2019: What APGA Must Do To Win Imo Guber – By Austin Echefu
Since the people of Anambra State spoke in unshakable unison and voted their over-performing Governor Willie Obiano for a well deserved second term, they have made the irrevocable statement that where there is orderliness there is success. They deserve to be commended for standing by their Governor and assuring him that there is reward for hard work. It is proper for me, therefore, for the first time congratulate them for returning their Governor 100%.
It is also important to congratulate the workaholic Governor Obiano himself on his well deserved reelection. Governor Obiano, no doubt, is the best performing Governor in the South East. That was why Anambra people took the decision to disregard propaganda and reward him for his excellent performance and allow him complete his term.
As if the Governor’s victory was not enough, Anambra people also took a decision to vote for the former National Chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh, in the recently concluded senatorial election for Anambra Central. Today, despite all odds, APGA has a Senator, who deserves all congratulations, not only for his successful election but for all his roles in making APGA a formidable party in Anambra State, that is about to launch out and birth a new government in Imo State and other states of the South East also.
True, the reward for hard work is more work. That was what the people of Anambra State reaffirmed when they returned their Governor almost unopposed. The national leadership of the party led by Ozonkpu Victor Ike Oye also needs to be heavily congratulated for standing for what is just. They have made the bold statement also that APGA is a party of orderliness, equity and justice.
However, the victory of APGA in Anambra State has to be maintained and replicated in Imo State and other states of the South East in 2019 if the dream of the party would be realised. One way the party should do this is to courageously insist that the zoning formula it adopted in Anambra State is replicated in Imo State.
The national leadership of the party should lead this charge from the front so that APGA would be seen as a party of values and norms, where individual influences are never allowed to scuttle those values and norms the party is known for.
While it is my strong belief that the winning streak of APGA be replicated in Imo in 2019, I implore the national leadership of the party to rise up now and take a decisive decision before tension begins to build over the governorship ticket. Everyone in Imo State in 2015 could recall what happened when Capt Emma Ihenacho defeated Okey Ezeh in the party’s governorship primary election. Apart from holding a parallel congress where he emerged the parallel candidate and eventually going to court to challenge the candidacy of Capt Ihenacho, Okey Ezeh mobilized all his structures and pledged loyalty to and worked for his brother, Emeka Ihedioha, who was the PDP governorship candidate in 2015. The outcome of that election is well known to everyone as APGA could not garner more than 20,000 votes, in an election it was primed to win. Such a thing must not be allowed to repeat itself in 2019.
The good news, however, is that APGA has come back into the blood stream of Imo people. If the rights things are done APGA stands a good chance to winning the 2019 governorship election; that is, if the lethal war in the APC and PDP are not allowed a breathing space to rear up in APGA.
What APGA therefore requires is someone with proven managerial ability to fly its flag. APGA also requires to return the zoning formula in Imo. The party needs to realise that much as APGA in Anambra State believes in zoning, it has since applied zoning in giving its governorship ticket. And by continuing with the zoning of its governorship ticket in 2019, APGA would be carrying every zone in Imo State along towards having a stronger party and winning the much coveted governorship.
All who love Imo State are grateful to God for the metamorphic and beautiful developments in APGA in Imo State. They are grateful that the party has survived the bad days, and that though not many gave the party the chance at survival in 2013 when Governor Okorocha took almost half of its members to the APC, the party has become the darling of the people. But by the hard work and huge depository of love the people has for the party, it bounced back in 2015 to contest the governorship election.
Consequently, following its poor performance in the 2015 general elections, not many thought it could be the party to beat in 2019. But today, even the blind knows that APGA has become the most beautiful bride among the myriads of political parties in the state. This gain needs to sustained and translated to electoral victory.
As the most beautiful bride in Imo State APGA has attracted some of the best suitors in Imo State politics. Formed in 2002, APGA has always claimed it had always won elections in Imo State and therefore prides itself as the party of the people. And perhaps the greatest evidence to the claim of the party of the people is the influx of politicians of diverse hues into the party. And going into the 2019 general elections the feeling of a formidable party is written boldly on the faces of the party.
The need for APGA to win the 2019 governorship election in Imo State therefore is the reason the party must do the right things and not dance away its tremendously improved fortunes.
The history of APGA in Imo State shows that it has always practiced zoning. Not many know that APGA has since 2003 rotated its governorship ticket between Orlu and Owerri zones, to the complete exclusion of Okigwe Zone.
