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Soludo’s chance to grow APGA

By Ifeanyi Chukwu Afuba
13 May 2022   |   3:44 am
Sir: The political party, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) that produced Charles Soludo is in dire need of a push. Nobody but Soludo, APGA’s only governor, is better placed to reposition the party.

[FILES] Governor Soludo at the swearing in ceremony

Sir: The political party, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) that produced Charles Soludo is in dire need of a push. Nobody but Soludo, APGA’s only governor, is better placed to reposition the party. And no time, no setting but the unfolding 2023 election process, could be more auspicious for strengthening the party and expanding its reach.

Against the background of its 20 years of existence and the bold vision behind its formation, APGA has not fared well. Its stunted growth can be located in three main factors, namely, the nature of Nigeria’s electoral contest; management of internal party democracy and national presence, appeal and engagement.

Every opposition party has to contend with the consequences of our electoral environment. From the drafting of electoral laws through the conduct of polls in the field, to prosecution of election petitions, the odds are stacked against opposition parties and their candidates. In these circumstances of uneven playing field, APGA had its governorship victories in Enugu State in 2003, Imo State in 2007 and Abia State in 2015 reversed. The high cost of election litigation aside, the prevalence of technicality – influenced judgments, compounds the crisis of our electoral process. The way forward in the quest for free and fair polls is significantly promised in the key recommendation of the Justice Mohammed Uwais Panel on Electoral Reform. APGA should seek the joint action of other parties toward divesting the Presidency the power of appointing the INEC leadership as well as financial control of the electoral body.

Internal party democracy is a problem for all political parties. The rash of leadership litigations, rival factions and defection from one party to another is traceable to the investment conception of politics. APGA had its share of this derailment in 2019 with scandalous primaries, the worst in the history of the party. The grave error of allowing an ad hoc group interfere in the statutory function of party leadership, and most regrettably, to the extent of assuming veto power on the primaries, should never be contemplated again.

However, the issue of national presence, appeal and engagement is fundamental to the realisation of APGA’s potential. There are two parts to it: 

The first is the localisation of the party in the southeast in general and Anambra State, in particular. A situation where the national chairman of the party, chairman, Board of Trustees and potential presidential candidate are all from the southeast, nay, Anambra State is unhealthy. There is need to open up the party to other parts of the country. This requires at the very least, taking the chairmanship of the party to another geo-political zone at expiration of the current tenure. Other measures to create a sense of belonging outside the southeast should be developed.

On the other side, APGA’s abandonment of the presidential polls since 2011 has been the single, greatest tragedy of the party. This misguided decision has robbed the party of national presence, denied it a critical voice and identity. It was a costly miscalculation not participating in the most consequential political programme. The 2011, 2015 and 2019 elections were lost opportunities for membership and followership gains.
Adoption of presidential candidates of other parties has consistently led to APGA’s loss of Senate and House of Representatives polls. The effective way of containing this threat is for APGA to have a good presidential candidate and stand by him all the way. A good performance in the presidential contest will bring APGA into reckoning.

Ifeanyi Chukwu Afuba.

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