Anambra governorship race amid APGA’s divided house
Knowing which faction enjoys the backing of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) could make the difference in the coming poll. It is also the basis for schemes and counter schemes.
The APGA national chairman, Chief Edozie Njoku, alluded to the new scheme of things, when he reacted to the attack on former Governor of Central Bank, Professor Charles Soludo, revealing that the party plans to go into the November 6, Anambra guber poll as a united family.
While noting that violence has never characterized the party’s politics, the national chairman disclosed that the party plans to hold “an enlarged stakeholders’ meeting to remove every trace of internal wrangling within the party.”
Njoku told The Guardian that immediately after he was briefed about the ugly incident at Isuofia, he cut short his stay in Abuja and started reaching out to the party’s leaders in Anambra State.
He stated that Soludo, like many other APGA faithful, has indicated his interest to contest for the governorship in the forthcoming Anambra gubernatorial poll on the party platform.
His words: “We shall convene a meeting to address all internal party wrangling and squabbles. We must go into the coming Anambra election as one united, indivisible and impregnable family.
“However, it is pertinent to state unequivocally; that acts of violence of this nature are strange to the ideological foundation of APGA. They are unnatural and a total deviation from the ideals that we propagate as a party and a people. It is alien to APGA.”
Cloudy Nomination Process
ALTHOUGH Prof. Soludo has informed his people of his desire to contest the governorship poll, others like members representing Aguata Federal Constituency, Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, and former Special Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, have also announced their ambition to succeed Governor Willie Obiano as the next APGA governor in the state.
Following reports that the new APGA leadership would do things differently, more governorship aspirants have joined the race. They include members representing Orumba North and South Federal Constituency, Hon. Okwudili Ezenwankwo and Nnewi-born Damian Okolo.
But, following the cloudy scheme of things regarding the nomination process, especially the purchase of expression of interest and nomination forms, none of the aspirants could be said to have taken practical steps to activate their nomination.
Sir Victor Oye has continued to lay claims to APGA chairmanship despite court rulings that upheld the Owerri convention, which produced Chief Njoku.
In a pamphlet circulated to APGA faithful, Njoku traced the genesis of the court cases and their various outcomes, stressing that based on the party’s constitution, especially extant stipulations on the conduct of party convention, Oye is bent on causing confusion in the party.
Njoku urged APGA members to resolve that never again would a leadership like that of Oye’s preside over the affairs of APGA. He stated: “As we wait on the court and INEC to do the needful, it would be necessary for us to remain law-abiding and keep a reasonable distance away from Victor Oye.”
Njoku, therefore, cautioned members aspiring to contest the Anambra State governorship poll to follow the official path, even as he declared: “All expression and nomination forms bought outside the supervision of Chief Edozie Njoku, the AUTHENTIC National Chairman is at buyers’ risk. Our forms are out.
“We shall give Ndi Anambra a governorship primary that is not only transparent, credible, free, and fair, but above all, that is in line with the principles of our founding fathers of APGA. That’s the only way to keep the party together.”
On his part, Oye claims that he has the support of the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, pointing out that he appealed against the Federal High Court judgment that upheld Njoku’s election as APGA national chairman.
It was perhaps based on Oye’s insistence to challenge his election and the attempt to disrupt Soludo’s townhall meeting that Njoku decided to meet with various APGA stakeholders in Awka, yesterday, April 6, 2021.
Njoku told APGA faithful, “For those who may not know, the journey to the founding of our great party, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), actually began around the Easter period, concisely after the Good Friday Conclave by prominent Igbo citizens in business, academia, industry, religion, and politics.
“I am therefore elated that the journey to the rebirth of the emergent APGA is also taking root at this holy period. The historical background of APGA should challenge us to be alert and remain steadfast in pursuing our liberation ideology. APGA must at all times be at the forefront of every move towards inclusive democracy and rights of the vulnerable, oppressed, or marginalised.
“However, it is said that what happened recently in Isuofia community of Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, took place when one of our prominent members, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, was addressing his people on the imperatives of reawakening the APGA philosophy of Being Your Brothers’ Keeper.”
The crucial challenge before APGA as it plans for the November 6; poll is how to unite the various tendencies and interest groups within the party.
Although Governor Obiano has in principle identified with Soludo’s aspiration, the governor’s wife, Ebele, has tactically kept her support for Mr. Stanley Uzochukwu low key, due to what insiders said is her decision to allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to interpret the position of the law concerning the party’s national leadership.
Governor Obiono’s kitchen cabinet is said to be uncomfortable with Oye’s leadership because insiders said they see Oye’s tenure as an extension of Victor Umeh’s era, during which Obiono was not allowed to exercise full political authority.
Not that alone, sources disclosed that the idea of getting a national chairman outside Anambra State was the first family’s gambit to ensure that their successor does not face the distractions from “overbearing party leaders.”
During his meeting with Anambra APGA stakeholders, Chief Edozie Njoku, took time to chronicle some of the shortcomings of the past administrations.
