Ahead of 2019 elections, the All Progressives Congress has begun to make inroad in some South-east states like Abia, reports Emmanuel Ugwu
After a dismal performance in the 2015 governorship election in Abia State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is gearing up for a better outing in 2019. The party came a distant third in the poll. In both the House of Assembly and the National Assembly elections, the party also failed to win a single seat. In that period, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) shared the electoral spoils.
Today, the Abia chapter of APC is working very hard and looking ahead with great optimism as it prepares to challenge the state’s ruling party for the Government House in Umuahia next year.
Leader of the Abia APC, Chief Ikechi Emenike believes in taking the party to the grassroots across the state’s 17 local governments. He reckons that by so doing, the party will expand its membership base and be in a position to win enough votes to ensure the APC’s governorship candidate become Abia’s next governor.
To make this possible, Emenike, who is also a governorship aspirant, has embarked on a tour of the state’s local councils. His team which includes members of the state working committee (SWC) of the party is said to be working assiduously to strengthen the party at the grassroots as they had visited all the local governments during which they interacted with and encouraged party members, urging them to form layers of structures.
The visitation, which started in August this year at Ukwa West Local Government, finally ended at Osisioma Ngwa Local Government. It afforded the party leaders the opportunity to hold meetings with the various structures of the party at the grassroots. Emenike was able to feel their pulse, know their strengths and weaknesses and ginger the party faithfuls to brace up for the task ahead. Having very strong structures at the grassroots, he said, is the key to make the party victorious in the 2019 general election. According to him, a party without structure is hollow.
The state chairman of APC, Dr. Emmanuel Ndukwe, noted that the purpose of the visit was to ascertain the membership strength of APC in all the local governments. According to him, the party is not leaving any stone unturned in its quest to dislodge the ruling PDP from Abia Government House, adding that by penetrating the grassroots, the target is to score at least 200 votes in every polling unit.
A chieftain of the party from Ukwa West, Chief Nwogu Nna Nwogu, who is Abia State’s commissioner on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), stated that the commencement of the consultative and enlightenment meetings marked “the beginning of the journey to change our lives for the better.” He added that an opportunity was already staring them in the face “to end our sufferings in Abia”. Nwogu disclosed further that it was a choice they had to make by buying into Emenike’s vision for a greater Abia. He, however, warned that “if we want to continue in the way we are, it’s left to us”.
Emenike as a major player in the politics of Abia State does not leave any stone unturned in his quest to bring victory to his party, especially in the forthcoming 2019 general election. While other political leaders are contented with staying in the state capital and passing instructions to subordinates or inviting people to their homes for meetings, Emenike often go to the people in the villages to discuss with them face to face.
The APC chieftain prefers this approach because he plays “politics of human beings” whereby election is won with votes cast by people as against a contrived electoral victory by conjuring votes.
“The change we talk about can only be effected with votes. If we don’t have the capacity to vote, we can’t bring change,” he argued. That was why in all the local governments, the party leader kept emphasising the need for people to register and obtain their permanent voter cards (PVCs). He said he did not believe in using federal might to win elections as was the case during the past administration, noting that the real people’s power derives from the ballot paper.
Emenike, therefore, assured that he would rely on Abia voters to give him the mandate to transform the state and place it on the path of development. He assured that if APC took control of government in Abia come 2019, the state would be steered away from its stagnant route, adding that unless a decisive effort to abandon the old ways of doing things “development will continue to elude the state and we will continue to be backward”.
Political watchers believevthst the message he gave at the meetings was a wake-up call for Abians, who were aroused from their slumber of political apathy. It was targeted at retirees, professionals and youths. He made each of the groups to understand that it was not just enough for them to keep saying things are not working well in Abia when they have a part to play by participating in the electoral process and choosing the leaders they want.
According to him, people get the leaders they deserve hence the need for people to come out and vote in 2019’s general election. “If you don’t have PVC, you are an enemy of Abia,” he told the people.
Being a great mobiliser, Emenike has raised an army of youths in all the local governments. They are well organised in every ward, going from house to house to convince people on the need for them to participate actively in the electoral process. That is why Emenike regards youths as being very important instruments to effect the expected change in Abia come 2019.
They constitute the largest voting population. They not only vote but also canvass for votes. The youth groups are segmented into Abia Progressive Youths Congress (APYC), Emenike Daughters and Emenike Teenagers, whose ages range from 18 to 21.
Aside from organising the youths, Emenike also organised other agents of change in structured groups, including Emenike Mothers, Stakeholders. These stakeholders in every local government comprise retired permanent secretaries, directors, security officers, bank managers, professors, medical doctors and other professionals. This category of people are said to often stay aloof and hardly bother about participating in the electoral process only to grumble aloud, when wrong persons mount the saddle of leadership and does not provide good governance.
Emenike held meetings with the stakeholders in every local government visited that it was high time they started showing interest in the affairs of their state as opinion leaders in their various communities. He urged them to participate actively in choosing the right persons to represent the people at every level of governance. The APC governorship aspirant told the senior citizens that it would be extremely difficult for an election to be manipulated if they vote and put their foot down that their votes must count.
Though it was taxing for the APC to visit all the 17 local governments, the dividends are quite reassuring as the pulse of the people indicated a strong yearning for change in Abia. The enormity of development challenges facing the state is visible everywhere – bad roads, absence of potable water, high rate of unemployment as exemplified by a family with seven unemployed graduates, among other nagging issues.
The unresolved socio-economic problems keep fuelling discontent in both urban and rural areas. Even at Obingwa, the local government, where the incumbent governor hails from, people did not hide their discontentment and frustration with the present administration.
Emenike’s message was particularly pleasing to the youths, whom he assured that over 80 per cent of his manifesto would be geared towards giving them a brighter future. With the reassuring promises, the young persons across the local governments not only obtained their PVCs but also pledged to work for Emenike to realise his governorship ambition and implement his development agenda for the state.
The youths also vowed that the sentiment of “our son is governor” would not sway them in 2019 and, therefore, endorsed Emenike to fly the APC gubernatorial flag to “liberate Abia from maladministration”.