By Collins Ughalaa
“They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind” Hosea 8:7.
Though probably first used as a warning to the people of Israel by Prophet Hosea, the above statement has been popularized by notable world leaders over the years. In 1985, it was used by Norman Tebbit in his lecture when he condemned the permissive society – a society in which social norms become increasingly liberal especially with regard to sexual freedom, a society with a change in attitude considered deviant. Speaking against this society, Norman Tebbit noted: “Bad art was as good as good art. Grammar and spelling were no longer important. To be clean was no better than to be filthy. Good manners were no better than bad. Family life was derided as an outdated bourgeois concept. Criminals deserved as much sympathy as their victims. Many homes and classrooms became disorderly – if there was neither right nor wrong there could be no basis for punishment or reward. Violence and soft pornography became accepted in the media. Thus was sown the wind; and we are now reaping the whirlwind”. Also, a veteran U.S journalist, James Shepherd Pike of the New York Tribune, used the same phrase after the Senate of the United States passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act which allowed the expansion of slavery into the western territories. James warned American Southerners, saying: “You are sowing the wind and you will reap the whirlwind”.
The Igbo believe that no matter what a child should not wrestle his father. They warn that when a child wrestles his father, the consequence is that he will be blinded by the old man’s loincloth. This old wise sayings still hold its worth among the Igbo and those who default have continued to meet their waterloo. The Igbo people believe in equity. They believe that one must have clean hands before he approaches the gods. The tradition of having clean hands is symbolized in the traditional early morning washing of hands and face before any other thing. While growing up as a child I observed my father wash his hands once he wakes up before making his libations. He would impress on us that we must wash our hands before doing anything else in the morning, and he would add that in life we should strive to keep our hands clean.
What is going on in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), a party founded on Igbo idealism, is a result of the wind sowed in the party over the years. As the law of multiplication dictates, APGA can only reap the whirlwind. Not less. Founded in 2001 by Chief Chekwas Okorie following the clamour for a national political party of Igbo initiative, Igbo leaders celebrated APGA as a breakthrough for the Igbo people in the political landscape. It was as if the party was solely an Igbo party as it encapsulated the Igbo nationalism and the “Be your brothers keeper” ideology. It became more or less the new identity of the Igbo people. But this was not to last long as the party got embroiled in protracted legal battle over the leadership of the party between Chief Chekwa Okorie and Chief Victor Umeh. For example, in 2003 when the party participated in the general elections for the first time, its presidential candidate, late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu won 1.4% of the votes cast. The party also got two members out of the 360 members of the House of Representatives. But today, the fortunes of the party have dwindled.
APGA has not been a party of real promise or true hope to the Igbo people and Nigerians at large. Instead of being the pride of the people, what the party has brought to the people is shame. Due to the ignoble activities of its leaders over the years, APGA has been running circles with a decrepit, deficient leadership patting itself on the back with penchant ineptitude, fraud and extortion of no limitations. This is the reason instead of attracting the crème de la crème of the Igbo population, the party is witnessing mass exodus of its star members. The party has lost its backbone, the masses that used to chorus its slogan and wear its colours with pride, because it has become a carnivorous animal, eating its type and defrauding even the people it considered its grassroots base.
Nothing can better illustrate this pitiable situation than the current and recent occurrences in the party. Prior to the 2019 general elections, many people looked up to the party as the solution to the confusion that prevailed in most states of the Southeast. This was why, for the first time, the party witnessed an assemblage of top notch politicians in its fold. In Imo State, former Governor Ikedi Ohakim, Rt. Hon Ike C. Ibe, Dr. Sam Amadi, Chief Frank Nneji, Barr Humphrey Anumudu, Mr. Okey Ezeh, Chief Nick Oparandudu, Hon Uche Onyeagucha, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, et cetera, came together to help the party live up to the people’s expectations to salvage their plight. But instead of leaning towards the people, APGA proved to be a mere fraud cartel run by greedy fellows who do not even understand what the people want, a set of people who have reduced the party to their business concerns where they make returns every election period.
Unable to manage the deluge of aspirants in the party and tame their appetite too, the leadership of the party embarked upon a fleecing spree of not only the aspirants but also the grassroots members with sundry charges. Having made hundreds of millions from Imo State alone the party failed to conduct even its ward congresses and primary elections. In the end it forced on its members a governorship candidate. Speaking on the APGA situation, former Governor Ikedi Ohakim said that “APGA died the day the leadership carried out a coup against it on October 7 when without holding the governorship primary election they announced a winner”. He added that “the travesty that happened in APGA has exposed Igbo people to the fact that there are still cankerworms among us. This charade has also shown that all along what APGA leadership was doing was a Ponzi scheme, a scam of the highest order to defraud fellow Igbo men and women of their hard earned money”.
Shockingly, instead of APGA to begin a process of self healing and repositioning it is once again exposing itself to opprobrium. The party is embroiled in fresh crisis both at the national level and at the various states, particularly Imo State. While the national leadership of the party is facing a crisis of succession as to whether the National Chairman of the party should come from Anambra for another four years term, in Imo State the State Chairman, Barr Peter Ezeobi, who was elected in a congress of the party in 2015 was on Thursday, April 25, 2019 suspended by a clique championing the interest of one man after their meeting earlier in a hotel in Owerri. They replaced Ezeobi with Pastor Alphonsus Eberendu who was both the State Secretary of the party and the Spokesperson of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume. They described the ousted chairman as “the lame-duck”, claiming that their action was “in a bid to save the party from further destructions”.
