APGA: Opting for congresses amid dwindling fortunes

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One question that the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) would need to address, as it embarks on its congresses from today, is what it intends to achieve with the outcome of the exercise.Last Tuesday, APGA began what looked like an effort to purge itself and chart a new direction, when it announced the removal of Chief Willie Obiano, the Chairman of its Board of Trustee (BOT).
Also removed was wife of the late Dim Chuwkwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Bianca. This decision followed the meeting of the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) in Awka, Anambra state. Their four-year tenure was said to have expired.Chief Labaran Maku, the party’s National Secretary, who announced the decision, stated that new BOT members would be nominated to replace them before the party’s National Convention on May 31, 2019.

He said: “The party has picked May 31 for its National convention at the Prof Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre in Awka, Anambra State. The party’s ward and local government congresses will hold on May 19 and 21, followed by the state and zonal congresses on May 23.”

The attempt to prune the party is coming shortly after conclusion of the 2019 general elections. Although the party had boasted of how it would capture the entire Southeast in the elections, it performed abysmally, even in Anambra State considered its stronghold.

Those who have followed the party’s progression since its registration in 2002 readily attest to the fact that the last general election was its worst performance ever. The reason for this is not
far-fetched. The root cause is the festering crisis that has eaten deep into the party’s fabric.

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In the build up to the 2019 general elections, APGA showed signs of readiness to make something tangible, at least in the Southeast, where it draws major appeal. Its ego was boosted, when notable politicians deserted their parties to join and seek APGA’s tickets.For example, In Imo State, no fewer than 15 aspirants indicated interest in the governorship ticket, after joining the party with their supporters.

Although some observers warned that the party risked possible implosion, following the nature and number of aspirants interested in flying its flag in the 2019 elections, it did not bother its leaders, who believed it was an indication of the party’s popularity.
But it may have dawned on the leadership that it was really in for trouble, when the aspirants were not deterred by the high cost of forms. They purchased the forms and awaited party primaries that would produce the chosen candidates.

The integrity of the primaries was, however, sacrificed on the altar of alleged heavy financial inducement, with members shouting blue murder and calling for the heads of the party’s national leadership. Candidates from Imo and Abia States were mostly hit by the development.

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The Crisis In Imo Chapter
IT is no longer news that the muddled governorship primaries created serious infractions in the party’s state chapter. Those who felt short-changed vowed to not only recover their money, but to also work against the party’s interest in the state.Chief Ifeanyi Ararume, who benefitted from the flawed primary, would confess that he did not receive the support of aspirants that ran with him during the exercise. While some abandoned the party, others who stayed behind created hiccups that dogged it into the elections.
The aspirants went as far as forming a factional APGA, called the New-APGA, after series of protests to the National Working Committee (NWC) to review the primaries failed.

One morning, they marched through the streets of the state capital, Owerri to call for the sack of the national chairman, Victor Oye, Chairman of the board, Governor Willie Obiano and the state chairman, Peter Ezeobi. They said: “APGA leadership committed theft and betrayal of historic proportion. The leadership pretended it was prepared to become an alternative platform for our people seeking refuge in a sanitised platform built on integrity and excellence. We have resolved and expressed lack of confidence in APGA executive. We have also resolved and expressed lack of confidence in Willie Obiano.

“We have resolved that the state party chairman, as well as the national chairman must go. As a result of this ugly development, we hereby establish a new platform, now to be known as New APGA. All the monies they collected from us must be refunded or they will be handed over to the EFCC.”The Guardian investigation revealed that the removal of the state party chairman, Peter Ezeobi recently has a bearing on the lingering

crisis in the state.
A group of members had allegedly made its way into the party’s office complex along Egbu Road, Owerri, and announced the suspension of Ezeobi, the Legal Adviser, Sylva Iwejuo, and Treasurer, Genevieve Ogbonna. They announced Alphonsus Eberendu as the Acting chairman.The members were also said to have served a notice of suspension signed by 27 Council chairmen and secretaries of the party in the state on the suspended members and vowed to take their matter to the NWC for ratification.

