Ngige, Uba Battle for the Soul of Anambra APC

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David-Chyddy Eleke examines factors that promoted the current leadership tussle in Anambra State chapter of the All Progressives Congress

In December last year, in Abuja, stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Anambra State staged a drama. It was the enlarged stakeholders meeting of the party in the state, but rather than one, different factions of the party convened separate meetings on the same day and time, but under different leadership.

While the faction loyal to Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige met at his (Ngige’s) Abuja residence, the other faction loyal to the candidate of the party in the November 6, 2021 AnambraStategovernorship election, Senator Andy Uba held theirs in a separate location in the same Abuja. Both factions which were meeting simultaneously, with many top members of the party in both meetings reviewed the governorship elections and factors that caused their loss.

In the meeting presided over by Ngige, a top member of the party, Senator Joy Emordi boldly told members that she suspects that the arrogance of the candidate of the party, and his posture, which tended to suggest that the result of the election had already been compiled in his favour was one of the factors that annoyed prospective supporters.

But in the meeting presided over by Uba, members blamed Ngige and some of his followers for the failure of the party to win the Anambra governorship election. They accused Ngige of working against the party. The allegation led to the purported removal of the minister as the leader of the party in the state, and his replacement with Senator Andy Uba. That singular action polarized the party in the state as members loyal to Ngige still see him as the leader of the party, while others, including the state executive of the party have queued behind Uba.

The first sign that the party is no longer one in Anambra State was during the yuletide, when the Uba-led faction convened a stakeholders meeting in Awka. Uba and some members of the Anambra APC had touched down in a private jet at the Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport as they arrived for the stakeholders meeting of the party. Ngige also arrived the airport in a presidential jet about two hours later, but Ngige’s mission in Anambra was different. He shunned the Anambra APC meeting, and headed straight to the palace of the traditional ruler of Awka kingdom, Igwe Gibson Nwosu, where he was bestowed with the chieftaincy title of Onyilingugba of Awka kingdom.

At the stakeholders meeting, the party talked about how it could strengthen its base, ahead of the 2023 general election, to be able to make solid impact. Addressing the stakeholders, Chief Basil Ejidike, the caretaker chairman of the party in the state said, “This is a special gathering because it’s a gathering to give our party a new direction. Any party that fails to win election is not political party. APC is a political party and not a club. We are going to contest every available position in 2023. And without discipline, we will not win anything. Those party members who are still pursuing court cases against APC are trying to frustrate our party. Don’t be disillusioned, we will not allow them to derail us. I’m going to deal with anybody who tries to dislodge the activities of APC in Anambra State, as directed by the National leadership,” Ejidike said.

Senator Andy Uba, in his address said APC had come to stay in Anambra. He said: “We need to stay together as our congress is coming. APC must be strong, otherwise in 2023 we’re not going to win anything. Let’s stop the infighting and forget selfishness. I’m ready to apologize to those who believe I wronged them for us to move forward and reclaim Anambra.”

An APC chieftain who spoke to THISDAY said the party had taken time in a private session that was not covered by journalists to marshal out ways of ensuring that Ngige was caged, just as they blamed him for being the reason the party lost governorship elections. The source said: “Uba (Andy) is out to teach Ngige a lesson. From the way things are going, he may even be sanctioned, because Andy is using all the contacts he can muster, to ensure that Ngige does not continue as leader of the party.”

Meanwhile, Ngige has revealed that he was offered money to accept the candidature of Uba at the just concluded Anambra governorship election. Ngige who spoke to his supporters said he was aware that no primary election took place to nominate Uba as the flag bearer of the party in the state, but some people were offering him money to accept that the election went well. Ngige who was addressing members of the party on new year day in his community, Alor said he rejected the money because it was against his conscience.

“Thirteen persons went for the election (primary) and I told them I do not have anointed aspirant. I told them it is God who makes a governor, it is also God who makes a president. I told them to go to the field and convince everyone to vote for them. I told them what was going to happen was direct primaries, either by secret ballot or option A4. These aspirants listened to me and used their hard earned money to run for the election.

“None of them is a thief or stole money, so they used their hard earned money and we did a primary election and we said everyone would go to their ward, that voting will take place from 8am to 4pm. I even came from Abuja to participate in the process. Somebody of my status could not vote. I didn’t see any electoral materials here in Alor Ward One. I am from this place, there was no electoral officials or materials except INEC officials. They were the only people who came, our party officials never came. By 5pm, I called Governor Dapo Abiodun and told him nothing happened. I told him to postpone the election from Saturday to Monday he said okay, but they ended up announcing result.

“At the end they said I should come and take money and say the election held. I, Chris Ngige should come and take money and say an election that I never participated in has held. I told them I have all the money I needed, and that I have contested for all the positions I needed to contest for. It is only one position that I have not contested for. We are the founding fathers of this party, these were the same people who stood against us in the early days of APC and called us Boko Haram party.

