Amby Uneze explains why the celebrated All Progressives Grand Alliance in Imo State is in tatters
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) which was once the darling of Igbo politicians has found itself presently. What led to this negative view of a political party that was founded by Chief Chekwas Okorie and handed over to Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu who blessed the party can best be described as greed, wanting power at all cost and mean on the part of some of its present leaders. However, it is this type of impunity that brings a political party to its knees.
While its founder, Chief Chekwas Okorie will be laughing that APGA is about going into extinction because its structure was hijacked unceremoniously from him by the Victor Umehs and his co-travelers from Anambra State; its father, late Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu however, would be disappointed in his grave that the light he brought and handed over to his brothers from Anambra is now dimming. Such is the situation in APGA presently as it faces serious challenge in Imo State prior to the 2019 general elections.
The problem started when the party admitted all manner of people including those rejected by their previous parties into her fold and granted waiver to run for various elective positions through the party. At the last count, the party had over 30 governorship aspirants in Imo State alone. Most of these aspirants were the best in terms of integrity, marketability, professionalism, and acceptability. Inspite of greed which made the party leaders at the national level jacked up the Expression of Interest and Nomination fees, the aspirants went ahead to purchase the forms.
The four-man adhoc delegates in each of the positions from each ward making it twelve adhoc delegates from every ward in the stated were also meant to pay for their forms at N10,000 each for a position. It then means that those who bought forms for the four positions – House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate and Governorship spent N40,000 each adhoc delegate which was paid to the party coffers. From a random calculation, Imo State aspirants under the platform of APGA in a whole must have paid a whooping sum of over N4 billion into the coffers of the party at the national level.
It was however, expected that having collected this much from one state alone, efforts should have been made to organize a hitch-free, credible and fair primaries, so that howsoever emerges as the flag bearer in each position others would have leant their support. But, unfortunately it did not happen so, and the outcome is the current crisis, implosion that is rocking the party presently. Over fourteen governorship aspirants led by Dr. Ikedi Ohakim have gone to court seeking redress of the anomaly that pervaded the party after the aborted primaries.
By hand picking a candidate and presenting same to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the governorship of the state and other positions only reduced the integrity of the party in the state and ignited public outcry leading the other aspirants to demand that the right thing should be done or their money returned back to them. The name of APGA in Imo state today reverberates violence, cheating, recklessness and what have you.
As dynamic as politics is, it has opened another vista of opportunity for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state to reap from the crisis that are rocking the other major political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and APGA. To this end, some critical stakeholders of these other parties are now pledging support and to work for the successful of the PDP’s governorship candidate in the state, Chief Emeka Ihedioha.
To this extent, fresh political alignment towards 2019 Imo governorship tilts towards the way of the PDP governorship candidate, Emeka Ihedioha as one of the frontline All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the state, Uche Onyeagocha, had agreed to work for the victory of Ihedioha in the governorship election.
This strategic alliance, according to Onyeagocha was to promote excellence, fairness and credibility as experienced in the recent primaries held across the country including Imo State by the PDP as against the charade done by APGA as well as the crisis rocking the APC over her candidates in the state.
Onyeagocha is one of the angry governorship aspirants in APGA in Imo State who opposed the manner the party handled it’s governorship primary. The former federal lawmaker has been vocal against the primary and is known for his vocal attacks on the APC.
He spoke at his Obinze in Owerri West LGA country home when he received Ihedioha who came to pay him homage as a prominent leadership in the state. He said, his resolved to support the PDP governorship candidate was because the process that produced him as the party governorship candidate was transparent, free and fair compared to the political rigamarole that occurred in APGA and APC.
Onyeagocha, the first federal legislator of APGA extraction between 1999 and 2003 described the former Senator that represented Imo North (Okigwe) senatorial district, also a governorship aspirant, Ifeanyi Araraume, Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano and APGA National Chairman, Victor Oye as political grabbers for the way they manipulated the last governorship primary election of the party in the state.
