Americans will say, “Do not kid yourself” which literally means not to deceive oneself; no political party can defeat All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) on their home turf of Anambra State. I am not saying this to join the bandwagon because Chief Willie Obiano is winning the governorship election in Anambra State.
This is not the case; I have the opportunity to be on the ground and to feel the pulse of Anambra voters. APGA despite all its flaws, vulnerabilities and challenges have a special place in the hearts of the Anambra people. APGA with its political potency and almost eight years in power have become part and parcel of Anambra cultural, sociological and political infrastructure.
There are 21 local governments in Anambra State and according to INEC results, Chief Willie Obiano, the governorship candidate for APGA has already won 16 local governments. Why will that surprise anybody? The performance of Obiano so far was grounded on the love and admiration the people of Anambra state have for their late hero Dim Ikemba Emeka Ojukwu. The Ojukwu factor was quite essential in this election and APGA never failed to remember to the people the hero of Ndi-Igbo, The Great Ikemba of Igbo land was the founding presidential candidate for APGA.
Governor Peter Obi is a political strategist and pragmatist; he came up with political campaign theme of “continuity”. With this punch line he extrapolated that the face of the governor might have changed but the core belief of the party will remain unchanged. Then Obi went further to labeled APGA an “Igbo party”, and this may sound as a political unorthodoxy to a political purist. But with this strategy APGA moved beyond a political party into a cultural phenomenon that has invited every Igbo from Anambra to become part and parcel of APGA. Governor Obi made every Anambra citizen a stakeholder in APGA.
It will be difficult for Chris Ngige to win governorship election in Anambra State not because he was rejected by the people but because his political party APC has been defined by his political opponents as something foreign and unacceptable in Anambra State.
Ngige is well loved in Anambra State and people have not forgotten his years of solidarity and achievements in the state. But as the people have reminded him, they said he is in the wrong political party.
Many outsiders and Nigerians living in USA may not understand the power of emotional capital. Many of the voters have emotional connection and investment in APGA and when they voted for Chief Willie Obiano - they were voting for Igbo solidarity, they were voting for Governor Obi’s decency and ultimately they were voting for their hero – DIM IKEMBA.
Congratulation to Chief Willie Obiano and APGA!!!
The Maxi Okwu-led faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) on Monday in Awka chose Dr Chike Obidigbo as its candidate for the forthcoming Anambra governorship election.
Obidigbo was picked at a special congress of the faction, which was attended by no fewer than 450 delegates and where he was the sole aspirant in the race. It will be recalled that Chief Willie Obiano had been picked on Aug. 26 as the party’s flagbearer by Chief Victor Umeh faction.
Speaking at Monday’s congress, Chief Chris Eze, Chairman of the faction’s Screening Committee, said the party had come out with “a most qualified and well-known candidate’’.He said Obidigbo was returned unopposed with a score of 450 votes, and Okwu later handed the party’s flag to him.
Commending the delegates for their large turnout, Okwu expressed the confidence that the flagbearer would win the governorship election on Nov. 16 in the state.
“Obidigbo will take over the mantle from Gov. Peter Obi. It is my honour to present the flag to you to fly it high,’’ he said. In his reaction, Obidigbo said APGA was one indivisible political party.
He however commended Gov. Peter Obi for “the good job he had done to lift the state to enviable heights’’. The flagbearer urged the party faithful from various parts of the state to work harder to deliver the state to the party during the election.
“I will not disappoint you if you vote for me during the gubernatorial election on Nov. 16 to take over from Obi in 2014,’’ Obidigbo assured.(NAN)
Chief Willy Obianor, who was the last to enter the All Progressive Alliance (APGA) governorship contest for Anambra State, was yesterday declared the winner of the contest. This came as a surprise to many that were keen observers of the process. Earlier on, Dr. Soludo was disqualified from contesting under APGA ticket and it was reported that he is in talk with the Accord party.
Many were speculating that Obianor maybe the favourable candidate secretly chosen and supported by Governor Peter Obi for his replacement. Governor Obi is in favour of zoning and supports Anambra North senatorial zone to produce the next governor of Anambra State.
Uche Ekwunife 150 votes
John Emeka 1 vote
Emeka Nwogbo 22 votes
John Nwosu 18 votes
Wily Obiano 817 votes
Paul Odenigbo 49 votes
Obianor will be facing other candidates from other parties for the November 16, 2013 governorship election: Senator Chris Ngige (All Progressive Congress), either Senator Andy Uba or Chief Tony Nwoye (Peoples Democratic Party) and Ifeanyi Ubah (Labour Party).
