By Michael Jegede
The erstwhile national chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Distinguished Senator Victor Umeh, is undoubtedly a strong force to reckon with in the political firmament of Anambra State.
Umeh, a quintessential leader, who represented the people of Anambra Central Senatorial District for 17 months in the eighth Senate (with an outstanding track record of achievement), has been a consistent member of APGA since its formation in 2002.
APGA took over the governance of Anambra State in 2006, after engaging in a fierce legal war that lasted for three years, kicking out the then government of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) headed by Senator Chris Ngige, now a top member of All Progressives Congress (APC).
As the Anambra 2021 gubernatorial election draws closer, stalwarts of competing parties have started throwing political tantrums. Members of APC and PDP (the two major political parties in the country) are making daring statements on how they will wrestle power from APGA in Anambra State.
For instance, Ngige, the current minister of Labour and APC leader in Anambra, was reported to have declared that the coming election will be fight to finish. No stone, in his words, would be left unturned to ensure APC which is the ruling party at the centre takes over the mantle of leadership in the state.
He said: “Whatever it will take to achieve it, we will do it, to make sure we flush-out that non-performing government and take over. When I was governor, we built roads and other infrastructure that have lasted till date. Successive APGA governments failed to provide road infrastructure that was able to endure for more than six months before being washed away. They find it difficult to implement the minimum wage for workers, which many states have implemented. What they do at the government house is to cross their legs and make merry. The party has failed woefully in all spheres of governance. Therefore, by November, APC will install a governor, who will continue from where I stopped.”
Umeh, a dogged consummate politician and astute political strategist, is optimistic that no amount of forces from APC and/or PDP can unseat APGA in Anambra. Notwithstanding the fact that the incumbent governor, Willie Obiano, is serving out his second term, Umeh believes APGA has succeeded in laying a very solid foundation for development in the state, such that no other party can be accepted by Anambrarians for the purpose of governance.
In his reaction to what he described as the boastful remarks of Ngige, the ex-APGA helmsman reportedly said: “What happened in 2017, is supposed to be fresh in the mind of the current Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige whom I read in various newspapers insulting APGA, insulting the government, and writing us off.
“He has boasted repeatedly and on each occasion, we defeated him to stupor. APGA as a party has a structure in every corner in Anambra State. He is boasting that he must take power from APGA and flush us out on November 6. After all his boasts in the previous elections, he has always lost his ward. And on November 6, 2021, he will lose his ward again. Because he has never won in his ward. When he says these things I don’t know whether he thinks that we are no longer alive. He is a customer I have had since 2003.”
Continuing, he added: “In 2003, we defeated him in almost all the polling units in Anambra State and PDP rigged the election and put him in power. And we went to the court and got rid of him. In 2010, he tried it again and we bashed him very badly. So, he has always been losing election to APGA. In 2011, he lost senatorial election to Prof Dora Akunyili. He rigged the election, we went to the tribunal, and with his tricks he frustrated the petition from being heard because he had seen the results of the election and he knew he had lost. And after 180 days, the petition was struck out. There was no judgment delivered. So, he didn’t win the election. There’s no election in Anambra State that Ngige can say he has won.”
Senator Umeh advised Ngige that “Whenever he wants to talk, he should know that those of us who have been in the trenches with him are still alive. And this year will not be different. His wild comment is enough to earn him a sack. There’s nothing that will lend credence to his boast except that he is trying to overheat the polity and lay a foundation for rigging that he is known for. We will not allow that. We shall approach our dear Anambra people with our record of service and our achievements.”
The highly respected estate surveyor turned politician equally gave an uppercut to the PDP, saying: “APGA has brought an atmosphere of peace in Anambra State. We may disagree; being human, but we don’t disagree to the point of bringing the system down. But there are parties I know that if you allow them, they will burn down the state again. They have that culture of destruction and no matter how people may have meandered around into that platform, the culture of destruction is still there.
“In APGA, you may be denied something and you will be patient over it in the interest of common good. But in that platform, if you are denied anything, you pick up a gun. You must get it or you shoot down the person who is at the helm of affairs. We don’t have that culture in APGA. Just the other day, I saw one PDP aspirant setting up canopy to do a ‘walk for health’ programme. They came out and asked him, where are you coming from? And they destroyed everything. I was reading the outcry from the aspirant. That’s just a sign of what to expect from that party. They don’t tolerate differences even among themselves.”
Giving a stern warning to opposition parties in the state to be cautious of their utterances and actions so as not to annihilate the peaceful atmosphere APGA has entrenched in the state, Umeh further stated: “I have not seen any symptoms of failed government in the administration APGA has run in Anambra State. Everything has gone up. So, what will be the campaign point of somebody who wishes to defeat APGA in the forthcoming election?”
Recollecting APGA’s historic triumph in the last governorship poll in Anambra, where he was the Director General of Obiano’s Campaign Organization, the Ohamadike Ndigbo, stated: “In the second term election of Governor Obiano, they said APGA had died. And we came on board to tell our people what we had done and we gave them a beating in all the 21 local governments.”
He insisted that “APGA has evolved a culture of service to Anambra State and that is what is important. We are going to ensure that APGA will come up with a candidate that will take the baton from governor Obiano and continue with the upward swing in the development of the state. By the time Obiano is leaving, he will add an international airport to his list of achievements. We will find somebody who may take us to the moon. Who knows?”