Imo 2019: APGA crisis casts shadow on party’s fortunes

As Ikedi Ohakim and other APGA governorship aspirants desert Araraume, the party’s supporters are worried how the face-off would impact on the party’s fortunes in 2019, reports Associate Editor, Sam Egburonu
SINCE the National Working Committee (NWC) of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) declared Senator Ifeanyi Araraume as the party’s duly elected governorship candidate in the state, there has been tension in the state chapter of the party as some of the major stakeholders affected by the decision allegedly threaten to either leave the party or work against it in the 2019 elections.
The aggrieved governorship aspirants have not only protested against the party’s National Working Committee, but are said to have accused the leadership of the party in the state of ‘being weak,’ warning that they may decide to take their fate in their hands.
They openly condemned the party’s leadership for organising a governorship primary election where only two aspirants participated out of about 15 top aspirants formally screened for the election.
It would be recalled that at a time, up to 20 aspirants showed interest for the party’s ticket. Some of the earliest aspirants that showed interest in the party’s ticket included Frank Nneji, the Chief Executive Officer, ABC Transport; Okey Ezeh, CEO, Savvycorp Limited; Sam Amadi, a former Chairman of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC); Chidi Okoro, a former Managing Director/CEO of UAC Foods; Stephen Nwoga, Deputy National Organising Secretary of the party, among others
However, when after the primary held at Kanu Nwankwo Stadium, Owerri, the APGa Returning Officer, Mrs. Eberechukwu Ejikeme, declared Araraume the winner, the others cried blue murder and some of them threatened to start a factional party if the National Working Committee fails to resolve the matter promptly. Mrs. Ejikeme had announced that Araraume got 583 votes to beat other aspirants like Okey Eze (61); Frank Nneji (48); Daniel Kanu (90); Ike Ibe (15) Ikedi Ohakim (27), among others.
But the other aspirants had described the said primary election as a sham, alleging that only two aspirants actually contested in the controversial election when over 15 aspirants were screened for the election.
Some insiders even said the aspirants have concluded plans to defect to other parties in order to fight against APGA in the forthcoming elections. It was for example, speculated that the former governor of the state, Ikedi Ohakim, may defect to the Accord Party (AP). The speculation gained ground after Ohakim, speaking through his Media Director, Collins Ughala, said pointedly that he was angered by ‘the election in which Araraume was said to have been the winner.’
But others, like Sam Amadi, told newsmen that aggrieved gubernatorial aspirants vying under APGA would help the party out of its present crisis.
Admitting that the aspirants had already lost confidence in the State Working Committee (SWC) of the party; he said that they have however decided to come together to address the problem without resort to the SWC.
As he puts it: “The SWC is weak, they rely on what the national said, so we have decided to take our own fate in our own hands.”
The Nation investigation during the week however confirmed that the over 13 governorship aspirants of the party who lost out are dissatisfied with the declaration of Araraume, a development; analysts said may impact negatively on the fortunes of the party in 2019 elections. According to Chief Vitalis Nneji, an APGA member in Mbaise, “It is true that most of the other leading aspirants, especially Ikedi Ohakim, Frank Nneji, Bright Nwanne, Steve Nwoga, Sam Amadi and Okey Eze were displeased with Ararume’s declaration. This does not however mean that the problem cannot be resolved by the leaders of the party. APGA is not the only party where other aspirants would allege fraud after the elections. I believe it is a family matter that must be resolved as soon as possible.’
The face-off could be traced beyond late September when some supporters of some governorship aspirants in the party, like the former governor of the state, Ikedi Ohakim, protested that their supporters were unable to get forms to participate in the party’s ward congress. They accused the organisers of the congress of hatching a plot aimed at favouring one of the governorship aspirants.
Some concerned observers then concluded that the matter was effectively resolved, when, because of the protests, the ward congress was momentarily shifted to give some aspirants enough time to purchase forms for the ward congress.
