Sunday, Jul. 28, 2013

Nigeria: How Oguta Re-Run poll Exposed Okorocha’s Aides

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July 23, 2013

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Recent mass sack of all cadres public functionaries in Imo State, Eastern Nigeria, under the administration of Governor Rochas Okorocha, was largely due to their inability to deliver appropriately whenever political occasion demands.
Those who tend to know better told AkanimoReports on Sunday, in Owerri, the state capital, the Oguta State Constituency re-run election, exposed that Okorocha’s aides ”lacked the much needed political clout for progressive change in Imo state”. According to our sources, during the last June 29, re-run election for Oguta state constituency into the state House of Assembly the governor’s aides allegedly failed to rise to what the occasion demanded.
Apparently piqued, Governor Okorocha resorted to sacking all members of his cabinet including Senior Special Advisers, Special Advisers, and Assistants on Wednesday July 17, 2013. The development stunned most of the public functionaries and left political observers guessing.

The dramatic turn of event is said in some quarters to be connected with the controversy that marred the re-run election into the Oguta state constituency which held in the area on June 29.

The Oguta re-run election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was majorly contested by Ogbuagu Walter Uzonwanne, the candidates of the ruling All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Imo and Chief Eugene Dibiagwu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Oguta, is one of the oil-bearing areas of Imo and has been without political representation since the April 2011 general election due to litigation and political intrigues.
Before the June 29, re-run exercise, Okorocha had allegedly exhibited signs that suggest that his party needed a win in Oguta constituency due to the present composition of the state House of Assembly where APGA has 13 members and PDP has 12 members.
Few days before the June 29 re-run, the media was awash with reports of a clash between the campaign group of Dibiagwu and the convoy of Governor Okorocha.
A source within the Government House, Owerri, claimed that the governor released more than N350 million to ensure that the APGA candidate floors his PDP opponent, but yet the project ran into mucky water because most of the political appointees frustrated the bid by keeping back some of the monies given to them.
”Every member of the Exco had more than enough to deliver in each of the areas assigned to them irrespective of the fact that they were natives of Oguta”, the insider said.
Continuing, the source said, ”the traditional rulers from the affected areas were equally mobilized and handed serious threat that any of them whose subjects failed to support APGA would be de-robed. In spite the arrangement, intelligent information to the governor revealed that his political lieutenants derailed the course of the project by withholding monies they collected”.
Adding, the insider argued that since the people allegedly worked at cross purposes, security operatives arrested a good number of the electorate that were engaged by APGA, and some political appointees. This gave credence to the opposition claim that violence and irregularities marred the exercise, which the national electoral body has since declared as ”inconclusive”.
Ichie Best Mbanaso, former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry and Deputy Chief of Staff to the governor was arrested alongside many others for their complicity during the Oguta re-run election. ”The gravity of the problem made the governor to sack all his appointees unceremoniously”, the insider said, pointing out that the only public functionary left standing is the Secretary to the State Government.
Apart from violence, the re-run poll was also characterized by snatching of ballot boxes, harassing of INEC officials, figures collated from various polling units did not tally with those that were brandish by both APGA and PDP, the two political parties claiming victory at the re-run election.

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