On Monday, in Imo State, the controversial removal of the state deputy governor, Eze Madumere, was finally actualised on the floor of the state House of Assembly.
The deputy governor was sacked by 19 out of the 27 members of the legislature in what is seen as part of the battle for the governorship seat of the state in 2019.
Mr Madumere had been embroiled in a supremacy battle with his boss, Rochas Okorocha, who is backing his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, as his successor, against his deputy, who is also in the race.
Mr Okorocha leaves office in May next at the end of his second tenure.
In the battle for the APC governorship ticket, Mr Okorocha told his deputy to forget his ambition and gun for the senatorial seat of Imo East (Owerri zone) from where he (Madumere) hails.
But the deputy governor rejected his principal’s offer, insisting that he had made up his mind to contest for the office of governor.
While vowing not to back down on his decision, Mr Madumere said the plan to contest was not just about him but the entire Owerri zone that had been sidelined and marginalised. The zone is yet to produce the state governor since the return of democracy in 1999.
The deputy governor described Mr Okorocha’s offer as an act of betrayal, stating “If Jesus Christ could be ill-treated by those he called his friends and was later betrayed by Judas, how much more a mere mortal like me.”
Mr Madumere’s bitterness was not misplaced. He had been a close confidant of the Mr Okorocha ever before the latter became governor. Both have been friends and associates for more than two decades.
In 1998, upon his return from the United States where he bagged degrees in business management, Mr Madumere served in Rochas Okorocha Campaign team as director for women and youth mobilisation in Imo State under the PDP.
He was to become the chief strategist on media and logistics in Okorocha Presidential Campaign under the defunct ANPP in 2002/2003.
Mr Madumere had a stint in the presidency as chief of staff to a presidential adviser. He ran for the Imo East senatorial seat when its occupant, Amah Iwuagwu, died.
When Mr Okorocha became governor in 2011, he appointed Mr Madumere as chief of staff. He was elevated to the position of deputy governor in March 2013 following the removal of the former deputy governor, Jude Agabaso.
Perhaps, this informed the governor’s claim that Mr Madumere is paying him back with ingratitude after he had taken him from the gutters to the exalted governor.
In the midst of this, Mr Madumere teamed up with a senator, Osita Izunaso, the erstwhile national organising secretary of the All Progressives Congress and Ifeanyi Ararume, a former senator, to wrestle control of the party from Mr Okorocha during the ward, local government and ward congresses of the party in May.
But Mr Okorocha’s faction headed to the court arguing that there was no congress in the state.
The Federal High Court in Owerri agreed with the arguments of Mr Okorocha’s faction and quashed the congress.
It cited the report of INEC which said that elections did not take place in the state for its decision even as it ordered for fresh congresses.
As Mr Madumere’s faction was still pondering the next step to take, the assembly commenced impeachment process against him on allegations of gross misconduct and dereliction of duty.
However, Mr Madumere went to court and obtained an injunction stopping the impeachment.
The state government also went to another court to obtain a ruling vacating the injunction.
Not done yet, Mr Madumere approached another court in Imo State and obtained another injunction stopping the House from removing him.
But the House of Assembly ignored the court case and proceeded with the removal process against the deputy governor.
Expectedly, Mr Madumere headed to court seeking the annulment of his sack and possibly reclaim his mandate. The suit halted the swearing in of the Mr Madumere’s replacement, Callistus Ekenze, last Tuesday.
What next for Mr Madumere?
With the removal, the question on the lips of many in the state and even beyond is – what is next for the sacked deputy governor?
Although, the 54 years old former deputy governor is down right now, he is not completely out as he might yet get his removal quashed legally.
Already, the court on Wednesday ordered the stoppage of Mr Ekenze’s inauguration, which the state government obeyed.
Even if he should be reinstated by the court, his chances of emerging APC candidate are very slim, as Mr Okorocha now controls the approved party structure in the state.
Should Mr Madumere fail to reclaim his mandate via court, there are options open available to him to relaunch his political career and indeed actualise his governorship ambition.
One of those options is to defect to another party. Yet, that may not come easy.
Of all the political parties in Imo State, three are considered strong enough to win elections. These are the APC, PDP and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
While he is obviously having issues with the APC, at least with the Okorocha’s faction of the party, PREMIUM TIMES gathered that he may not be wanted by the two other major parties in the state.
The PDP is led by a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, who is also in the race for the governorship ticket of the party.
Mr Ihedioha contested for the governorship in 2015 against Mr Okorocha under the PDP but lost.
There are many other candidates in the party who are battling for control of the party and they may not be favourably disposed to working with Mr Madumere.
APGA appears to be a no-go area. Mr Agbaso, who Mr Madumere replaced as deputy governor in 2013, and his brother Martin Agbaso, may not be disposed to working with him. Reason: The two brothers and their supporters feel that Mr Madumere was partly instrumental to Mr Agabaso’s removal in 2013 and therefore may not be disposed to working with him.
The Agbasos have reportedly not forgiven him for his role in that removal saga and may not trust him.
The other option for him is to stay in the APC and work with other like-minded politicians to thwart Mr Okorocha’s plot to install his in-law as the next governor of the state.
Whichever way Mr Madumere chooses to go will definitely tell on his political vocation, positively or otherwise.