By Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Ahead of the November 6, Anambra State governorship election, spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Patriots, Anambra State chapter, Victor Afam Ogene has said that the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) does not stand a chance in the poll.
Ogene, member of the 7th Assembly of the House of Representatives, says the alleged abysmal performance of the Anambra governor, Willie Obiano will give victory to the APC in the gubernatorial contest.
There have been several statements and engagements by a group you are associated with, APC Patriots. What informed the setting up of this group?
Let me begin by letting you know straightway that the singular reason for the coming on board of the group, APC Patriots, Anambra Chapter is to, quote and unquote, “capture political power” in Anambra State. Now, when I say, “capture” power, I use that word advisedly, and deliberately. As you may have observed, the bulk of APC Patriots membership is drawn from people, who have at one time or another sought elective position, many without success.
Yet, their failure to secure success at the polls is most often inversely propelled by extraneous factors not directly associated with their electability.
To properly situate our dilemma, let me cite one very recent example. In the last gubernatorial election in Anambra State, our party, the APC, despite claims of widespread unacceptability still managed to come second, ahead of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP which is often passed off as the largest political party in the state.
After the polls, the APC set up a fact-finding committee, which carried out a near forensic post-mortem to find out what was responsible for what, in our estimation, was a not-too-satisfactory outcome. Now, it will shock you to know that besides official indulgence with the ruling APGA, internal party sabotage arising from a bitterly fought primaries counted hugely in diminishing the fortunes of our party.
With this realization in mind, and given the likelihood of another eight years stay outside the power loop in the state if we do not get it right on November 6, 2021, some key stakeholders came together and birthed the group, APC Patriots, Anambra Chapter.
Your continuous use of the term, Anambra chapter, presupposes that your group has a nationalistic fervour with branches across the country. Is your group, therefore, something of a national movement?
You would not be wrong to come to such conclusion, even when all you hear about the Patriots now revolves around Anambra. In more ways than one, our dear state, Anambra holds an enviable position as one, which opens up hitherto uncharted pathways. But for the sake of this discourse, let me limit myself to the political terrain. Even before other states started making a song, and dance, about combating the menace of godfathers, Anambra, through the current state leader of our party, Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige had liberated the state from the stranglehold of godfathers.
Even the country’s electoral cycle, which has seen no fewer than seven states hold off-season gubernatorial elections was brought about by Mr. Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra through his epic tenure interpretation case.
So, the idea of the Patriots, as an internal self-cleansing mechanism, is sure to set off positive reactions across states and political parties once we succeed, as we plan to do, with the Anambra model.
As just a group within the political framework, how do you intend to achieve your goals, especially in such a way that does not conflict with the role and responsibilities of statutory organs of the party?
Thank you very much for this question. This is because following the formation of APC Patriots, many party people, analysts and observers have been worried stiff regarding what some of them term the likelihood of a hidden agenda. But I can tell you here and now, that there is no hidden agenda anywhere – and anybody who embarks on a search for one would only end up chasing a wild goose.
For the sake of emphasis, our goal is to make sure that the process leading up to the emergence of our party’s candidate is not strewn with bristles, thus compromising the cohesion of our party in the run up to the main election on November 6, 2021. In fact, conventional wisdom dictates that once a party’s candidate emerges through a credible, fair, rational and transparent process, there will not only be less acrimony, but also the entire gamut of those who contested the party primaries will willingly team up with the candidate to go into the general election as a cohesive unit.
As a matter of fact, unless the disparate power blocs which are in contention morph into one, the end result would be disheartening. And because we don’t want such a scenario, party stalwarts, operating under the auspices of the Patriots began working from the problems to the solution.
You seem to have an uphill task up your sleeves, especially as political parties are known to have preferred candidates.
In deed, we will be kidding ourselves to think that party officials and its hierarchy would not want to have certain individuals emerge as candidate from a pool of other highly qualified aspirants. As humans, officials are bound to have preferences, but we’re insistent that even in seeking to do family and friends favour, the process must accommodate the feelings of the other aspirants, thus necessitating that the process must not only be credible, but also acceptable to a wide spectrum of critical stakeholders.
So, how does the APC Patriots intend to achieve its lofty goal of winning the Anambra gubernatorial election?
First, the steering committee of the Patriots began with a face to face interaction with the aspirants. With that concluded, we are taking the message down to the South east; to Anambra.
Already, we have outlined a schedule of activities that would lead up to the primaries sometime in June.
Beginning with courtesy visits to their Excellencies, the governors of Imo and Anambra states, other leaders such as Ngige, Sharon Ikeazor and top national leaders of our party, we are going to spend the month of April engaging with the party members across the board.
So what gives you confidence going into this election, especially with APGA as incumbent, and the PDP boasting of notable politicians?
Let me hasten to say that the APC has made appreciable inroads into the South East geo-political zone. As it stands now, no political party is more accepted in the South East. Today, with two states apiece between the APC and the PDP, the two parties could be said to be on equal footing, going into the November 6 election. And if previous ratings are anything to go by, the APC in Anambra towers above the PDP, having won more votes than them in the last governorship election.
So, for us, we’re not bothered about the PDP, because immediately after the primaries, their party is sure to implode and we would be the beneficiaries of their cutthroat politics. For the APGA, the dismal performance of Governor Willie Obiano has gravely de-marketed the party. Pray, on what records would the party be running their campaigns?
Is it the Airport, International Conference Centre or what? I hail from Ogbaru, and in seven years of the Obiano administration, our people have not derived any tangible infrastructural project from the state. Our two major roads are still at the stage former Governor Peter Obi left it. The story is the same across the 21 LGAs of the state.