By Emperor Iwuala
During the 2011 Governorship Elections in Imo State, there were a lot of factors that contributed immensely to the victory of Chief Rochas Okorocha at that election. One of them was the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). The party was a well nurtured party in the state then led by Chief Martin Agbaso. Agbaso financed APGA from 2003 till when Governor Okorocha became a Governor. It is also being said that since the birth of the party, it has virtually won almost all the Governorship elections held in Imo State.
Nevertheless, it was very easy selling Rochas with APGA in 2011 to Imo people. This was because of the emotions the party carries and its attachment to the Late Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, quest for the Republic of Biafra and the Igbo identity and interest. Therefore in 2011, it was very easy to whip up the sentiments of Imo people with the party’s symbol being the cock. It was easy and cheap to hoodwink the psyche of the poor masses into believing in APGA and Okorocha’s candidature even without much financial or material inducement. This was because the party had an already existing populist strong structure made up of many selfless faithful and loyalists who were ready to die for the course of Ndigbo.
Interestingly, Governor Okorocha like some other power-seekers has a chequered history of jumping from one party to another. He has not been seen staying and nurturing a political party for one unbroken 12 calendar months. He was in PDP, later moved to ANPP, formed Action Alliance (AA), came back to PDP, went briefly to Labour Party and finally won Governorship in APGA.
Regrettably, Okorocha’s sojourn in APGA has today left the party more devalued and weakened than it was before. Less than two years in office, the Governor is trying to liquidate, trade-off and mortgage what remains of the party to ethnic parties of the Yoruba and Northern Nigerians.
Knowing the experience the Igbos have been passing through in the country, I wonder how Rochas can successfully convince an old woman in the remotest part of Imo State that it is no longer the ‘cock’ and Ojukwu but to vote for a party spearheaded mostly by political leaders of the Western and Northern Nigeria.
Interestingly, the recent APC rally hosted by Gov Okorocha in Owerri exposed the fact that the APC agenda in Imo State is only a selfish agenda for the Governor Okorocha’s own personal political interest. This is because it is a fact that the National leadership of APGA (including the factional ones), other APGA members in the South Eastern states and some members of the party in Imo State are not part of the merger. However, it is only Governor Okorocha and his supporters that are defiantly trading the name of the party in the said merger arrangement in the name of APGA.
In another development, APC is made up of ANPP, ACN, CPC and what is now commonly called ‘The Rochas Okorocha-Led APGA’.
Regrettably, during the said APC rally in Owerri, none of the major stake-holders of ANPP, ACN, CPC and APGA like Vitalis Ajumbe, Achike Udenwa, Emeka Nwajiuba, Martin Agbaso, Senator Chris Anyanwu, Chief C.C. Nwaka, etc were present at the occasion. Also this included the majority of the state chairmen of all the above named political parties.
People from the Western part of the country are known to push for political agenda that will benefit their region only. They are not after what benefits other parts of the country and it is this ideology that always guides their political activities. Gen Mohammadu Buhari left ANPP because of the issue of running for the presidential election with the party’s ticket. He formed the CPC and got the party’s presidential ticket. Ironically, at the end of the 2011 general elections in the country, CPC was able to win only one state. This was so because the party had no other agenda outside making Buhari a president. Unfortunately, the party is today being accused of raising the consciousness that has culminated into the present intensity the dreaded Boko Haram sect is operating with the Ibos recording the highest rate of casualties. Also, ANPP controlled states are also strongly associated with providing the haven for members of the said sect.
ACN on the other hand, being a sectional party successfully secured the western part of the country well but could not make much impact outside the western region. Also, to exhibit its chronic political sectionalism, the party was very unserious with the aspiration of its presidential candidate Mallam Nuhu Ribadu during the 2011 presidential Election.
Coming to Governor Okorocha and the APC option, I believe that the Governor has no real interest of the Easterners at heart but may pretend he has. I think his best agenda in the merger is either to emerge a presidential or vice candidate. If he had laboured for APGA for a very long time with utmost sincerity, it would be hard for him to sell out to the merger. Assuming Ojukwu was alive today would it have been easy for the former war lord to join APC?
In synopsis, what is very clear herein is that all the merging political groups are regional in orientation and therefore their politics being regionally are selfishly focused. There lie the major limitations of the politics of these parties even in terms of the narrow issue of candidates’ selection. Outside their controlled regions, the parties have not been able to acquire the necessary electoral strengths that can spread nationwide and take care of the common interest of Nigeria as a people. Often, during elections these regional parties recruit aspiring politicians outside their regions for the mere formality of fielding candidates for elections and not to really win elections. As a result, the politics of all our merging parties is centrally driven by some few regionally-based popular personalities; notably Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu – South West, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff/Sen. Bukar Abba Ibrahim/Alh. Ibrahim Shekarau/Sen. Sani Yerima – North East/North West, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari – North West and Chief Rochas Okorocha – ‘South East’.
It is my humble permutation that because of the weight of the above named personalities, the party if finally formed is likely going to have subordinated and weak party executive as party management and membership mobilisation will be driven by issues of loyalty to individuals more than to the party. Also, statutory party organs and implementation of their decisions are likely going to be driven more from outside party structures.
The fact of statutory party organs and implementation of their decisions being driven more from outside party structures may result in situations where even the task of choice of candidates at all levels will be more handled outside party structures. This is what has given legitimacy to the complaint for lack of internal democracy in our parties, thereby creating internal crisis, anti-party activities by members and factions.
Therefore, it is my wish that the Governor should look well before he leaps into the APC therapy.
To be forewarned, is to be forearmed.