He said, “It can never be well with the trio. They messed up our primary election after keeping us for three days under the scotching sun without achieving any meaningful result. No fewer than four hotels were used as collation centers. What they did in the end was to announce Ararume, thewinner. That style is not APGA’s style from the much I knew. Owing to that, I am no longer a member of that their APGA, but of the New APGA (nAPGA) and we in the nAPGA can never allow Ararume to become or parade himself as APGA’s candidate. Let me tell you, Ararume is worse than Rochas Okorocha. We will not allow this our dear state to enter into the hands of political jobbers
“Just look at what they did to Dim Chukwemeka Ojukwu’s wife, Bianca. It was only in Anambra South, where Bianca wanted to represent at the senate that they allowed primary election to be conducted and in the end, they intentionally dashed her hope by giving the ticket to another person, who is related to one of them. They will suffer for the sins they all committed for they sold our party out. God is watching”, he stated.
Similarly, Onyeagocha frowned at Governor Rochas Okorocha on his style of governance of the state and described him as an “evil man”.
“How can a governor be openly interested in the acquisition of valued properties for himself, constructing magnificent storey buildings of no economic relevance to the state in the metropolis and all the 27 council areas of the state? There are ones he constructed in the bushes, which are presently harbouring reptiles and rodents among others, all for the sake of retiring money.
“Yes, I was part of his government at a time but when I saw his evil political calculations, I decided on my own to pull out. Rochas is not a straight-forward man. He is dubious. One important piece of advice I am given you my brother, Ihedioha is to ensure that he (Okorocha) is jailed and relieved of his properties immediately you become the governor. Another governor succeeding Okorocha will suffer because the state is finished”, Onyeagocha added.
He sternly contended that it was the turn of Owerri zone to produce the next governor of the state, adding that Orlu zone had governed for 16 years, Okigwe zone, four years while Owerri had only 18 months.
In the same vein, some of the executives of the Imo State Chapter of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) condemned the shoddy manner the State Chairman and National Working Committee (NWC) of the party handled the primary election to various positions for the 2019 general elections, and at the same time passed a vote of no confidence on the State chairman, Peter Ezeobi and thereby suspended him indefinitely.
In his place, the State deputy Chairman, Chima Nwosu was mandated to take over the affairs of the party in order to forestall sanity and to make sure that their members do not decamp to other parties in the face of the crisis confronting the party at the moment.
They however dismissed the national reconciliation committee headed by the party’s Vice Presidential candidate, Jerry Chukwueke as they described the committee as “an effort on illegality since those who set it up were the ones that created the problem ab intio.
In a three-page document read out to the press by the State Deputy Publicity Secretary of the party, Kenneth Onyenagorom and signed by over ten members of the exco and local government chairmen accused Ezeobi of running the party aground which had made the party to lose focus and key members due to maladministration and financial rascality.
They recalled that the party in 2015 general election recorded very poor result without winning any single elective position in the state and credited it to the mismanagement and high-handedness of the state chairman.
According to the statement, needless to say that Ezeobi’s primary goal is the money he makes from the party and not to win elections for the party, hence you have consistently harassed everyone who expressed a different opinion from yours.
“Recall that you started your regime with the suspension of several local government chairmen of the party for flimsy excuses just to weaken the party. Such local government chairmen include Mrs. Franca Okolie of Ideato South, Thomas Nnanna of Mbaitoli, Elly Eke of Ngor Okpala, Rogers Owulezi of Ahiazu Mbaise and Ben Ude of Owerri West.
“Your refusal to allow the state financial secretary of the party, Jude Ekejiuba to record the financial transactions of the party makes you the receiver, dispenser and record keeper for all financial transactions of the party. You have refused to account for the hundreds of millions of Naira raised by the party through mandatory payment for party cards.
“You unilaterally ordered that 35 percent of all monies raised at any level of the party be paid to you without records. Recall that 26 governorship aspirants paid at least N1 million each for the purchase of party cards, Fifteen senatorial aspirants paid about N1million each, fifty eight House of Representatives aspirants paid N300,000 per local government under their constituency, whereas over two hundred and fifty House of Assembly aspirants paid N250,000 each.
“We are also mindful of the over N50 million raised by aspirants for ward tours. Over N80 million was raised by aspirants at the Rockview Hotel and another N10 million was paid by over a hundred thousand would-be adhoc delegates. This amounts to over N400 million.
On the weight of these allegations, they however, apologized to APGA members and other Imo citizens to forgive what Ezeobi and his cohorts did by smearing the name of the party to the mud.
With all these grievances put together, APGA in Imo state may not recover from the blow meted to her former chieftains who have now found new love elsewhere especially in the PDP for presenting a credible candidate and a person with the capacity to transform the state come 2019 election.