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Anambra Guber: Tinubu, APC governors Desert Ngige

By James Eze

Senator Chris Ngige's hopes of becoming the governor of Anambra State for the second time may have hit the rocks as mutual suspicion between him and the APC chieftains funding his campaign has put his hopes of a comeback in the balance.

Feelers from the APC camp indicate that the party's leader, former governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu had always felt unsure of Ngige's readiness to honour the pact he sealed with his political backers and has become even more concerned recently with the needless controversies the APC gubernatorial candidate had dragged the party into.

A close source to the APC leader who spoke under anonymity at a discreet dinner in Victoria Island Lagos, revealed that the party leadership had always looked at Senator Ngige with suspicion. “The man has a history of not keeping his word. He is very slippery and seems to be constantly drawn to things that will give him cheap and instant popularity at the expense of long term, carefully thought-out political stratagems,” explained the source.

According to him, Ngige's record of broken promises has made it difficult for the party leadership to mobilize the support of all the APC governors to push for his victory in the coming election as most of the governors believe that the Anambra guber hopeful was simply playing along for now and would show his real self once he wins the election.

“That was the reason why most of the APC governors did not show up at the Onitsha campaign kick-off as earlier advertised. If you recall, we had put out an advertisement claiming that the 11 APC governors would be going to Onitsha to boost the overall appeal of Ngige's candidature to his people. But most of the governors grew cold feet, fearing that Ngige would not make a loyal candidate as he would assert himself sooner than later,” the APC source further revealed.

The source also pointed at the sudden withdrawal of support by Senator Annie Okonkwo who had earlier accepted to serve as the Chairman of Ngige's Campaign Committee as one of the reasons that made the APC governors withdraw their support for Ngige.

It would be recalled that Senator Okonkwo had in a widely reported formal letter to the Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, turned down the offer to head Ngige's Campaign committee while slamming the APC gubernatorial candidate for not keeping to agreements.

"My decision was borne out of inability to keep to the agreement and flagrant distrust and abuses by our standard bearer who of course showed no appreciation for the supreme sacrifice of stepping down for him. As a party, I remain committed and loyal to our great party," Senator Okonkwo had explained.

Senator Okonkwo's sudden decline of the challenge to co-ordinate Ngige's campaign activities was largely seen by the APC governors as a sign that Ngige was not even trusted by his own brother. “So, how do you expect other Nigerians to trust him? We all heard of his bitter quarrels with the people who funded his campaign during his first gubernatorial campaign that ended in his disgrace out of office. Our people fear that he will turn against them once he wins the election,” the APC source explained.

Also fingered as one of the major reasons why the APC leadership is turning its back on Ngige are the hot accusations and vicious media attacks on ex-governor Tinubu and Adams Oshiomhole who have been blamed by many Igbos for partaking in Ngige's kick-off of his campaign on a day that the Ofala festival was taking place in Onitsha.

Many Igbos had condemned Tinubu and Oshiomohle for desecrating their tradition, reminding them that they would never have approved of a political rally that has been timed to coincide with the Oro festival in Lagos or the Igue festival in Benin City.

Said the APC source: “Our leaders are not happy that their participation in the Onitsha rally has cast them in the mould of anti-Igbos. They blame Ngige for not paying enough attention to details while planning his activities. They consider the Onitsha rally a mistake that should have been avoided.”

The direct consequence of the growing suspicion in the party for the character profile of Senator Ngige is that very soon, his campaign budget might take a heavy cut as the party's political investors attempt to cut their likely losses.

“As things stand now, I'm not sure that he will receive more funds from the party when he exhausts the last slush of funds that was released to his campaign committee,” revealed the APC source.

There is a growing feeling in the party that Senator Ngige's greatest challenge in the coming election is his reputation as a man lacking in integrity and a politician who uses and dumps his benefactors.