This charade is given fillip by the national leadership as it has announced a caretaker committee for the party in the state. On Monday April 29, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party held an emergency meeting and on Tuesday, April 30, the party via a letter signed by the National Secretary, Labaran Maku, announced a 21 member caretaker committee. It said that “the request of the State Executive Committee, Imo State Chapter to set up a Caretaker Committee as contained in their communiqué is hereby approved and granted”. The party also noted that “following the request of the State Exco, the State Working Committee (SWC) Imo State Chapter is hereby dissolved with immediate effect and a Caretaker Committee set up”. The caretaker committee is headed by the Assistant National Organizing Secretary of the party, South East Zone, Hon John C. Iwuala, while Pastor Alphonsus Eberendu now serves as Secretary.
It is believed that the bane of APGA is the insatiable appetite of its leaders for the filthy lucre and power. In APGA anything goes for power and fame and the name of the game is “the end justifies the means”. It is a party of the animal kingdom with all the characteristics of the Stone Age. It was the unbridled appetite of the leaders that led to the protracted leadership tussle that reared up early in the party between its founder, Chief Chekwas Okorie and Chief Victor Umeh that has left the party in a quandary. As a National Chairman, Nigerians saw how Umeh could not hide his appetite for worldly power, fame and wealth as his name was written on all the pages of the crisis that had engulfed the party even at state level during his time. This shameful thirst for mundane power is also driving the current imbroglio in the party. For example, sources in the party reveal that the commando-like removal of the State Chairman, Barr Peter Ezeobi, and the dissolution of the State Working Committee (SWC) was sequel to the refusal of the party leadership in the state led by Ezeobi to support the legal actions of its governorship candidate, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, against the Governor-Elect Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha.
At the national level, the party is also going through a horrible period even as the dust of the 2019 governorship election and its 2018 primary elections is yet to settle. The incumbent National Chairman, Chief Victor Ike Oye, who has thrown the party into intractable crisis stirred the hornet’s nest when he recently announced that the party has again zoned the national chairmanship to Anambra State. Addressing journalists in Amawbia, Awka, Oye said that going by the rules he met on the ground, there was a structural arrangement to keep the national chairmanship of the party in Anambra State for the time being, adding that there is no reason yet to change it.
Placed against the backdrop that Anambra State has since 2003 produced the National Chairman of the party, one may not wonder why the current move to retain the national chairmanship of the party in Anambra State might be the nunc dimitis for the party. The first National Chairman of the party from Anambra State was Chief Victor Umeh who served for two tenures and handed over to Oye in 2015. Oye will serve out his tenure on May 27, 2019, but he is bent on retaining the office of the National Chairman. One therefore wonders what rule Oye met on ground that retains the National Chairmanship of the party in Anambra State when article 18 of APGA constitution backs the zoning of party offices with the following provisions: “The composition of offices of the executive committee and other principal organs at the executive level of the party shall reflect the principle of the federal character except in the case of states, local government and wards, which are ethnically homogeneous. The composition shall take into account of the electoral delineation of the area.”
Among the Igbo there is a raging question of whether APGA is Anambra Progressives Grand Alliance and for the people of Anambra State alone. The people wonder why Anambra has continued to keep the position of the National Chairman and other principal positions in the party even in the face of choking and mercantile leadership they have thus far provided. Prominent members of the party in the Southeast had left the party over what they termed the monopolization of the party by people from Anambra State, leading to the exit of people like Prof Francis Dike and Dimkpa Asaa, etc, from the party. Apart from the resistance among the Igbo people in APGA, there is also strong resistance in the North about the move to keep the position of the National Chairman of the party in Anambra State. According to a communiqué signed by northern stakeholders in the party led by the former National Secretary of the party, Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi, the North is asking for the national chairmanship of the party. They demand that “the party shall strictly enforce the zoning/rotations principle of the party offices across six geo-political zones of the country in the election of members of the NWC in the next national convention”. They also demand that “All the delegates that will attend the convention must be delegates constitutionally recognized by the party’s constitution. The NEC should approve guidelines and regulations for the conduct of congresses and the national convention”.
Igbo people do not believe in the supremacy of one man. In a short while Nigerians will see whether APGA will be picked in pieces when its imminent collapse happens. The fear that APGA will not survive the deluge it plunged itself into is palpable as the party has continued to buffet itself from all corners without restraint. This fear was echoed in October 2018 by Dr. Ikedi Ohakim when he predicted that though the leaders of APGA have not woken up from the shock of the death of the party following its shambolic primary elections across the country, the future of the party is bleak, with Governor Obiano likely to be the last Governor of the party.
The accusation that the national chairman of the party misappropriated over N600M raised from Imo State might be another inferno in the party. This accusation is coming from the ousted state chairman of the party whom many believe has just begun to reap his own whirlwind.
Collins Ughalaa could be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or via telephone: 07066222944.