Wednesday, October 24, 2018 2:01 pm
The manipulated APGA primaries have left the party in life support. The ugly situation must be reversed to save states like Imo from missing genuine political leadership
By Udodi Amalunweze
After Chief Willie Obiano won re-election for a second term of office as the Governor of Anambra State in 2017, he solemnly pledged that all other states of the South East were for the taking by APGA during the 2019 general elections. Most unfortunately, the sham that passed for the recent APGA primaries in the South East geopolitical zone point to the distressing fact that Governor Obiano’s solemn pledge is NOT being pursued. Rather, all efforts appear to be trained at killing and burying APGA… Whatever happened to the slogan that Nkea bu nke anyi (This One Is Ours)?
In most places, the announced primary elections never held; where they held, they were characterized by blatant vote manipulation, voter intimidation, violence and disenfranchisement of delegates. The entire charade elicited this lamentation from no other than Chief (Mrs.) Bianca Ojukwu:
“One fact is certain and incontrovertible. APGA primary elections for the 2019 general elections are a sham, a total disgrace and a sacrilege crying for overall rectification.
“As a member of this party’s Board of Trustees, I am deeply concerned that mercenaries would appear to have hijacked the operations of our party machinery. APGA is today facing an existential threat and the overall image of our party is in tatters. This will certainly have serious repercussions going into the main elections.”
Another card-carrying APGA member is Engr G. O. C. Ezeno, who tried his hands at contesting the primary election for the Aguata 1 Constituency of the Anambra State House of Assembly. The primary election slated for Aguata 1 Constituency turned out to be a very cruel joke indeed. The exercise was moved to an isolated venue without warning. There, the thugs of a clearly identified partisan hijacked the whole process, sprayed toxic material on delegates, seized voting materials and flagrantly announced a concocted result. Ezeno has petitioned the APGA hierarchy, thus:
“I want to believe that APGA will not uphold any result that came from a fraudulent ballot. APGA should conduct a thorough appraisal of the primary elections, given the overwhelming protests they have elicited from various quarters. Unless this is done, our party stands the risk of losing the 2019 general election and may not gain further ground as a political party.”
Remarkably, one of the most detailed accounts of the travesty called APGA primaries is being distributed in the social media by Owelle Mbaso who is Governor Obiano’s SSA on Social Media. The man is so scandalized by rape of basic democratic principles that he decided, at the risk of being sacked, to shout from the rooftops the rape that has been visited on APGA faithful. The following is only a part of what he posted in a protest entitled “The Year Greed Buried APGA (Part One)”:
“To be sure, what APGA put up in the name of primaries was essentially a brazen show of shame where the party guidelines were torn to shreds and decency thrown to the winds.
“Almost all primaries across the constituencies were marred with grievous irregularities as the results from the adhoc delegates congresses were replaced with strange names which resulted in uproar and stampede that ensured the exercises were inconclusive.
“One would have thought that a party that promised a transparent, free and fair primaries would look into these problems in line with its own guidelines that stipulates dates and internal organs/machineries through which redress could be sought but it would appear APGA already had its mind set on self-destruction for it never bothered to address the many petitions sent to it, let alone acknowledge or provide a verdict.”
“Something is rotten in the State of Denmark,” said Marcellus, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, to lament festering moral and political corruption in his country. It is the same lamentation that the trio of Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, Engr Ezeno and Owelle Mbaso, as well as thousands of others are engaged in today. They are saying that something is rotten in APGA, the All Progressives Congress. They have served a warning that, unless this boil of greed, moral decay and political corruption is lanced, APGA’snunc dimitis will be a fait accompli.
But why should APGA be allowed to die? APGA was established to give NDIGBO a voice in regional and national politics. Scores of visionary people like the late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, although functionaries in other political parties, donated resources and brain power to have APGA established. The late, great Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu deployed every ounce of his energy, his charisma and his gravitas towards the sustenance, growth and development of APGA. Following his demise, his widow, Ambassador Ojukwu, continued from where her iconic husband left the stage. She has remained a dedicated member of APGA’s Board of Trustees. During the political campaigns for the 2017 Anambra State gubernatorial election, Bianca Ojukwu toured all the towns and local governments with Governor Obiano, appealing to the electorate not to forget her late husband in death, not to abandon Obiano in his quest for a second term of office. Obiano won re-election handsomely. But, where is he today when the party on whose crest he is enjoying the trappings of power is in the doldrums, suffering greed-and corruption induced asphyxiation?
The sad truth is that Governor Willie Obiano is missing in action. Like Nero that fiddled why a conflagration licked Rome, Obiano, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of APGA, is busy holidaying in the United States, saying not one word on the debacle that was the recently held APGA primaries. What credit will be Obiano’s if history records that it was under his watch that APGA, the Igbo voice was silenced by those supposed to make it resonant? Further, what has Chief Victor Oye, the national chairman of APGA, got to say for the perverse primary elections? While he sat numb and dumb, APGA’s machinery was turned over to self-seeking buccaneers that have laid it low and in the throes of death. How come that conducting APGA’s primaries devolved on three men from Aguleri like the Obiano – Primus Odili, the Governor’s Chief of Staff; Chinedu Obidigwe, his political adviser; and Father Manafa, who is said to be his chaplain?
Indeed, the comatose state of APGA today recalls David’s lamentation of I Samuel 1:19:
“The beauty of Israel is slain upon the high places: how are the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in Ashkelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.”
The dignity, the glory and the cathedral majesty of our APGA has been slain on the altar of political myopia and unbridled avarice. Nowhere is this more self-evident than in the treachery that took place in Imo State, the very bastardization of APGA’s carefully written rules of democratic engagement. Imo was an APGA State, to put things in a proper historical context. Curiously, some recidivists with the party had turned it over to the devices of Rochas Okoracha, who emerged from nowhere to become the party’s 2011 governorship candidate. Okoracha promptly handed both the state and Imo APGA over to those he always belonged to, making a total mockery of governance and ridiculing everybody including himself.
The 2019 Imo gubernatorial ballot was generally seen as the next best opportunity for APGA to reclaim Imo State. Ndi Imo have always professed and lived a preference for APGA. Things had been arranged in such a way as to legitimately deliver Imo to APGA through the ballot box. But, against the wisdom of our people who say that the stick does not hurt a man’s eyes twice, the buccaneers swiftly moved in again to frustrate the wishes of the people by orchestrating a charade of a primary election which threw up an interloper, a second Rochas Okorocha, in the person of Ifeanyi Ararume, as APGA “governorship candidate.” Ararume is of the APC. He had never in his life identified with the vision of APGA. He never identified with Dim Ojukwu during the late APGA leader’s lifetime. This is the man curiously pronounced APGA flag-bearer in Imo State where the mandatory primary ballot had not taken place. This broad daylight robbery cannot stand. People of conscience must speak with one voice against this grave injustice trained like a pistol on the heart of our APGA. All necessary court processes must be engaged to thwart those minded to deliver Imo gain to charlatans through the back door. Governor Obiano must speak up. Chief Victor Oye must speak up. Their continued silence is deafening.