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Restoring the spiritual journey to save APGA

By Editor on 12/08/2021

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Let me use these two verses in the Holy Book to kick off. The first says: So, shall we then continue in sin that grace may abound? ... Either we take him at his word when he equates sin to death, or we do not believe him at all (Ephesians 2:1). The second is Psalm 145:8, which reads: The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

Both comes handy for anyone attempting to situate the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), in a historical context particularly given the crisis currently tending to asphyxiate and concern it to the scrapheap of forgotten political records.

One of the greatest tragedies besetting APGA today, is that those running it or pretending to, have little or at best a faint idea of its history, having not been there at the formation and therefore bereft of the ideas and projections of the original founders. Majority of them are just journeymen, passing by and using the party as a vehicle to achieve various and divergent ends, which apart from being totally personal, appear at variance to these ideals.

If only they did, they would have been seized of the fact that APGA’s foundational history is decked heavily in spiritualism and perhaps attempted a return to those spiritual pathways as a way of not only self-rediscovery but saving the party from imminent and sure death, such as presently facing it.

For instance, consider the false narrative that APGA was founded by the late Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, which they now promote. If not ignorance, then it must be for sinister reason(s), because it is a complete lie. Ojukwu never founded APGA. The late Ezeigbo Gburugburu, actually joined APGA more than six months after its formation and registration.

Chief Chekwas Okorie, was the conceiver, originator and SOLE FOUNDER of APGA. In fact, Noah building the Ark, Okorie was even mocked while labouring at the project. However, the only contribution Ojukwu brought to the party was his influence capital, which gave APGA its leap and relevance. To that extent, it could be right to ascribe him as the father of APGA. But to say he founded APGA is completely overreaching the facts.

Indeed to persuade Ojukwu, who was then a chieftain of the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), it was former President General of Ohanaeze, the late Eze Ozobu, former Chief Judge of Enugu State, who openly begged him to do so. This was at an Ohanaeze meeting in Asaba, where Okorie presented the APGA certificate to Ndigbo for the first time. Ozobu urged the late Ikemba to join the party as part of his further service to Ndigbo.

It was not only in September of that year, five clear months after that the Ikemba gave an indication that he was nibbling at the offer. That was at a function at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), where he publicly tore his ANPP card, though failed to state where next he was headed politically.

However on December 24, 2002 he finally accepted to become a member of the party in his Enugu residence at number 4 Isi-Uzor Street, Independence Layout, before the likes of Chief Hypolite Ogboko, Prof. Joe Nwogu, Onwuka Ukwa and others. Having caught the big fish, an upbeat Okorie, two days later at Zodiac Hotel, Enugu, told reporters that the coming election would be a contest between three Generals – incumbent Olusegun Obasanjo for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Muhammadu Buhari for ANPP and as he put it, The Wise General from the East – Ojukwu.

Yet, the Ikemba did not get APGA registration card until about a month later before the convention of the party at the Old Parade Ground in Abuja on January 10, 2003, ahead of that year’s presidential election, where he ran as the party’s candidate. I personally witnessed virtually all these developments and those I didn’t, I got as an insider.

APGA Television - Posts | Facebook

But today, the narrative is that Ojukwu founded APGA? Today the founder of the party whose creativity and sweat the current party leadership and those before it are enjoying, is totally relegated to the background. How would there be peace, when there is a Just God watching?

APGA also had a spiritual journey that started after two failed attempts by the same Okorie to register a political party that it believed would promote Igbo Political identity in 1996 and 1998 using the name of Peoples Democratic Congress (PDC) in both occasions. He had opted to seek the face God in any future attempts. In 2001, he wrote prayer requests to all Christian Churches and Mosques for God's divine assistance. 

He then applied to INEC with the name of United Progressives Grand Alliance (UPGA) and later changed the name to APGA with the motto: Be Your Brothers Keeper (Onye aghana nwanneya) the same he used for Igboezue Cultural Association, which midwifed the formation of APGA. The efforts eventually paid off with the birth of APGA on June 22, 2002. The release of the certificate became one of the biggest political events in the South East, eliciting wide jubilation among Ndigbo, having become the first political party registered in Nigeria based on Igbo initiative.

Thereafter, Okorie in company of the late Jacob S.P.C. Nwokolo, proceeded to the late Arch Bishop Anthony Obiefuna to bless the APGA certificate of registration at his residence at Onitsha.

After going round to present the same certificate to Igbo leaders such as Ojukwu, former Vicer President, the late Alex Ekwueme, Ozobu and the late Christian who prayed on it, it was formally presented to the General Assembly of Ohanaeze in Asaba Delta State where a traditional prayer was held, led by Ozobu.

A week after the Asaba meeting, Okorie led his team to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Uwani, Enugu, where Monsignor Obiora Ike said another special prayer before blessing the party. Thereafter, an officially dedication of the party to God followed at an interdenominational service at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu. 

