Obiano: What legacy for APGA?
The principle that the end justifies the means is and remains the only rule of political ethics; anything else is just a vague chatter and melts away between one’s fingers ~ Arthur Koestler in Darkness at Noon
The votes have been cast, yet the recent APGA primary election can rightly be described as the most controversial in the party’s history. Despite the repeated assurance of a level playing ground by the party leadership, we have been inundated with reports of widespread electoral malpractices ranging from intimidation, sabotage, blackmail, nepotism to imposition.
Last June I was in Anambra for about three weeks. While working out with a high ranking official of the state government his phone rang and he excused himself to take the call outside the noisy gym. He returned a few minutes later and as we chatted he informed me that a politician who recently decamped to APGA was already inquiring about the delegate list for the party primaries scheduled for September. I replied that the politician must be a veteran.
I was proven right in due course as the politician subsequently left APGA after futile attempts to access the delegates. That was an indication of things to come. I reckoned that if such a heavyweight politician couldn’t access the delegates, it is axiomatic that the coming primaries was likely to have been predetermined and would be anything but free and fair.
Senator Stella Odua opened the door of strife when she decamped to the PDP citing ‘lack of internal democracy’ as her reason for leaving the party she joined less than four months ago. In Anambra South Senatorial district which is arguably the wealthiest in the continent, the battle for the Senate ticket kicked off with stories of the party’s plan to impose Bianca Ojukwu on the people. Ifeanyi Uba who moved his support to APGA after a botched attempt to obtain the gubernatorial ticket of the PDP alleged a breach of an agreement to grant him an automatic ticket.
In Imo state despite claims in some quarters that no election was held Senator Ifeanyi Ararume’s camp has been in wild jubilation as reports of his victory filled the media. A friend had questioned the propriety of granting the former Okigwe Senator who only joined the party a waiver while denying Ifeanyi Uba same after he worked assiduously towards Obiano’s second term.
As it were, Bianca Ojukwu was upstaged by the seasoned Nicholas Ukachukwu who eventually clinched the ticket after Ifeanyi Uba was disqualified. However, as I write the rumour currently making the rounds is that the party leadership has concluded plans to annul the election and substitute his name with that of the APGA matriarch who came second. It appears that we may not have heard the last about that exercise.
These are a few prime examples among many disputed cases of irregularities arising from the exercise.
In fairness to Obiano, he has done well in terms of governance. That much was confirmed by a resounding victory last November. However, unlike his predecessor who was notable for his frugality and exceptional ability in resources management to achieve maximum results, Obiano is renowned for his flamboyance and love for aesthetics which by the way has produced good results too. So it is a matter of style which each leader is well entitled to.
But while Obi may have performed excellently in governance, being a businessman somewhat limited his perception of politics to mercantilism. Peter rarely trusted in others’ ability to deliver. During his time he sat atop a pyramid where he determined everything including those that could have been successfully executed via delegation. Consequently, he failed woefully in building what Nigerians refer to as ‘a structure’. (A group of influential loyalists capable of mobilising the electorate to deliver needed votes). This left him with little political followership as he left APGA and was equally responsible for candidate’s poor showing in the gubernatorial election.
Obiano seems to have learned from this.
Firstly, he has maintained a close relationship with former APGA Chairman and serving Senator Victor Umeh who is regarded as a sagacious politician that understands Igbo politics.
Secondly, since his re-election, the governor has redeployed many officials of the state. He has also delegated political affairs to Umeh and his trusted SSA Chinedu Obidigwe while governance is substantially handled by Primus Odili his Chief Of Staff.
And finally, a retinue of youthful special assistants has given the semblance of an even spread to his empowerment project.
With his desk decluttered the governor was able to look at the bigger picture and quickly went to work.
Having previously stated his regrets about the PDP’s rape of his party even after campaigning for former President Jonathan in 2015, Obiano smartly reckoned that his people’s aversion for the APC will harm APGA’s chances in the general election should the rumoured pact to endorse President Buhari come to fruition. This insinuation was quashed as the governor smartly resisted further pressure from the centre with an announcement of the party’s intention to field a presidential candidate.
Sources claim that he may have opted to work clandestinely for the president whom he enjoys a warm relationship with. In so doing he will assist the president without incurring the ire of his people and in the same breath leverage on federal might to deliver APGA candidates. Killing two birds with one stone.
With the primaries done and dusted work has to commence if the party is to succeed during and beyond the coming polls. Some aspirants have threatened litigation while many party members are disappointed, enraged and frustrated at perceived injustice on the part of the leadership. On the sidelines, there are talks of an imminent implosion if aggrieved party stalwarts are not placated. Of course, all these are lucid however they are also not strange. There is no political party in the country that is not faced with similar problems. In every election, there must be winners and losers.
Governor Obiano stands on the threshold of history. The chance to deliver a record number of elected officials at the centre is there for the taking. He must join the party leadership to reconcile aggrieved aspirants and assuage exasperated members. Where there is need to concede the party must do so, especially with the criteria of party loyalty.
The house must be united going into next February because from all indications, apart from sweeping the polls once again in Anambra, APGA would foray successfully into neighbouring states where it stands a very good chance of winning some seats in the governorship and legislative elections. How Obiano navigates through this period will not only determine the survival of APGA but will also go a long way in cementing his legacy, after all like the legendary Niccolo Machiavelli said, the end justifies the means.