By Okwudili Aniegboka
Lately, there have been rumours of internal squabbles in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). The people behind these speculations point at the coming party primaries as the final straw that might break or make APGA, depending on how the party leadership handles the feud ravaging the party within and threatening to weaken it’s overall appeal as a viable alternative to APC and PDP
At the heart of the gathering storm is the question of who picks what ticket for the National Assembly elections in Anambra State. For a party which conducted its last gubernatorial primaries with near-perfect organizational efficiency and went on to set an electoral record in Nigeria with a landslide victory at the polls, it is saddening to see that APGA is showing all the signs of Nigeria’s usual inability to manage success so soon. This festering crisis seems to suggest that the stellar performance of the party in the last gubernatorial election in Anambra State was a mere fluke and that the party may have recorded what might be likened to a one-hit-wonder. Many observers silently shudder at APGA’s seeming decline and its unexpected pushing aside of all the democratic virtues that made it stand out barely one year ago. They are surprised at what could have gone wrong in twelve calendar months to create such deepening division in a once united house.
Party insiders claim that the root cause of the brewing trouble is the tussle for the senatorial ticket of Anambra South senatorial district. This Senatorial Zone has suddenly become a theater of war with gladiators up in arms against one another and drawing blood freely on social media. The fight here is between the wife of the party’s late supreme leader, Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu who is Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Spain, Chief Mrs Bianca Odumegwu-Ojukwu and the maverick billionaire, Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah. Apart from being Ikemba’s wife, Chief Mrs Ojukwu is an astute politician who played a prominent role in the tumultuous campaign that returned Governor Willie Obiano to office after a successful first term. But Ifeanyi Ubah is even far more accomplished and better known in the country’s political landscape. Apart from his previous attempts to become the governor of Anambra State, Ubah is believed to be the single most respected figure whose influence swayed the entire Anambra South Senatorial zone to vote for Obiano in the last gubernatorial election. These two combatants have drawn a line in the sand between them. And at the moment, there’s no sign of a possible truce.
What is certain however is that many people remember that Obiano’s re-election campaign kicked off to a roaring finish when Ubah activated his Afa Igbo Efuna machinery and swept Anambra South in his favour. There are also whispers of pacts and agreements reached between Ubah and Obiano that are known only to them. The rumour that Ubah has been asked to step down for Chief Mrs Ojukwu is therefore a little worrisome as it does not bode well for the party’s internal democracy and the need to present candidates that will garner the critical support of the electorate. The same rumour is also circulating in Anambra North Senatorial Zone where the sitting senator, Mrs Stella Oduah is alleged to have been ordered to step down for Honourable Chinedu Emeka. It is common knowledge that both Oduah and Emeka played their own different roles in Obiano’s re-election bid. There are other pockets of impositions and manoeuvrings at different levels of the party structure. They are so many that most of them are not known to many people. But what is known to everyone is that the leadership of APGA must act without further delay to save the party.
While it is heart-warming to recall that APGA has enjoyed unprecedented peace and admirable orderliness since Governor Obiano took over as the Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees and National Leader, the party leadership must not fail to remember that APGA is still largely an Anambra party. It has yet to win over the sister states of the South East let alone spread out beyond the region. So, they must never lose sight of the fact that for other states to consider APGA a viable alternative, the party must be seen to be different from the rival APC and PDP. It must be seen to have demonstrated a clear capacity to manage its internal affairs well enough not to attract sensational headlines from the national dailies. Indeed, APGA must allow internal democracy to take firm roots within its fold. This strange rumour of forcing aspirants to dump their aspirations is the fastest way to self-destruction. There must be a level playing field for aspirants because the best decision that APGA must take at this moment in time is to let the delegates decide who should represent them. Any attempt to foist an unpopular candidate on the people is bound to backfire!
And APGA must guide against that with all its might and strength. The question which the party leadership must answer as the primaries draw nearer is, would Ojukwu himself who is the very spirit of the party have been happy to endorse this undemocratic reflex of asking some aspirants to step down if he were alive? Would the great Ikemba who had made huge personal sacrifices for the people have allowed himself the indulgence of one act of selfishness that would undermine the very house he has built with his own hands? It is highly unlikely.
This is therefore the time for the party leadership to let the promise of full democracy that the last gubernatorial election ushered into Anambra State to take firm roots.
Okwudili Aniegboka is a public affairs analyst who writes from Oraifite.