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Southeast APC moves to confront challenges ahead of 2019

By Lawrence Njoku, Southeast Bureau Chief   |   17 October 2016   |   3:56 am
APC National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun

APC National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun

• Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra chapters in disarray
• Abia finds bearing

One challenge the All Progressives Congress (APC) would have to surmount in the South East is her rejection in the last general elections by the people of the zone. Though, the party won the Presidential election, it was not made possible by the support and votes it secured from the zone.

A number of persons hold the view that the APC did not have a good outing in the South East, despite the claims by some of her leaders that the party in the zone fought against impossible odds.

Statistics however show that apart from Imo State where the serving Governor Rochas Okorocha won a after re-run; the re-run election for Okigwe Senatorial constituency won by Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu; two House of Representatives seats for Ideato North and South as well as Obowu/Ihite Uboma and other State House of Assembly seats, the party did not win election in any other state in the zone.

The dominance notwithstanding, APC appears very much unsettled in the state due to the alleged unpopular programmes and policies of the state government, which has drawn criticisms from the people.

Sources close to the party in the zone believed that the hurry with which the party was put together in the zone and the crisis that followed were responsible for the abysmal performance that
trailed it in the last elections.

Indeed, it entered into the 2015 elections in tatters following crisis that bedeviled the members in the five South East states.

The contention for offices, allegations of marginalization, scramble for resources among other internal rifts by members of the parties that merged conspired to ensure that the party did not do enough groundwork before the election.

Although the elections had come and gone, some misgivings thrown up in the various states at the formation of the party has persisted. In Enugu for instance, divisions has continued among its members since the end of the elections. After surviving the pre-election crisis, the next hurdle to be crossed was who among them should be appointed in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. This persisted despite some appointments from the fold made by Mr. President.

Recently, the Ben Nwoye-led leadership of the party in the state issued a suspension order on its Vice Chairman (East), Chief Anike Nwoga over alleged anti-party activities including denigrating the party and its leaders before the press among others.

Anike’s suspension came months after Deputy Chairman, Adulphus Ude and Woman leader, Queen Offor had been handed similar sanctions by the leadership.

Besides, Nwoye has continued to disagree with the Publicity Secretary of the party, Mrs. Kate Offor; the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu; and Presidential Assistant, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku on various issues bothering on the party.

The appointments made by President Buhari that took some of them away from Enugu appear to have reduced the rivalry among the members, but attendants at various party activities readily indicate how factionalized the party has become in the state. The crisis in the Enugu chapter has been made worse with former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, former governor of Old Anambra state, Chief Jim Nwobodo and former Minister of Power, Prof Barth Nnaji joining the party.

The trio, who hail from Enugu East Senatorial zone (same as Nwoye) are allegedly being backed by Nwoye to control the party. That probably explains why Nwoga raised alarm recently that some of them that joined the party were “liability, having lost their political influence”. He had accused Nwoye of working for the PDP, stressing: “With Nwoye as chairman, our party can never win election in 2019”.

Ebonyi state chapter is also not immune to the crisis. While those contending in Enugu chapter have not dragged themselves to court, the rift in Ebonyi state chapter where two persons – Ben Nwobasi and Pastor Eze Nwachukwu Eze are laying claims to the leadership took the party members to court.

The Guardian gathered that the battle over the soul of the party dates back to its early days. The emergence of Nwobasi as the state chairman against the wishes of some stalwarts of the party became a major factor that fuelled the crisis. In what looked like the first major coup, Eze, who was his deputy, supplanted him after his suspension in a meeting. Nwobasi went to court to stop Eze from parading himself as the chairman of the party in the state where few weeks ago the matter was thrown out by the court.

With that, a meeting was summoned to confirm the leadership of Eze. Those who attended the Enugu zonal meeting last week purportedly convened by Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonna Onu said he (Eze) was ratified at the meeting amid claims by Nwobasi that he remains the state chairman of the party.

Nwobasi, who still lay claim to the chairmanship of the party, is reportedly enjoying the support of former Minister of health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, business man, Chinedu Ogar and several former members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who moved into the Labour Party (LP) with the former governor, Martin Elechi but rejoined APC, following Elechi’s inability to enthrone his successor through LP.

Although Onu has not made his stance public on the saga, sources said his body language suggests that Eze has his backing, arguing that the way the crisis has advanced, firm decisions were required to enable the party come out of it.

Only recently, the battle over the soul of the party in Abia state between two factions led by the immediate past interim national vice chairman, South East of the party, Dr. Nyerere Anyim and a former PDP chieftain who defected to the APC, Chief Ikechi Emenike was resolved. At a peace meeting called by the national Vice Chairman, Emma Enukwu the two factions agreed to work together and pursue a common goal of taking control of Abia in 2019. The peace meeting brought together some leaders and stakeholders of the party, including Emenike, Senator Nkechi Nwogu, Fabian Nwankwo, Mr. Acho Obioma and Anyim, among others, who resolved to bury their differences.

The harmonization saw Chief Donatus Nwankpa retaining his office as the state chairman, while Okonkwo, chairman of the other faction, now functions as the party’s Zonal Organizing Secretary.

In Anambra, the party has failed to fly despite bigwigs like Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, National Auditor, George Muoghalu, former governor, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Dr Sharon Ikeazor, Chief Barth Nwibe, and Chief Nkwo Nnabuchi among others in her fold.

Sources said the party would require looking beyond the present crop of leaders if it must make electoral impacts as well as entrench her roots firmly in the state’s politics. It is perhaps part of the effort to address the challenges and position the party in the zone for electoral victories ahead of the 2019 general elections that made its leaders in the zone gather at the
weekend in Enugu. The Guardian gathered that the meeting which was the first since the conclusion of the 2015 general elections by the zonal caucus was summoned at the instance of its National Vice Chairman, Southeast Zone, Chief Emma Eneukwu.

The meeting was attended by the Minister for Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu; Senator Ben Uwajumogu; National Organizing Secretary, Osita Izunaso; National Auditor, Chief George Moughalu; Board of Trustees (BoT) representing South East women, Mrs. V.N Chukwuani; and former Senators Ifeanyi Ararume, Chris Nwankwo, Fidel Okoro, Anthony Agbo as well as all the National officers of the party from the South East, prominent party leaders, past National Assembly
members etc.

The meeting was said to have discussed the state of the party in the zone and resolved that the first step was to look inwards to address the plethora of infighting and other discordant tunes that had trailed it, stressing that there was every need to begin the healing process early.

Another source disclosed that social insecurity and deplorable condition of Federal roads in the South East topped the agenda of the meeting. Although they failed to disclose how they want to tackle the challenges that have fuelled disharmony in the party, in a communiqué signed by Eneukwu and the secretary, Jonah Mkpuruka, they said: “We reiterate our zone’s implicit confidence in the ability of the Federal Government under the leadership of President Buhari to return Nigeria on the path of economic growth soonest.

“The APC South East commends President Muhamadu Buhari for constituting electoral and constitution reform committee with a quest to entrench a transparent and credible electoral process in Nigeria. We believe in the ability of Senator Ken Nnamani as the chairman of this committee to give Nigerians the much desired credible electoral reforms.”

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