Whether this is a careless oversight is not known. But the facts available show that immediately after APGA was formed in 2002, it went into the general elections in 2003 and gave its governorship ticket to Engr Ezekiel Izuogu from Ideator North in Orlu Zone. Sadly, the party lost the election to then incumbent Governor Achike Udenwa who sought a second term in office.
In 2007 APGA consolidated its zoning formula and gave its governorship ticket to Chief Martin Agbaso from Emekuku in Owerri North LGA of Owerri Zone. APGA looked towards Orlu Zone again in 2011 and gave its governorship ticket to Chief Ethelbert Anayo Okorocha from Ideator South. He went on to win the governorship election in a joint ticket with Sir Jude Agbaso from Owerri Zone, who became his Deputy.
Following Governor Okorocha’s exit from APGA, the party’s governorship ticket became vacant once more in 2015. At the end of the day the party looked towards Owerri Zone once more and gave its governorship ticket to Capt Emma Ihenacho.
One would see that from 2002 when APGA was formed it has gone into the governorship election four times, and out of the four times Orlu Zone got two tickets, Owerri Zone got two tickets and a deputy governor, while Okigwe Zone has been missing clearly from the entire permutation.
Therefore, APGA has a golden opportunity to correct this anomaly and reassure everyone that it is not a party owned by Owerri and Orlu zones and that it is not into any conspiracy against Okigwe Zone.
The best way to correct this anomaly is that the party should immediately zone its 2019 governorship ticket to Okigwe Zone and ensure that only a sellable candidate from that area emerges as its flag bearer. The party should make no pretences to winning the 2019 governorship election in Imo, because the party should know that it is going to battle the man who once held their ticket and later turned around and spat on them. To defeat such a man, therefore, the party needs to do zoning and shop for the man with the right arsenal to defeat the Governor and his would be candidate.
Zoning the 2019 governorship ticket of APGA to Okigwe Zone will address several big questions. For example, it will resolve the claim that APGA only has presence in Owerri Zone while it suffers in other areas.
A situation where the governorship ticket of APGA is usually shared between Owerri Zone and Orlu Zone will continue to keep the party down and present it before the public in bad light. Therefore, if APGA must be accepted by the people it must be presented to them in very beautiful robes, not as party that caters for sectional interests of Orlu and Owerri Zones but the whole of Imo State. It must be a party for the whole of Imo State where anyone can achieve his or her aspirations.
There is urgent need to quickly broaden APGA and give it life. The present situation where some people grandstand as owners of the party is rather discouraging and does not make APGA a party of the people. How would an Okigwe Zone man who has been in the party feel when his people have been schemed out, or when it seems to him that they are not part of the party but mere fringe-men? This kind of atmosphere, when allowed to permeate the party, could only deliver its carcass to those holding it down.
Again, Zoning the governorship ticket of APGA to Okigwe Zone will address yet another big issue, which is that in 2011 APGA played along with other propagandists to scuttle the zoning arrangement in place in the state. Okigwe Zone was in power as governor then. APGA benefitted from the false assumption of no zoning and produced Governor Okorocha. It is only good that APGA should also solve the problem by restoring the zoning arrangement in the state. The best way to do this restoration is to go back to where Imo State stopped as far as zoning is concerned, and that is Okigwe Zone. By the time the issue of zoning is resolved with Okigwe Zone, APGA would have got a cleaner conscience and also seen by the people as a party of Justice.
One other reason APGA should do zoning is to also resolve the clamour by Owerri Zone to produce the Governor of the state in 2019, through APGA. Owerri Zone claims they believe in zoning and equity. But it has been argued by many that Owerri Zone needs to come to equity with clean hands. Now comes the time for Owerri Zone to come to equity with clean hands and demonstrate to others that in deed Okigwe Zone has been marginalized in the scheme of things in APGA.
If Owerri Zones that has produced governor, military administrators, deputy governors, Senate President, Deputy Speaker, Acting Speaker and almost all the ministerial appointments that have come to Imo State, etc, could claim being marginalized, why should they be the people marginalizing others in their political party? This does not give credence to Owerri Zone because they have not come to equity with clean hands.
Apart from the governorship ticket of APGA, the state chairmanship of the party has been shared between Orlu and Owerri zones also as no man from Okigwe Zone had been there.
But in all this, the truth is that God is positioning APGA in Imo State for serious assignment so that the state can move on again. That is why God is working in mysterious ways for APGA, but the party must help itself and play its God-assigned roles, such as the zoning of the 2019 governorship ticket to Okigwe Zone.