Recently, Deacon Okey Ogbodo, one of the factional chairmen of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu State, accused some highly-placed members of the party of complicity in the burning of some branded campaign vehicles at the office of a factional gubernatorial candidate of the party in the state. It must be noted that Instead of one chairman, as envisaged by our constitution, we have two persons contending for the position. And instead of one gubernatorial candidate, we have two claimants to the position.
With barely two months to the much-anticipated gubernatorial election in the state, I am tempted to echo the question agitating the mind of Deacon Ogbodo: “Can a house divided against itself stand?” The answer is obvious. Yet that is not my concern now. My concern is that we all seem to have forgotten so easily the past. Enugu State would be the worse for it if the past is repeated!
Not too long ago, Enugu, the Coal City state, dominated the national news headlines for the wrong reason. The state was enmeshed in a gruesome godfather war between ex-governor, Chimaroke Nnamani and his estranged godfather, Chief Jim Nwobodo. Enugu was literally a war zone, and the traditional peace that defined the city was overthrown, while the roughnecks of politics made it a haven of sorts! Life in the city became brutish, miserable and short. Anybody who had the wherewithal took flight from the city while the roughnecks contended for superiority among their ranks and peace took a flight. Economic activities in the city nosedived. Night life was eclipsed and the city was stripped bare!
Sullivan Chime, the immediate past governor of the state, was a product of the Nnamani regime! But credit must also be given to him as the man who recovered the city from that darkness. It was an interesting but curious metamorphosis! Incidentally, the dust is gathering again because of happenings in the APC. The truth is that for quite a while now, peace has eluded the APC as a party in the state. It suffices to say, therefore, that a house riddled with crisis as we have been enmeshed in, cannot creditably lay claim to serious contention against the opponents. I feel particularly ashamed that all that are heard about this great party in Enugu is warmongering news after the other. First, it was among the party executives whereof there were suspensions and counter-suspensions. Adolphus Udeh, the former deputy chairman in the state and his group, first, removed the chairman, Dr. Ben Nwoye and his own clique, who, in turn removed Mr. Udeh and his own group. That crisis festered until the last congress of the party and consumed some high profile members.
The chairman, in turn suspended the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, notwithstanding the fact that he is the highest officeholder of the party in the state and by implication, ought to be the leader of the party in the state. The police have, on several occasions, had cause to seal off the state party secretariat as a consequence of brigandage and unremitting disorder. The party congresses that were held were bazaars of shameful episodes. They were so rancorous such that some of our elder statesmen, including the former Senate President, Ken Nnamani and Jim Nwobodo had to be scurrilously chaperoned away by the security men! Issues arising from the party primaries have remained intractable up till now, less than two months away from the elections! All efforts so far at resolving them, including the visit of the governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abdulahi Ganduje, have been without results.
In the midst of the internal crisis, APC members have been telling the world what to expect in the coming elections in Enugu. Chime said the coming elections will be “war”, while one of the gubernatorial candidates of the party, Sen. Ayogu, proclaimed that he was going to run a “scotch earth” campaign. Despite their boasts, the APC has imploded and is boiling. There is arson, indeed mindlessly burning down of the few branded campaign vehicles of rival contenders within the party. It is instructive that in all these, we are not blaming the PDP because it is obvious the political party has no hand in it. We are rather curiously pouring accusations and counter-accusations against ourselves. Every man is seemingly on his own, naively hoping that God is for us all. Yet I know that in politics, God most often works with those who are prepared to work for themselves.
In trying to lay a handle on what has been the problem of the party in the state, I do not look far to locate it on the influx of politicians-of-fortune, especially of the PDP stock. Leopards do not easily change their spots, and they have infested this great party with all their well-known viruses. I sincerely blame the national leadership of our party for throwing the gates wide open and thereby making the APC a refugee camp for all manner of politicians. For those of us who have remained in this party long before the light that came at the end of the tunnel, vis-à-vis the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the 2015 polls, we hold the principle of progressive politics as a religion. The PDP blood still runs in the vein of these PDP refugees, and their genealogy shows that they are incapable of redemption. This indeed, is the root of the problem of our party, especially in Enugu!
The mainstream membership of our party is not happy, and this is simply stating the obvious. We have been used, abused and totally reduced to the ordinary. The new comers have brought with them their trademark brigandage. Almost all the candidates of our party in the forthcoming elections are drawn from the PDP refugees. None was reserved for the legacy members. A cursory analysis would explain further. Of the three senatorial candidates, only Mrs. Ibekaku Nwagu was a member of our party. Of the eight House of Representatives seats for contest in the state, all are former members of the PDP. Ditto the House of Assembly candidates. The two contenders to the governorship ticket, Barrister Tagbo Ogara and Senator Ayogu Eze, are estranged members of the PDP, with the later having joined the party just one month before the primaries!
It is strange, therefore, to expect a miracle. All that spews from their mouths is how the almighty federal might would be employed to aid their victory. There is hardly any effort at mobilising the people ostensibly oblivious of the fact that this is a government headed by President Buhari who has his eyes more on history than power grab. But even if we are to rely on the fabled “federal might” it would still need the people to help it work. Who are our people for this work? Who have we organised to carry out such herculean task? With barely two months away from the elections, can a house divided among itself stand?
- Eze, a politician and member of the APC, wrote in from Enugu.