Before the ward congress, some informed observers have noted that the party risked possible implosion following the nature and number of aspirants interested in flying its flag in the 2019 governorship election.
Commenting on the fear then, Chuks Oluigbo, wrote as far back as September that the development posed a challenge. As he put it: “When the number of politicians aspiring for the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Imo State began to swell a few months back, some political analysts interpreted it as a sign of the high level of acceptance of the party in the state. Even when the number of aspirants hit 20 and counting, they said it was a vote of no confidence on the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and a sign that Imo citizens were looking to APGA for salvation in 2019.
“There were, however, a few observers who saw the large number of governorship aspirants in the party as a bad sign. For this group, the concern was that the way the number of aspirants was growing, the party risked an implosion if the primary election and its outcome were not properly managed.
“But some members of the party quickly dismissed these fears, arguing that since democracy was a game of numbers, the influx of new members into the party was a positive sign which, if properly harnessed, could translate into electoral victory for the party in next year’s governorship election. They also dismissed the fears that the party may have rancorous primaries owing to the large number of aspirants.”
Concerned observers are expressing fear that unless something is done quickly, the party, which is rated very high as one of the leading political parties in the southeastern state, may take the back seat in the 2019 governorship election.
How far can APGA under Araraume go?
When Senator Ifeanyi Godwin Araraume defected to APGA from All Progressives Congress (APC), there was a stir both within APC and APGA. Whilst the leadership of the ruling APC in the state expressed relief at his defection, because of the long-drawn face-off he had with the leadership in the state, some APGA chieftains openly expressed fear that he may attempt to hijack the party. With his emergence and the criticism by the aspirants that lost out, it remains to be seen how the party would manage to re-unite its members to support Araraume in the elections.
Aside the disagreement however, it is clear that Araraume, who served at the Red Chamber between 1999 and 2007), is a strong politician and experienced enough to win the Imo governorship election.
As the pioneer chairman of the then All People’s Party (APP) in the state, he displayed his acceptability and political prowess when he abandoned the then APP a few weeks to the primary election and grabbed the PDP ticket for the Imo North Senatorial seat.
He is also one of the oldest aspirants to the governorship seat in Imo State. It is on record that his aspiration to this plum seat dates back to 2007. Although this aspiration was truncated by some powerful forces within the ranks of PDP, who secretly supported Ikedi Ohakim, Araraume has, ever since then, remained in the permutation of Imo State’s governorship race.
In 2011 and 2014 (for the 2015) elections, for example, he continued the quest to govern the state. Given these, informed observers said he seems fully prepared for the job. “Senator Araraume, we must all agree, is one of the most prepared candidates for the job of governor in Imo State. What we don’t know however, is how far he can go on the ticket of APGA in today’s Imo State. This is even more so, as the party seems divided today,” said Barrister Usim Umunna, a political analyst in Owerri.
Umunna explained that on the surface, APGA is a strong party in Imo State, adding that “with Araraume, the party also has a strong candidate; an experienced grassroots politician and a hard fighter. His major challenge is that he may be contesting on the platform of a divided house.”
That apart, Araraume, who hails from Okigwe Senatorial zone, may have a hard time convincing advocates of zoning who are agitating for the turn of Owerri zone.
These challenges notwithstanding, informed observers said the governorship election in Imo State is poised to be tricky. This is because of the long-drawn disagreement in the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), over its governorship candidate.
“With the confusion in Imo APC, it seems the 2019 governorship election has become really unpredictable. The situation is such that any serious political party’s flag bearer, any serious candidate can enter into strategic alliances that may tilt the balance in his favour. This being the case, it may be wrong to dismiss the chances of an experienced candidate like Araraume and his party, APGA. Both the party and its candidate have a name in Imo. It however depends on how far the drivers of the political game would go to achieve results,” said Umunna
Imo 2019: APGA crisis casts shadow on party’s fortunes Imo 2019: APGA crisis casts shadow on party’s fortunes Reviewed by Legitnews247 on November 01, 2018 Rating: 5

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