By Okey Egboka
FOR the past one year, ChiefÂ Victor Umeh, the factional chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance has been in the trenches, fighting to ensure that his town’s man, Governor Peter Obi, gets the APGA gubernatorial ticket. For him, it is a project that must not be messed with.
Ordinarily, an incumbent getting his partyâ€™s nod is not supposed to be a big deal but in the case of Mr. Peter Obi, it has been a herculean task. First challenge for the duo was how to deal with his Deputyâ€™s sonâ€™s expression of interest in gunning for the APGA ticket, which would have culminated in primaries that may bring the Governor to ridicule.
He therefore stoutly opposed the idea of primaries. In the process he labelled Mr. Emeka Etiaba not only a political neophyte, but an evil genius who sought with his family to destroy Gov. Obiâ€™ s government and the party.
One mayÂ ask why primaries for Gov. Obi was not tolerable. The reason was simple: The party would have voted Peter Obi out. The delegates were the same people he called touts and miscreants when a friend asked him why he was not appointing his party members into offices, preferring non-party members and professors.
He would have found the process of primaries in the party an uphill task, more of a journey and less of a destination, because party members were already openly rooting for Emeka Etiaba to his embarrassment. Even his political appointees were waiting for a secret ballot process to put their boss in his place.
Eventually Emeka Etiaba sensing that Chief Umeh had foreclosed the issue of primaries left the party to continue the pursuit of his candidature. He unfortunately met more hardened men who have Anambra treasury as their target.
Today, Chief Umeh has also achieved his aim but for the little â€˜butâ€™ that is suddenly rearing its head. This little â€˜butâ€™ has the potential of being a big â€˜butâ€™ (that is if it has not become one already).
Another lord in the party, Chief Chekwas Okorie, a factional chairman of APGA, has written to INEC for substitution of Gov. Obi for God knows what reason. Umeh does not find this development funny in view of the fact that his game of settling Peter Obiâ€™s campaign funds is being threatened. Threatened because if Obi ends up not contesting, there will be no money to administer.
As threatening as this development is, I will deviate a bit to ask Chief Umeh how the recently concluded council elections in Enugu State where he lives was. Umeh lives in Enugu but administers APGA in Anambra State to the exclusion of the rest of the country.
Maybe Chief Okorie is right in calling him an unruly coup plotter because like coup plotters the plan is to ravage and plunder instead of building. At least this is our experience in Nigeria in Nigerian military politics.
Back to APGA, Umeh is not alone in this question about council elections in Enugu State . Okorie is also residentÂ in Enugu and yet no show. Both are not bothered that the hen that laid the then golden egg (Peter Obiâ€™s governorship) neither featured in the electionÂ norÂ won any seat.
APGA is only relevant to the duo when Anambra State becomes an issue. The whole hullabaloo will, however, end on March 17, 2010, when the beautiful bride, called the APGA government in Anambra State would have become history.
In all of the confusion going on, I ask Chief Umeh, if he genuinely believes that he is the authentic chairman of APGA. If the answer is in the affirmative, why did he condone a situation where INEC insisted that for PeterÂ Obiâ€™s name to be accepted as APGA candidate, his (Umehâ€™s) name and his factional secretaryâ€™s name will not be in the form.
I guess it did not matter because to him, the important thing is that Obiâ€™s name enters so that the money for the election will be released. The Umeh I know would have gone to court to challenge that INEC decision but to him the end justifies the means.
In a bid to ensure that Obi does not leave office without dropping money albeit through the governorship election, faced with the possibility of him not pulling Obi through under an APGA ticket, UmehÂ atÂ one point gathered 14 briefcase parties in a pitiable ceremony in Awka and had the mediocre chairmen adopt Obi as their candidate.
One may ask where those characters and briefcase parties are. How else can a scam be? Looking at Obiâ€™s face on that day, the money he allegedly released for the project did not go down well with him while Chief Umeh kept putting up false smiles.
In all, the beneficiary of the scam was Barr. Maxi Okwu who needed to celebrate his fatherâ€™s birthday which was already slated for that weekend.
Chief Umeh by now must know that the clock is ticking and Mr. Obi is not as foolish as he may appear. The issue of making money off Peter Obi is not an easy one.
He must go back to his thinking corner to come up with more schemes as Okorie is bent on putting a finalÂ full-stop to Umehâ€™s intrigues.
With the benefit of all I know happening in APGA, it still baffles me why these characters will continue to hound other candidates, especially Prof. Chukwuma Soludo who no doubt is the PDP candidate (not minding the noise).
Any attack on Professor Soludo should be on the fact that he does not possess the requisite ability to govern the state and not who supports him. A man who means a lot to our state must not be stopped by mediocres, the way they stopped his medical facility project in his village. But for Gov. Obi, the facilities dedicated to Soludoâ€™s motherâ€™s memory, would have been nearing completion.
To APGA, Victor Umeh, Peter Obi, Chekwas Okorie, we should say, never again. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Dr. Egboka, a social critic, writes from Igboukwu.