Osinbajo brokers peace in Anambra APC family
By Francis Ekpone
Lack of unity of purpose within the leadership of the Anambra state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) appeared to have been finally addressed by the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, during his political reconciliation trip to the state last weekend.
Orient Daily gathered that Osinbajo held an interactive round-table discussion with members of the party in the state at the Women Development Centre, Awka, last Friday. The event, which brought together over 8,000 party members from across the state, also attracted the former governor of Anambra state, Senator Chris Ngige; former member of the House of Representatives and APC governorship candidate in Anambra state in 2017, Dr. Tony Nwoye; APC National Auditor, Dr. George Muoghalu, and APC senatorial candidate (Central) 2019 general election, Barr. Sylvester Okonkwo, among other stakeholders.
Minister designate, Barr. Sharon Ikeazor, Senator Andy Uba, and few other chieftains of the party in the state were conspicuously absent during the session, designed to broker lasting unity within the party, and galvanise party stalwarts for the task of wresting Anambra governorship seat from the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2021.
It would be recalled that Dr. Tony Nwoye’s emergence as the guber candidate of the party in 2017 did not go down well with many party chieftains, who had earlier preferred the likes of Dr George Muoghalu, Senator Andy Uba and Chief Johnbosco Onunkwo.
It was gathered that Tony Nwoye dissipated much energy and resources to convince his party members and chieftains to support him than what he spent conversing for voters during the election proper; yet, he was said to have been betrayed by party members; a development that saw Governor Willie Obiano of APGA emerging winner at the said election.
Battle for the soul of APC in Anambra state during the party’s convention was yet another factor that triggered crisis in the party as the party’s chieftain and former Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, was said to have been assaulted by Nwoye’s loyalists during the harmonisation of results of the party’s ward congress on May 5, 2018.
The last straw that broke the Carmel’s back was re-nomination of Dr. Ngige as minister designate and alleged parley between the party and Governor Willie Obiano of APGA during the 2019 presidential election that produced President Muhammadu Buhari.
The romance between the APC hierarchy in Abuja and Anambra state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, was also seen as strong factor that favoured APGA faithful more at the detriment of APC members. The outcome of the alleged romance was the recent appointment of the former Speaker of the Anambra state House of Assembly, and former member representing Awka North and South at the National Assembly, Hon. Anayo Nnebe of APGA by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, as personal aide.
Nnebe’s appointment was greeted with fierce resistance by APC faithful in Anambra, including the south east council of publicity secretaries of APC.
The APC acting chairman in Anambra state, Hon. Bail Ejidike, during the interface with Vice President Osinbajo, registered his displeasure over Nnebe’s appointment, describing him as an opposition to APC in all fronts.
According to Ejidike, “We, APC members in Anambra, have no intention to interfere with Mr. speaker’s right of discretion on who to appoint to assist him, but we humbly appeal to Your Excellency, to use his good office to urge the Honourable Speaker to rescind the appointment of Hon. Anayo Nnebe, who opposes APC destructively, and appoint any card carrying member of APC suitable for him.
Ejidike also told the vice president that Governor Willie Obiano hijacked all the federal government social investment programmes in the state at the detriment of APC members.
“As members of political group, we have suffered a lot from adverse campaigns of hate and calumny churned out on daily basis by APGA government. A case in point was what happened during the last general election in Anambra state where APGA members vigorously campaigned and voted against APC candidates, yet, the governor of Anambra state was in Abuja recently to canvas for political patronage.
“Sir, it may interest you to know that the federal government feeding programme in Anambra state has been completely hijacked by APGA administration. The cooks, food contractors and other benefits are enjoyed by the opposition APGA members.”
Ejidike, however, identified lack of unity among party leaders as the major challenge of the party in the state and called on Vice President Osinbajo to intervene and broker peace among the leaders.
Also speaking during the roundtable interactive session, Dr. Tony Nwoye, told Mr. vice president that APC does not exist in the state, but rather has bunch of members, who deceive the party’s hierarchy in Abuja.
Nwoye regretted that despite losing 2017 governorship election in the state, the party could not secure a seat in the state House of Assembly not to talk of producing any member of the national assembly in the just concluded 2019 general elections.
“I am also ashamed that we could not get up to 15 percent in the last general election. Anambra is the least in the south east and second to the last in the entire country. I left PDP, because, I believe in President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo,” he said.
Emma Anosike, former member, House of Representatives, and former Senator representing Anambra North; Hon. Forte Dike and former deputy governorship candidate of APC in the state, Chief Ralph Okeke; begged Osinbajo to broker peace in the party and help APC produce the next governor in the state, saying that they have served the party meritoriously without having any appointive position as compensation.
The minister designate, Dr. Chris Ngige, who sued for peace and calm during the interaction, said APC cannot be compared to PDP, saying that he was once in PDP and knows how the party operates.
“My appeal is for us to exercise patient. The patient dog eats the fattest bone. An appeal we are all making to the presidency is to help us produce the next governor of Anambra state in 2021, but we can’t achieve that without being united. Unity is the vehicle that will take us to the next level,” said Ngige.
National chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who was represented by the National Auditor of the party, Dr. George Muoghalu, said President Buhari’s administration has much interest in Anambra state. He noted that Buhari’s administration has completed and commissioned Zik’s Mausoleum, working on the second Niger Bridge, constructing the Enugu-Onitsha federal high way, among other social welfare packages and programmes introduced by the federal government, and wondered why the state often criticises Mr. President and sees nothing good in his administration.
Responding, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said he is in Anambra state to open a fresh chapter that will benefit all party fateful. He said the party performed poorly in the last general election in Anambra state because of disunity among party leaders, and pledged to broker peace that would help the party succeed the incumbent Governor Wiliie Obiano in 2021.
Osinbajo said the foundation has been laid for the Southeast region to move to the Next Level with the execution of several projects and appointment of persons from the region into the federal cabinet, adding that President Buhari had demonstrated enough commitment to support the development of the Southeast region and Anambra state in particular, through project execution and implementation of policies and programmes.