PDP, APC’s internal wrangling boosts APGA’s chances
UCHENNA INYA reports on how the leadership of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Ebonyi State is repositioning the party to win the state in the 2023 general election
There is no doubt little was known about the Ebonyi State chapter of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) before now.
It was one of the unpopular political parties in the state that prides itself as the Salt of the Nation” until this year, when some prominent politicians in the state moved into the party.
The time APGA had some level of presence in the state was in 2015, when Prof. Bernard Odoh, a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) contested the Ebonyi Central senatorial election on the party’s platform.
Odoh almost won that election. Many still believe that Odoh’s strong showing in that election accounted for his appointment as SSG by Chief Dave Umahi, who won the governorship position on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
His appointment surprised political watchers and they even questioned why a PDP governor appointed a member of APGA as SSG but Umahi said his only interest in appointing Odoh as his SSG was that he wanted a competent person who would add value to his administration. Odoh, however, left the Umahi administration during his first tenure, citing anti-peoples’ policies and maladministration.
His exit from the administration shocked everyone, including those in government. He defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and contested the governorship primary election of the party for the 2019 election but lost. It was a keenly contested shadow poll and Odoh’s popularity rattled both his opponents and the state government.
Six aspirants contested the primary election and Senator Sonni Ogbuoji won the poll, while Odoh came second.
There was jubilation in Umahi’s camp as a result of Odoh not making it in the APC governorship primary election. The governor’s camp prayed fervently for the emergence of another person other than Odoh as APC governorship candidate because it was only Odoh that was seen as a threat because of his popularity in his Ezza, the most populated clan in the state and other parts of the state.
Ebonyi State APGA died immediately Odoh left the party and contested the governorship election on the platform of the APC.
In fact, the party did not even field a candidate in 2019 governorship election in the state. The party, however, started resurrecting to the extent that some prominent politicians in the PDP made attempt to hijack the party as a result of the leadership crisis in the PDP. By that time, Odoh had returned to the party.
He took some popular politicians, including Senator Emmanuel Onwe, a former majority leader of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Joseph Nwobashi and Dr. Nkata Chukwu and many other politicians into the party.
Against this backdrop, the party has become a force to reckon with ahead of the 2023 general election and its state chairman, Chief Ricky Okorouka, has said it was targeting 50,000 APC and PDP members in the state in its ongoing membership registration in the state.
Okorouka, who stated this in Abakaliki, while briefing journalists in Abakaliki, the state capital, added that the party has done well to ensure that it wins elections in next year’s general election. His words: “We have done well in terms of spreading; we have done well in terms of harmonizing the party and making sure that it becomes a national party.
Let me seize this opportunity to inform you all that the APGA, Ebonyi State chapter is getting much set to take Ebonyi State to greater height come 2023.
“As we all know, APGA is now the most widely accepted political party in the entire South-East geopolitical zone and that orchestrated the recent defection of stakeholders and leaders of both APC and PDP to APGA in Ebonyi State.
“Our door is still very wide open to receive more people into our great party. We, therefore, enjoin those who are admiring APGA to join us now in order to partake in the success story that is ahead of us.
“Following our ongoing membership registration, from APC and PDP, we are targeting about 50,000 persons, who are already waiting to receive us as we begin talks. Fifty thousand APC and PDP members are already in the waiting which we will harvest. Intending members should feel free to join us as we assure them of an all-inclusive leadership and we remain committed to carrying every member of our party along.”
Odoh, Onwe raises hope for party
Already, the party has elected Odoh as its governorship candidate, Onwe as Ebonyi Central senatorial candidate and Nwobashi as its candidate for Ezza North/Ishielu federal constituency.
Odoh had during his formal declaration for the governorship race at a press conference in Abakaliki said: “The 2023 general election will be unique. Stand up to be counted. Take advantage of the new electoral act recently passed into law and the historic Anambara election that produced Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as a motivation to alter the cause of history.”
