All over the world, political parties are as strong as they reward loyalty, recognition of individual and group sacrifices and respect for its own rules and internal democratic norms. At every cycle of elections in developed democracies, individual candidates long-term commitment to the Party, forms the topic in the run-up to the primaries. Bernie Sanders’ failures, even with his massive support among younger and understandably boisterous democrats underscores the importance, placed on loyalty to the Party and concessions that could be made to those deemed to have contributed more to the sustenance and growth of the Democratic Party, those who have marriee the Party’s ideals and not those who see the Party, only as a vehicle to win elections. Hilary Clinton, and now, Joe Biden became nominees of the Democratic Party against Bernie Sanders, due, significantly, to the consideration for their loyalty to the Party and sacrifices over time to the Party’s growth.
The All Progressives Congress is a young political Party, and many people believe the Party is a child of necessity and a conglomeration of varying political ideals, brought together by the desire of its founders to wrest power from the People’s Democratic Party, which at the time, many Nigerians saw as deviating dangerously from pursuing programs and policies that benefit the ordinary Nigerian. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that most Nigerians, believed that the pfp was a corrupt contraption milking Nigeria dry. Nigerians desired change, APC offered change, and Nigerians embraced them.
However, as popular as the APC was in the Southwest and most part of the North, pre-2015, it was almost a taboo Party in the Southeast and South-South. It was a huge risk associating with the Party, especially, in the Southeast, where every Chike and Chima had adopted President Goodluck Jonathan as brother, son or friend sticking closer than a brother. While most people from the Southeast rejected the APC because of their love for Goodluck Jonathan, there were people who saw a bleak future for the Igbo in APC. These people, either out of personal convinctions or deep-seated malice or premonition of disaster, campaigned vigorously against the APC, warning of the danger an APC administration would portend for the Igbo interest.
But Owelle Rochas Okorocha, an APGA elected governor of Imo State, a former presidential aspirant on the PDP, a former national chairmanship hopeful of the PDP, and a very good friend of the Jonathans, who would have had an easy deal, crossing over to the PDP and putting a nail on the coffin of the APC, looked beyond his personal interests, beyond his political convenience and pitched camp with the APC against, I must point out, the opinion of majority of Ndigbo and Imolites, especially. Not a few Igbos saw him as a saboteur. Then, the alias, ‘Alhaji in Government House’ was tossed into the political market by no other than the Catholic Church owned Leadership Newspaper.
Even with his undeniable achievements in his first term, his high approval rating among Imo electorate, Okorocha’s decision to join the APC put him at the greatest danger in his bid to secure a second term in office. He swam against the tides because he joined a Party that was very hard to sell among Southeasterners in 2015.
Certainly, President Muhammadu Buhari’s eventual victory in the presidential election of 2015 wouldn’t have been possible without a Rochas in APC in the Southeast. Had Rochas joined the PDP or remained in APGA and endorsed Jonathan as his presidential candidate, the Southeast would have returned the millions of votes it was known for and that would have wiped out whatever wonder votes the APC got in Kano or elsewhere. President Buhari won with less than 3,000,000 votes in 2015. Had Imo turned in over one million votes, with Anambra and Abia turning in the same numbers, like they did in 2011, there would obviously not have been an APC administration to run to, today, by most, if not all the present APC gladiators in the Southeast.
Beyond the valid grievances expressed by founding fathers of the Party, even beyond the Southeast over the ill-treatment they receive in the hands of newcomers, the APC as a Party may be portraying itself in the eyes of observers as a market place of rancour and a shopping plaza for hawks, by its unfortunate decision to empower newcomers to muscle out founding fathers of the Party. A political Party should be like a family, where interests may clash, but family values and ideals are unexpiring bonds that hold the unit together.
Okorocha was like an orphan among Southeast political elites in 2015. Everyone of those Southeast leaders who today sits in the front rows at APC leadership was in the PDP and were among those who swore that Buhari shouldn’t happen and APC was a taboo. It would be stupid to say that it was wrong for them to have changed their minds about that thought and joined the APC. After all, one of the clearest features of an intelligent mind, is the courage to change your opinions on issues and change your perceptions about individuals and organizations, when superior evidences are presented, or a higher interest is considered. I therefore see it as one of the most intelligent and maybe, most patriotic moves for these newcomers to have joined the APC. What is immoral and politically incorrect is the failure of the APC leadership at the national level to recognize the efforts of the founding leaders of the APC, and rather chose to portray the APC as a Party without regard for loyalty by elevating these individuals above those who sacrificed the most for the APC to survive beyond 2015. It is doubtful if the APC would have survived beyond 2015, had they lost the presidency. The APC, being a ruling Party, should have enough rooms for everyone, without taking up the rooms rightly belonging to others.
Some schools of thought believe that the agenda to reduce Okorocha’s influence in the Party is deliberately hatched outside Igboland and being diligently implemented to ensure that the Southeast remains a shopping center for politicians from outside the zone. The belief is that, Owelle, being the politician with the widest acceptance beyond the Southeast would pose a big stumbling block to his rivals, should he be allowed to have peace at home, hence, all arsenals of political demolition is primed against him, starting from his home front, in a desperate but futile attempt to decimate him and keep the Southeast, perpetually in political edges.
The APC leadership has continued to leave no one in doubt that everyone is expendable. The lack of respect for the Party’s own founding fathers, betrays the Party as having no respect for its own histories and no organization survives if it goes about its affairs like it has no history. Those who are being pampered by the Party today and for whom every door is being thrown open are no fools, like the ram who celebrated the slaughter of a goat at Christmas, Sallah is soon around the corner.
Let me state it clearly that Okorocha has not detailed me to write this on his behalf and I expect a reprimand for this mild critique of my Party, but if there is anything I am a slave to, it is my principles and convinctions and not a Party or an individual. My association with a political Party mustn’t be on slavish terms, the Party must be conscious of its responsibilities to me as its member before it can be assured of my complete loyalty. If the Party could treat Okorocha the way it is doing, what assurances do younger and less influential Party members like us have, that we will not be one day, thrown into an incinerator and burnt to ashes?
MAY NIGERIA PREVAIL!