“This is to certify that …………… AFTER POLLING THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF VOTES at the primary election of our great party”.
If you grab a copy of the APGA Certificate Of Return currently being brandished by various “lucky” aspirants, you cannot fail to notice the highlighted lines above which is at variance with everything it pretends to propagate.
Sometime in early September, the party national secretariat sent out invites to all aspirants calling them to a COMPULSORY retreat where Governor Willie Obiano, who is the National Leader and Chairman Board of Trustees of APGA, noted that the aftermath of the primaries would determine the future of the party.
He assured that the party’s primary elections would be free, fair and transparent.
Governor Obiano cautioned the aspirants against all forms of thuggery during the primaries, reminding them that it is only God that institutes leadership.
The National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Oye also said riding on the back of the overwhelming victory of Governor Obiano in his re-election bid, the party wants to use the opportunity to engender measures that will promote internal democracy.
The words spoken by these party leaders engendered hope and trust in the minds of aspirants who were made to pay various sums of monies as registration fees and it was with confidence that most set out to their various constituencies to begin the costly process of consulting and preparing for the primaries.
The party then came up with guidelines which essentially stated that for purposes of conducting the primaries, a 3 Man Ad-hoc delegates per ward would join the statutory delegates in nominating a successful candidate.
And it went ahead to sell forms to intending adhoc delegates at the rate of N10,000 and this led to aspirants procuring forms of supporters in the hopes that they would emerge winners in the proposed adhoc congresses.
The first sign of real trouble started when aspiring delegates together with aspirants that bought the forms for them, rushed to the party secretariat with their payment slips to collect their forms and there they were directed to the office of Nchekwube, Tony-Dunga,
APGA Auditor General, Anambra State,
where they were asked to pay the sum of N200,000 after which, a signed piece of paper was issued as evidence with which they would collect the forms whenever it arrives Awka (that was the excuse then for not issuing the forms).
Aspirants paid through their nose and yet could not get the forms and most were still wondering what to make out of this when the news trickled that the forms were being issued at the Beautiful Gate Hotel Awka, where Chinedu Benjamin Obidigwe, a trusted aide of Gov Willie Obiano and an aspirant, was holding court and had literally turned the hotel into an emergency APGA national secretariat where any aspirant who wished to be successful had to come pay homage.
With this new information, aspirants rushed to the hotel where Chinedu Obidigwe strategically positioned his agents who approached and promised to assist as long as the aspirant was willing to part with some serious amount of money.
A few aspirants refused and insisted that their delegate forms was their rights because they already paid for it but many out of desperation, fell for this and had to part with N2,500,000 before the forms were released to them and this led to a stampede where everyone was racing against time and it was not an uncommon sight seeing the desperate crowd daily milling around the hotel.
In all this madness, some aspirants obviously were in the good books of Chinedu Obidigwe for their delegates received their forms way ahead of time whilst others struggled for days hoping to collect the now increasingly elusive delegate forms.
Some who got their forms very late, had to contend with an announcement the very next day calling for submission but some were not so lucky as they never received their forms even after the congresses.
The congresses held and winners emerged to the full glare of all party members and everyone got ready for the primaries and this is where the real drama began.
Suddenly, known party members who where very active during the gubernatorial elections were being treated as outcasts and rumoured as not obtaining waivers.
Suddenly, the desperation amongst aspirants to court the favor of Chinedu Obidigwe, Fr Manafa & Primus Odili attained feverish proportions and it increasingly became obvious that party positions were being allocated to the highest bidders.
At this point, Chinedu Obidigwe quit all pretences and could be seen cavorting with the National Chairman Ozonkpu Victor Oye, who obviously had abdicated his position and left everything in the hands of Chinedu Obidigwe.
Who can forget that despicable and shameful picture of Ozonkpu Victor Oye & Chinedu Obidigwe flying a chattered jet from Abuja to be received in Enugu by a mob of desperate sycophantic aspirants hoping to be in Chinedu’s good books?
Never mind that Chinedu Obidigwe is an aspirant who had no business openly fraternizing with the national chairman of the same party he now rules like an overlord!
In neighboring states where the APGA mantra of “Nke-a Bu Nke Anyi” (This one is our own), elicited in the people an Igbo-centric feeling of ownership, many picked up its forms and they too heard and came to understand that in Chinedu Obidigwe and the Aguleri cabal, lies the keys to unlocking their aspirations and many undertook pilgrimages to Aguleri to seek the face and court the blessings of the new lords of the realm and of course, this came at a huge price!
All the while this was going on, Gov Willie Obiano kept aloof and pretended like he was not aware of the huge atrocities being committed in his name by his Chief Of Staff, Primus Odili, His Chaplain Rev Fr Manafa and his close aide Chinedu Obidigwe, all fellow Aguleri indigenes.
Gov Willie Obiano maintained a sickening silence in the face of the glaring irregularities being openly perpetuated by his trusted kitchen cabinet and so the impunity gathered steam unabated as the party headed into what was already designed to be a disastrous primaries.
To be sure, what APGA put up in the name of primaries was essentially a brazen show of shame where the party guidelines were torn to shreds and decency thrown to the winds.
Almost all primaries across the constituencies were marred with grievous irregularities as the results from the adhoc delegates congresses were replaced with strange names which resulted in uproar and stampede that ensured the exercises were inconclusive.
One would have thought that a party that promised a transparent, free and fair primaries would look into these problems in line with its own guidelines that stipulates dates and internal organs/machineries through which redress could be sought but it would appear APGA already had its mind set on self destructing for it never bothered to address the many petitions sent to it, let alone acknowledge or provide a verdict.
It was obvious that despite the millions collected from aspirants and promises of a free, fair and transparent primaries, the leadership of the party set out to milk and defraud unsuspecting aspirants of their hard earned monies.
Let it be on record and may posterity remember thalt it was under Gov Willie Obiano and his Aguleri posse that APGA took its last breath and may the weak chairman Ozonkpu Victor Oye go to his grave pondering the mortal harm he allowed his supreme greed wrought on this one party we once called our own.
APGA is no more OUR OWN but THEIR OWN!
A pity really.
We could not get the name of the author in order to give him/her full credit for the commentary