Oye and APGA: History beckons -By Ody Chukwube

Filed under: Political Issues |



The political trajectory of Nigeria in recent times, has not shown any marked departure from backwardness.

At every point in time, certain events take place that become the turning point in the making of history. And at such points, such events throw up a particular person, who becomes the arrowhead in the making of that history. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Charles De Gaulle, Che Gueverra, Fidel Castro, Patris Lumumba, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, at one time or the other, found themselves in this position.

However, rather than shy away or being swept aside by its tempestuous tide, when they found themselves at its threshold, they seized the momentum of history, rode through its waves and finally landed at the centre stage of reckoning, never to be forgotten by appreciating people they gave their all or an alert world recording those events. The political trajectory of Nigeria in recent times, has not shown any marked departure from this well-established trend, where individuals play key roles in not only creating events, but transporting it to the point where they become history.

Resting on the historical foundation of a tripod, the structure of Nigeria in virtually everything, has always taken the peculiar shape of East, West and North. Other parts of the country, though major components, have always found expression through these established tripod.

It was not surprising therefore that at the outset of the present civilian democracy in the country, the political party structure again tapered towards this traditional reality. The emerging political parties, like then All Peoples Party (APP), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had tried to assume the nationalistic toga, leaving the Alliance for Democracy (AD) as the regional party. But it was not long before the evolving order followed a familiar route.

Thus, the birth of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), in 2002, saw to the completion of the third leg of the tripod, especially as the APP, which eventually became the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), having been pummeled and assailed by the PDP, took a regional bent. Consequently, the crystallization of the AD, which transmuted into Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the ANPP and APGA along the old Western, Northern and Eastern borderlines, was only a reflection of the primordial political sentiments of the nation.

However, things have since changed. At the time of the grand coalition that gave birth to the current ruling party in the country, All Progressive Congress (APC), in April, 2013, it was clear that the ANPP and ACN, had left APGA far behind. Each had come to the table with not less than six state governors, such that even if the party decided to fully join in the arrangement, it would have come with only Imo and Anambra. That was how far it failed to measure up.

In fact its place in the political development of the country as a whole and in particular, the South East since its inception, given the path it toed during the period remains a matter of debate. But it is beyond question to stress that the party is not where it ought to be at the moment.

One singular reason for this rather regrettable outcome is the leadership tussle that beset it shortly after take-off. Just after the 2003 general election, the first it participated in, and barely a year after obtaining its certificate of registration, the party was plunged into a leadership tussle and for more than eight years, went in and out of the various hierarchies of the Nigerian courts.

It is against the backdrop of this rather parlous outlook that the recent development in the party finds expression. Thanks to Chief Willy Obiano, Anambra State Governor, who has refused to bear what would have been the eternal burden of sounding its death knell, the party has just been given a new lease of life. Special gratitude also to the fighting spirit of the immediate past Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh who galvanised support for a rancour free National Convention.

In fact, if the seamless manner in which a new National Working Committee (NWC) of the party emerged in May this year, could mean that the governor completely understands the historical imperative entrusted on his shoulders to ensure its survival, the choice of the party’s new National Chairman, Dr. Victor Oye, remains a clear evidence of his ability to fully bear the Akpokuo dike sobriquet.

For it is only a dike like Obiano that would be able to weather the storm, wade through the cacophony of voices and still keep a clear head to know what to do at this time. For there is no doubt that APGA needs a fresh breath of air. It now has it in Oye. Not only that he has no primordial baggage that could weigh him down, Oye comes with an envious track record of managing men and materials, besides the burning desire to uplift the sagging fortunes of Ndigbo and pulling them out of the abyss of despair. He has also demonstrated a clear vision and a burning desire to succeed. His experience as an accomplished Public Relations Practitioner, adds to his suavity. Those close to him attest to his iron cast principles, which they see as key in the task of rejuvenating the party.

A snippet of his vision comes handy here. Hear him: “There is no way an organisation can make reasonable progress without properly defined and shared vision predicated on pragmatism and selflessness. The era of conflict and rabid hatred among members, is gone forever. We are in a new era where brotherly love, transparency, mutual respect, dignity, fear of God and altruism will supplant hatred, greed, internal wrangling and mutual suspicion. “It is our desire to reconcile all genuinely aggrieved persons and bring such persons back to the fold to contribute their quota to the reconstruction of the party.”

Surely, this line of thinking is not only reassuring, but the icing on the cake. Not a few observers had bemoaned what they believe was the loss of fire, effervescence, confidence, sagacity, oratory, courage, tenacity and erudition, such as were embodied in the late Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Surely, these are the qualities needed to rouse the party to the new momentum of waking the sleeping giant that is the Igbo political consciousness. Luckily, Oye is not deficient in this regard. If anything, he possesses them in large measures.

APGA had been founded on the basis of a political movement. In its early years, it had lived out this billing by the level of mobilisation it embarked on. With the late Ikemba leading from the rear, like the General he was, the din of its mobilisation practically reverberated in virtually all parts of the country.
In fact, it is said today in certain quarters that it was the fear of the huge successes the party was making and the consequences of seizing and dominating the Nigerian political space that caused the enemies to move quickly to sow the seed of discord that eventually bedeviled, stunted and almost asphyxiate it to death.

Now, with the quality of leadership expected of Oye, there is no doubt that the party may have turned the crucial bend that would bring it to the expressway, where it can rave the engine full throttle and engage the needed speed that would eventually land it to its destination even faster than expected.

In so doing, there is no doubt that he would be needing all the support he could muster both within and outside the party. It is gratifying that Oye is already hinging his vision on full reconciliation and integration rather than separation, intimidation and acrimony. In fact, this is actually the time to reach out to everybody that has had something to do with the party in the past. The success of bringing them to the same table would not only be an ample test of Oye’s sagacity, a successful reconciliation would definitely be one of the magic wands to tip the balance, engender the self-discovery and ultimately catapult the party to take its rightful place in the scheme of things in the country.

Re-enacting those ululations at Alaba, Ladipo, Balogun, Ariaria, Ogbete, Otu nkwo, Sabon gari and all other places where those who make APGA tick can be found as was done in the Ojukwu days, has become as imperative and critical as the survival of the Igbo nation itself. It has become more so with the clear signals in the Nigerian polity where the Igbo man is daily being handed the wrong end of the stick. That they must refuse the place they are being relegated must mean that they possess the teeth to bite. APGA is that teeth and it is Oye’s place to sharpen them enough to bite deeply if necessary. That, like when Ojukwu was called upon, is the demand on the new APGA boss today. History beckons.

Chukwube is a public affairs analyst.