“Today, they are saying Ngige does not want people to come in and that I am now putting people who are my brothers in position. Do not listen to them, they are lying. There is nothing like leader in APC constitution. If you want to answer leader, you answer, but there is no such thing in the constitution of the APC. 2023 is the reason all these wayo people are here moving about, they have gone to collect money from people that they will work for them, but we will not allow them. Now, they are going about saying they have written the names of the people who will become the ward, local government and state executive, but do not listen to them. It was the same way they wrote election results for Anambra election and were going about, but when they brought it, it was dismissed. It is same way they will dismiss the list they are bandying about today. We will hold a very credible congress in Anambra State.”

Already, there has been reaction about attempts by the Uba led faction to hold wards and local government congresses. Mr Okelo Madukaife, the publicity secretary of the party in the faction led by Ngige said the news of ward congresses scheduled by the faction loyal to Uba was fraudulent. Okelo in a press release said: “This is to put our membership on notice that some mischief makers are on the prowl, confusing those who willingly submit to their misinformation.

“For the avoidance of doubt, no ward congresses of APC has been scheduled by our party. These dates are the product of 419 from persons working to destabilize our dynamic chapter, with the support of persons outside Anambra State for partisan interests connected to 2023 presidential elections.”

He said those succumbing to the notice are people who have been defrauded, and that the National Secretariat of the party has not fixed any dates for congresses, and would not do so without necessary consultations. “Please be further reassured that only authentic congress dates will be announced by this office and shall be a reliable guide, as provided by the National Secretariat. Any directives outside the mentioned officers is ultravires, of no effect and should be ignored. Party members will be well-advised to be wary of constitutionally sacked persons from high offices, intent on going down with everyone and their backers who are watering the fruit of discontent in our great party,” Madukaife said.

Already, big wigs in the party have started pitching tent with factions of the party, which they see to be favourable to them. While state state executive of the party are with Uba, most of the disenfranchised aspirants in the June 26 governorship primary of the party have elected to join forces with Ngige. One of them, Dr George Moghalu has affirmed the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige as leader of the party in the state. Moghalu, who is also the Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) knocked Senator Andy Uba over his plot to take over the party, describing him as a tenant in APC.

Speaking to journalists in Nnewi on Monday about the recent judgment, which stripped Uba of the candidacy of the APC, Moghalu said Uba had already been sacked by a court judgment as the candidate of the APC in the last election. He said: “As you are aware, my party which we laboured to put in place did not hold primary election to choose a candidate for the last governorship election. Being a law abiding citizen I sought judicial redress and the judgment agreed with me that there was no primary. I’m here now to thank the party, my supporters and those who believe in democracy and to thank the president and critical stakeholders who put in words of encouragement. They knew I was doing this (litigation), not for myself but to create enabling environment for democracy to thrive, and for posterity sake.

“I prefer my party being in governance, we campaigned to achieve that objective, but I refused to sit back and watch impunity manifest. It is not about me but correcting a flawed process. It is not cast in iron that I must be governor, power belongs to God and He gives to who He wishes. There is no iota of desperation about it, maybe it is not my time yet, but I would have failed if I consented to that thing they called a primary election.”

Speaking on the recent naming of Uba as the leader of the party in the state, against Dr Ngige, Moghalu said there was no such position as leader of the party in the APC constitution, rather it was a position reserved for the highest ranking personality in a state that does not have a sitting governor from the party. “People follow who they have seen their lifestyle. There is nothing like leader in the APC constitution. The highest political office holder in a state where there is no governor is usually the leader of the party in a state.

“Ngige is a statesman, a former governor, a former senator, a minister. All these positions held by Ngige are not in contest and the circumstances have conferred on him that position of a leader of the party in the state. People have talked about sacking me from the party, but I always say a tenant cannot sack a landlord. I did not join APC, I was part of its formation. The people claiming to be leaders in the party today are people who joined us after we have laboured. They were the same people who called us Northern party, Boko Haram party and all. What should concern me now is looking at factors that led to a poor outing in the last election and correcting them. People can’t come from nowhere and lord things over us in the party,” he said.

QUOTE

The first sign that the party is no longer one in Anambra State was during the yuletide, when the Uba-led faction convened a stakeholders meeting in Awka. Uba and some members of the Anambra APC had touched down in a private jet at the Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport as they arrived for the stakeholders meeting of the party. Ngige also arrived the airport in a presidential jet about two hours later, but Ngige’s mission in Anambra was different. He shunned the Anambra APC meeting, and headed straight to the palace of the traditional ruler of Awka kingdom, Igwe Gibson Nwosu, where he was bestowed with the chieftaincy title of Onyilingugba of Awka kingdom.


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