Book Review: APGA and The Igbo Question


Odyssey of Courage in Nation-Building.


Author: Chief Dr. Chekwas Okorie.

Publisher: Our Saviour Printing Press Ltd, Enugu.

Year of Publication: 2022.

Pages: 341.

Reviewer: Professor Obasi Igwe

c/o Department of Political Science,
University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Abuja, Thursday, April 28, 2022.

APGA was the first authentic expression of the Igbo desire for
political self-rehabilitation after the calamities of the civil war.
Through the APGA the Igbo sought a full-fledged peaceful reintegration
into the political process and together with others who keyed into the
pan-Nigerian mission of the party, a determined effort to rebuild the
country on truly strong, just and patriotic foundations. Dr. Alex
Ekwueme’s G-34 and its PDP product that successfully fought for a
peaceful transition from military to civil rule, having denied him the
presidency and, as such preempted a full Igbo reintegration into the
Nigerian political mainstream, it was left to the APGA to attempt the
attainment of this goal. Along the same line, while Ojukwu was
welcomed back by the NPN, it was not clear whether its strong elements
really wanted him at the central political stage, and it once again
became the lot of the APGA to facilitate for him a strong platform for
a Presidential quest and further political rehabilitation and, through
him also the Igbo, despite the considerable disputes surrounding the

Apart from the two highlights, the APGA also gave a multitude of
Nigerians a voice, and these were not restricted to the Igbo, but
actually included substantial parts of the broader East, the Middle
Belt and South, and even from within the far North. These were mainly
people who desired something different from the usual and
retrogressive routines that the ruling parties represented. It was not
surprising, therefore, that at one point, the APGA was believed to
have actually beaten other competitors in almost a third of the 36
states and gaining ground in the rest when it was rolled back by
agitated reactionary forces.

The APGA had nevertheless built a formidable ideological following
that maintained the vision of Nigeria as an egalitarian and just
society, which has all along defined the Igbo worldview and alive up
to this day. Yes, the dynamic APGA dream was a great, patriotic and
worthy one, given a blow all round from the inside and outside,
forcing it to degenerate from a macrocosm of pan-national ideas to a
microcosm of single-state reality, but still harboring the original
patriotic pan-Nigerian objectives that defined its popularity. Today,
with a single Governor among the thirty-six or thirty-seven states and
many gubernatorial and other aspirants, and still retaining her
ideology of unity, popular liberation and harmonious coexistence, at a
time that large sections are asking for a President of Nigeria of Igbo
extraction, it is hoped that the positive ideas for which the original
APGA was known could form an essential part of the patriotic
foundations for a peaceful transition from the existing chaos to a
true nationhood built on equity, justice and secure lives.

Such APGA ideal is what the book we are launching today is all about.
It’s not exactly like the transformation of the Egbe Omo Oduduwa or
Afenifere into the Action Group, (AG), or the Northern Peoples’
Congress into the Nigerian Peoples’ Congress (NPC), because ab initio
the two parties bore explicitly ethnic and regional connotations. The
APGA was birthed in a corner with uniquely dire objective conditions,
but with the goal of uplifting the entirety of Nigeria unto modern
nationhood, by harnessing the experiences of a people historically
committed to that patriotic responsibility. According to elder
statesman, Dr. Uma Eleazu (abridged), the APGA was:

A party that has correctly analyzed the ills of Nigeria … the need for
ethnic cohesion … intergenerational understanding … with a vision of
the future for Nigeria and … to create a structural base for its
realization … it attracted membership from across … the country. In
its first outing in the 2003 national elections, from all indications,
it outperformed even the ruling party and nearly toppled the
applecart. Success often attracts enemies. The powers that be, decided
it must not happen … enemies. The powers that be, decided it must not
happen … enemies of Nigerian Unity … who by their chicanery, destroyed
the APGA dream for Nigeria where peace and justice with equity will

This is the story carried in this wonderful book, told by the man at
the very centre of the political convulsions. The reader will discover
another angle to the narrative: despite any and everything, the book
did offer a ray of hope for the future of the country if the right
lessons are adhered to.

