By Azubuike Ubani
The 2019 general election has come and gone and several parties have seized the seeming quietness in the political space to strengthen and patch up the perceived or identified cracks on their walls. But this, obviously, is not the case with the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), a party that once enjoyed the influence of the late legend, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, and the third largest in the country.
With the purported recent national election of its leadership, which saw the re-emergence of Chief Victor Oye as the chairman of the party, many political observers believed that the party would stabilise and move on to strategize and consolidate on its quest to for national spread. But contrary to this expectation, the party leadership and other stakeholders have been stewed in one avoidable crisis or the other. In an apparent move to reunite the party after what appeared to be a parallel NEC election in Owerri, Imo State and Awka, Anambra State, Chief Oye has continued to be distracted by the party’s 2019 controversial primary elections which should have since been left behind and the party allowed to move on, as it were.
There have been so much outcries about how the nominations and primary elections were conducted across the country, especially in the South-east. The nominations and primary election, some believe, were characterised by lack of transparency and bickering, which almost dragged the party, once regarded as the jewel of the East into great disrepute.
At the centre of the attacks is Chief Victor Oye amongst other party chieftains. This is to be expected since he is the National Chairman of the party. That is to say that Oye has been more at the receiving end of the attacks because of his position. What is always conveniently ignored or omitted in the entire narrative is that the exercise had several committees that took charge of different tasks at any point in time.
The recent attacks on the party’s chairman are, ironically, coming from the former chairman of the party and one term senator under its platform, Chief Victor Umeh. Chief Oye was accused by Umeh, among other things, of collecting huge amounts of money running into several millions from different governorship candidates of the party in Imo State, promising each of them the ticket. The allegations are overwhelming as well as puzzling. Chief Oye has denied his involvement in any of the allegations. Interestingly, other party top shots have come to his defence, and have rather accused Chief Umeh of an attempt to subvert the party after his failed senatorial ambition. Umeh has been described as being the least qualified person to play that hatchet role for a group of persons whose ultimate goal is to destroy APGA and make it impossible for Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, to pick a successor in 2022.
Writing on the issue recently, Ben Okafor, a prominent politician in Anambra said that Umeh is so morally bankrupt that he should hide his face in shame for taking up such “a demeaning task for a bunch of governorship aspirants in Imo State who thought that they could bamboozle their way during the primaries of last year.”
“They dumped APGA and defected to other parties before the general election. Okey Eze defected to SDP; Humphrey Anumudu joined Zenith Labour Party; and Ikedi Ohakim moved to Accord Party. As a founding member of APGA, I can close my eyes and tell you who Umeh really is. Apart from being wickedly mischievous, he is also rabidly selfish and callous.
“He cannot subscribe to anything that doesn’t give him at least 80 percent control. That was why he ran APGA like his private company for 12 years when he steered the affairs of the party as National Chairman,” he wrote.
Umeh was reminded of how he emerged as National Chairman by stabbing Chekwas Okorie in the back like Brutus, and aligned with Governor Peter Obi then to easily remove Okorie, and later Umeh, characteristically, turned the nozzle against Peter Obi. The party stalwarts said that by the time Peter Obi realised what was happening it was almost too late; and for him to secure his second term ticket, Obi was arm twisted into certain conditions that benefitted Umeh.
Umeh has been accused of engineering almost all the crises in APGA with the intention of making pecuniary gains from them. “Who caused the Ozo Nwabueze Okafor versus APGA crisis? He did. He planned to use the guy to remove Victor Oye as National Chairman. When Oye convened a meeting of NEC of the party in Awka in December 2016, where the expulsion of Nwabueze and five other dissidents (all Umeh’s acolytes) was ratified, Umeh openly sacrificed them having noticed that the tide was flowing against him. Till date, these expelled members have not forgiven Umeh.”
Recently, one of the founding members of APGA confirmed the continued media attacks on Chief Oye, the National Chairman of the party, as misplaced witch-hunt, admitting that it was strange that after the conclusion of the party’s primary election and the works of the party’s Reconciliation Committee in Imo and Anambra States, some people were still bent on distracting the leadership.
The chieftain said he had not seen where people who purchased nomination forms to contest primary election demanded refund after losing the delegates’ nomination, accusing the alleged aggrieved aspirants as enemies of the party, and adding that the direct attacks on the office of the national chairman were unnecessary, pitiable, wicked and totally uncalled for.
A prominent party chieftain who would not want his name mentioned or dragged into the media attacks, challenged whoever claimed to have grouse about the Chairman on the grounds of any misplaced trust to come with evidence and concrete proof or cease the attacks on the party leadership because they represent the spirit and body of the party, in its entirety. He said the Reconciliation Committee of the party that treated issues that arose from the primary elections did a thorough job by addressing all the issues and the specific concerns of the entire party leadership, but regretted that some people are still bent and determined to pull APGA down.
Some other staunch party members attributed the attacks on Chief Oye and his team simply to traducers emotionally and technically averse to his change mantra, and his achievements in three and half years he has been on the saddle. They see the attacks also as simply a gang-up against his second term bid and his eventual victory as the party’s Chairman, but advised Dr. Victor Oye to continue to think positively and learn to forgive all those desirous of pulling him down and, by extension,, APGA. Oye should learn some good lessons from these character assassinations and accept that a party, any party, can pick its pieces from its own ruins, instead of dwelling in destructive criticisms and pull-him-down syndrome, because at the end of the day, it’s the fabrics of the party that will tear and remain in tatters.
* Ubani lives in Aba, Abia State.