THEIR firm resolve not to compromise the party in any form fostered the membership solidarity that never ceased to amaze the conspirators. At every turn, the attempts at divide and rule towards bolstering an impostor-puppet regime in APGA collapsed like a house of cards.
To appreciate Governor Obi’s sacrifices for the cause of APGA, he did not flinch from recognising the authentic APGA leadership even when doing so meant jeopardising his candidature in the February 6, 2010 governorship election.
These efforts at the cohesion and growth of the party were complemented by the goodwill he generated for APGA with his very impressive performance as Governor of Anambra State.
There is no debating the accomplishments Obi has recorded in restoring peace and stability to Anambra, developing service-leadership ethos, empowering institutions and in provision of social infrastructure. Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji, said as much when he declared for APGA on July 3, 2010 before an alarmed PDP leadership re-enticed him back to the PDP.
I had observed then that ‘burdened with a godfather breathing hot air on his shoulder, Orji must have been struck by the clinical dispatch with which Obi kept Anambra free from all sorts of native colonialists’. It is significant that one of Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s first acts following his election in April 2011 was a visit to Government House, Awka, to thank Peter Obi for his support and inspiration.
On the strength of Obi’s public relations boost for APGA, a former governor of Rivers State, Celestine Omehia flew the party’s flag in the 2011 governorship poll in the State. And in February this year, two ACN members of the Anambra House of Assembly defected to APGA, citing Obi’s great performance as their motivation.
These developments should suggest to us that the reasons for APGA’s limitations in the field of Nigerian government and politics should be sought elsewhere. An analysis of the political environment invites us to take a closer look at history, origin of the Fourth Republic and comparative sense of regional interest.
The sobriety of the civil war experience has since affected the political choices of the Igbo. In effect, the South East has tended to embrace a duality of political platforms at the same time – a party of the centre and a regional party. In the Second Republic, notwithstanding Zik’s towering reputation, the National Party of Nigeria posed considerable challenge to the Nigeria Peoples Party in the South East.
In the still-born Third Republic, the Social Democratic Party and the National Republican Convention were of comparable strength in the region. Following this trend, Dim Emeka Ojukwu’s leadership of APGA did not translate to the eclipse of the PDP in the South East.
I had earlier mentioned that the Igbo presidential project of 1998/1999 which was to be woven around Dr Alex Ekwueme in the PDP was subverted by the authors of the transition programme. The mindset of the transition handlers was to placate the South West over the June 12 election by ceding power to a ‘detribalised’ and ‘pliable’ Yoruba presidency.
In furtherance of this mission, the Abdulsalami Abubakar regime bent backwards to register the Alliance for Democracy which failed the electoral performance criteria for recognition as political party. Even after the junta had settled for the PDP to execute its transition agenda, the two other registered parties, the AD and the APP, were left free to hold sway in their domains. Thus, the A(N)PP and the AD/ACN had a head start over APGA in the politics of the Fourth Republic.
When the INEC was compelled to register APGA in 2002 against the wishes of the ruling party, the establishment made sure that this daring child was not afforded the opportunity of regional influence. It, therefore, sought to neutralise what would have been APGA’s looming presence by registering three other parties at the same time!
APGA has, however, been affected by the South East’s poor rating in articulating and working for its regional interests. At Nigeria’s present level of development, political power is in part a function of judicial influence. The Igbo presidential project has proved difficult largely because the Igbo have not done their home work on the military, economic, judiciary and other institutional fronts.
The Yoruba have so far demonstrated better understanding of the judicial dynamics of political power. The cause of the ACN is lent wider support by critical segments of the Yoruba nation compared to the laid-back attitude of the Igbo society.
It is with this insight that the ACN was able to wrest Ekiti and Osun states from the PDP in 2010. Contrastingly, APGA was not able to retrieve the governorships of Imo and Enugu states which it was widely believed to have won in the 2003 elections, mainly because of the insensitivity of the Igbo elite.
Governor Obi and others have done so much for APGA but the ultimate fate of APGA is in the hands of the people.
Mr. IFEANYI AFUBA, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Nimo, Anambra State.