He described the establishment of medium-scale industries as the shortest route to end poverty in the state and promised to do that if elected.
“The express route to dealing with poverty and unemployment is heart and soul commitment to a small-scale and medium-scale mass industrialization, ranging from scaled agricultural valuechain, complex manufacturing, converting raw natural resources to finished products, exploiting, for example, our abundance of sharp sand along the Afikpo-Ikwo-Izzi Cross River belt to set up glass manufacturing industries to the revival of our existing but abandoned industries in the poultry, cement and PVC sectors.
“Our women will be empowered. They will cease to be mere spectators in the polity but equal participants in the course of governance and every decision-making intended to move Ebonyi forward. “Solving the security challenges we face here at home, with a committed and advanced partnership with our existing conventional security apparatus in the State, will be our absolute priority.
The less I say now the better because we already have a comprehensively articulated blueprint of action in this regard,” Odoh the said. Onwe, on his part, declared that APGA will be the most talk about political party in the state in weeks to come and described Odoh as a good market.
Onwe, a London trained lawyer and popular politician in the state, who hails from Ikwo, was commissioner for Information and State Orientation during Governor Uma-hi’s first tenure during which he repositioned the state Information sector. The former senator defected to APGA to contest for Ebonyi Central Senatorial District seat.
A grassroots politician, Onwe who enjoys goodwill among the youth, women and the less privileged in the zone, whom he has empowered, looks good to winning the election. Already, his Ikwo people, one of the most populated clans in the state have endorsed him for the senatorial position given his track records as a senator and commissioner.
But he has former ambassadors and former minsters, Lawrence Nwuruku and Franklin Ogbuewu from his Ikwo local government area to contend with. Nwuruku is running on the platform of Labour Party (LP), while Ogbuewu is the candidate of a faction of the PDP.
PDP, APC’s internal wrangling boost APGA chances
APGA in Ebonyi is cashing in on the internal wrangling in the two main political parties in the state to win the 2023 governorship election. The PDP in the state is having serious crisis between two factions in the party led by a business mogul, Chief Chukwuma Odii and the senator representing Ebonyi Central, Obinna Ogba.
The two factions have been at war since the commencement of the party primaries with many litigations and counter-litigations filed by each of them, and which many say will affect the chances of the party in the 2023 general election. Both Ogba and Odii are laying claim to the governorship ticket of the party and there seems to be no end in sight to the crisis.
Some stakeholders and aspirants of the party have already left for other platforms. They include a former member of the House of Representatives and Ebonyi South senatorial aspirant of the party, Chief Linus Okorie and another former member of the House of Representatives, Chief Peter Edeh, among others. Both have joined Labour Party.
The member representing Ezza North/Ishielu federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Anayo Nwonu, who contested the governorship primary in the Ogba faction of the party and placed second is also reported to have left the party. He is said to have been given the ticket of the Ezza North/Ishielu federal constituency of APGA, which a former member of the State House of Assembly, Joseph Nwobashi won.
If report is true, APGA has strengthened its chances of winning Ebonyi Central as Odoh, Nwonu and Onwe are from the zone. In APC, there is an issue in the party regarding the governorship ticket. Two factions led by Governor Dave Umahi and a former chairman of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Chief Elias Mbam, are laying claim to the APC governorship ticket until last Friday when the Independent National Electoral Commssion (INEC) shortlisted the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Chief Francis Nwifuru as the governorship candidate of the party.
Members of the Mbam faction are founders of the APC and christened “Old APC,” while the Umahi faction is known as the New APC. The Mbam faction has the support of a former Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and many prominent members of the party while the Umahi faction has the support of Governor Umahi and some chieftains of the party. The two factions conducted parallel primaries for the 2023 elections.
The Umahi faction conducted its own governorship primaries at the Abakaliki Township Stadium and elected Nwifuru as its governorship candidate, while the Mbam faction held its own at his campaign office and elected Mbam as its candidate for the governorship election.