Many writers, including C. Wright-Mills had alluded to the obvious
possibilities of using biography to understand history, especially in
the circumstance in which the individual played a central or dominant
part in the latter. The book is not yet a biography of Chief Dr.
Chekwas Okorie, but some aspects of the circumstance that led to the
creation of the APGA and the trajectory it took up to the point in
time treated in the book were significantly influenced by the
personality of the man as could be gleaned from the work. Indeed, the
work revealed much about the personality of the politician and

Lord John Henry Palmerston, one-time British Prime Minister, made a
declaration that has yet to leave mankind in the practice of politics,
to the effect that there are neither permanent friends nor permanent
enemies, but only permanent interests. Too many politicians appear to
be perfectly guided by this assertion as much as they do similar ones
from Niccolo Machiavelli. Hence, despite its doubtful ethical value
and universal applicability, that Palmerstonian view has since time
been transformed into a doctrine by many political actors. However, a
reader of this book might discover that Chekwas Okorie to good extent
contradicted that doctrine. Both those that opposed and subverted him,
the author still kept many of them as friends, and to whomsoever that
contributed to the efforts of the APGA, Chief Chekwas extended as much
gratitude as is possible despite any changes of relationship
afterwards. In other words, Chekwas seems to be inclined towards the
Rotarian principle of make new friends but keep the old ones.

Nigerian leaders should learn from such politics without bitterness.
That contributed in making Chief Chekwas a good political socializer
he has interacted virtually with everyone that mattered in the
Nigerian politics of this 21st century, ranging from the extremely
radical, and across the centrists to the extremely conservative, all
in his search for dependable allies in nation-building. With a Ph.D.
in Humanities and Leadership, he is an intellectual par excellence
and, as many who watch or read his interviews could testify, is always
at home with any level of scholarly discourse. He is not a friend of
Muhammadu Buhari because he is President, but had all along been in
sympathy and solidarity with him during the candidate’s sundry court
and other travails at a time that Chekwas believed that the man was
being unnecessarily oppressed by the vindictive Nigerian system.
Hence, Chekwas Okorie is more than simply an Igbo rights crusader, but
actually benefitting from his experience as an Igbo who knows what
marginalization is, and therefore obliged to work, staring with the
APGA, for a solution not only favourable to the Igbo, but of general
benefit to all Nigerians.

Hardly could an average Nigerian pick this book without reading it to
the end, NEPA or no NEPA. It is a piece of 21st century Nigerian
political history revealing the unprecedented roadblocks any truly
honest man dedicated to emancipate the suffering masses encounters,
even from erstwhile friends and allies. People are talking of Igbo
Presidency; the book reveals that Chekwas was at least among the first
true nationalists that foresaw its necessity for Nigeria, and
attempted to use the APGA to realize it for the good of all citizens.

The book further revealed how he founded the Igboezue Cultural
Association to conscientize and rally the Igbo towards a full Nigerian
political integration, before eventually forming the APGA in 2002
after about seven years of strenuous efforts. The motto of the
Igboezue was Onye Aghana Nwanneya. “Let no one leave his brother or
sister behind”. The Igboezue, while it lasted in the years it was
active, did more work for Igbo unity in the context of One Nigeria
than any other Igbo cultural organization, from 1970 till today.

Directly and indirectly the book particularly explored the “Igbo
Question” that Chief Chekwas Okorie presumed, so to say, that he could
solve through the instrumentality of the APGA. Leaving aside, without
overlooking the Chief’s views on the matter, our Review believes that
such Igbo Question are simply the issues around the political
rehabilitation of the Igbo after the devastating civil war that
consumed millions of innocent souls. Those outside a war zone may not
fully appreciate the effects of war upon a people. That unnecessary
war remains the primary source of the Igbo Question in Nigeria.

The war affected every single Igbo family as well as a lot of other
Easterners, all of whom needed a mental, psychological, material and
political rehabilitation from the partial to a full embrace of
Nigerian nationhood. Issues around this egalitarian rehabilitation
became the Igbo Question that the APGA failed or was pushed into
failure, the Igbo Question remains unanswered and, maybe, should now
be helped into solution through the Affirmative Presidency of the Igbo
being canvassed nationwide.

The book clarifies that the entire country was the APGA constituency
and what good sought for the Igbo was to apply in equal measure to all
Nigerians. The object of the APGA was in effect to make all
nationalities in the country, including the Igbo, to be full and equal
partakers in the Nigerian project.

The tragedy that befell the APGA, its origins and entire process are
widely captured in the book. The narrative shows that Chief Chekwas
Okorie didn’t deserve the treatment that many erstwhile friends and
allies plotted against him. He brought many substantially ignored into
limelight, politically rehabilitated many that were held at
arms-length by a skeptical public, and brought hope to some that were
frustrated by the helplessness of a disunited Igbo in the volatile
Nigerian political terrain. And still, no reason could prevail,
nothing more ennobling than vulgar materialism could restrain those
that plotted to snatch the APGA just in order to drag it down from a
prospective pan-Nigerian party to one still struggling to stay alive
in a single state.