The combined effect of this journey was remarkable. APGA was believed to have cleaned all the states in the South East, and would have been the only party in the area, but for the ubiquitous rigging machine of the PDP under Obasanjo.

Yet, in what is seen as the handiwork of God to underscore the apparent divine essence of the party, a confusion erupted within the PDP in Anambra State that enabled the emergence of Peter Obi as its first governor, leaving the party a sort of lifeline to build survive.

However, instead of building on the momentum, the party descended into a decade-old leadership tussle that clipped its wings and derailed its purpose. Okorie, suddenly became the victim of intense battle, which led to a powerful force twisting his hands to seize his efforts and sweat, using money and influence.

 In anger, and weary from endless court battles to retain the ownership of the party, Okorie walked into the Abuja headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), with the same anointed certificate and personally returned it in May, 2012. He then declared in a public statement: “I’ve withdrawn the spirit and soul, I’m returning the carcass of APGA.”

There’s no telling that APGA never recovered from that curse ever since regardless what those operating it may believe, as it has never known any peace “being a party without soul and spirit.”

From then APGA took on a new face, spirit and soul, which manifested after Obi, who was a product of Okorie’s APGA served out his term setting the stage for another election. Then, the rude shock! Chukwuma Charles Soludo, fresh and smelling roses from Abuja as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), became the first major victim, as he was used as a guinea pig to test, what has become the new phenomenon.

Favoured to pick the party’s ticket for the 2009 governorship election, he was rudely shoved off the contest through disqualification, just 25 days to the process after collecting nomination fees alongside about six others. Unable to withstand the shock, he was forced to join the PDP from where he contested and lost.

Till date, like the hounds that tasted blood, the APGA the pattern of collecting huge amounts for primaries from prospective candidates and denying them the rights to contest through disqualifications, have remained the has remained the permanent feature.

The consequences of this odious trend, which disregards persons and status, including wife of Bianca, the adorable wife of the late Ikemba, is what has landed the party into the deep mess it has found itself today.

Until recently, a fuming Bianca, forbade the party from further using her husband’s head on the APGA uniform describing the leadership in unprintable terms.

Hear her testimony on May 12, 2021: “Another season of party primaries has arrived and those whose stock in trade is to milk party aspirants dry all because they aspire to run under our party’s platform, have started sending out requests for funds for our APGA ANAMBRA STATE SECRETARIAT… “The completion of a simple bungalow that could not be achieved in 7 years will miraculously be achieved by transformation to a four-storey edifice in 5 months. Hooray! However, Is it the  best option to set up yet another ‘money mop-up scheme’ for APGA guber aspirants or other political office aspirants by this solicitation of funds after the scandalous mop up in the lead up to APGA’s 2018 primaries which cost the party so dearly?

My life with Ojukwu –Bianca - Daily Post Nigeria

Tony Gray Okpe, a senatorial aspiriant under the party in Imo State, was no less emphatic: “APGA is a fraud. It is more than a ponzi scheme and a continuous criminal enterprise. It is an Anambra business to defraud and make money using aspirants every four years. It’s a scam. Every four years, people are defrauded. It’s no longer nkea bu nke anyi, but nkea bu nke ndi ori (It is no longer this is our own, it now means this for thieves). Some people lost millions and millions to the cartel, some people were given certificates of returns four times.”

Today, the certainty of the party’s candidate for the November 6 governorship election, remains in a quandary following an intense legal battle that has pitted the same Soludo against one of the chieftains of the party, Chukwuma Umeoji.

Umeoji a two time member of the House of Representatives and a former local government chairman under the party, who like Soludo, was denied participation in the party primaries last month, seems to have found a way around his fate, by putting his name on the INEC’s ballot.

Even an order from the Court of Appeal in Kano, quashing Umeoji’s victory at the nearby High Court in Jigawa through which he emerged the candidate of the party has now become a subject of controversy. While Soludo and his camp are celebrating the victory, the Umeoji camp insist that it went into no issue since the appellate court did not make a consequential order to remove his name.

So, unless anything else happens to clarify this situation, the situation might not change, especially given another Court of Appeal judgement in Imo State, which the Umeoji camp insists favours them.

But must APGA pass through all these? If yes, why? If no, what’s the solution? Many analysts believe that APGA must be rediscover itself. It must begin by a true and fulsome reconciliation involving the original founders. Seek out Okorie, wherever he may be and give him a leadership role in the party. Make him return that spirit and soul he took away. It’s not too late to make that restitution even if without the required penance. That’s the only way.  

APGA must seek the face of God again through another rededication. That curse placed nine years ago must be reversed. It is even more important now Ndigbo might need the party again for their presidential aspiration if other parties fail them. Let this be done now before it’s too late.

Yes! The anger of God may be slow on APGA, but must it continue in sin that mercy may abound?




Posted on August, 12 2021

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