Chief Willie M. Obiano 56 years, served as former Executive Director of Business Banking at Fidelity Bank Plc. Mr. Obiano started his banking career as a supervisor with First Bank of Nigeria in 1981 from where he moved to Texaco Nigeria plc., an oil marketing company as an Accountant. Mr. Obiano rose to the position of Chief Internal Auditor in Texaco before joining Fidelity. In Fidelity, he has worked an various departments ranging from operations to marketing and internal audit. He served as an Executive Director of Fidelity Bank Plc. Mr. Obiano is a Fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. He has attended many courses within and outside Nigeria including the UK, US and Malta. He holds B.Sc in Accounting and MBA from The University of Lagos. (Business Week)
In an apparent reaction to the suspension slammed on him by the national leadership of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), for alleged anti-party activities, Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has , again, explained why he joined the newly resgistered All Progressives Congress (APC).
He stated that the future political fortunes of Igbo were better served in the new mega political party. He also stated that APGA lacked the national spread to enable Igbo to achieve the desired political impact in the country.
Speaking during the 2013 national convention of the Imo State Congress of America, in Atlanta, United States of America, Okorocha said the well-being of Igbo remained paramount in all his actions and would continue to take steps to assist Igbo to regain their rightful place in the political equation of Nigeria.
“APC remains the best vehicle to promote the interest of our people. PDP has marginalised the South-East and has nothing to show for all its years in power,” he said.
Okorocha urged Igbo to embrace the APC because it guarantees equity and political opportunities denied by the PDP.
He pointed out that the purported action of a faction of APGA was of little political consequence, as the party lacked the national spread to ensure that Igbo make significant headway in the political leadership of the nation.
The governor described the APC as a national party made up of progressive elements determined to ensure equitable distribution of political offices to all tribes in the country.
He also noted that APC was set to redress injustices meted by PDP to Igbo race, which is one of the tripod on which the country stands, while urging all progressive South easterners to line up behind the new party and ensure it produced the next leaders of the country at all levels.
“Igbo have not produced the president, vice president, Senate president, Speaker of the House of Representatives or the Chief Justice of the Federation, but I am confident under APC, one or more of these positions will come to the South-East.”
Gov Okorocha suspended by APGA and APGA may sue APC
The National Executive Council of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) has suspended Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State for allegedly engaging in anti party activities. APGA executives must be alluding to Governor Rochas Okorocha affiliation to the recent registered All Progressives Congress (APC).
It was nothing new and no longer a news that Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has stepped out to declear his interest for APC, probably seeking to contest for presidency in the newly registered party.
It was reported that "The Governor had declared for APC on May 7, 2013 during activities marking his second year in office and has also promised to ensure that APC wins the South Eastern zone in the 2015 elections," but AFRIPOL was unable to verify the assertion.
The suspension was announced by 21-man Committee in Abuja, and they have also dissolved Imo State's APGA executive committee and have taken over its affairs until the convention of National Executive Council.
Earlier before the suspension, The National Chairman of APGA threatens to sue the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and newly-registered All Progressives Congress(APC) for listing APGA " in an advertorial as one of the four parties that merged to form the new party," as reported by Punch newspaper.
Chief Victor Umeh said, “How could a SAN, who is also a governor of a state go and insert an APGA logo in a publication. We want to make it abundantly clear that this was a clearly orchestrated, premeditated action by Governor Fashola to deceive supporters of APGA. On behalf of our party, we are calling on Governor Fashola to publish a retraction of the advertorial removing APGA logo in all the newspapers that our logo appeared today(Thursday) within seven days."
He continued, “In addition to our demands for retraction of the publication, we are also referring the matter to our lawyers to formally write Governor Fashola to pay us N2bn in damages or face legal action."
Chief Umeh was also gracious but he made his point clearly, he said “While we congratulate the APC for realising its dream of becoming a mega party called APC, fraudulently using APGA logo will not be accepted by our party. Politics of confusion must be avoided in Nigeria. Anybody can meet to do whatever he likes but it must be within the law. The process of merging of political parties is clearly known to everybody. ACN had its convention where they approved that they would become part of the APC. ANPP had a convention where its members also approved that they would become part of the APC; the same with the CPC. But APGA was not known to have organised any convention to approve joining the APC.”
