Uche Ogah and The Changing Fortunes of APC in The Southeast – By Odochi Arungwa
The unfolding political realities in the southeast geopolitical zone of Nigeria is an intriguing matrix which has called for proper and systematic analysis of the issue judging by how some persons have been going about it.
From the poor performance of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the region in the 2015 general elections to the average performance of the party in the just concluded governorship race in Anambra State; one thing that has become clear is the fact that the Igbos have started embracing the APC unlike before.
Similar scenario playing out today once played out in the region during the Second Republic. For instance, during the 1979 general elections; while the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) won the Presidential election, the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) widely regarded as Igbo party because of the late Owele of Onitsha, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe whom its fielded as its presidential candidate won in all the Igbo speaking states thereby making the likes of Chief Jim Nwobodo and late Sam Mbakwe governors of the old Anambra state and Imo State respectively.
On getting to the 1983 round of elections, the Igbos realised their mistake and decided to embrace NPN which was the ruling party and whose incumbent President was Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
Subsequently, the NPN governorship candidate for old Anambra State, late Chief C. C Onoh won the election thereby denying Chief Jim Nwobodo who was an incumbent governor re-election.
However, just like the silent ‘Obama-effect’ Dr. Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah OON has been creating for the APC in the southeast region since he joined the party, I want to state here that they were people who made NPN’s inroads and victory in the southeast region possible! For instance, the late Igbo leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was one of the linchpins that made the victory of NPN possible in Igboland when he joined it upon his return from exile.
Hence, since he joined the APC in Abia State, the ‘Obama-effect’ he caused has created chain reactions as the percentage of defectors from his former party to APC in Abia State is the highest in the entire southeast region.
Today, it is an undisputable fact that apart from Imo State where APC currently has a governor, Abia State has the highest number of defectors added to the party’s fold because of Dr. Uche Ogah OON.
All these are signs that APC would take Abia State as well as the entire southeast geopolitical zone if Dr. Uche Ogah is politically empowered to deliver victory to the party in the entire southeast region come 2019.
Unlike other politicians from the zone who have held several political positions which made them to lose value in the estimation of the Igbo sons and daughters because of their past failed promises, Dr. Uche Ogah OON has never held any political position in Nigeria but has the most formidable political structure in the region which made him to enjoy ‘Buhari-like’ followership in the southeast region without any financial inducement. For Instance, during his political and legal tussles with the current government in Abia State, the leadership of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, the Ohaneze Ndi-Igbo came out publicly to support him!
Their love and support for him stemmed from the fact that he is one of the few persons without government power who used their geniuses and wealth to empower the people of the zone as well as other Nigerians alike. For Instance, by next year, Dr. Uche Ogah’s Master Energy Group would be the first company from the region to have employed 42, 000 persons in its workforce. There is nobody in Dr. Ogah’s chain of companies that earns less than N100,000 a month whereas the national minimum wage of the nation is 18,000.
With the mismanaged fortunes of the APC in Anambra State as seen in the November 18 governorship polls, the question now is how can APC win election in the southeast region in 2019 without repeating the Anambra tragicomedy?
In lieu of this, the choice of who becomes the cabinet minister representing the southeast region in the proposed cabinet reshuffle by President Muhammadu Buhari would go a long way in making the party more acceptable to the people ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Nevertheless, the current strategy of using the 2023 Igbo Presidency to market APC to the people of zone is not working and have refused to yield the desired results in the just concluded Anambra State governorship election because it did not address the fundamental need of the people. I want to also state that APGA did not win the Anambra State election because of sentiment or any other thing as some persons were made to believe; instead it won because the government was responsive to the basic needs of the people.
Again, if APC is looking up to professional politicians from the zone to do the marketing job for them, the people will not believe them because over the years, they mismanaged the bond of trust the people had with them. Also, their antecedents do not tally with the expectations of the people. For Instance, how on earth would anybody explain a situation where APC only got 13, 394 votes in the 2015 Presidential election in Abia State whereas the PDP got 368, 303 votes?
Another point I want to make is that the people neither trusted the PDP nor APC leaders in the region with their votes in 2015. This was why they refused to come out and vote. For Instance, out of the 7, 513, 031 registered voters in the southeast, the combine votes of both parties were not up to 50 percent as the total votes of PDP in the five states of the region during presidential election was 2, 464, 906 votes representing 32.8 percent of registered voters while that of APC was 198, 248 votes representing 2.6 percent. So, if you sum both results in percentage, APC and PDP leaders only managed to get 35.4 percent votes in the election. What this means is that the majority of the people which represents 64.6 percent did not trust them enough to cast their votes for them and the candidates they supported.
Therefore, if President Buhari is looking for somebody who can cause ‘Obama-effect’ for APC in the southeast region to be appointed as minister, he should consider Dr. Uche Sampson Ogah OON for the job. For the sake of my readers, Obama-effect means inspring the people through purposeful leadership and encouraging them to come out and exercise their franchise just the way Obama was able to inspire the black voters in America. Hence, Dr. Ogah is the only man in APC who can convince the people of the zone to come out and vote for APC in 2019 because of the great trust the people have in him.
Odochi Arungwa writing from Osisioma Ngwa