From Osberoha Uche Osibe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This is not the best of time for the former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi. His decision to dump the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) generally dubbed an Igbo Party and on which platform he achieved his political visibility and relevance for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has not gone down well with many Nigerians especially his Igbo kinsmen to whom he swore to live and die with APGA.
The youths of APGA numbering about 5,000 until it was beefed up by other infiltrating sympathizers could not hide their dissatisfaction with Obi’s defection when they stormed the grave of the deceased Igbo and APGA leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu Ikemba 1 at his country home at Umudim, in Nnewi, the industrial nerve centre of Anambra State, a fortnight ago to invoke his spirit against Obi over his defection from APGA to PDP in what he claimed was “the need to be a competitor and not a spectator in national affairs.”
Former governor Obi who against reported oath he took not to leave APGA so long as he was in politics and not to seek elective offices to enable him return to and revive his ailing businesses a fortnight ago, hosted PDP big wigs at his Niger Drive, Onitsha residence to confirm his defection from APGA to PDP. But penultimate Tuesday, no fewer than 50,000 persons took to the streets in the industrial city of Nnewi to protest Obi’s defection, forcing markets to shut down for hours as they marched from the DCC premises near Nkwo Nnewi to the residence of Ikemba Nnewi in protest.
The groups included, APGA stakeholders, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youths, U-AYA youths, United Youth Assembly, APGA Solidarity Movement, SUGs, All Anambra Youths, and ASATU Youth wing. On hand to receive the protesting youths apart from Emeka Ojukwu junior included the party executives in the state led by Akunwatan Mike Kwentoh.
Addressing the youths at the Council headquarters, the son of the Late APGA leader, Chief Emeka Ojukwu Junior welcomed and thanked them forremembering his late father by coming to lay their complaints and formally protest the recant of the former governor Peter Obi at his grave side.
Inviting the youths to follow him to late Dim’s mausoleum he noted “in Igbo land, the dead lives on, how much more the great Ikemba.” Ojukwu junior thanked all for the plan to visit the tomb of his father, associating with the protest march as according to him, “ it is important that the whole world know what is happening.’ The youths who trekked back to the Ojukwu’s tomb chanting war song, wailing and lamenting Obi’s disgraceful move, sought for transfer of the mantle of leadership from Obi to governor Willie Obiano.
At Ojukwu’s compound, the State Chairman of APGA, Chief Kwentoh who was the first person to speak, chanted praises for Ojukwu’s spirit at his grave side, Kwentoh told the protesters that they had the right to express their feelings in orderly manner in line with the APGA Spirit of Onye aghana nwaneya, and assured that the party was strong and determined like never before to sustain the legacy of the late leader. He thanked the late Igbo leader for leading the Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano, to a successful election and court victory. Speaking in an emotion-laden voice, Chief Kwentoh expressed disappointment that one of them, Mr Obi, whom he said Ojukwu had recommended as his last wish had disappointed the masses and Igbos in general, adding that Ojukwu would not be happy in his grave.
In his opening remarks, the State Chairman of APGA,Chief Mike Kwentoh gave reason why APGA was identifying with the protest march, bemoaning a situation where former governor Obi rose on the crest of the party only to abandon it and seek for his selfish interest, describing it asdeceit and sabotage. He further regretted that former governor Obi swore with his names, that of his wife and children that he would never quit APGA but had betrayed the party with his defection to PDP. Chief Kwentoh noted that APGA provided a political party platform for Obi to govern the State for 8 years, after which he dumped it against his vow allegedly in his name and that of his households. describing it as sabotage. He invoked the spirit of Ikemba to hearken to the need of APGA and show them the way to follow after Obi’s defection, adding that the protest was for the late Ojukwu to revoke the ‘Ofo’ an Igbo symbol of leadership and authority he bequeathed to Ojukwu and transfer same to Obiano.
An APGA Chieftain, Emeka Nwosu who spoke at the occasion pointed out that the exit of former governor Obi was a prophesy foretold accusinghim of playing politics of deceit, impoverishment and grandstanding. “He is a man full of deceit; He is a cancer in APGA’s bone. For me, it is good riddance to bad rubbish. His exit calls for celebration because leadership is not all about selfishness.” He stated that people have come to realize politics of impoverishment and self-centredness the former governor was playing adding that, “with his exit, APGA will now be very solid and will now fight together and honestly as an Igbo party.”
