According to a Chinese proverb, “of all the stratagems, to know when to quit is the best”. Considering that there have been indications of Dr. Alex Otti’s imminent exit from the All Progressives Grand Alliance-APGA all these while, the development may not come as a surprise to many Abians and Nigerians, considering all the orchestrated negative recorded events in the party in 2018 and beyond, which extensively debased the integrity of the party and reduced it to the level of a kindergarten academy.
In an interview with the Nigeria Daily Newspaper some days back, Dr. Alex Otti, stated the reason that informed his decision to quit APGA– the inability of the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, who serves in a dual capacity as the party’s National Leader and Chairman Board of Trustees to consider the serious complaint of party stakeholders against the National Chairman of APGA and his strong desire in imposing the National Chairman on the party for a second tenure; when it was glaring that the party primary elections in various states were characterized by political racketeering and Corruption. Dr Alex Otti didn’t really go into details in his interview in revealing the numerous negative situations which occasioned his exit from APGA. For clarity purposes, it’s pertinent to x-ray all that compelled many other decent politicians in Imo State, Abia State and other states to say goodbye to the APGA political party.
From my observations in all that played out in the party, APGA is a wrong place to actualize the struggle for democracy and service to our state, our people and our country. Dr. Alex Otti and most of us in the party recall that we joined APGA with the belief that we had seen the beginning of the rebirth of a political party of our dreams, but was later proved wrong as events of the intervening years had shown, that like any other human and like many other Nigerians, we were fallible.
While other political parties purged themselves of the arbitrariness and unconstitutionality that led to fractionalization, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) adopted those same practices and even went beyond them to institute a regime of a draconian clampdown on all forms of democracy within the party. The party failed to meet the yearnings of party faithfuls and also the expectations of the party members was left floating.
Not only that, the constitution of the party was serially abused, all the organs of the party were rendered virtually ineffectual. Internal party democracy was sacrificed on the altar of personal greed and injustice. The party members were left in a quandary and were denied the appropriate support to enjoy the party in line with the acceptable democratic norms. For instance, in Imo State where over 21 Governorship aspirants, many national assembly aspirants and many state House of Assembly aspirants obtained nomination forms for which they paid hundreds of millions of Naira and also spent hundreds of millions of naira in creating individual awareness, with the view to participate in the party primary elections, which is in line with the provisions of Nigeria’s Electoral Act 2010 as amended, to their greatest surprise, no primaries were conducted, yet winners secretly emerged and their names were secretly submitted to INEC. Honestly such acts, negate the rule of natural justice. The dangerous development murdered and buried APGA in Imo State.
To exemplify my argument, I persuaded a very close friend of mine, Mr. Chimezie Isiuku, who hails from Njaba LGA, Imo State and resides in the United States, to run for State House of Assembly in APGA. He bought APGA nomination form N1, 000,000 and concluded his tour in 10 Wards, as well as his visit to Imo State party leadership, stakeholders and party members, spending some millions of naira to that effect. To my greatest surprise, he called me on the day the party primary was expected to hold to inform me that a winner had emerged without the conduct of any election. Such situation offends the law and the rule of natural justice and capable of discouraging young and vibrant politicians from offering themselves for elective positions in the country.
It’s necessary and disheartening to note also that, the party had a presidential candidate known as General John Gbor (Retired), in 2019 election, who was duly elected in APGA presidential primary election held on Sunday, October 7, 2018, in Abuja. But APGA national leadership secretly struck a dangerous deal with APC Party National leadership and abandoned APGA presidential candidate and was systematically campaigning for APC presidential candidate.
To buttress my argument, on Tuesday, December 18, 2018, the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano through his Senior Special Assistant on Event Management, Mr. Chido Obidiegwu inaugurated a movement known as “One-on One Nigeria” for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019. The party leadership didn’t deem it necessary to use APGA presidential candidacy to capture governorship seats at least in South East geo-political zone. Honestly, it’s too deep to fathom such a dangerous political calculation. However, let it be.
If my memory serves me well, we all will recall that the current APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu started by capturing just one state with AD in 1999. He went further to capture more states in the South West geo-political zone with ACN, which made it possible for him to use the party’s dominance in the South West to negotiate for key positions during the merger between ACN, New PDP, CPC and ANPP. That was why the following positions-Vice President, Speaker Federal House, Minister of Information, Minister of Finance, Minister of Works and other attractive positions were zoned to the South West Geo-political zone. What a brilliant political calculation.
Furthermore, in Abia State, where we have a dangerous rattle snake as a State Party Chairman, who loves money more than his life, he considered it profitable to sell the party APGA, to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He preferred being in PDP’s monthly payroll to having his party form government. What a crazy act!
With these unfolding developments in the party, at a point, it was glaring to all Abians and many APGA members that we will be unable to achieve our goals and aspirations as a people under APGA as it is presently constituted. All of these informed Dr, Alex Otti’s decision and many others of which I am one, to dump APGA with the view of joining a different political party that shares the hopes and aspirations of our people and realizes and recognizes our rights to be treated as equal partners in our democracy.
As a matter of fact, the exit of the Abia most cerebral cum colourful politician- Dr. Alex Otti from APGA, has taken the party 360 degrees back to the comatose stage where it was. This is a man, prior to his entrance into APGA and Abia State politics, the party was completely dead. The cosmic phenomenal of the State political atmosphere was loosed and dominated the political space. The political thunders and lightening were uninterruptedly rolling zigzag across and in the bottom of the state political atmosphere; while the political evil water was tossing and turning around the state ship of justice. It was impossible for Abia citizens to express how they feel due to fear of retribution and a sudden knock on their doors at mid-night. It was impossible for political opposition to aspire for elective positions. All the great men of means and billionaire rich men relocated to other states for their dear lives. The state was like LO-DEBAR, the place where Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan in the scripture was taken to, when his parents were killed in a war against Israel.
But as soon as Dr. Alex Otti ventured into Abia politics under APGA platform, APGA resurrected from political relegation. The sun came out and the evil political clouds in the state disappeared; the evil political thunder hushed its voice; the deadly political wind in the state went back in its chambers and slammed the doors; and the state evil political waters lay down like a baby. Abians began to express their feelings, express their right to freedom of speech and association, as well, aspiring for high and low elective positions without fear of intimidation from the powers that were. Besides, APGA that had never won even one councilorship seat in the state since 1999 won almost half of house of assembly seats and one house of representative seat. It also won the Governorship Seat which was stolen at gun point by PDP.
For APGA political party to rise again to the level of winning any position in Abia State and Imo State in subsequent elections, it’s like a Carmel trying to pass through the eyes of a needle or like the devil considering the option of receiving salvation. From all indications, it’s all over for APGA as a political party in Abia, Imo State and of course in Nigeria.