Ikenga Ugochinyere, 36, the hatchet man behind the formation of the controversial African Peoples Congress, APC, is the National Director of the PDP Youth Movement, a youth group in the governing Peoples Democratic Party. During the tenure of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, the law graduate of Imo State University , Owerri, led the militant wing of the ruling party consistently hurling insults at and leading protests and demonstrations against anyone perceived to be opposed to Mr. Obasanjo and the leadership of the PDP.
Mr. Ugochinyere’s present preoccupation to frustrate the registration of the mega opposition party, the All Progressives Congress by denying them the APC acronym, is consistent with the roles he has played for the PDP in the past few years.
We look back at a few of the hatchet jobs Mr. Ugochinyere executed for the ruling party in the past.
Used to fight Vice President Atiku Abubakar
In September 2006, while then President Olusegun Obasanjo and his deputy, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, feuded, Mr. Ugochinyere was contracted to lead protests against the vice president as a way of putting pressure on him and his camp. On September 30 that year, Mr. Ugochinyere led a huge protest to the PDP national secretariat in Abuja demanding that Mr. Atiku be expelled from the party. The then party secretary, Ojo Maduekwe, who received the protesters, thanked them for demonstrating and promised that the party would consider their demands.
Mr. Abubakar was later expelled from the party.
On February 1, 2007, Mr. Ugochinyere led a protest to the INEC headquarters in Abuja, requesting the commission to disqualify VP Atiku from that year’s presidential election. The group was received by the then INEC National Commissioner in charge of Political Party Monitoring, Ishmael Igbani, who received a petition from them.
The commission later disqualified the vice president from the election, a decision Mr. Atiku challenged and set aside in court.
On February 6, 2007, Mr. Ugochinyere, backed by the Ahmadu Ali-led PDP, issued a statement giving Mr. Atiku a 20-day ultimatum to vacate his official residence, threatening to lead a mob to invade the complex if the then vice president failed to comply.
Mr. Atiku didn’t comply but Mr. Ugochinyere failed to carry out his threat.
Tenure extension for Ahmadu Ali and Co.
In November 2007, the lawyer was used here by a group within the party opposed to a national convention members yearned for at the time. At that time Ahmadu Ali and his group in the National Working Committee were reluctant to step down and it was to Mr. Ugochinyere they turned. For days, Mr. Ugochinyere widely circulated text messages asking journalists and party members across the country to support the campaign to allow the Ahmadu Ali-led leadership of the party remain in office till 2009.
His message at the time read, “Support the patriotic campaign for the present PDP National Working Committee four-year tenure completion. The present NWC led by Dr. Ahmadu Ali and Bernard Eze is still valid. The era of cut and join politics is over and Rule of Law must prevail. All loyal PDP members and patriotic Nigerians must join the campaign for the restoration of the dignity of the PDP Constitution as an internal foundation for enhanced democracy”, one of the test messages read. “We must put Mr. President’s Rule of Law theory into work by standing on the side of constitutionality that an NWC elected at our 2005 national convention can only go at the end of a four-year tenure (2009). Any move to illegally institute a new NWC will be declared null and void by a competent court. On 2009 convention we stand.”
He also claimed at the time to be collecting 250, 000 signatures from party members across the country. He said once the exercise was completed, he would head for the Federal High Court to obtain a restraining order against the party.
Following Mr. Ugochinyere’s aggressive campaign, discreetly supported by the party, the convention was postponed at the time.
Used against Nnamani
In 2008, the PDP used Mr. Ugochinyere as an instrument of aggression against G-21, a group led by a former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani, which at the time agitated for a review of the provision in the party’s constitution which made the office of the Board of Trustees the exclusive preserve of former presidents and national chairmen of the party.
To checkmate Mr. Nnamani and his group, the PDP encouraged Mr. Ugochinyere to announce the emergence of another parallel group opposed to G-21.
At a rally cum press briefing in Abuja on February 18, 2008, Mr. Ugochinyere announced the birth of G-37 which he claimed consisted of members of the PDP caucus in the National Assembly, top government functionaries, state governors, members of state Houses of Assembly and some delegates to the convention. He didn’t provide names.
Cursing and fuming, he described the Nnamani group as comprising politicians who had no electoral value.
He said, “The sponsored emergence of the group that calls itself G-21 is a clear example of the gathering of few poor, hungry and vocal few whose desire for political rascality knows no bound.
“The irritating activities of this group have made them and their promoters more unpopular.”
Mr. Ugochinyere said it was the opinion of his group that “all persons that aspire not only to lead PDP, but also to be its members must be true party men and women whose loyalty must not be in doubt”.
PDP front man in battle against Pius Anyim
Also in February 2008, Mr. Ugochinyere was used by a bloc within the PDP opposed to a former President of the Senate, Anyim Pius Anyim, who was angling for the position of party chairman at the time. Mr. Obasanjo and the party leadership had backed Vincent Ogbulafor for the position, which was zoned to the South-East geopolitical zone at the time. Mr. Ugochinyere was recruited to mount a campaign of calumny against Mr. Anyim.
He took the job seriously accusing Ike Ekeremadu, deputy president of the senate, of trying to foist Mr. Anyim on the party. On February 22, 2008, he addressed a press conference in Abuja carpeting the South-East leaders of the party and alleging that the South-East caucus meeting scheduled for that Saturday had been programmed to throw up Mr. Anyim. He alleged that the script of the meeting had been written in Abuja and would only be acted out in Enugu.
He also claimed that the communiqué of the meeting had been drafted and that an unnamed chieftain of the party would only fly into Enugu to read it to participants.
Mr. Ugochinyere said then, “The reason for raising this alarm is that high wire intrigues and influence of external forces capable of destroying our march towards enhanced intra party democracy have overtaken the meeting of this caucus billed to hold in Enugu on Saturday with a select few of the conveners already arranged to adopt Anyim Pius without respect for participatory democracy.”
He continued, “Great party men are worried that a meeting billed to hold on Saturday has had its agenda and communiqué already drafted and written at Abuja and handed over to a top member of the caucus who will fly into Enugu to read it to the press.Political watchers in the South-East and beyond have wondered why the caucus of legislature wants to dabble into the issue of anointing a candidate for a position zoned to the South-East without due consultation and calling an all embracing meeting of leaders of the zone.”