The Youth Leader and Chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth, Hon. Tony Uche Ezekwelu recalled how the late Ojukwu after spear-heading theformation of APGA termed the party as a vehicle Igbos need to advance their political cause and interests. Hon. Ezekwelu recalled how the former governor Obi was brought to the Eze-Igbo, for the first time, by the APGA National Chairman Chief Victor Umeh prior the election of 2003 and noted that the then Peter Obi was nurtured to get attributes that would enable him lead the state, only to abandon the ship in spite of all the promises he made to the late Dim Ojukwu and Igbos. Hon. Ezekwelu who had a brief stint in the State House of Assembly as a law maker pointed out that it was the late Ojukwu who stood behind the nomination of Obi, who he described as a hitherto unknown quantum, as APGA flag bearer after introducing him on August 119, 2003 and supported Obi until he recovered his stolen mandate in court.
According to him, the late Ikemba at the risk of his ailing health stormed APGA rallies in 2010 and raised Obi’s hand as a political son and wooed voters to support Obi’s second term bid as his last wish, on account of which he said the masses voted for Obi, the APGA candidate. He stated that following Obi’s rejection of APGA as a party, the party and Ndi Igbo would reject him. In a similar vein, U-AYA group, a vibrant youth force in APGA, through their spokesman, Comrade Tony Nwakeze urged the late Ojukwu to
hearken to their voices and transfer the mantle of Igbo leadership he gave to Obi to Chief Obiano. The APGA Front leader, Mr. John Bosco who condemned the defection of Obi to PDP pointed out that power belongs to the people who he said would decide who their leader is and stated that it was time Ndigbo looked beyond an individual and look towards dominating the South East zone as a political base.
According to him, the late Ojukwu was a political grand master whose political light would continue to guide the pathway of Igbos till eternity, adding that, “ we are hear not in tears but to reassure him that we will go down fighting the cause he left behind.”
The ASATU Youth President, Osita Ozalagba described Ojukwu as a selfless leader who listened to his people before he took a major decision affecting them, and described Obi’s defection as one borne out of selfish interest. He praised governor Obiano for making APGA faithful proud since assumption of office and urged the youths to remain bold, courageous and unite in order to put APGA on the right track. “We have to believe in ourselves to get what belongs to us. After speakers had taken their turns to speak, it was the turn of Ojukwu junior to speak.
Speaking further at the Ojukwu Mausoleum, Chukwuemeka Ojukwu Junior said “ I thank you for remembering my late father whose ideals indefense of the Igbo race, APGA and the common good is not questionable. But I am particularly sad that those he mentored and set on the part to hold the light have suddenly abandoned the course. Mr. Peter Obi a saboteur he has betrayed both my father and Ndi-Igbo.” He lamented that the former governor, Mr Obi had not only betrayed APGA but the entire Igbo race by joining another political party that he had earlier condemned. “It’s unfortunate that Mr Peter Obi has left APGA, the party that brought him to power, fame and fortune. In this particular case we’re talking about a man who swore never to leave APGA. But rather would do everything to build it.”
“He swore to my father (late IKemba) and it was based on that, that Ikemba asked Ndi Anambra to vote for Obi in 2011 as his last wish. What Peter Obi did is an act of sabotage. It will not stand.” Ojukwu junior who regretted that Obi openly want to destroy part of what he helped to build, stated that before Ezeigbo Gburugburu died, Obi came to his bed side and swore to him that he would not betray APGA. “It was based on that premise that my late father, our father raised his hand as his last wish. That was why he was voted into power as governor of Anambra State and now he has turned round to sabotage APGA.” As a result of Obi’s defection to PDP, he announced that the traditional symbol of Authority (Ofo) “Okwute Ndigbo”, handed over to Obi by the late APGA leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, has finally been withdrawn from him.
Ojukwu jnr expressed happiness that Obi’s successor, Chief Obiano is a real man, a cultured, Igbo man , fearless leader and a man of highintegrity who would steer the ship of APGA in line with the ideals of the late Ikemba. He stated that with the spiritual guidance of his late father and Igbo leader, “APGA WILL NEVER DIE. It is a mass movement. Every real Igbo man has APGA at heart. We know where we are coming from and where we are going .Ezeigbo Gburugburu never sabotaged Igbo interest. He encountered so many challenges in the course of fighting Igbo cause… We his children will never let him down.”
He called on the protesters to hold their head high once they leave the residence of Ikemba in the hope that “nothing de happen’ as according to him, APPGA is intact in the hands of governor Obiano, Chief Victor Umeh and other stakeholders of the party and well-wishers of Igbo interest.Ojukwu jnr who spoke on a personal note appreciated the people for coming to pay homage saying “there is a root from where you are coming’.
For Obi, nemesis seems to be dogging his aspired political path and it is yet to be seen if the chapter has not closed on him sooner than expected.