The Challenge of Repositioning APGA

The Challenge of Repositioning APGA

As the All Progressives Grand Alliance gets set to elect a new national chairman on May 31, David-Chyddy Eleke writes that the party needs one who can prepare it for greater achievements.

For decades now, the All Progressives Grand Alliance has stood strong as one of Nigeria’s dominant political parties, taking the third position as the most popular.

Despite the seeming dominance, the party has still remained unable to add a second governor to Anambra for years now, but lucky enough, it has continually produced

governors for Anambra state, who are setting the pace for development in the state.

Successive national chairmen of the party have done well in steering the ship of the party.

On May 31, the current chairman of the party,  Victor Ike Oye, will hand over to a new chairman. Oye is reputed to have taken the party far, especially with some ground breaking achievements.

These include the continued unity of the party, the building of the National headquarters of the party and the very imposing South East regional secretariat of the party which is sited in Awka, the Anambra State capital.

The national secretariat of the party is said to be the first of its kind, as many political parties, which are thought to be more dominant, even with more political office holders are still paying rent in Abuja.

Also, during his tenure too, Oye was able to produce two governors. These are the re-election of then Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano in 2017 and the election of incumbent governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo in 2021.

He also fought legal battles totaling 215 in all, making him the national chairman that has fought the most legal battles in the country, to keep his party united.

The above are some of the landmark achievements that the new national chairman of the party would have to sustain while also setting his own records.

These challenges may include the continued cohesion of the party, and the challenge of making inroad into other states, first in the South East, and beginning from this year’s governorship election in Imo State, and then in 2027 general elections and moving to other regions of the country.

There are no fewer than four persons running for the national chairmanship of the party. They include Hon Ben Nwankwo, a former three-time federal lawmaker;  Barrister Sly Ezeokenwa, a sitting commissioner in Anambra State and former legal adviser of the party; Chief Norbert Obi, current state chairman of the party in Anambra and Barrister Tony Ifeanya.

Some party members have insisted that the party needs a pragmatic, dynamic leader who has a 21 century mentality, to be able to drive her in a tech-driven world like what we have today.

Many party members who spoke to THISDAY said Hon Ben Nwankwo fits the bill as that chairman that can drive the party to the level needed.

Beyond the challenges mentioned above that the new national chairman of the party will grapple with, there is also the Governor Chukwuma Soludo factor. For a state which has produced a governor in the mould of Soludo, who is known as a public intellectual, and who is the leader of the party, APGA will need someone in the mould of the Governor: a thinker, a creative personality and an innovative person to complement him in taking the party to a whole new level.

A foundation member of the party, Barrister Joe Ezeani, a former transition chairman of Onitsha South Local Government Area said: “That is where the wealth of experience and personality of Hon Ben Nwankwo will be needed. He is far ahead of those who are in the race with him.

“APGA is a peaceful party, which is more or less like a brotherhood, so in this coming convention, we may not be looking to see ballot boxes and ballot papers being distributed to vote, it will rather be an affirmation kind of thing, and our hope is that party members, and most importantly the governor who is the leader of our party will know and recognize the need to support someone who will complement his efforts of taking the party to a new level.”

Another respondent, Hon Emeka Ezenyi said: “The party in considering who should lead us next should look at the antecedents of those running for the position. What were the past positions they held, how did they manage in such positions, who are they, what are they capable of? These are vital questions, because we must send people who even beyond steering the ship of our party, when they go to places alongside chairmen of other political parties, they will not be intimidated. I personally believe that APGA needs to harness the talent of Hon Ben Nwankwo at this point in time, to be able to reposition our party.

“Ben Nwankwo is a man I have sat with, and I have listened to him and seen the passion he has for this party. Beyond APGA, he has been a leader in other political parties, and we are sure he has the requisite experience that can help him take our party to a new level. He is a scholar, an intellectual, a top politician and also a great tactician. If you watch some of the moves our governor, Prof Soludo has made since he became the governor, you will know too that he is not a boy in the area of politics. That is what we need in this party, and bringing in Ben Nwankwo as National Chairman will just be a great move to complement the governor in the reforms he seeks.

“Everything is about smart thinking. For example, I have sat and discussed with Nwankwo over his dream for APGA, and you will hear him talk about how technology can be deployed to change a lot of things in the party. He has talked about innovative way of party registration number, which is using each member’s phone number as their registration number. He has talked about digitization of the party in such a way that carrying files around may no longer be necessary. These could be done through the redesigning of the party’s website to accommodate many new features.”

As the date for the convention draws near, one may ask who the man, Ben Nwankwo is? Dr. Ben Nwankwo is a Public Administration and Leadership Development scholar with vast experience in the field of governance, Performance and HR Management.

He had at various times been commissioner in Anambra State, manning very sensitive offices. He was a member of the National Assembly for 12 years and chaired several committees there. He was while in the National Assembly elected the Vice President of the All Africa Legislative Summit.

He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Administration and Local Government, a fellow of the International Institute of Chartered Management Consultants. He is an expert consultant in leadership, innovation and change management.

In a publication titled: My Articles Of Hope…A Solution-Based Agenda To: Re-Grow, Re-Brand & Ascend, which was sighted by THISDAY, and believed to be his manifesto, Nwankwo was quoted as saying: “As a chairman committed to the success of our party, I am excited to present my Pro Growth Agenda with a triple strategy of Regrow, Rebrand, and Ascend. Together, we can build a stronger, more inclusive, and merit-based party that empowers all members to achieve their personal and collective aspirations.

“My objective is therefore to commit my enterprise, knowledge, talent, experience and professional capabilities as a member of an inspired team, to work for our collective greatness through positive contributions and performance in driving our continent to borderless opportunities through friendship, peace and co-operation, operating within the framework norms and standards of the global community.”

As the date of the convention draws near, many members of the party believe that with a party like the Labour Party (LP), striving to place itself as the third force in the Nigerian political space, and with the face of the party being an Anambra indigene (Mr Peter Obi), the choice of who leads APGA, will determine whether the party will sustain it’s dominance, especially in Anambra, or not.

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