Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has accused the All Progressive Congress (APC ) candidate in the last Anambra governorship election, Hon. Tony Nwoye, of importing into the state chapter of the party the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) style of using thuggery and violence to settle political scores.
Ngige, in a statement signed Tuesday by the Head of his Media Office, Mr. Chikwelugo Obidiwe, reviewed all that took place at last weekend’s APC Ward Congress in Anambra State where he was allegedly saved from political thugs who disrupted the entire process.
He said as the leader of the party in the state, his aim was to ensure that members of the party were not disenfranchised and that people freely elected their leaders.
Therefore, he said the subsequent violence that marred the stakeholders meeting in Awka on Sunday is not only condemnable but a weird and dangerous phenomenon, completely unknown to opposition politics in Anambra State.
The minister said he has been a peaceful man throughout his political life including when he was in PDP as was his sojourn as an opposition politician, blaming the violence on attitudinal traits inherited from their former party (PDP).
He said: “We wish to put it on record that Senator Ngige has been in the opposition politics since 2004 when he left the PDP and so are some other members of the APC in the state.
“He in fact started from ACD, AC to ACN and now the APC. We must add that thuggery, violence, wanton destruction of property and general threat to life are alien in their fold.
“They despise desperation, they play by the rules and unreservedly give in to the popular wish of the people. It is quite unfortunate therefore that a once calm and peaceful political party is being pushed down the cowardly route of cultism, thuggery, violence and threat to life.
“What transpired in Awka last Sunday was deliberate and well planned. It was a desperate determination by Hon. Tony Nwoye to rebrand the Anambra APC the violent way.
“It was a rehearse of a rogue ideology which has been a trademark from his former party, the PDP. Many were shocked by the swam of cultists, arsonists and deadly thugs that accompanied him to the venue of the meeting because they thought the aphorism of ‘behaving like the Romans while in Rome’ had impacted some lessons on this political proselytes in the opposition fold. How erroneous they were.”
Ngige also gave account of what transpired at the violence-marred party congress, noting that four out of six members of the Anambra State Ward Congress Electoral Committee were swapped with another four from Imo State as a result of the problem in the Imo State chapter.
He however explained that before the swap by Friday evening, sale of forms had commenced and congress progressed effectively in 285 out of 326 electoral wards in Anambra State by the night of Saturday even though the four persons billed to come from Imo that morning did not turn up, hence, leaving the two men from the previous committee to supervise.
When they eventually turned up, he said, the state party leadership rightly reasoned that the way to progress was for them to join the two remaining members of the former committee to bring their assignment to a fruitful conclusion since the exercise had advanced in most of the electoral wards.
“No need aborting a peacefully progressing process. Hence, the four new persons including the acting chairman took brief from the state chairman as well as from the two persons still left of the previous committee â€“ that is, Musa Yunusa and Aloma Nzeocha.
“However, a quick stakeholders meeting was requested by Hon. Tony Nwoye and the party leadership obliged him for reasons. One was in the spirit of openness which democracy entails. The next was to avoid unbalancing his sense of self or offend his vanity. However, little did it occur to any that the forum was to afford him the much-needed opportunity to unleash his brigand hordes and cause mayhem. Many hence, have learnt the warning from the Trojan priest to always fear the Greeks, even the ones bearing gifts,â€ he said.
According to Ngige, a simple explanation that Congress had successfully held in most wards before the arrival of the new team was all that provided Nwoye and his gang a trigger.
He said: “That innocuous explanation was all that flipped the lid. Before descent to the dastardly, Nwoye had said there was no congress in his wards, that he was waiting for the new congress committee members to start the process afresh. No doubt, this was an alibi. Calling for a fresh start was to give him enough latitude to hijack and torpedo the process with his outlawry in the areas where he was losing. No one was deceived by this half crafty ruse.
“Because ‘an angry man is always a stupid man’, Chinua Achebe would say, he couldnâ€™t round off his position before his band of thugs were signalled to attack the high table. They took away Musa Yunusa, having broken two chairs on his head, dragging him in a pool of blood, stripped naked, and fiercely pushing to end him all.”
The minister, who was already taken to safety by his security, said he broke away from protection, had to intervene to rescue Yunusa, almost lifeless.
He said the doctors battled to save his life at Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, Nnewi from where he has been transferred to another hospital because of the JOHESU strike.
To this end, Ngige appealed to all party members in the state to remain calm and resolute in our zero tolerance for thuggery, cultism, violence and blood.
He repeated that “this imported dangerous culture with no sense of limits, totally strange to our people must not be allowed to germinate, much less bear fruit”.
He also assured the people that the APC in Anambra is not prepared to take a route contrary to its established norm, the mores of decent society.