Across board on the political turf, there seems to be a conscious reconciliation of deep-seated animosity amongst key political players on the turf. Coming from a series of peace meetings by President Goodluck Jonathan at the weekend to mend the cracks, both in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the polity in general, the make-up, Monday, between Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh, whose chairmanship of the party was upheld recently by a court of competence may signify a promising turn of what to come next.
Umeh has been in the thick of a huge political storm in APGA, especially his long drawn battle- both legal and political- with Obi, a situation that almost eroded the hard earned status created for the party before the demise of the late Igbo leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
Obviously, Ojukwu had handed over APGA as a strong political platform through which his kinsmen of Igbo extraction could unite and jointly push their hopes, aspirations and grievances to the national level. But less than a year after his death, the party had been engulfed in protracted personality crisis.
The undercurrents were so potent that they polarised the party along the lines of Umeh and Obi factions. What followed soon was the battle for the soul of the party as both strived to control the chairmanship seat.
The power play eventually led to Umeh’s sack from the party after a midnight convention held by the Obi faction. And so, Chief Maxi Okwu was named the new chairman. But this was not left unchallenged by Umeh who maintained that he was the authentic chairman of the party, a declaration he supported with a sustained legal battle.
While many Igbos who considered the party as theirs were disenchanted by the crisis, Obi and his aides were fingered as the brain it. Some considered the action of the governor as political betrayal of his race and also against Umeh whom they contended brought him to political limelight.
Whilst the battle lasted, contrary to popular beliefs, Obi had categorically stated that Umeh had no hand in his emergence as governor, both during his first and second terms. The governor's Chief Press Secretary, Mike Udah, said at different times that “Umeh contributed nothing to the election of Obi the first and the second term.”
However, political analysts traced the war of attrition to period after the April 2011 general election when APGA did not win any of the three senatorial seats in Anambra State. Though it shared the seats in both the House of Representatives seats and the state House of Assembly with such parties as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and other parties, stakeholders had begun to toy with the idea of restructuring APGA. They planned to make it a national party. That idea, they reckoned, would see to the removal of Umeh.
The crisis that followed was explosive. It no doubt gave birth to damning consequences for APGA and the politics of Anambra State. In the heat of the controversy, Umeh described one of his traducers, Nwobu-Alor as “an old man that should be removed from office," adding, “Why is it that after I have secured the party for a second term, they now say I am incompetent.”
He maintained that his quest was to save APGA from its antagonists, adding that the genesis of the rift is traceable to the fact that he had been fighting for local government elections to be conducted in Anambra, which he said some people did not want. This, of course, divided the party on the ongoing merger of political parties on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC), which was eventually registered on Wednesday.
While Umeh had been initially schemed out of reckoning following a court declaration, a Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu later nullified the High Court judgment. To observers, therefore, it was the judgment that finally put to rest, perhaps, the protracted ego contest between the duo of him and Obi.
The interesting thing is that while many had waited to watch Obi execute his succession plan at the expiration of his tenure in 2014, the news of the reconciliation was deemed timely, not only to party supporters but also the Igbos who see APGA as their political signature in national polity.
Also for Obi and Umeh, they see the court pronouncement as an opportunity make up and end their self-ignited leadership crisis that has threatened the status of the party.
As Obi and Umeh emerged from the Anambra State council Executive meeting chamber on Monday, after a long meeting at the governor’s office for several hours, they declared that they have decided to sheathe their swords for the unity and stability of their party. And jointly, they regretted the consequences of the crisis on the party and vowed that vsuch would not occur again.
"The crisis will never come up again. Anambra State is an APGA state and it will remain so. We will defend it with everything. We will go out with everything during the coming election and win," Obi said as he assured party loyalists that end of the crisis will bring victory for them.
On his part, Umeh said: “I have come to crystalise the various meetings we have had in recent time and to declare to the whole world that the APGA crisis has come to an end."
To him, the resolution of the crisis is a new dawn for APGA, which he said was an indivisible party that will remain very strong and united, promising to continue to work harmoniously with the governor to reposition the party.
“Like brothers, we will continue to resolve all outstanding differences. I am sure that the late Chief Chukwuemeka Ojukwu will be very happy today. He is in heaven and I know that what he had left in our hands will remain safe and strong. We have conquered the devil."
