The Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primaries election committe in Imo State, Ahmed Gulak, alleged yesterday that Governor Rochas Okorocha offered him a $2million bribe for the purpose of returning Uche Nwosu, son in law to the governor, as winner of the primaries.
Gulak, a former political adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, said in Abuja that he turned down the offer.
The party has since forwarded the name of Senator Hope Uzodinma as its governorship candidate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),leaving Nwosu fuming with anger yesterday.
Nwosu wondered why APC national chair, Adams Oshiomhole, frustrated his governorship ambition after making his own son a member of the Edo State House of Assembly.
Okorocha, meanwhile, fired back at Gulak yesterday on the bribe allegation, dismissing it as an afterthought, while Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, whom Oshiomhole accused of running the APC in his state as an emperor, said yesterday that the APC chair “lacks respect for truth and decency.”
Gulak who had alleged that he was kidnapped on his arrival for the primary in Imo State also claimed that officials of the state government offered to convey him and his team to Owerri from Abuja in a private jet, an offer he claimed to have rejected because he did not want to be compromised.
He told reporters in Abuja that Okorocha’s plan was to turn the state into a family estate with his son in law as governor, his (Okorocha’s) son as deputy governor, his wife as a member of the House of Representatives and himself as a senator without considering the fact that it is the people of the state that will be the ultimate decider.
According to him, “The NWC approved our appointment, myself as the chairman and returning officer and six other members including the secretary making us seven as enshrined in the guideline. We went to Imo against all odds. We stood our ground, elections held, results collated and the winner announced.
“After the collation, I and few others escaped because the governor himself came to arrest everybody in the hotel. But before he arrived, about four of us escaped and he arrested other members including the secretary.
“He took them to Government House and they read a prepared speech declaring his son in-law the winner of that exercise. But I had already left Owerri for Abuja where I submitted my result.
“As I speak today, there is no single petition against our report and against the result.
“Let us not forget that Rochas’ in-law was not the only aspirant. Hope Uzodinma was not the only aspirant.
“There were other seven aspirants including the Deputy Governor. From the nine of them, there is no single petition against the conduct of the election.
“If there were grievances against the conduct of that election, the party has an appeal panel where petitions ought to have been lodged. The Appeal Panel will then recommend whether or not a fresh primary will be conducted. That did not happen.
“As we speak, in accordance with the constitution and the guidelines, the result submitted by my committee, signed by me, is the authentic unchallenged report and the NWC had no option but to uphold that report.
“I feel vindicated, the members of my committee feel vindicated.
“The issue of Governor Rochas going round blackmailing the party, threatening the party, is not the best for a governor.
“He is supposed to be a statesman. This is his party.
“I understand very well that he is the senatorial candidate of his party in Orlu, so he should not weaken the party from within. He should call everybody; all hands must be on the deck to ensure that the party retains the state.”
Gulak said that although there is nothing wrong in the governor wanting his son in-law to be governor, his lack of consultation with critical stakeholders in the state and his attempt to transform the state into a family dynasty, is an insult on the people.
He said: “I know that whoever Governor Rochas wants to push forward, decency demands that he should do so in consultation with the stakeholders of that state. Even if he wants to put his son in-law, his daughter or his wife, he ought to have consulted the stakeholders.
“No one man can do this game of politics. Everybody must be carried along. But I feel he did not consult the stakeholders before pushing his son in-law as the person to succeed him.
“Naturally, people will revolt and if he had his way and imposed his son in-law on the party, what of the general election, can he impose him?
“At the end of the day, the people of Imo State will decide who they will vote as governor and don’t forget it is not a one party system. I know that if you impose your son in-law as successor don’t forget that it is the Imo people who will decide who the governor will be.
“I have it on good authority that immediately they learnt that the NWC had upheld the result of the Imo primaries, the other candidates subsumed their ambition in the interest of Imo state to support Hope Uzodinma.
“As party men, we should all be happy about that too. That is politics without selfishness.
“Rochas has spent eight years as governor of Imo state, and you want your son in-law to succeed you, you want to come to the senate as a senator, you want your wife to be a House of Reps member, you want your younger brother to be running mate, you want your son in-law to be governor.
“That in itself is indecent, it is immoral and the people of Imo state may not take it likely.
“They are not slaves; you cannot enslave them by making it a personal family dynasty. This is a well-educated state, well enlightened state where we have professors in almost every family.
“We have businessmen, industrialists. These people have a stake in Imo state. So I know they will not lie low when Rochas begin to enslave them.
“He has gone on air every day to abuse and malign me and I have decided to keep calm because it is an internal family matter. Abusing me every day on television and in newspapers will not help him. He should go and work for the victory of his party and leave me alone.”
Speaking in his experience in Imo, he said “even before I went to Imo State, I was offered a private jet to take me there by the Government House and their proxies, but I refused because I didn’t want to be compromised.
“I refused the private jet and even the tempting offer made to me, very tempting. We are talking about two million dollars here, which I refused and tried to persuade them that I was going to do what was needful: free and fair primaries and that every stakeholder must be involved.
“Immediately we landed at the airport; that was where the problem started. They wanted to kidnap every member and only God knows where they wanted to take us to.
“I pity the Imo people, but they have to take their destiny in their own hands and elect who they feel will represent them better. I am not from Imo State, but I am a Nigerian. There is equality and there is equity. Some of our governors take state resources as their personal resources and we know that power is transient; after four or eight years. I am happy that the party has vindicated me and I know it is the best decision for the people of Imo State.”
Contacted for reaction to the Gulak allegations, Okorocha speaking through his Chief Press Secretary Sam Onwuemedo, said it was all an afterthought.
He branded Gulak a man without character, saying the same man had earlier claimed he absconded from Imo State for fear of being kidnapped.
He said: “Gulak is a corrupt politician who does not have character. At first his claim was that he ran away to escape being kidnapped and it took him more than four weeks to remember that the governor gave him prepared result sheets to sign and $2million bribe. It is simply laughable”.