2019: APGA’s Plan For President | Independent Newspapers Limited
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2019: APGA’s Plan For President

Sports administration
Posted: Oct 4, 2016 at 6:40 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ayodeji Ajayi

When carefully compared with others that had occupied the exalted position of Governor of Anambra State since May 29, 1999, the current occupant of the seat, Chief Willie Obiano, stands out outstandingly in several ways. This is particularly why I have profound admiration  for him. Unlike others before him, he is a silent and effective operator worthy of emulation. Anambra State is under the control of a relatively “unknown” political party – the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) when compared with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the troubled opposition party – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But in spite of the fact that APGA has only one state – Anambra State, for now, the party remains undaunted. The one-legged political party, founded by the late illustrious Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu had on several occasions got its own share of leadership crises when Chief Victor Umeh was the National Chairman.

I recall with nostalgia that APGA used to stand comfortably on two firm legs as a two-legged party when it was the formidable ruling party, as well as the indomitable political force in Anambra State and Imo State. The party enjoyed tremendous followership in the two notable South-Eastern states.

But this political advantage was destined to be short-lived. Suddenly, the Governor of Imo State, Chief Rochas Okorocha, an accomplished visionary and master strategist, defected from APGA to APC, along with his intimidating political machinery. The loss of Imo by APGA consequently became the gain of APC. This was how APGA was then left with only Anambra State whose governor then was Mr. Peter Obi. Obi never quarreled with Okorocha for leaving APGA for APC. This was because unknown to some people, Obi too was just waiting to hand over Anambra to a trusted successor after which he too would finally defect from APGA.

Obi’s defection from APGA to PDP on completion of his unbroken eight-year tenure as governor did not surprise many right-thinking Nigerians with discerning minds. Having observed his uncommon close official relationship as APGA governor with the then PDP President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, in addition to hobnobbing with other PDP stalwarts, any sane person would know it was a matter of time for him to eventually dump APGA which gave him the firm political platform to serve as governor. Obi never possess any special electoral value to have qualified to win governorship election in Anambra. Anambrarians agreed to vote massively for him largely because of the immense respect and deep-rooted love they had for Odumegwu-Ojukwu.

If Obi had used PDP as the platform to seek election as governor at the time he did, he needed no soothsayer to tell him he would have lost woefully. But having successfully used APGA’s ticket to realize his gubernatorial ambition, he could afford to dump the young party for the PDP for purely selfish interest that later, as expected, turned out to be short-lived when he was sacked by the new government from a political appointment he was hurriedly given by the then outgoing President Jonathan at the twilight of his tenure. If after 17 years since the return of democracy in the country there are still orchestrated hues and cries over inability of the South – East to produce the president for the country, the reasons are not far – fetched after all.

How could this be possible when the so-called Igbo elite and notable politicians would because of their selfish interests and short-lived pecuniary considerations would prefer to back the wrong horse rather than unite by putting forward one of their own and provide him the necessary support to succeed? For how long will our fellow brothers and sisters from the South-East continue to read the ever changing political happenings in the country wrongly and from a myopic perspective?. Do they realize their so-called leaders and politicians prefer playing the second fiddle for as long as their selfish interests have been taken care of at the expense of the interests of millions of others?. Why is it that several years after the highly revered Dr. Alex Ekwueme had served as Vice-President of Nigeria when Alhaji Shehu Shagari was President nobody from the South-East has since moved close to the enviable position?. From all indications, nobody else but our brothers and sisters from the South-East should be blamed for their inability to produce the president. Are they not tired of playing second fiddle or secondary roles while others are continuously playing frontline roles?.

Was is not a big shame the other time ahead of the 2015 general elections when the then South –East governors (with the exception of Willie Obiano of Anambra State) were begging Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to accept seeking re-election and that they would handle the rest to ensure his victory? A case of backing the wrong candidate for selfish reasons. The rest in this regard, is now history.

For instance, would it not have been better if Obi had stayed back in APGA to help fortify the party to reclaim Imo and then extend to other parts of the South-East and beyond preparatory to making it a strong party that could serve as a veritable platform for a South-Easterner with invaluable electoral asset to contest for president in future?.

This is why I doff my hat for Obiano who currently seems to be a lone ranger in the crusade to propagate the ideals of APGA, especially as the crucial 2019 general elections are around the corner.

Just last week in Awka, capita of Anambra State, Obiano was reported to have disclosed that APGA would present a presidential candidate for the 2019 election. I am sure this strong political statement coming at this time from the governor who also serves as Chairman, Board of Trustees of APGA, must have surprised many Nigerians, including Obi. Since then, some characters would have been wondering how APGA, with presence in only one state out of the 36 states will be able to muster enough financial muscle and other essential resources to meet the conditions for presenting a candidate for presidential election not to talk of winning such money-consuming and energy-sapping election. As it is, APGA lacks the geographical spread, patronage and acceptance countrywide as against APC or PDP but it is a party with a promising future if it can do the needful to make it emerge as a big, united, virile and effective party with membership across the country. Obiano was reported to have assured that if given the chance in 2019 to form the federal government, the party would reduce cost of living drastically and that the cost of rice that has hit the rooftop, will fall to N9,000 per bag. He proudly cited the example of “Anambra Rice” produced locally in Anambra, whose price he claimed is affordable.

It is noteworthy that unlike some Nigerian politicians, Obiano did not sound as if APGA’s plan to present presidential candidate in 2019 is a do-or-die affair but there is nothing bad in expressing an intention. However, 2019 may be too close for APGA to make serious preparations to achieve meaningful result in this regard. What are the structures on ground to make the candidate’s participation be substantially felt to justify the enormous resources put into the election?. Who will be the presidential candidate? Will he likely be Obiano himself since he is currently on the last lap of his eight-year tenure as governor? Although there is nothing wrong if he is nursing presidential ambition but he should ensure APGA does not die. Apparently, the only man still standing for APGA, I recall that ahead of the 2015 elections when influential PDP chieftains were arrogantly boasting that they had concluded plans for Obiano to defect from APGA to PDP like Obi, Obiano, in spite of possible gratifications, remained focused in his avowed determination to ensure survival of APGA.