By Kaejiekwu Mmeje
After it made a kill in the last governorship election in Anambra state held on November 18, 2017 by winning in the entire twenty-one local government areas, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, once more proved, if any proof was still needed, that it was fully in-charge of the political landscape of the state – no matter what. In that historic election, the party won fair and square in a keenly contested election that featured Nigeria’s known political giants – the All Progressives Congress, APC and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. It swept everywhere and took no prisoners. It was APGA’s glorious moment, and the other parts of the Southeast began to wait for the APGA fragrance and miracle to reach their shores. The joy in Anambra and the expectations in areas of the zone where the party has significant presence and influence grew. It was a victory that was clearly traceable to APGA’s sheer performance in governance in Anambra state, its acceptance and popularity among the people of the state plus the hard work of the state chapters of the party and its National Working Committee, NWC, led by Chairman, Dr. Victor Ike Oye
The history of APGA and the circumstances of its birth are well known, and so should not detain us here. Like the other political parties in Nigeria, APGA has had its fair share of crises, weight loss and weight gain, with a few of its visible members and strategic stakeholders moving in and out of the party. Intetrestingly, what gives a party character, cohesion and internal vibrancy is its ability to manage and contain crises, any type of crises, as they occur, and still retain focus, unity, direction and discipline at all levels of its leadership cadre. At a point in late 2018, some incurable pessimists thought that APGA was about to crash and disintegrate, but its party leadership quickly halted to check itself, to fully understood what was going on and study the emerging contradictions that had then manifested, controlled and assuaged the raging anger that arose from the misunderstanding and misrepresentations associated with the party primaries in some states and then resolved them. That was said to be the handiwork of Victor Oye, the APGA National Chairman, at work. Crisis management and control is said to be one of his areas of profound strength. Calm and confidence was restored to the party. But more than these known facts, that is one of the curious mysteries that define APGA as a political party, and which many close observers are beginning to associate with it as a political formation. Its resilience and capacity to weather the wind, under a determined and focused leadership, marks it out as a political party to watch.
As the party prepares for its State Congresses and National Convention later this month, there are obvious factors that need to look forward to. One of them is cohesion and continuity and the other is party discipline. So far, the party has remained cohesive and united, in spite of that better-forgotten turbulence caused primarily by unexpected bad weather, and the misunderstanding of motives by a certain level of its membership and followership which was, gladly, halted before it expanded in frontiers and scope. There is now a robust internal debate and discussions within the leadership of the party about the need for continuity in party policies, commitment, direction and leadership composition. In other words, there is the need for another term for the current leadership of the party to reassure its growing membership and expanding national acceptance that APGA, as a political party, has come to stay and has a mission and vision, to strengthen its frontiers, deliver on its promises, as it has been doing in Anambra State, and begin to develop itself for an enlarged national responsibility – and showcase deep political appetite to vie and accept responsibilities of governance beyond Anambra State.
Under APGA, Anambra State where it has held power and demonstrated good governance in the past thirteen years, the story of the state has changed for good. In the words of a politician in neighbouring Imo State, Chief Onyebuchi Ibekwe: “Anambra State which was almost colonized by Armed Robbers and notorious for backlog of salary arrears more than a decade ago, suddenly recovered, achieved peace, consolidated it and launched out on the path of calculated development and immediately started consolidating on what has been achieved. But our envy here in Imo State is that no one in the leadership of Anambra government or APGA leadership is willing to share the secret magic that transformed a fearsome and otherwise violent state into a showpiece of consummate peace, political tranquility and development. It could be because we blew our opportunity for the magic transfer when our governor here, Rochas Okorocha, then APGA leader here, unceremoniously left for another party. That may have denied our state the opportunity to learn from those running the affairs of our neighbouring Anambra State”. That may well be an explanation for the huge gap existing between Anambra State, and the rest of the states in Southeast Nigeria.
The commentary above may not, necessarily, be exaggerated or an idle talk. Under APGA and its leadership, Anambra State, since 2006, has developed far beyond anyone’s possible imagination. Its road network is superb – paved, tarred one town and village after another and well connected from town to town, village to village. It is simply amazing! Security arrangement is producing immense results and has remarkably reduced crime. The economy is booming, carefully planned, integrated and its internally-generated revenue competes with Rivers and Delta States, thus reducing reliance on federal allocations from Abuja. But above all, Anambra is increasingly becoming an attraction to local and foreign investments in all the critical sectors of the economy. And this may not, after all, be too difficult to explain; when a state enjoys peace because of a near total absence of crime and banditry and governed by a political party that is purposeful and visionary, it automatically and invariably becomes a bride for investments and tourism. We then add all this to the enthusiasm of citizens of Anambra state to positively respond and embrace the popular call by its government and prominent citizens and leaders, to “look and think homeward in their investment plans and aspirations because “there is no place like home”. Already, this engagement between a people and its leaders and prominent citizens is already beginning to yield huge results in Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka and other centres. These development features and new thinking are clearly traceable to the purposeful political leadership which APGA has been providing in Anambra State. And this is already beginning to point at Anambra as “a state to watch”.
Let’s face it: it is not possible to discuss the successes and the giant strides that have occurred in Anambra State these past years without giving credit to the political party that has controlled and directed its politics since 2006 and keeps improving its engagement with its people at every point. That party is APGA whose national leadership is headed by Dr. Victor Ike Oye, and whose Foot Soldiers are under the command of Governor Willy Obiano. When a national leader and the head of the foot soldiers blend and are almost permanently on the same page, the result is usually peace, unity and steady progress. And like everyone familiar with politics in new societies and emerging economies, Development simply does not occur in a vacuum, by mistake or even by accident. It derives from peace and absence of social disquiet. Once these factors take root and become permanent features of society, development becomes assured and inevitable. That is the story of Anambra state today.
The credit goes to those who have contributed directly or indirectly in bringing this Anambra socio-economic transformation and enduring peace to a state that has chosen the path of planned development. Since 2006 that Anambra came under the care of APGA, its entire story changed so remarkably for the better and it has become, as it were, a standard reference point for the other states in the Southeast zone. It is for this, if for nothing else, that party faithful and serious-minded stakeholders in the APGA are desirous of two crucial and strategic things to happen to the party this season: hitch-free and fair State Congresses and National Convention in which party loyalty and continuity occupy their right places. And, hopefully, it shall come to pass.
Chief Mmeje, an Engineer, was a Foundation Member of APGA in Imo State.