By Ife Osemedua
The current tussle for the control of the leadership of the Anambra State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is, perhaps, not what its teeming supporters in the state had bargained for at the moment, especially coming on the heels of a governorship election where the party performed below its pre-election ratings.
Indeed, many had expected that the leadership of the party, rather than resort to bickering, would rally its rank and file together for a proper post-election self appraisal and take some lessons from their actions or shortcomings before, during and after the exercise, in order to make some positive changes in the future.
As it stands today, however, APC in Anambra State remains divided, with one faction loyal to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, and another led by Senator Andy Uba, the governorship candidate of the party in the recently held election in the state. This latter group, going by the APC rule book, is regarded as the authentic group, as the rules stipulate that the governorship candidate of the party is the leader of its caucus in such state.
But it appears the APC, Anambra State chapter, has by this development begun the needed inquest into the reasons it has remained largely unsuccessful in the state since 2013, under the leadership of Ngige, who had held sway before the emergence of Uba as a governorship candidate.
They frown at the fact that the party hadn’t been able to win a single election with the two-term minister as leader. They, in fact, accuse him of not being accommodating enough to nurture the needed team spirit that would encourage the kind of commitment that would lead to positive party growth and engender electoral victory.
Ngige was also accused of not putting in the required efforts, as a leader, in the quest by the party to win the governorship seat in the run-up to the election.
A chieftain of the party and director, media and publicity of the party’s governorship campaign council, Hon. Victor Afam Ogene, had recently said that Nigige abandoned the project when his leadership was most needed.
According to the former member of the House of Representatives, “You cannot abandon your troops in war time and seek a return to lead this same beleaguered people in peace time.”
Ogene insisted that Ngige had kicked against the processes that threw up the party’s governorship candidate in the state, Uba, and thereafter distanced himself from the party’s quest to win the election.
Some party insiders even went further to state that it was not only about the recent party primary, but the attitude of the minister, which he had also exhibited over time. According to them, in the last governorship election that had Hon. Tony Nwoye as candidate in 2017, Ngige neither worked with nor openly campaigned for him.
In the estimation of these APC party faithful in Anambra State, Ngige always wants to be a lone star, an emperor of sorts, that is easily irritated about alternative opinions regarding party issues that require democratic resolution.
This, they say, is in contrast to the open-door policy of Senator Uba that has continued to attract many into the APC in recent times, especially since he emerged as candidate in the recent election.
According to the Uba caucus, soon after the November 6, 2021, governorship election was concluded, the minister made a dramatic return, with an intent to superintend over the forthcoming state congresses, where new executives to run the affairs of the party for the next four years would be chosen.
This intent is evident in the communique of his faction after the December 10 meeting in his house, where they called on the national leadership of the party to dissolve the Anambra State caretaker committee and put in place a seven-man interim management committee to mange the affairs of the party in the state and oversee the conduct of the coming state congresses in Anambra.
But the Uba group has said an emphatic no to such plans. Indeed, they have gone ahead to declare a vote of no confidence in the minister, while affirming Senator Uba as the authentic leader of the Anambra State caucus.
The obvious friction between the two groups was underscored by two separate caucus meetings held by the groups on Friday, December 10, 2021, at different venues in Abuja. One hosted by Senator Uba in his office. The other held in the Asokoro residence of Dr. Ngige.
But apparently going by the outcomes of both meetings, it is perhaps not in doubt where the power pendulum rests. While minutes of the meeting indicated that 85 per cent of the statutory members of the state caucus, as outlined in the APC constitution, alongside critical stakeholders attended the Uba meeting, not more than 5 per cent of the statutory members reportedly honoured the meeting in Ngige’s house.
This, to many observers, is an emphatic endorsement of Uba’s leadership, as against open rejection of Ngige.
The meeting that declared Uba leader of Anambra State APC caucus, it was gathered, was attended by former senators, current and former members of the House of Representatives, current and former presiding and principal officers of the state House of Assembly, 14 out of 17 members of the State Caretaker Committee (SCC) of the party, a former minister, current and former zonal and national officers of the party, as well as the governorship and deputy governorship candidates of the party in the recently held Anambra gubernatorial election.
Among those in attendance were Senator Uba and his deputy, Barrister Emeka Okafor, Senators Ik Obiora and Emma Anosike, Honourables Linda Ikpeazu, Vincent Ofumelu, Chidi Duru, Chiedu Eluemunor, Jerry Ugokwe, Ralph Okeke, Fort Dike, Chuma Nzeribe, Afam Ogene, Chizor Obidigwe and Peter Madubueze.
From the Anambra State House of Assembly were former Speakers, Ben Chuks Nwosu and Chinwe Nwaebeli; former and current Principal Officers, Ebele Obi and Lawrence Ezeudu, amongst five other serving members.
Also in attendance were former Minister of Transportation, John Emeka, former National Auditor, Paul Chukwuma, zonal Youth Leader, Olisaemeka Onyeka, and the State Chairman, Chief Basil Ejidike.
Other members of the SCC, who are members of the State Caucus, present were the deputy state chairman, Anaedobe Johnbosco, State Treasurer, Chris Udenze, Women Leader, Callista Nwachukwu, State Youth Leader, Augustine Mumoaife, Special(Physically Challenged) Leader, Obi Ndigwe.
Also in attendance was the zonal chairman, North, Ezenwa Ekwuaju and zonal chairman, South, Izuchukwu Okeke.
Going by the attendance and resolution, their message was clear: Change begins by rejecting the old order that has stagnated and limited the APC in Anambra since 2013. And proceeding from there to create a new pathway to growth and electoral progress – with Senator Emmanuel Andy Uba at the driver’s seat.
* Osemedua, a frequent contributor to national discourse, sent in this piece from Abuja.