By CYPRIAN AJA, Enugu
LEADERS of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the southeast are becoming jittery over the weak presence of the party in the zone. They have, therefore, begun to initiate new plots for the penetration of the APC into the southeast in the buildup to 2019 elections, National Daily can authoritatively report.
Thus, APC leaders have begun mobilizing their forces towards encroaching deep into the south-south and south east geo-political zones. Party leaders from the centre have been reinforcing the southeast members in making underground overtures governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the southeast to join the ruling APC if they will avoid being thrown out in second term elections.
The ruling party is adopting threats in its determination to capture additional states in the southeast and south-south.
There are insinuations that the Town Hall meeting which the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has been conducting round the country, consulting with governors and stakeholders of the states, is a ploy to garner support for the APC and subsequently convince some governors to join the ruling party.
The tricks did not end there, another version of the story has it that APC has setup a secret delegate to meet with some governors, powerful politicians and members of the national assembly from the opposition camp to dump their various political parties and embrace the ruling party. The said delegates were alleged to have met with the governors of Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Cross Rivers States, respectively, where the issue was discussed. According to source, the intention of the ruling party was to root for stooge governors or government that would reduce political tension being perpetrated by pro-Biafra agitators and other militants groups in the regions which the governors found difficult to curb the situation.
A reliable source informed National Daily that among the current political problems that confront the country, the issue of Biafra and Niger Delta militants constitute major headache to President Muhammadu Buhari. A political analyst in a radio programme monitored in Enugu condemned the speculation that APC is making anxious move to capture South East and South-South at all cost. He said that the manner the party is going about it shows that it has not learnt any lesson from the present state of the nation. His words “The signal APC is sending to Nigerians is dangerous to democracy.
The party is leaving no stone unturned to muscle the country to one party system by coercing some governors and senators to join them at all cost” Adding, APC does not tolerate the voice of opposition political parties especially the PDP which is not healthy for our nascent democracy” He lamented that the ruling party has employed dodgy measure to pursue its goal “To them, every plan put in place to achieve this feat was necessary, whether it abides by the tenet of democracy or not, it does not matter to APC. The party has taken a dangerous step by clamping on the PDP chieftains through the purported anti-graft war. In the last administration, the APC was in the opposition, the party was at the neck of the ruling party criticizing every step PDP took but today, anybody that makes negative comment against the party should be hunted like a wide animal”
National Daily was also informed that the APC leaders in one of their meetings in Abuja resolved to cage the PDP by wooing the South East and South-South governors at all cost. One of the leaders was quoted to have said that the party cannot operate successfully at the national level without having firm control of the opposition camps. In confirmation of the allegation, a member of APC in Anambra State close to National Daily but did not want his name mentioned disclosed to our correspondent that the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha has approached other state governors in the region especially Willy Obiano to dump APGA and join the ruling party. In a media chat with National Daily, a chieftain of APGA also confirmed the alleged move by APC to woo the south-South and South-East governors was true. He maintained that many occasions the governors have sat and deliberated on the issue.
Governor Willy Obiano of Anambra State was alleged to have accepted the proposal but was worried by the risk involved in dumping the party that produced him the governor. He stressed that Obiano has been careful in handling the issue in order not to lose respect he had earned among his people. He argued that it might be difficult to convince the people of Anambra State and the Igbo nation in particular to accept APC which did not enjoy popular support among the people of the South East and South-South. He ruled out the possibility of Governor Obiano defecting to another party considering the danger some powerful politicians in APC pose the governor.
He was specific to mention that the likes of Senator Uche Ekwunife and the former governor of the state now minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who might eventually join the gubernatorial race in 2017. “His Excellency, Willy Obiano, might not be comfortable with the proposal. I believe he wants to maintain his integrity with the people of Anambra and Ndi-Igbo in general. He is not a desperate politician that jumps from one party to the other. By the Grace of God, he would retain his seat in 2017.
On its part, the APC has not done well at the center what could warrant politicians to join the party?” he queried. He said that the reconciliation of the immediate past governor, Peter Obi and his successor has put the speculation and political struggle in the state to a rest. “The reconciliation of Governor Obiano and Peter Obi has put a stop to every speculation that APC might take over the state. The reconciliation is for the best interest of the state” he said. In Enugu State, the story is not different, the former governor of Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo and former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, were alleged to have been at loggerhead over who controls the soul of APC in the state and also convince Ugwuanyi and his teaming followers to join the party. The two political bigwigs were alleged to have met with the governor under close doors and discuss the matter but the governor was said not to provide meaningful answer to the political juggernauts. It will be recalled that on 25th April, 2016 the APC governors mainly northern governors led by Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha and chairman Northern Governors’ Forum, Kashim Shettima paid a courtesy call to Governor Ugwuanyi over the Fulani/Nimbo community clash which claimed many lives and left many injured.
The APC sent a delegate to console Ugwuanyi over the incident. The leader of the delegate was alleged to have used the opportunity to discuss the matter Enugu governor. It will also be recalled that the minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, led another delegate in the name of Town Hall meeting on 3rd August 2016 to Lion Building, Enugu State government House were they met Governor Ugwuanyi. The minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbeh, minister of Labour and Employment, and former governor of Anambra State, Senator Chris Ngige among the diginateries that attended the meeting.
An insider told National Daily other town hall meetings were held at open arena why should the Enugu version be held at a secluded environment with few people in attendance only for Lai Mohammed to address journalists after the meeting. The information minister had informed the press shortly after the meeting that they came to Enugu for a town hall meeting which provides an avenue for both the government and the governed to exchange ideas, thus fostering good governance.