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APGA: Torn apart by crisis of imposition

Published by The Nation on Wed, 21 Jul 2021

Ordinarily, winning the November 6 governorship election should not be a difficult task for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), if the emergence of the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, as its candidate had not generated so much rancour within the fold. Southeast Bureau Chief NWANOSIKE ONU examines what the fuss about Soludos emergence is all aboutThe All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) governorship primary for the November 6 election in Anambra State has come and gone. But, the crisis that followed the result is still lingering.The party has chosen the renowned economist, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, as its flag bearer in the election.But, two other factions have emerged to challenge Soludo, who is the choice of Governor Willie Obiano and his political foot soldiers. The two factions held their primaries also in Awka, a week after Soludo emerged. Chief Edozie Njoku emerged as a candidate in one faction, while Chukwuma Umeoji became another candidate.Soludo, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is the candidate of the mainstream faction led by the governor. He emerged as a candidate at a primary attended by the creme de la creme of party at the Prof Dora Akunyili Womens Development Centre in Awka, the Anambra State capital.The event was graced by National Chairman, Dr Victor Ike Oye and Governor Obiano, who is the Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman of the party. The lady who was behind the registration of the party, Chief Ifeyinwa Mary Obegolu, and formerNational Chairman of the party, Senator Victor Umeh were also in attendance.The other factional candidates held their primaries at undisclosed venues and they were held with less fun fare.Soludo scored 740 votes to defeat his closest rival, Okwudili Ezenwankwo, who currently represents Orumba North and South Constituency at the House of Representatives. Ezenwankwo scored only 41 votes. The results were announced by the National Vice-Chairman (Southwest), Samson Olalere.Seven hundred and ninety-two delegates representing the 326 wards in the 21 local government areas were accredited for the exercise.Before the commencement of the exercise, the partys Screening Committee had disqualified some of the contenders. Followers of those disqualified are not taking it kindly. They say the reasons adduced for their disqualification were frivolous.A good number of the aspirants cleared for the primary have been dubbed as pretenders by critics of the exercise.The major contenders were Umeoji and Nonso Smart Okafor, who currently represents Nnewi North in the House of Assembly.The disagreement that arose from that event has thrown the party, which prides itself as a movement in Anambra State, into disarray. The question on the lips of many discerning observers in the state, including members of the APGA, is whether Soludo is the candidate the party wants'The state Chairman, Sir Norbert Obi, said the decision of the party is supreme and that all hands must be on deck to deliver the APGA candidate.The issue of the partys authentic candidate for the election has been a ding-dong affair so far between Soludo and Umeoji. Until Mondays ruling in Awka by Justice Chukwudi Okaa, INEC had recognized Umeoji as the candidate of the party. But, Justice Okaa has reinstated Soludo. The court has ordered INEC to substitute Umeojis name with that of Soludo. This is based on the courts recognition of Chief Oye as the authentic national chairman of APGA. But, like the PDP, the APGA has up to four cases still pending in court over the primary. So, for now, Soludo remains the flag bearer for the election.Read Also:Anambra 2021: Anxiety over APGAs deepening crisisNevertheless, he said a reconciliation committee headed by one-time National Chairman, Senator Victor Umeh has been inaugurated to bring all the warring factions together and broker peace within the party. This became necessary, Obi said, because there is no need for the party to go into the November 6 election as a divided platform. He added that the committee has swung into action immediately.He said: Politics is winning some and losing some. There is no need to go into any battle as a disunited platform. The primary has come and gone and we have to move forward whether we got it right or wrong. The decision of the party is final. The major task before everyone now is to come together as one big family weve always been to fight the battle.Another party chieftain, Comrade Obi Ochije told The Nation that anybody trying to foment trouble because of the emergence of Soludo will have him or herself to blame. He said the focal point of the party is to win the election and that APGA is not ready to relinquish Anambra State to any other party.He said: Soludo is the choice of the party and we are solidly behind him. We are aware of the opposition and we are ready for them.He said among those who