SHOLA OYEYIPO writes for THISDAY
Recently, when the founding national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Chekwas Okorie, said that the spirit of the party had left it while what remained was a mere ghost, many of his opponents dismissed his claim as ranting of a drowning man. However, less that three months after the statement, it was becoming clearer to pundits who monitor goings-on in the party that Okorie’s statement was not just a prophesy, but the gospel truth. This is because the implosions in APGA have, indeed, demonstrated the capacity to consume it except gladiators retrace their steps fast in the interest of the party.
There is no doubt that the many conflicts in APGA have been a subject of interest, even to the ruling the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and their governors. The interest was borne out of the plan by PDP to dislodge APGA in future polls in Anambra and Imo states.
Perhaps, Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, passed as the first governor in the South-East zone to have shown open interest in the spate of crises rocking APGA when he publicly stated that the party was dead and no longer in existence. While playing host to the South-East Zonal Working Committee members of his party led by the National Vice- Chairman (South-East), Colonel Augustine Akobundu (retd), Chime reportedly boasted that APGA stands no chance at the 2014 Anambra State governorship election and future elections in the country as, according to him, APGA no longer has a system and a succession plan.
The governor was quoted as having said that, “I don’t see why APGA should be a problem for us in Anambra State because, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t think APGA still exists. In fact, APGA is a dead party. If we present a popular candidate, there won’t be any problem in Anambra State.”
Despite the statement by Governor Chime, it was apparent that APGA, as a political party, was sitting on a keg of gunpowder. Only recently, a faction of the party announced that it has suspended Chief Victor Umeh as its national chairman. The act was not, on its own, entirely new in the power-play going on in the party as its founding chairman, Chief Chekwas Okorie, was suspended and subsequently expelled in a manner that did not go down well with the man who believed he laboured hard to build the party.
In the recent tussle, Alhaji Sadiq Massala was announced to have taken over from Chief Umeh as national chairman while Dr Ifedi Okwenna, a former commissioner in Anambra State replaced Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi as national secretary. A four-page communiqué issued on the suspension exercise accused both Umeh and Shinkafi of several constitutional breaches in the running of the affairs of the party. The communiqué was read by the faction at the main conference hall of the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.
The faction hinted that it took the decision to suspend Umeh and Shinkafi at the end of the National Working Committee (NWC) meeting of the party, with allegations that Umeh ran the party like a family affair and had blocked proper accounting of the party’s finances. “Following a thorough analysis and in consideration of the relevant articles of the constitution of our great party, we unanimously suspended them indefinitely for actions which run counter to the spirit and letters of the constitution of our great party”, the communiqué read.
The group set up a seven-man disciplinary committee to look into all the allegations made against the suspended officers in line with Article 21 (3) of the party’s constitution. The committee was mandated to make appropriate recommendations within two weeks.
However, Umeh, who later arrived the national secretariat after the faction had left, stated that NWC of the party never met and said he remains the only authorised person to convene such a meeting. Umeh described the faction that ‘purportedly’ removed him from office as disgruntled members of the party which, according to him, constituted only five out of 29 NWC members of the party.
He said, “The people who broke into our party secretariat were only five out of 29 members of the NWC. You and I know that in a democracy, for you to do anything successfully, you must have the required number. They were sponsored to disrupt the party.
“These five people have been under watch and they have not succeeded in wooing the other NWC members. Ordinarily, their actions would not require any response, but we want to inform the party members who might be deceived by their actions that all what they did were illegal, null, void and have no effect whatsoever. As you can see, I am still in my office.
“APGA has a constitution and the procedure must be followed. The people who did what they did were sponsored.
(Left) Chief Chekwas Okorie Chief Victor Umeh
Umeh, in announcing the suspension, stated that the officers were to face a seven-man disciplinary committee raised by the NWC. With the development, Umeh, together with his Secretary, Alhaji Sani Shinkafi, shunned the disciplinary committee set up by the Alhaji Sadiq Masalla faction to investigate allegations against them.
Speaking to journalists on the failure of the summoned party-men to appear before the committee, chairman of the Masalla-factional disciplinary committee, Mr Bala Bako and secretary, Morgan Anyalechi (who are both lawyers) stated that the committee resolved to give them another date on which to appear before it to purge themselves of the allegations made against them. He noted that the essence of the committee was to give the suspended officers fair hearing and ensure that it followed the provisions of the party’s constitution and natural justice.
“We are to show that the new APGA, under the leadership of the acting national chairman, Alhaji Sadiq Massalla, particularly demonstrate a clear departure from unilateral actions of maladministration and brazenly taking far-reaching constitutional decision by one person. This is in order to give the suspended chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh and Alhaji Shinkafi further opportunities to appear before the committee in their own interest and in the interest of justice. However, the committee states unequivocally that should they further fail to attend, it will have no option left than to conclude its assignment and submit its report”, he said.
