No less than 16 candidates are aspiring for the chairmanship position ahead of the Tuesday state congress of the All Progressives Grand Alliance in Anambra State.

The position which was zoned to Anambra Central Senatorial District commenced with a debate organised by the Anambra Independent Support Group.

In the debate on Monday, the contestants observed the high rate of defection among members to other political parties, lamenting that the development does not portray the party in a positive light.

One of the candidates, Ifeatu Obiokoye, hinged the reasons for defections to be over-dependent on the state government’s appointments.

Obiokoye said there should be a new way of fine-tuning the party’s reward system after the election so that members don’t need to depend on state government appointments.

He also promised to facilitate the immediate return of defected members back to the party if he is elected.

According to him, the effects of the Labour Party movement in the last general election were a pointer to the fact that APGA needs urgent and far-reaching plans to retain its position as the third-largest political party in the country.

He said, “Our party has come of age and after every general election, people expect political appointments but this cannot go around hence the need for the establishment of a welfare scheme through the use of cooperative societies where party faithful would be given the opportunity to execute small scale projects through which the members and the party would be funded.

“There will be equal opportunity for the youth, women and elders, we must create a platform for equal participation. Under my chairmanship, there will not be a barrier to any person’s growth.

He described APGA as an interventionist political party and promised to continue with the approach to provide dividends of democracy to the people.

Obiokoye said that he will do everything possible to retain the interventionist movement of APGA in the state and beyond.

“We are going to change things in our environment, there is a need for us to do things differently to rebrand our party.

“APGA must go back and resuscitate its relations with the traditional institutions, traders, market men and women. We must go back to our interventionist approach as a mass movement. I am not in the race for a clanish reason, but to make the party better for everybody.

“I want to bring better value for the entire Anambra people and the party” he added.

Another, Anthony Dunga, also promised to give the youth and the women important roles in his leadership.

”I will work hard towards giving women and youths special positions, even at the national level. They are key and critical to party growth and development.

“APGA has a structure already in existence at the grassroots level. What will make the masses follow any person is the character and his reach-out to them. I have the good character and the capacity to reach out.

“I will restore the glory of the party, by being our brothers’ keepers. We must work in unity to move the party forward. We must go back to our ‘onyeaghanwanniya mantra’.

“In every election, the Awka North people normally deliver but, no Awka North man has had the opportunity to lead the party. There is need to give us a chance. I have the capacity and the vision to move APGA to a higher level,” Dunga said.

Speaking earlier, the convener of the debate and Coordinator, Anambra Independent Media Support Group, Dr Harris Odili, stated that the current political trend in the country demands purposeful leadership that would drive the fortunes of the party to electoral victory.

Odili said, “You will realise now how exalted the office of Chairman is when you weigh that Anambra State is the spiritual, social, economical and political hub of APGA”

“It is therefore expedient that you command great influence and that is why the Anambra Independent Media Support Group have decided to organise this interactive session or town hall meeting which gives the aspirants the opportunity to share their ambition and aspiration for the party in Anambra state.”

Out of the 16 candidates, seven attended the debate and promised to support who eventually emerges as the winner of the state Congress.

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