The current vogue in Anambra State’s political arena is to be counted as a member of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA). In this report, LEADERSHIP WEEKEND’s correspondent for the state, DAVID-CHYDDY ELEKE tries to find out why and what is propelling the crave.
That the ruling All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) has come of age is a fact. That it has strengthened its roots in Anambra State beyond being uprooted with a casual effort is a bigger fact. Just as the saying goes that gold cannot be deemed to be truly genuine if it has not passed through the furnace, APGA and some of its key leaders have passed through the furnace more than once. Today they have generated a synergy to be reckoned in the state.
Recently, APGA seems to be attracting new members to it the same way a cube of sugar would, insects. Before the 2011 general elections, the party had attracted lots of members who left their previous parties to join the APGA camp, but that was not unexpected as the same is usually registered during elections.
Ambitious politicians – given that Nigeria’s electoral system has no room for independent candidacy - usually look for political parties that will avail them their platform to accomplish their ambition.
Better still, many of the politicians who are already affiliated to other parties may have need to switch camp for pecuniary reasons. In this way, especially with an APGA governor, Mr. Peter Obi, several politicians led their supporters in thousands to declare for the party.
In almost all the declaration ceremonies attended, the politicians cited Governor Peter Obi as the reason for their quest to join APGA. Chief Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, a member of the House of Representatives who moved from the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), the platform on which she had the previous year sought to unseat Governor Peter Obi after she left PDP for it (PPA) in her declaration ceremony for APGA said that she was motivated by Obi’s poise to liberate the Igbo through a firm stand on APGA, despite being a loner.
She also said that Obi’s poise to deliver dividends of democracy motivated her to throw away the acrimony that existed between them as a result of the Anambra 2010 governorship election to pitch camp with him, if only to build the state and provide a strong platform for Ndigbo.
These remarks were not unexpected, especially as it was viewed that after solely funding PPA in the state for her election, returning to the National Assembly on the same party is near impossible; not with PPA going extinct then, and the problem of multiple candidature in PDP which was her likely choice outside APGA.
So her showers of eulogies for APGA and Obi were not taken seriously. Several other politicians joined APGA during the build up to last year’s election; like Ekwunife, they cited Obi as their reason, but were also not taken seriously because their move may have been to curry favour from Obi and ride on his back to different elective positions.
Elections are over, but the yearning to join APGA is not over. Politicians within the state have continued to show their willingness to jump ship to APGA.
Though the 2014 governorship election is way off, those who seek to succeed Mr. Peter Obi have been making overtures to him and the party (APGA), with the hope of getting his support but some politicians in the state whose elections have already been conducted and who emerged victorious on the platform of other parties are still craving to be counted as members of the APGA.
Two months ago, the number of members of APGA was swelled at a reception ceremony organized for the member representing Anambra West in the state House of Assembly, Honourable Victor Ejiofor as he dumped his former party, ACN, the vehicle with which he arrived at the Assembly.
During the reception, Ejiofor announced that he had studied the state’s political terrain and come to the conclusion that Governor Peter Obi needs to be helped to move the state forward, instead of attacking him. He stated that he has viewed Obi’s style of politics, his gentle mien and calm disposition to issues, coupled with a huge drive to move Anambra State to the next level and concluded that he will move to APGA to complement the governor’s efforts.
While fielding questions from journalists, Ejiofor denied that he was poached by the leadership of the party on the behest of the state governor as a way of spiting his political rival, Senator Ngige. “My desire to join APGA is to help Governor Peter Obi move the state forward in terms of infrastructure and other developments.”
He stated that he is grateful to ACN for availing him their platform to contest and win a seat in the assembly, but the development of the state should not be played politics with.
Just one week after Ejiofor declared for APGA, another lawmaker on the platform of ACN, Barr. Mrs. Rita Maduagwu who represents Nnewi North state constituency stormed the APGA state office with her supporters. Her mission was to be admitted as a member of APGA and she thanked ACN for availing her their platform but stated that the time to join hands in the re-building of Anmbra was now.
She also cited Obi as the reason for her decision, and her desire to complement him by playing a role in the assembly to assist him in delivering good governance to the people of the state.
The big catch was however to come last two weeks, when the Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chinwe Nwaebili swore in five new members.
The five were candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who could not be sworn in at the inception of the House as a result of impending legal suits instituted in various courts as a result of intra-party feud in the party which resulted in the fielding of multiple candidates.
In a surprise move, two of the five members, Hon. John Olibie (Dunukofia) and Paulinus Onyeka (Ekwusigo) dramatically announced their withdrawal from their party(PDP), pitching tent with the state-led All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA) immediately.
Their declaration stunned both their supporters who came to witness the event as well as their fellow party men in the assembly who were already counting their gains with five new members to boost their negotiation strength in the house.
While reacting to their eventual swearing in, the members, Olibie and Onyeka like an already planned deal spoke with one voice, saying that they were poised to use their stay in the House of Assembly to add value to Anambra State by helping Governor Peter Obi who has shown considerable desire to move the state to another level in terms of development.
As the 2014 contest for the governorship position of the state draws near, LEADERSHIP WEEKEND gathered that several personalities including money bags have been making overtures at the party, with the hope that they would be fielded as the party’s flagbearer.
Investigations also showed that in the months ahead, politicians who have gotten assurance of a level playing ground in the primary election of the party would set the state aglow again as they declare their membership for the party. This, it is gathered, will be in preparation for the declaration of their governorship ambition.
For a party that was never given the chance in its formative stage, APGA through its resilience and that of its leaders have made policy statements in the country, and has now gained reckoning.
LEADERSHIP WEEKEND learnt that the growing profile of Governor Peter Obi in the politics of Nigeria is also very contributory to the height attained by the party.
Most of those wanting to use the platform of the party to seek the state’s governorship seat think APGA is the ideal party as Obi’s closeness to President Jonathan would make it easy for Obi to secure the president’s support to enthrone a governor for the state despite being a PDP president, and in return Obi will always lend his support to the federal government.