INEC’s shortlisting of Nwifuru as the authentic governorship candidate of the party in the state was celebrated by the Umahi camp, while the Mbam faction has been silent and refused to make any comment on the matter. The Mbam faction may not support the Umahi faction in the 2023 governorship race and may likely join APGA or the PDP but the latter may not be the best option for them as a result of the intractable crisis that has polarized the party.
Odoh boasts of APGA’s chances
Odoh, who spoke on the chances of APGA in the state said: “Frankly speaking, the new Electoral Act has resolved a number of issues. We have seen elections in Anambra, Ekiti and now Osun State. Ebonyi has 2, 946 polling units and each of these polling units is going to be populated by our people, who will come to vote.
Among these our people are faith-based people, professionals, farmers, workers and ordinary people in those communities. We have offered ourselves to serve our people with every sense of dignity and honour them. We also encourage our people to take this opportunity very seriously. They have to take this as their project.
“We definitely will not be everywhere on election day. But what we are doing now is to develop a strategy to have our people at the polling units on election day. It is what I prefer to refer to as balance of terror! You have the APC, the PDP and the APGA. So, no political party will just sit down there and watch the wrong places take place. “I believe we have about seven months to the election and all the areas we have gaps, we are working hard to close such gaps.
So, we are not bothered by the issue of incumbency. The challenges that confront us now as a people are far above the issue of incumbency and I believe we will work our way through to the end.” Odoh, in an effort to get more support for the governorship race has visited people across party lines.
He has visited the state deputy governor, Dr. Kelechi Igwe (APC); a former Senate President and ex-Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) Senator Anyim Pius Anyim (PDP); a former Minister of State for Health, Engr. Fidelis Nwankwo (PDP); the senatorial candidate of the PDP in Ebonyi Central, Hon. Lazarus Ogbee; leader of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Victor Nwite (APC); chairman of Ezza North council and House of Representatives candidate for Ezza North/Ishielu federal constituency, Dr. Nora Aloh (APC) among other leaders, candidates and aspirants of political parties across board.
After visiting the governorship candidate of the APC, Nwifuru, Odoh told journalists that he believes that elections are only a significant and critical component of the democratic process, which ensures successful regime transition and not a time to pick a fight or quarrel with anybody.
His words: “Yes, in continuation of our consultative visits, which has been on for two weeks now, I have just visited and spent quality time with the number three citizen of the state in the person of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Nwifuru. I know you (the media) and even some individuals are wondering why I’m consulting a candidate of another political party like the speaker. But then, that’s what makes us different.”
Odoh explained that the essence of the visit was simply to solicit the support of every Ebonyian, high or low, no matter where they dwell or their political leanings on his governorship ambition. “First of all, we are brothers and longtime friends who served in the same government before I left on grounds of personal principles.
There’s, therefore, no issues or misunderstanding between us as leaders and the collective interest and better welfare for our people have remained the goal. “We will therefore continue to deepen our consultations with our people, elicit their supports and exchange views and opinions on how the future of our people and generations yet unborn can best be secured.
Elections are only an aspect of the entire democratic process and I want aspirants, my fellow candidates and their teeming supporters to understand this. “It is very important they are made to understand this so that some misguided and overzealous supporters and even the electorate do not think that there is war, a misunderstanding or a fight between the candidates and their various supporters and then hide under that to cause crisis or violence in any part of the state,” he said.
The APGA governorship candidate further told journalists that he enjoins other candidates to pay similar consultative visits to their fellow candidates and their supporters, noting that such leaders should live by example.
Although Odoh is a very popular politician in the state, some political watchers say he has no structure to win the governorship position even though he is from the most populated clan in the state – Ezza – who are known for unity, especially when it comes to election unlike the Izzi, the second most populated clan in the state, who dichotomy has adversely affected.
But Odoh, a professor of Geo- Physics has dismissed lack of structure perception on him by his critics and has consistently insisted that farmers, workers, students, ordinary people, youths, women are his structures.
However, the general election will prove him right or wrong.