By Emmanuel Aziken
It was in the midst of negotiating with organized labour to avert a nationwide strike that local political rivals from his native Anambra State struck the minister of labour and productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige with a petition to his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari.
They have now forced him into a side war for political survival and relevance as leader of the Anambra State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Ngige’s leadership of the state chapter has never been in doubt. Also not in doubt is the poor returns of his leadership which has now been turned into a matter of acrimony between him and some APC stakeholders in the state.
The minister alleges that the trouble is from those he described as gate crashers who rushed into the party after the 2015 national election victory of the party.
The hornets nest was stirred by a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari from some party stakeholders in the state who accused the minister of amongst others of nepotism and failure to carry the party to a single election victory since his emergence as leader of the party in 2014.
Ngige’s position as leader is upon the fact that he was a former governor of the state, former senator and two time minister. It is a position any can hardly drag with him.
The stakeholders in the petition to the president affirmed that since his advent as minister and leader of the party in the state in 2015 that the APC has not won one office from councilor to governor.
Among the stakeholders who authored the petition were Hon. Jideofor Ejimofor, APC Zonal Publicity Sercretary Anambra North Zone, Emeka Kammelu, APC Chairman, Onitsha South Local Government Area; Chief Gody Offor.
APC Chairman, Ekwusigo Local Government Area; Chief Henry Obiokpala, APC Zonal Youth Leader Anambra South and Chief Ugochukwu Egbobe, APC Chairman, Anaocha Local Government Area.
Others who signed the letter included Chief Joseph Molokwu, APC Chairman, Ayamelum LGA and Chief Paul Chuks Umenduka, APC Chairman, Aguata LGA.
Remarkably, the petitioners in their submission started on a point of sarcasm saying:
“We thank Mr. President for graciously reappointing Senator Dr Chris Ngige as Minister of Labour & Productivity, appointing his wife, Dr Mrs. Evelyn Ngige as Permanent Secretary, Office of Head of Service (Welfare Office); his biological brother Barr Emeka Ngige SAN as Chairman, Council of Legal Education; his elder brother, Chief Edwin Ngige and his maternal uncle Mr. Emma CJ Nwosu as Chairmen of Federal Boards; and his cousin, Uzoma Igbonwa as Member of Board of NACA, amongst others.”
“May we sadly inform Mr. President that since registration of All Progressives Congress (APC) on 31st July 2013 by INEC, with Dr. Chris Ngige as its Leader in Anambra State, APC HAS NEVER WON ANY ELECTION anywhere in the State; whether Councillorship, Local Government Chairmanship, House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate or Governorship. It may also interest Mr. President to know that the Councilor represented Alor ward (Hon. Minister’s ward), whether elected or appointed since the inception of APC has always been of APGA extraction. “We humbly appeal to Mr. President to direct Senator Chris Ngige as APC Leader in Anambra State and Minister to open up the Party by being fair and accommodative to all members.
“He should also be urged to stop using his leadership position to witchhunt and unsettle genuine and committed party officers and members. “This clarion call is very urgent so as to prevent a looming exodus of Party’s major stakeholders. The departure of notable foundation members like Senator Annie Okonkwo, Chief Godwin Ezeimo, amongst many others should be a huge concern to all.”
In a riposte Ngige replying through his media office in Abuja dismissed his antagonists as ”free-wheeling, wheeler-dealers, hirelings and Trojan horses. They are gatecrashers, perennial ‘cross-carpeters’, bread and butter politicians who unable to displace the original members of APC in access to patronage, and already one leg back in PDP, will be pleased to cause disaffection in the APC.
“Indeed, we make bold to state that the APC is a sky that is large enough for every bird of the air to fly and as wide as the deep blue sea for every member to freely swim. Sen. Ngige does not and has never discriminated between the founding members and other members who joined after the APC came to power in 2015. He sees every member as one and united in achieving the larger party goals.
While noting several sacrifices made by Ngige for the party, it was observed that the insurrection was from people who have a hidden agenda against the party with the intention of destroying the party from within.
While noting that his kith and kin who got appointments got them through their efforts especially in the former ACN, he also mentioned a number of people not related to him who have also gotten federal appointments.
“Besides these party members; Emeke Ibe, Barth Nwibe, Chima Okafor, George Moghalu, Chibuzor Obiakor, Charles Amilo, Momaife Augustine, Ebuka Onyemelukwe, Rev Ibeabuchi among many other members of the party, are neither from Alor nor members of Ngige family.”
His critics, however, say that a couple of those mentioned above not related to him who got their appointments got them without his input.
A critic cited the case of Phil Agbasi who was Ngige’s running mate in the 2007 and 2010 governorship elections on the platform of the ACN and Ralph Okeke who was his running mate in APC in the 2013 governorship contest. The two men despite being eminent party elders and founders of the party with Ngige according to one APC insider are yet to get any federal appointment.