They accused Ezeobi of highhandedness among such other issues as lack of financial propriety; sidelining other executive members, incompetence and impunity. They said he should be made to account for over N50m allegedly realised from membership revalidation fees, among others.

Ezeobi, however, told The Guardian that he remained the state party chairman.“What they did is illegal. They are merely wasting their time and efforts,” he said. He refused to comment on why or what he felt led to the action against him and other members.
The development is, however being linked to a power struggle between those who lost in the governorship primary and the beneficiaries.

Abia State Crisis
THE crisis that arose over the struggle for governorship ticket between Dr. Alex Otti and Chief Chike Udensi has refused to abate.
Ill feelings from the actions have festered since Otti won the party ticket that enabled him contest the governorship election in March.

While one of the factions, led by Reverend Augustine Ehiemere, is said to be loyal to Udensi, the other, led by Nnanna Ukaegbu, is said to be enjoying Otti’s support.Last week, the Ehiemere group rose against Otti, when it announced that Otti was no longer the party leader in the state. It stated that the current member representing Aba North and South federal constituency, Ossy Prestige was the new party leader.

Ehiemere, who was flanked by other members of his faction, while announcing the development in Umuahia, was quoted to have said: “This conference will not come to an end without asserting the resolution of the state party leadership, that Hon. Ossy Prestige is now the leader of this party in Abia State in line with the constitution of our great party as the highest elected political officer in Abia State. And the state party leadership accords him that respect and recognition without any fear of contradiction.

“Therefore, any person arrogating such status or power to himself must desist forthwith or risk suspension from the party. On the final note, it will be pertinent to sound warning to all persons who have caused or who intend to cause crises in this party for their individual selfish gains. This party will deal decisively with such enemies of the party, so as to maintain, protect and preserve the party’s good image and integrity in Abia State, as no individual, no matter how highly placed is bigger than APGA.” Thus setting the stage for more trouble!

The Congresses/ Convention
THE party’s National Publicity Secretary, Ifeatu Obi-Okoye, a lawyer, told The Guardian that the disharmony arising from the elections was expected. Explaining that APGA was not alone in the crisis, he said such had given rise to the congresses at the ward, local government and state levels, as well as the national convention being planned.

He said: “Following NEC meeting held barely 48 hours ago, it is clear that the party has scheduled for congresses, having in mind that it will elect new leaders to run its affairs in various states and at the national level. We are more focused on the congress. We are not losing sleep over anybody’s suspension, as this will be taken care of by the congresses next week.”A party chieftain, Jerry Onuora, however, faulted Obi-Okoye, saying he did not see how the congress could solve the crisis in the party. He said the leadership should have devised means of addressing some of the issues raised by aggrieved members, especially from the last elections before embarking on the congress.

“These issues still linger. The divisions are everywhere. The complaints are very loud. So, anybody trying to cover these things with congress is not helping the party,” he stated.Onuora is not alone here. A founding party member, Chief Onwuka Ukwa, said the NEC meeting that endorsed the congress was not properly constituted. He stated that APGA’s constitution outlined procedures for any NEC meeting and those that should attend, stressing that those who “gathered at Awka were acting on a script being played by an individual and not for APGA’s benefit.”

Meanwhile, the party chieftains that met in Owerri on Tuesday, had rejected zoning of the national chairmanship position to Anambra by the NWC.The chieftains, under the auspices of APGA Stakeholders Forum, accused the party’s current chairman, Chief Victor Oye, of plotting to perpetuate himself in office.

Similarly, the party’s Deputy National Secretary, Chief Jerry Obasi, has said for the party to make headway again, both Obiano and Oye must vacate their positions.He alleged plots to impose Oye for a second term, even when majority of APGA members want a new chairman, as a result of the party’s dwindling fortunes.The chieftain added that most party members are tired of Oye as
and want him to give way to a new chairman, who will reform the party in line with its founders’ vision.

Obasi stated that the gains APGA made in the 2015 general elections had been eroded by inept leadership, insisting that it was wrong for the NEC meeting to have held without the statutory members.The rumours are, however, rife that Oye would be retained despite the criticism. Only time will tell how this will impact the party’s fortunes.

-GUARDIAN-

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