'WE CAN HONOUR OJUKWU BY UNITING UNDER APGA'
The greatest honour the Igbo people can give to the late Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu is to come under the banner of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to sustain his vision of respect and dignity for people of the South-east within the Nigerian nation.
Lagos-based lawyer and activist, Theo Nwaigbo, made the clarion call while speaking on the death of the Igbo leader and its implication on the political fortune of Ndigbo in the country. He also spoke on other national issues
Why we must unite under APGA?
Over the years, the south-east have been content with politics of errand tea boys in the corridor of power, apologies to our father, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Eze Gburugburu of Igbo land. In the current political dispensation, it is only the Igbo that do not have any identifiable political platform of their own. And that is why they have been getting second fiddle treatment from the PDP. Nigeria by creation stands on tripod.
Only the South-east zone do not have their legs standing. The Yoruba have proved that their hearts and soul remain with the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). The PDP is predominantly a northern party. This is why Ndigbo must unite under the APGA umbrella so that they can have their dignity and a voice of their own.
APGA in Imo state
Reflecting on the success of the All Progressives Grand Alliance in Imo state in the last general election I can conveniently tell you that the party won fair and square. It is however important to point out that the victory was not based solely on the capacity of APGA as a party but more largely on the charisma and popularity of Owelle Rochas Okorocha. If he had joined any other party the party would still have won election the state.
It was his personality and pedigree that attracted coalition of forces against the power drunk Ohakim government. Before he joined the party, APGA was virtually at zero level in the state. The party only existed in the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Now the welcome party is over, the government must start to develop and grow the party to a formidable political organization in the state and the entire Igbo land. This is the challenge before him now. And it is a serious one for that matter because the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) hawks are still hovering around in the state. It is by developing the party into a formidable platform that he can help himself and the entire Ndigbo in the political configuration of the nation. Hence he must embark on drastic surgical operation of the party to give a total reorganization.
The ACN experience
If you can recall, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) was the dominant party in the Yoruba land. Unfortunately the party entered into a pact with PDP through former President Olusegun Obasanjo who was desperately looking for a political base. AD suffered a huge betrayal and they lost the entire South West, except Lagos state where Bola Tinubu played a smart fox. The party was changed to AC and finally ACN.
Having learnt the bitter lesson, the leadership of the party went back to the drawing board. Party leaders such as Asiwaju Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande, and Chief Osoba among others embarked on massive mobilisation and reorganization of the party. The result is there for all to see.
They recaptured the entire South-west except Ondo state. The lesson to be drawn here is that the Yoruba have bounced back as major force in the political equation of the country. They now have a solid political platform to advance the collective interest of the people. Other serious groups in other zones are now willing to collaborate and negotiate with the party on a larger scale. Hence, nobody can toy with the South-West people the way they will toy with the Igbo.
Ndigbo must learn from such rich experience and rally round in APGA as their authentic Igbo platform. Nigeria is a tripod so divinely created. Orji Kalu had that vision and was building something like that with the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA). Unfortunately, he suffered betrayal and he lost Abia and Imo in the process.
The challenges before Obi, Okorocha
Both Peter Obi and Okorocha has the responsibility to make APGA attractive to the people just the way Fashola's performance made ACN the right model for the people in the Southwest. I'm sure the people will have no choice than to come under the banner of APGA if they are able to deliver dividends of democracy to the people and demonstrate that governance is not just about sharing money to the godfathers and party cronies. Obi has really started well in Anambra and Rochas is not doing badly in Imo considering the enormous challenge he met on the ground. However, they must remain focus and steadfast in the service to the people. They must make the two states model of good governance. If they are able to do that there would be no place for politics of god fatherism and do-or-die in Igbo land.
Critics of Okorocha It is quite expected that those who never wanted good things for the people, those who are still aggrieved over the sudden termination of the chop-chop politics will find it difficult to come to term with the dawn of light in the state and so will pick on anything to criticize him. While it is too early to start assessing his government, it is quite clear that he has been able to restore hope to the people. He has been able to arrest the ugly situation he met on the ground.
However, he must remain focus and avoid the usual banana peel through periodic auditing and evaluation of the people working with him. A lot of hawks, wolves in human skin are trying to get closer to him.
Sustaining committed APGA members It is good to consolidate on the gains of the election. Yes, I agree with that but we should not forget that during the April elections, some PDP warlords did everything to protect the interest of the man sent to prevent Owelle Rochas Okorocha from winning the election.
Also, some ACN chieftains did same for their candidate. However, the APGA faithful with the support of the people and God won the fiercely contested election. Some of them even staked their lives in the face of intimidation and harassment. They refused to compromise APGA's candidate even in the face of tempting offers. Therefore, it would not be fair, just and equitable to sacrifice the interest of such loyalparty men to satisfy the interest of defectors from other political parties whose loyalties cannot be guaranteed now.
This is where I want the governor to strike the balance between the new crowd and the tested loyal APGA faithful who were at the forefront of the war during the election. He should not forget those who put their lives on the line at various polling stations. He should be mindful of those who fought against him to sustain Ohakim in power but who are now telling him that they love him more than they love Ohakim.
He should be wary of such political turncoats who are only interested in what they can benefit from his government. Such people are everwilling to jump to any available ship at any available opportunity.
APGA must be built on strong party discipline and loyalty, which must be cultivated at all levels. For example, they have their internal policy which requires any newcomer to spend certain period of time before he could be considered ripe for certain positions. So, if you are an ACN, you should be committed to that party.
South-east and tokenism
Yes, you may call it compensation. For example, when an Ibo man is appointed Secretary to the Federal Government or Deputy Senate President but with due respect, I would describe such purported compensation as an insult to the collective sensibility of the Igbo people considering their contributions and sacrifice to the building of Nigerian nation.
The war ended 40 years ago and people are still talking about compensation. We are not strangers in this country. That is why I am advocating for a political platform on which we can stand and negotiate for power. We don't stand on porous grounds and say we want to negotiate. The most clearly identified political party with undiluted Igbo antecedent today is APGA and this must be on the commitment of everybody that believes in the cardinal objectives of the party. It cannot be built on the shoulders of lily-livered adventurists who cannot be trusted on any principle or ideological stand.
As I talk to you, opportunists, adventurists and political turncoats have invaded APGA. This is where both Obi and Okorocha have a great task. They must walk together to build genuine loyalty among their followers. They must identify committed party faithful and make them the real pillars of APGA across Iboland. There is nothing wrong with an Ibo party. There is nothing wrong with a strong Ibo- based political party. You must be a good tribal man before you can be a good national leader.