Imo Is My Agburu - Barr Chima Anozie
Barr Chima Anozie (Home Base) is a leading gubernatorial aspirant in Imo State, under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He is from Owerri North LGA, and has served under the government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha in different capacities, including: SA to the Governor on NEPAD, MD Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA), etc. In this interview, he speaks on the crises and burning issues in Imo APC, and also airs his views about the crises in the party.
Sir, would you recall that in a previous interview you granted, you intuited that crises are lurking in APC, both in Imo State and across the country, and in that premonition, you regretted that such would swallow the party’s unity, synergy and harmony?
Yes! I do, and I remember that I predicted what is happening now, but the party didn’t take that serious. We would have averted all these because I saw it coming and I cried out that if we’re not careful it will spoil the party, and this is not a good time for such crises. We need God’s intervention to reconcile the party and come together, if not we plunge the party into destructive forays.
A lot of problems I saw coming. That was during our visit to the Governor at Okpoko, to celebrate Christmas with him. There the issue of agburu anyiwas raised. I condemned it in totality, because if it is used to win the party primaries, it will not vote for the party’s ticket bearer. Winning the primaries and winning the main election are not the same. We work towards winning the general elections in order to occupy the Douglas House come 2019. If we go by agburu, we’re into multifaceted problems. The entire State should and have to be carried along entirely, taking the whole Imo State as anagburu, and use the gregarious language of the Owerri man- Batama, uyoo wu uyoo mu’a gi!
I hate segregation or to first ascertain where one comes from before I render help to him, welcome or play along with him. I am very convinced that we are all tenants in this world, and no man is an island. So there must be symbiosis for us to exist as human beings. Imo APC needs the cooperation of the three zones: Okigwe, Orlu and Owerri.
The tenure elongation as you had advocated then, could it really have seen a unified APC than what has come out of the Wards and LGAs Congresses in most States of the Federation, especially Imo State?
Of course, I advocated that they should be given one year elongation. It is the same thing with what the Panel is now pondering- Returning to status quo, which also entails that the zoning should remain as it was. The panel sat. Uwajumogu was the Secretary and upheld all these things. But as to be in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other rulebooks, the party tilted to having congresses. This decision is due the fact that where there are conflicts, the one aligned with the Constitution of the country supersedes.
That one year elongation would have been a sure way of maintaining unity in the party than these crises, and the time is too short to come out of the crises. But I pray to God that we come out. The problem is the ego tussle that has been stirred up in the party nationwide.
Some social analysts allude to the Imo APC, the biblical Kingdom of Solomon, which was divided into two: Judah, for Rehoboam and the others to Jeroboam. Is this allusion true about the present state of APC in Imo?
Perfectly, the Kingdom has been divided into two- for Rehoboam and Jeroboam. The whole thing started from the head. There is no peace in APC, but we pray by the special grace of God that peace will return to Imo APC. Imo is one of the most peaceful States in Nigeria and what is happening now has not happened in the Imo APC before. As a family, we must disagree to agree and all the members of the APC need the services of each other. We need the joint efforts of all the contesting groups in Imo APC to come out of the crises: The Governor, the Coalition and other groups, none can do it alone.
But Barr, if one may ask, where can you be situated- With the Rehoboamites (the Okorocha and son-in-law’s camp) or with the Jeroboamites (the Allied Forces of APC coalition)?
As I said before and put to public notice, I belong to nobody, group or agburu, but to the entire State. Imo State is my agburu. I hate discrimination. Any country, state, society or family that discriminates amongst its members doesn’t get developed. That’s why in advanced countries, the issue of racism is a very big offence. It’s abolished in advanced countries. That is why the issue of zones, onye agburu anyi, and coalition should be abolished for us to have a united house and lasting peace in Imo APC. The two must come together: The Agburu anyi and Coalition.
Yeah! Some people ask if I’m sitting on the fence. I said no. You must not belong to a group or structure for you to win election, and that is what kills the party now. One should take the entire party as a whole not segments. The in-group and out-group segments are what make people not gain anything after general elections. My belief is that everyone during primaries is free to align to any structure or person, but after the primaries all structures must collapse and form a common front and goal, and forge ahead for the party to win elections. Because it is better for you to lose primaries and your party wins the main election than a person from another party to win.
Sometime past, you also expressed strong positive views about the crises in APC nationwide. Given the situation in Imo, do the rocking crises have positive imports for the wellbeing of the party ahead 2019?