aspired for the APGA ticket, the party saw Soludo as the only one that has what it takes to succeed Governor Obiano.But, observers believe that Soludo is not humble and that he will not make a good governor. They insist that he is arrogant and proud.But, the former CBN governor has debunked the claims, saying that such utterances emanate from persons who are uninformed about his antecedents. He sees himself as a servant leader who wants to take consolidate on the achievements of Obiano.From all indications, the only thing that may stop the APGA from winning the election is the division within the party. So, it must find a way to pacify aggrieved members who have sworn to retaliate during the election.One of the aspirants and former aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Akachukwu Nwankpo, has left APGA to team up with the African Democratic Congress (ADC). He has since become the flag bearer of the party, after losing to Soludo during the primary.Umeoji, it is said, organised his primary with his loyalists and pronounced himself the candidate of the party. He belongs to the Jude Okeke faction. The third force in APGA is led by Edozie Njoku, who also declared himself the candidate of the party. Some political analysts say he is holding the ticket for Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu.Thus, the problem with APGA is complex. For instance, three persons are claiming the national chairmanship of the party at the moment. They are Victor Oye, Jude Okeke and Edozie Njoku.The leadership crisis may not help Soludos cause, even though Obiano has been insisting that there is no crisis in the party. At the end of the day, it is the court that will decide who is the authentic candidate.Last week, Soludo announced Dr Onyekachi Ibezim,the younger brother to the Anglican Archbishop on the Niger and Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Alexander Ibezim, as his running mate. But, the choice of running mate has not gone down well with members of the party.The Mbaukwu-born medical doctor is a political neophyte, who is being manipulated by his elder brother to the detriment of other more qualified aspirants, even within the Anglican fold, if the running mate must come from their ranks.A stakeholder who does not want to be named said Dr Ibezim already holds three big positions in the Obiano administration, and if you add his recent emergence as the deputy governorship candidate, it will make it four.Indeed, most of the Anglican faithful who spoke with The Nation said they are not happy with the situation and have vowed to vent their anger on the ruling party during the election.These are not only the issues that may work against the bid of the ruling party to retain the state after Obiano steps down early next year. Many people are not satisfied with the performance of the government. They believe it could do more, if the resources of the state are applied more judiciously.But, other observers believe Obiano has done well in the last seven and half years, especially with his establishment of Anambra Cargo and Passenger Airport. The attitude of the party faithful is another matter. Some political analysts believe that some people who see themselves in the current government are not worthy to be there. Such persons, it is said, behave as of they own Anambra because their party is in power.One of the chieftains of the party, who craved anonymity, said he would like the party to lose the November 6 governorship election because of what he termed the partys larger than life attitude. He said: The way our party is going, we may lose this election. Look at the way the opposition is celebrating our crisis and, yet, nothing is being done.Believe me, His Excellency, Governor Willie Obiano, may be the last APGA governor in this state. Even the PDP is not better. What it means is that we are playing into the hands of the APC. The party members are not happy with the candidature of Soludo because they believe that he will be an island unto himself if he wins. As a result, theyve started working against the party underground. If we fail to win the election in November, blame it on the governor.The Managing Director of the Anambra State Signage and Advertising Agency (ANSAA), Sir Jude Emecheta insists that the above respondent is a member of the opposition. He said the mere fact that Soludo emerged as the partys candidate means that APGA is already on its way to retaining its tenancy of Agu-Awka Government House.For him, the opposition parties are just wasting their time contesting the election. He described Soludo as the product every marketer will like to take to places. He said: No matter how anyone sees it, Soludo is a serious brand as far as the November 6 governorship election is concerned.However, the party would have to contend with some angry residents who are not happy with the idea of imposing the former CBN governor on the people of Anambra. Members of the opposition parties are happy with this development and are ready to capitalise on it.
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