As many readers can find out, other than stating the facts as he saw,
Chief Chekwas was still not bitter, whether towards Chief Victor Umeh
or Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the Ikemba, in the wonderful, some
would say, ignoable roles they played in almost totally destroying the
otherwise great and promising party. Not a single patriotic person was
happy with the destruction of the APGA. “My journey with Ezeigbo is a
long journey” said Chief Chekwas of Ojukwu:

But I will restrict myself to the …. Political coup d’etat … we had
been having our normal meetings and  …. APGA was rated as the most
peaceful … most stable of the major political parties, until 15th
December 2004 when, out of the blues, a group of members of the
National Working Committee (NWC) led by then Treasurer, Chief Victor
Umeh, went to the NUJ press centre … Abuja, and addressed a press
conference in which he reeled out series of very damaging allegations
against me. It came to me as a surprise because none of those
allegations ever came up for discussion in our normal meetings. Yet
they went ahead and announced my suspension when the constitution of
the party has no provision for the suspension of the National

One orchestration followed the other and at long last the result is
the APGA as it is today. The hope is that somehow someday, there would
be enough support and goodwill generated to successfully rebuild the
party to cover a wider government space than it is now. For, while the
creator is now happily in the APC, he may not have forgotten the child
he gave into marriage elsewhere. Chief Chekwas Okorie has written not
in order to condemn any friends, but to constructively narrate an
aspect of history which only him as a central actor could more
factually bring into limelight, perhaps, in order to improve conduct
and better able to prepare the younger generations for the tasks

“A New Vista Beckons”, so promised an optimistic Chief Chekwas in the
13th Chapter after various efforts at reconciliation had failed. They
would always fail. Struggles between materialism and idealism had
always been a negation of each other, and no negative contradictions
every yielded a compromise except a very temporary one to enable a
regrouping of hostile forces. Chekwas was aiming at one objective, his
colleagues were after something else, mirroring the general situation
in Nigeria. In the country, except and until progressive forces become
stronger than those after personal gains crass materialism would
always win over and above true nationhood founded upon equity and

Let political actors continue to write, each offering to Nigerians the
benefits of their experience. Many would of necessity challenge
aspects of every narrative, but people, especially of the internet age
know how to separate the chaff from the grain. In its totality, the
APGA was all about Nigeria surviving as a country providing equally,
justly, adequately and peacefully for all her citizens with no
distinctions as to class, tribe, tongue, gender, religion or whatever.

For Nigeria to survive as a harmoniously united people it has to be
upon a common civilizational principle that every genuine patriot can
key into to harness the latent energies of the teaming youths for the
balanced development and modernization of the country, to enable her
assume a worthy place within the comity of nations. This requires a
humane and competent commitment to address the cleavages that are
always attempting to tear the country apart. These fissiparous
challenges issue from class, tribe, religion, region, and unequal
distribution of state power. Hence intra- and inter- class
contentions, ethno religious antagonisms, regionalism, and inordinate
struggle for state power. Because of the absence of such a common
civilizational principle or ideology, Nigeria is tearing apart
spiritually, hoping that it would not also tear apart physically. That
civilizational principal is the modern democratic secular state.

It is modern because it abolishes all the survivals of primitivism,
emancipating women and youths by legalizing the one man one wife
principle, and equally prohibiting all other practices that are
inconsistent with civilized life. It is democratic because it promotes
the various freedoms, not only electoral, associated with civilized
society such as equal laws and equal applications under the Common Law
system practiced almost worldwide. It is also secular because it
firmly supports the freedom of belief and association, enjoining state
and other public institutions to not promote or advance the cause of
any faith and for any faith not to interfere in political affairs. And
finally with its secularity, which constitutionalizes and encourages
the people to a common legality instead of parallelism, and the
approved institutions of state as their only source of protection,
there is a natural evolution of the country from a state “united” by
force, to a nation-state united by a voluntary common destiny.

Given the volatile situation in the country today, the book on the
APGA is well timed, coinciding as it is with the unresolved questions
of direction and essence facing Nigeria. Can Nigeria survive as it is?
Should the country be restructured or not? If restructuring what
should be the federating units of the new polity: should they be
ethnic nationalities, regions without regard to ethnic nationalities,
groupings with religious considerations; simply what? If not
restructuring, shall we continue to manage with the existing military
organized states created with little or no considerations for cultural
and other synergy, and simple devolve more powers to them, with
corresponding military-security, resource ownership and control,
ideological and other reforms? Whatever route Nigeria chooses to take,
for her to become a truly united and harmonious nation-state, there is
no avoiding the modern democratic secular state of equal laws and
equal applications as the civilizational bases of our continued
existence. Such is the major challenge posed and something to be
learnt from the APGA story.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here