Yes and no, because at times some of the crises make parties to be strong, if well managed; but if the crises impact very negatively to the party if not well managed. But of a truth, I tell you, with these crises, there is a level playing ground. No person or group can pocket the party or its affairs and processes in his or her pocket. The party is no more a nuclear family or dictatorship party. The crises have made APC in Imo State and nationally a real party; now real and ideal party activities will be executed with due process. These crises are like sickness, after which healing, one develops immunity to the disease. APC after these crises will have immunity to fight against such in the future. After these, APC will not suffer such sickness because it has the immunity.
Across the country, opposition parties opine that the in-fighting and crises rocking APC are evident proofs of its inability to run internal democracy. Sir, are these not proofs of its inability to run genuine democratic leadership in the country?
No! What happened in PDP was worse than what we have in APC today, and it is still in it. The crises in APC are just a piece. Ours are State problems, but PDP’s were national, even APGA has such, they will soon have theirs exploded. It is looming. To me, the crises occur for APC to have the immunity to such and similar sicknesses; I’m quite convinced that come 2019, Douglas House is nonnegotiable.
Feelers are high that the Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, has aligned for same position under the Destiny camp of Senator Araraume’s gubernatorial race. What prospects does this purport to the shattered Imo charter of equity?
All I know is that Madumere is a member of the Coalition and I know him as a person who champions the course of Owerri zone, and any reasonable Owerri man that does not support the Imo charter of equity, has a question to answer. I see it as one of those things in politics, and I don’t think he can do that. What position will he take there? He has been Deputy Governor for nearly 6 years, and I know Araraume can’t accept to be a Deputy Governor. What is he doing that is not for the course of the Owerri zone? I know equity must stand and produce an Owerri man as Imo Governor come 2019.
Sir, there are polarised stands on the May 5th congress in the 305 Wards of the State, did the congress really hold as the Coalition maintains or not, as Governor Okorocha insists?
You see, there are two sides in the Imo congress crises. First of all, the Governor instructed people not to buy forms and any person that buys the form elsewhere is illegal and not an agburu. But legally the order is not good because of its possible ripple effects. Each card-carrying member of the party is qualified to buy the form as the party leadership stipulated and gave out its account number and designated banks. No individual is bigger than the party.
In the case of Emeka Nwajiuba and Humphrey Anumudu, it was ruled that the party is supreme. Also in the case of Rowland Anyanwu and Onuoha, it was also stated that the party is supreme. So no human being is bigger than the party. So I instructed my followers to buy the forms; they bought it. Evidence of the payment proves one’s readiness for the congress. It is purely legal. The whole forms were dumped in Government House. One man withheld it, and we went to the party house. Later we had our congress at Orji Town Primary School. The police from Orji Police Station were there. We’ve the videos to show. At the end of the day we had signed report by INEC and it was sent. I am reliably informed that in almost all the wards in the State it was so done. I was also informed that the Governor gave the SDC money (N150,000) to go to their wards and conduct congresses. We held our congress at Orji Town Primary School- The collation centre for Orji, and over 350 people came out.
Of a truth, Governor Okorocha is the Chief Security Officer of Imo State, and his positions on that Ward congress portray total absence of election security, do you see the possibility of running free, fair and credible elections in the forthcoming general elections in the State?
Yes there should. God is on the throne, because this election will pull surprises, a lot of surprises. Okorocha is the Chief Security Officers of the State, but whatever we are doing, must follow due process- The law and rules. I advice police officers to be very careful with politicians, some of these things consume them. Look at the panel report of the party. My advice is that all the stakeholders should come for a round table meeting and to solve these problems. Let us return to status quo. In a round table, all bring their interests on the table and we deliberate if the State should follow which model to make it for 2019.
What could be done for Imo APC to avert awful scenarios in the forthcoming party primaries given fallouts from the Wards and LGAs congresses in the State?
Well, this issue, we need to come together and everybody should drop his ego, because no individual is bigger than the party.
Sir, in most parts of the country, the APC congresses have caused serious blood sheds and societal unrest. There are such situations in Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Imo, etc, even the PDP’s congress in Cross River State has same reports, do you think that keeping party congresses and conventions close to general elections should not be banned in Nigeria?
I would like the timing to be at least a year and half before general elections so that 6 months will be used to settle the crises that might erupt. Oh well, this shows that what is happening in APC is purely democratic and not autocratic. Imo APC wants to practice democracy, insisting that positions are not allotted but contested. The two are the main issue igniting the crises in Imo State- Allotment of positions and Contesting for positions. There, the two groups parted, in the crises of interests. These caused mock primaries. There is nothing like mock primaries. It is unconstitutional. Such participants are hired crowds and not party delegates. So, if these issues are solved in Imo, APC in the State has no problem.
That was what happened between Ikonne and Master Chef whom the Governor supported. Ikonne said no, that he wants contested position, not imposition of candidate and they went to vote and Ikonne won.