Beside the national leadership crisis, many state chapters of APGA are currently sick. Among them are the Ebonyi and Edo state chapters. Only recently, the chairman of Ebonyi State chapter, Mr Jerry Obasi, was reportedly impeached over alleged gross violation of the party’s constitution and his alleged failure to render proper financial account of monies collected and spent on behalf of the party.
The impeachment was reported to have taken place at a stakeholders meeting comprising chairmen, secretaries and women leaders of the party at both state and local government levels. Subsequently, the embattled chairman described his purported impeachment as the handiwork of dissidents. He further described them as individuals bent on destabilising the party ahead of the 2015 elections in the state.
Also, the Edo State chapter of APGA recently passed a vote of no confidence on its state chairman and deputy chairman, Major Joseph Osagie (retd) and Chief Anthony Nwanzor, respectively as they were purportedly expelled by the executive members of the party during an emergency meeting in Benin. Their expulsion was alongside two other party leaders, the Assistant Secretary, Ambrose Obiesie and Woman Leader, Mrs Stella Oga. At the end of the exercise, Elder Godfrey Ehimhen emerged as the new state chairman. He was reported to have said that talks with other political parties by APGA had reached an advanced stage for the adoption of a governorship candidate for the governorship poll coming up in the state next week.
Even in Anambra State where the party is a ruling party, all is not well with APGA as the transition committee chairmen of the 21 local government areas in the state were said to have resorted to joining issues, publicly, with Chief Umeh, over his alleged blackmailing of the state government. The transition chairmen also dismissed the suspension of the six members of the party’s NWC in Abuja. In fact, they said that the NWC which carried out the act was not properly constituted and did not speak for the party.
The local government caretaker chairmen issued a communiqué where they alleged that the NWC did not satisfy the requirement of the party’s constitution in terms of quorum and composition. They alleged that most organs and offices of the national executive were either non-existent or non-functional. In fact, they accused Umeh of playing politics with the issue of non conduct of local government election in the state.
The resultant effect of the many crises of APGA, despite efforts to save its soul, has remained that the party is eventually losing its vision to make inroads into the heart of the national political terrain. Instead of the party harnessing opportunities and making impacts in other regions apart from the South-East, it is engulfed in unending leadership crises that politicians who would have identified with it got discouraged and embraced other parties. As it stands, it does not have formidable governorship candidates for the Edo and Ondo states’ elections.
Apart from that, the party is not known to pursue aggressive membership drive as resources, skills and manpower are wasted prosecuting court cases. In fact, according to pundits, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may soon get tired of the party and take negative action.
Be that as it may, feelers were that the governorship candidates of the party in last year’s general election have already met in Abuja with a view to finding an amicable resolution to the party’s many crises. In a communiqué read by the spokesman of the group and former Abia State governorship candidate, Chief Reagan Ufomba, they resolved to mend all intra-party crises and broken fences. They said, “We will assert our leadership positions, roles and influence in our various states where we emerged candidates and by implication, leaders of the party.”
In all the crises, pundits believe that the onus is on Umeh to prove his statement to critics that, “People who insinuate that APGA is dead will be swallowed by their words, because APGA will be the party to beat in next general elections” and that “APGA would not only consolidate on its victory in Anambra and Imo, but would make a foray into Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi.” He is also expected to prove his claim that “The seeming crisis in the party would soon be resolved.”
On his part, Anambra State Governor elected on APGA platform has to prove that, “APGA was a mass movement that would not die by mere pronouncement” and that, “Just as the Mosaic Law was engraved in the hearts of the Jews, APGA is engraved in the hearts of our people.” Pundits would equally want him to prove that, “What we are witnessing is a minor misunderstanding which we will get over. People and organizations come out of such stronger and more promising and such will be APGA.”
The answers are expected as questions have started coming as to whether APGA will prove, this time, to be a cat with nine lives. There are fears already that the party may not survive its long and unnecessary intra-party squabbles which have threatened to tear it apart and drown its objectives this time.
Whether faithfuls of the party registered on June 24, 2002 will practise its motto: be your brother’s keeper and dust up its manifesto, adjudged the best among the nation’s political parties at a time is a matter of time to tell. Shall the party survive its current squabbles, many pundits, will, indeed, see that as a miracle.