HEAVYWEIGHT ASPIRANTS PRESENT QUAGMIRE TO APGA LEADERS

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    David-Chyddy Eleke reports that strong contestants eyeing Anambra South senatorial ticket of the All Progressives Grand Alliance in the 2019 election present a difficult choice to the leadership of the party

    As the 2019 general elections draws near, aspirants to represent Anambra South Senatorial Zone on the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) are already working to clinch the ticket of the party. With APGA having established itself as a dominant party in the state, it is not a surprise that every serious politician in the state is seeking its ticket to contest next year’s election.

    Lined-up to battle for the ticket of APGA for the Anambra south senatorial contest are bigwig politicians, who all stand tall, shoulder-to-shoulder, leaving the leadership of the party in confusion as to which is more credible and worthy of the ticket. Most notable are the trio of Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu; wife of the late leader of the party, late Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah; Chairman of Capital Oil and Gas and Mr. Nicholas Ukachukwu; a former member of the House of Representatives representing Abuja.

    Ukachukwu, an erstwhile PDP chieftain, and serial governorship contender on the platform of different parties joined APGA early 2017. With his large followership, he has established himself in the party, where he worked assiduously for the victory of Obiano in Anambra south zone in the November 2017 governorship election.

    Ubah also rejoined the party late last year, immediately after losing out on the PDP governorship ticket which was won by Mr. Oseloka Obaze. Ubah had protested the outcome of the primary election, but could not get the national leadership of the PDP to upturn Obaze’s victory, so in protest, he left the party after he was visited at his country home in Nnewi by his long time friend, Chief Victor Umeh, who was the former national chairman of the party. Umeh had persuaded Ubah to join APGA after he was allegedly robbed by PDP of the governorship ticket.

    Days after the visit, Ubah announced his entry into APGA, using the slogan; afa Igbo efuna, meaning the name of the Igbo will not be lost. Adducing reasons for his choosing APGA which he had previously left in protest, Ubah said there was need to protect the Igbo name, and that APGA being the only Igbo party around, he needed to join hands with APGA leaders to sustain the name of the Igbo man in the politics of Nigeria.

    As for Bianca, she is almost as old as the party, and holds an upper hand against others who want the ticket of the party because of her late husband’s name. The name Ojukwu is synonymous with APGA, and can open even the strongest APGA door. All through the political fracas between Governor Obiano and his predecessor, Mr. Peter Obi, she stood with the governor. She also weighed in with her support for the governor throughout the campaign for his reelection.

    Another aspirant, who is somewhat in the background, but is apparently a threat to the three is Ikenna Amaechi, son of first republic Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi. He was a former member of the House of Assembly, and is seen as the most competent for the job in terms of erudition and delivery. He is young and also has good support base among young people. Amaechi is a grassroots politician.

    However, THISDAY gathered that the aspiration of these politicians has left the APGA leadership in a quagmire, as each prefer different candidates for the party. A source who spoke on condition of anonymity stated that while the governor of Anambra State is more favourably disposed to handing the ticket to Bianca as settlement for her support while he ran for a second term, the national chairman, Chief Victor Oye would not have that. Oye is said to be more favourably disposed to Ukachukwu for the ticket, though no good reason was adduced for the choice.

    On the other hand, Senator Umeh who is the immediate past national chairman of the party, and who still wields influence in the party is touted to prefer Ubah over others. The source said that this may be unconnected to Ubah’s support to him during the days of rancour with former governor, Obi, which led to the foisting of Chief Maxi Okwu on APGA as national chairman, against Umeh. The attendant legal fireworks that followed Okwu’s usurpation of the national chairmanship of the party, the source said was sponsored by Ubah, at a time when Umeh’s source of income as national chairman had been blocked by Obi. This maybe his own way of paying back, THISDAY learnt.

    There are rumours, however, that Obiano may have gained the upper hand, as Bianca is rumored to have been positioned for the ticket of the party for Anambra south senatorial ticket. Bianca Ojukwu recently declared her intention officially. Some stakeholders believe that her declaration may have come after securing the endorsement of the powers that be in the party.

    It was gathered that the state chairman of the party, Chief Nobert Obi had previously been under pressure to endorse Mrs Ojukwu, and that the endorsement would now be followed by those of the national leaders of the party, giving hint that she may have secured the endorsement before declaring her intention publicly.

    A stakeholder in the party, and coordinator of Anambra South Integrity Forum(ASIF), a pressure group in the party, Chief Olisaemeka Muoma confirmed the rumored plans for endorsement during an interview with journalists, saying that the development was worrisome. He said, “It is sad and unfortunate that the internal democracy of our great party is being destroyed by the wife of our late leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu.

    “She has been going about threatening to deal with any person or group of persons that would want to oppose her ambition. Bianca Ojukwu has vowed to create confusion in our party and to ensure that her opponents and fellow aspirants are expelled from the party if she is not given the senatorial ticket on a platter of gold. Her supporters have been boasting that not even the governor, Chief Willie Obiano and his wife can stop her from flying the flag of the party in 2019 National Assembly election.”

    Muoma said supporters of other senatorial aspirants will not sit back and watch, but ensure that the Anambra South senatorial primary election of the party was conducted in line with the constitution of APGA. “Our party has a constitution which stipulates the guideline for the
    conduct of primary election in APGA and it must be followed to the letter. We urge the National Chairman of our great party, Ozo Victor Oye not to allow himself to be used to destroy the party by handing over the Anambra South Senatorial ticket of our party to anyone on a platter, rather than holding a credible primary election.”

    Though Chief Oye was not available to confirm the latest development in the party, he had denied in an earlier interview with our correspondent that the party had any preference for Mrs Ojukwu or anyone of the aspirants from the zone. Oye promised that the party would not destroy the internal democratic structures it had built over the years by favouring any aspirant above others.

    “It is even an insult on the person of the governor to think that as the father of the party, he would condescend to support one aspirant over another in the primary election of the party. APGA is known for its internal democratic mechanism, and we will not destroy it. As for Ukachukwu whom you said I am supporting, let me tell you, do you know that he does not know this place (Oye’s house). He has never been here, and we have never met in a hotel nor has he ever sent anyone to me. All these things are mere speculations,” he said.