Many observers of the Nigerian political scene find it difficult to draw a line between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the party it defeated in the 2015 general elections, which had been in power for 16 years. Many of those who founded the APC were in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where they held high positions in both the party and government. With the routing of the PDP from power two years ago, the line between the ruling APC and the opposition PDP has become more blurred. More and more PDP members have been flocking to the APC, which has been rewarding the members with all manner of things. Therefore, the difference between the PDP and the APC is increasingly looking like the difference between six and half a dozen.
In Anambra State, which is preparing to hold a gubernatorial vote in November, the people are watching this development with trepidation. The reason is understandable. PDP members in Anambra State are in a class of their own. They frighten Anambra people thoroughly. There is nowhere in the country where PDP members epitomise the culture of impunity and indiscipline as in Anambra State. As you are reading this short article, the PDP is factionalised into three in the state. And the factionalisation preceded the party’s factionalisation at the national level where former Borno State governor, Modu Sheriff, has been leading one group and former Kaduna State governor, Ahmed Makarfi, the other since last year. The PDP in Anambra State has since 2003 always held two or three parallel congresses where different sets of officers emerge.
Each congress is always attended by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who authenticate the congresses. In fact, police and officers of the State Security Service (SSS) attend it. All these agents of the state look forward to PDP congresses in the state. The national secretariat of the party also looks forward to the congresses in Anambra State. Even members of the judiciary look forward to them. This is because PDP congresses in Anambra State are like bazaars, where an unimaginable number of bags of raw cash exchange hands. The same thing happens during party primaries where candidates for elective offices are supposedly chosen. The party secretariat accepts as many different lists as they are sent to it because the secretariat has been compromised heavily. It is also worthy of note that only PDP members were arrested by the police for the politically motivated murder in 2003 of the chairman of the Onitsha branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, Barnabas Igwe, and his wife, named Abigail as well as their unborn baby.
Now, the very elements who gave the PDP a very bad name in the state, including those arrested in connection with the murder of the Igwe family, have moved into the APC where they hope to use the federal might to write the election results in their houses. The language each of them uses every second is “We must conquer Anambra State by fire, by force”. In other words, they have no respect for Anambra people. Their loyalty to the APC is clearly opportunistic. Those of us who left the PDP long ago because of the anarchic disposition of its members in the state and joined the APC to campaign vigorously for President Muhammadu Buhari based on his record of personal integrity and discipline are now completely marginalised. We are considered too decent for politics of “by fire, by force”. This is alarming. The APC leader in the state, Dr. Chris Ngige, who is the Minister of Labour and Productivity as well as a former governor of the state, appears helpless before these ex-PDP members, who behave like marauders and desperadoes.
Otherwise, the minister should have stopped the admission of certain members. One of them slapped him openly when he had already been declared governor-elect, took him to the infamous Okija shrine at night where he was forced to swear oath of perpetual loyalty to the renegades, who hijacked the state and forced him at gunpoint in a hotel toilet to sign an undated resignation letter. The same person led the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Raphael Ige (now late), to carry out a coup d’etat against Ngige in 2003 for refusing to give the cabal a whopping two billion naira (N2b) from the state treasury. He led the notorious mayhem that took place in November 2004, during which institutions like the House of Assembly, the judiciary, and Government House as well as the state broadcasting service were burnt. I was one of the persons marked for elimination, but God helped me escape miraculously, as the vandals were invading my residence.
This fellow was assisted in the deadly operation by a student cult leader expelled from the University of Nigeria for deadly cult activities, who is now ironically running for governorship on the APC platform. In fact, the two were sponsored and protected by a powerful Anambra indigene then in the Presidency, who is also now campaigning to be the governor of a state he did everything to destroy. These individuals and others are wrecking the APC brand in Anambra State. It is a pity that all this is happening in the APC, a party the people of Anambra State, like the rest of the South-East geopolitical zone, have vehemently refused to embrace. It makes it extremely difficult to market the party in the state or anywhere in the South-East. These fellows should not be walking the streets as free men. While in office as governor, Ngige set up a judicial commission led by Justice Keazor (retired) to probe the mayhem of 2004, which found these characters culpable. I join millions of Anambra people to demand Governor Willie Obiano, a courageous leader, to publish the Justice Keazor Commission findings.
Dr. Ngige, as the APC leader in the state, must summon the courage to tell these extremely dangerous ex-PDP members to leave the APC. If they must be in the APC, then they must lie low, at least, for now. It is nauseating that they are announcing their plans to seek high public office on the APC platform within days of joining the party. There is no more effective way to not only de-market but also damage the APC brand in Anambra State than to allow the erstwhile PDP members to continue to run riot in the APC. They have made the APC another name for Anambra PDP, which has for years been the biggest assembly of very indecent people in Nigerian politics.
• Hon Okechi, 08035585188, was chairman of the Anambra State House of Assembly Committee on Public Petitions.