On 29th January 2019, I took some time off the strategic assignment I have been handling to watch the Presidential rally of the APC in Imo State. What I saw was startling and revealing in equal measure.
From the moment Channels TV started airing the rally live, one could see and feel the bustling undercurrent of the shattering APC crisis that has bedeviled Imo State. The whole drama was brought to the fore when the Governor of Imo State mounted the podium to speak.
I am sure that people who watched the rally live on television and those who were part of it on the ground have drawn their different conclusions, but these are the things I take away from the rally:
1. Governor Rochas Okorocha is a man of great courage and unmistakable boldness. Not minding what has played out in the build up to the rally, particularly the tactless press release credited to Malam Onilu the NPS of APC, Owelle was able to speak his mind with his usual magisterial swagger on stage. It’s clear that he was taking a big risk. When he was on stage, no one could tell if what he was saying could anger the President who was watching with rapt attention, but Owelle took the plunge and the the risk paid off a great deal. Towards the end of his no hold barred extempore speech, when he shouted “my people my people” , the roar of “my Governor my Governor” that rented the air in response showed that the people were thrilled.
2. I am not from Imo State, but it doesn’t look like the political forces arrayed against Rochas can roll over him easily. There appears a clear lack of momentum on the part of the allied forces against Rochas on how to take over the rein of power. The crowd in the stadium roared more to Rochas than those against him.
3. If I am not mistaken, for the very first time, President Buhari, right on a campaign podium, practically asked the people of Imo State to vote for candidates of their choice without placing emphasis on his own APC candidates. That was the biggest endorsement to Rochas and his AA governorship candidate in Imo State.
4. Comrade Adams, understanding the magnitude of what has happened, actually took the hand of the IMO APC candidate to jam with that of President Buhari for some presidential affirmation, but whatever Adams seemingly forced the President to do remained an ineffectual afterthought. There was no spirit in it.
5. The President does not seem impressed with whatever package Comrade Adams is running in Imo State. When Rochas was speaking, you could see sympathy in the eyes of the President and when the President came on stage to speak, you could see his unspoken support for Rochas. It was clear. In fact, the crowd thundered when he raised up the hands of Owelle, and the Governor savoured the moment.
6. The office of the governor of any state is a big deal in Nigerian politics. It will remain so in years to come. Rochas has proven that in IMO State. Rochas would have been extinguished if he was not a sitting governor. But it’s looking like he is the one who will overrun people in IMO State at the end.
7. The fate of APC in the governorship election is hanging in the balance in Imo State. Rochas has a well oiled propaganda outfit that will play and replay the scene of the Presidential campaign to the detriment of the APC guber candidate in Imo State. One could reasonably argue that the President heeded the appeal of Rochas not to carry the baggage of anybody in IMO APC. At the end, Rochas achieved what he wanted.
8. Finally, even though it’s too early to call, but there will be real trepidation to bet against the AA in the governorship election of IMO State. The APC guber candidate needs to work really hard to win.