He stated: “My esteemed party faithful, you will agree with me that in the past two years, our great party, APGA, has been enmeshed in a morass of intractable legal battles over who occupies the office of authentic National Chairman.
“We have taken time to chronicle the entire gamut of legal fireworks and court judgments in a pamphlet, which would be made public after this address. This is in line with my belief that the people deserve, not only to know but also to be fully informed about developments in their party. That is also the kernel of representative democracy.
“You are not unaware that what is in contention in APGA is the desperate attempt by those who do not want the progress and growth of the party beyond serving as a platform for their personal aggrandizement.”
Njoku told the stakeholders about “the obvious shortcomings of the Oye administration, including nefarious acts of selling the party structures to the highest bidder, conducting illegal convention with delegates, whose tenure had expired and penchant for violating and even suspending the APGA Constitution to serve narrow, but inimical purposes.”
He, however, noted that beyond “these obvious shortcomings and personal failings, we are aware that Oye is not the problem of APGA, what seems to be troubling APGA more is our collective refusal to stand up against Oye’s antics and remind him and his clique that no one man or group of few persons own the party.”
As the dates set aside for the nomination of candidates by INEC draws nearer, APGA is about confronting its worst nightmares. By who and when would the sale of expression of interest and nomination forms begin?
Although Oye has remained silent about the sale of forms, Njoku used the opportunity of his meeting with APGA stakeholders to caution all those aspiring to contest the governorship poll to follow the official path.
Oye, through his counsel, Sly Ezeokenwa, accused Njoku of being a non-member of APGA, stressing that the national chairman was expelled from the party. Njoku retorted that it is naïve and primitive for Oye and his co-travelers to allege that he (Chief Edozie Njoku) is not a member of APGA, adding, that is the usual route Oye and Co take whenever they arrive at the crucial juncture, where facts and law intersect.
“It is an indubitable fact that right from 2002, I have remained among the founding members of APGA. I also contested for the Onitsha North and South Federal Constituency seat when Chief Ezeokenwa, who is incidentally Barr. Sly Ezeokenwa’s father was chairman of Onitsha South Local Government Area chapter of APGA.
“Chief Ezeokenwa, who is a friend, actually handled and disbursed logistics and funds on behalf of Chief Edozie Njoku in the said election. Oye and co should ask questions or search records to see that Chief Edozie Njoku was APGA’s first Vice National Chairman (South East),” Njoku added.
It would be recalled that APGA agreed to hold Ward, LGA, and State congresses on 2nd, 3rd, and 6th of May, 2019; to precede the end of the tenure of the party executives on 15th of May 2019 and the National Convention on May 31, 2019, at Owerri.
The Ward, LGAs, and State congresses of the party were actually held in all the 36 States of the federation in 2019 as agreed. However, it was gathered that Oye and his group, after realising that the congresses didn’t produce preferred candidates to facilitate their automatic reelection, quickly decided to hold an emergency NEC meeting to grant them powers to conduct fresh Congresses.
Surprised by the outcome of the congresses and in a face-saving manouvre, Oye and his group were said to have hurriedly held an emergency NEC meeting on May 14, 2019, at the Government House, Awka.
At the hurriedly convened NEC meeting, the BoT was allegedly dissolved, while the congresses conducted at the Wards, LGAs, and State on May 2, 3, and 6, 2019 respectively were cancelled.
In continuation of the fresh, but arbitrary process, Oye and his clique decided to schedule fresh Wards, LGAs, and States’ congresses for May 19, 21, and 23, 2019. But, they (Oye and his group) forgot that the tenures of the party executives that were to conduct the Congress elections at the Ward, LGA, and State levels had expired on May 15, 2019.
Piqued by Oye’s intransigence and attempt to obfuscate the constitutional violations, the party’s BOT approached Federal High Court Kwale and got a restraining order barring Oye and Co from conducting any form of the convention at Awka.
Based on the fact that the Convention Committee had already been constituted, the Convention Committee went on with their assigned duty at Concorde Hotel, Owerri, and produced Chief Edozie Njoku, as duly elected National Chairman of APGA and the entire National Executives as its members.
The Kwal1 Court held that the Oye-led exco lacked the constitutional rights, powers, and privileges to go ahead with any form of convention, having derived its powers from an illegally convened NEC meeting. The Order of Court promptly halted the execution of every decision emanating from the purported NEC meeting.
Agitated by the Kwali Court Order, Samson Olalere and others, acting on the promptings of Oye ran to High Court Ibadan to give the planned illegal convention some sense of legitimacy. Armed with the Ibadan High Court order, Oye and Co went ahead to organise a parallel Convention at Awka, without duly elected delegates; notwithstanding the fact that the party’s BOT had obtained an Ex parte Order stopping the Convention from going ahead.
The hanging puzzle before parties to the APGA imbroglio is, whether the first family surreptitiously worked for the emergence of a new APGA national leadership or there is an unseen hand working to ensure that the party does not field a governorship candidate in Anambra gubernatorial poll.
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