Okorocha and his crusade for a better political placement for Ndigbo under APC.
Again, the proposed muslim/muslim presidential ticket will on the other hand give credence to the allegation that APC was consummated a Muslim party and structured to actualize the political agenda of the north and south west at the detriment of the south east and south south.
Promoters of Muhammadu Buhari/Bola Tinubu ticket strongly believe that APC will win the presidency by consolidating on its areas of strength-the north and south west.
They probably do not see anyone commanding votes in the south of Nigeria like Tinubu.
They believe that the likes of Rotimi Amaechi and Rochas Okorocha with the loud noise so far made for APC cannot deliver electoral dividends that will garner substantial votes for the party.
They prefer not to dissipate much energy and resources in south east and south south on conclusion that the zones are predominately PDP stronghold.
The decision to field both men is also fueled by the massive votes, which the pairing of duo could garner for the party during the election from north and south west.
APC is reportedly 'banking on an estimated 44,848,911 registered voters (in the north west, north east and southwest) who accounted for 61 per cent of total registered voters of 73,528,040 in the 2011 election.
'This is in contrast to the 27,735,678 registered voters in the north-central, south east and south south zone combined, who accounted for 39 per cent of total registered voters in the 2011 election.
APC's strategists are also confident that with Tinubu as Buhari's running mate, the pair will be able to secure the bulk of the 2,941,214 votes cast for Jonathan in the South-west and Edo State in 2011.
With Buhari and Tinubu as presidential and vice-presidential candidates respectively, the party aims at securing the core north and south west, which are the most populous sections of the country which can guarantee at least 50 per cent of the total votes in the country during the presidential election'.
Further investigation also revealed that APC believes that muslim/muslim ticket will largely address the insurgency in the north-east as well as earn them the support of the deadly boko haram.
The tendency of giving credence to the accusations by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that APC is a Muslim party and sponsors of boko haram does not count so far as promoters of the ticket are concerned.
The recent alarm raised by loud-mouthed Femi Fani-Kayode confirms that Buhari and Tinubu had muted this idea long time before now.
He said: 'I have said it privately in countless political meetings and I will say it publicly today; please mark it, the biggest mistake that my party, the APC, can make is to field a muslim/muslim ticket in the 2015 Presidential election.
'If we do that we will not only offend the Christian community but we will also lose the election woefully.
This is not 1993 and whether we like it or not we must accept the fact that religion plays a major role in our politics today.
Our party must have both a Christian and a Muslim on the ticket if we want to be taken seriously in the presidential election.
I implore those that think otherwise to sit down and think this through properly.
We must not present a Christian/Christian ticket as this would be insensitive to the feelings of Muslims and we must not present a Muslim/Muslim ticket as this would be insensitive to the feelings of Christians.
Let us be mindful of our actions, deeds and words, no matter how well-intentioned they may be, and let us ensure that we do not confirm the terrible stereotyping that those that are against us are trying to label us with.
On the other hand, his friend and former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir el-Rufai, a die-hard supporter of Buhari and Islamic fundamentalist, believes the choice of a presidential candidate and vice should not be influenced by religion.
He said: 'APC will present an integrity-competence ticket not religion.
Politics and governance are not to be mixed or dictated to by any religion.
How these persons worship the Almighty God is private to them and does not matter to discerning Nigerians particularly young people that suffer most from bad governance, unemployment and the Jonathanian culture of impunity….
The PDP that has no record to show other than escalation in corruption, grand larceny, trillions missing, private jets and deaths of innocent people.
The PDP's only 'winning strategy' is built around promoting and financing regional and religious division, and using the proceeds of corruption to buy the military, police and INEC officials to rig the next elections.
They will be defeated no matter what they think because Nigerians are wiser and will not be taken for a ride any longer.
The disagreement between FFK and El- Rufai underscores a looming crisis in the ranks of the party over the plum ticket.
Tinubu and Buhari who prides themselves national leaders of the party have started proving that Ndigbo do not have stake in APC probably relying upon the permutation that the party could win the presidency without votes from south east and south south.
Further implications of this north and south west conspiracy in APC include the culpability of spelling doom for Okorocha's political future.
Apart from betraying the Okorocha who has laboured to sell APC in the south east, Buhari and Tinubu ploy to deny Ndigbo the chairmanship position of APC and its presidential and vice presidential tickets will reduce the governor to a political 'orphan' as his followers in south east will desert him and his party en mass.
Candidates seeking elective offices in south east under the platform of APC including Okorocha who has made a sudden u- turn to contest for second term as governor of Imo state will fail woefully following protest votes that may greet the party in the zone.
That will certainly increase the chances of PDP and APGA in the forthcoming 2015 general elections in south east.
Written Ebere Uzoukwa