By STAN OKEKE
Contrary to widespread expectations from the opposition and detractors of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the Chief (Sir) Victor Umeh –led party, on August 26, 2013, held the most credible and peaceful party primary in the country that threw up Chief Willy Obiano as the APGA flag bearer for the November 16, 2013 gubernatorial election in Anambra state.
Speculations were rift that it was going to be the most bitterly contested primary and a direct confrontation between the APGA national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, and the Anambra state governor, Mr. Peter Obi, as both gladiators were alleged to have their favoured candidates.
For such armchair critics and political analysts, the party primary would expose and bring to the fore, the cosmetic nature of the reconciliation between the two gladiators. However, these doomsday analysts were proved wrong and as these speculations were going on, Gov. Obi and his national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, along with other major stakeholders and members of the party, were busy all through the preceding week of the primary, putting heads together in a series of meetings, to ensure a peaceful and well co-ordinated primary that would produce an acceptable candidate for APGA in the November election.
What actually led to these unfortunate speculations, was the assumption that a particular candidate who was disqualified by the party’s Screening Committee, was the anointed candidate to win the governorship election for APGA. Having been disqualified alongside other candidates by a very credible and well constituted Screening Committee, all hell was let loss and all propaganda set in motion to discredit the APGA leadership.
Granted, a few of the disqualified candidates were eminently qualified to be the standard bearers of APGA but only if they played by the rules. Judging by the rules guiding APGA and going by its constitution, were they qualified to contest the primary? Should party rules, constitution and guidelines be flouted for a particular candidate simply because he is perceived to possess the credentials to run? Has the same scenario played out before in the case of the same candidate? Why the hue and cry about this candidate?
For the records, one of these disqualified candidates, submitted to the Screening Committee, a membership card signed by Chief Maxi Okwu. On two very critical grounds- Not possessing a voters card and bearing an invalid APGA membership card- was disqualified. The same candidate appealed his disqualification, even as he knew that he at least, had an invalid membership card.
Also expected is that a party member must have been a member of that political party for an agreed number of years, before qualifying to contest any elective post in the said party. Nobody should be above the guidelines or rules that guide an association or political party.
In concluding their assignment, the Screening Appeal Panel, headed by Chief Tony Ojielo with Barr. Bala Bako as secretary, submitted that having considered the appeal of the aspirants who failed the screening test, the panel having touched on all the relevant aspects of the party’s electoral guidelines, affirmed the submissions of all the aspirants that met the requirements of those guidelines.
They thereafter dismissed the appeals of the contending contestants as lacking in merit. In passing this judgment, there was no minority report in favour of the disqualified candidates.
At the APGA primary that later saw Willy Obiano coming out victorious, it was obvious that the APGA national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, played a very significant and noble role in the conduct of that successful primary. Umeh, true to character, ensured that whosoever that emerged as the APGA candidate, would be acceptable to all stakeholders and members of the party, even as it was perceived that Obiano was the anointed candidate of Gov. Peter Obi.
Even the shinning amazon of APGA, Iyom Uche Ekwunife, who came second at the primary, exhibited the spirit of a team player when the result was announced.
Umeh, in his reaction after the successful primary, urged all the contestants to close ranks and embrace Obiano and work as one family to ensure victory for APGA in the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra state.
A leader with exceptional qualities, the APGA national chairman confirmed that his reconciliation with Gov. Obi, contrary to speculations, was real and for the wellbeing and continued electoral successes for APGA.
He stated that both of them had been, and will continue to work closely together, to ensure that APGA wins the governorship election.
His absence at the party primary also generated a lot of anxiety but he doused the tension and speculations by explaining that he supervised the entire process and therefore, wouldn’t have been proper for him to be the overall referee and also a player, hence his decision to give it the credibility it deserved.
As the APGA primary has come and gone, it is the hope of, and the general concensus of all well meaning party faithful, that all hands must be on deck to ensure that the party comes out victorious in the November 16, 2013 Anambra governorship election, to the glory of God.
*Stan Okeke is the Special Assistant (Media) to the National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh.