Fresh worry in Enugu APC over big names with small input
The initial excitement in Enugu APC when the party had a harvest of big names from the PDP is giving way to despondency as some of the big fish are turning into small fries in their lack of contributions to the party’s development.
Despite the successes recorded by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the windfall of defectors from the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State, a new wave of worry has enveloped the party.
Emboldened by this harvest that involved big names in the PDP, the APC had raised its voice in serving the incumbent state administration the quit order in 2019, insisting that it would win the elections and occupy the Government House.
Although the party has continued to witness intermittent crises among its leadership, especially the current one inflicted by the alleged desire of a few individuals to supplant the state executive, leading to various suspensions of members, what appears more worrisome at the moment seem to be the role of the “big names” that joined its fold.
At the conclusion of the re-registration exercise, Enugu APC was said to have registered more than one million new members, a feat made possible by the crisis that factionalized the leadership of the PDP at the national level.
Among the big politicians who joined the APC are former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, former governors Chief Jim Nwobodo and Sullivan Chime as well as immediate past Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Eugene Odoh, Chief Gbazuagu Nweke, Group Capt. Joe Oji (rtd) and Dr Sam Onyeishi among others.
Investigations by The Guardian however showed that the excitement that heralded their entry into the party may have disappeared since it was realized that only a few of them could actually be counted if the fortunes of the party would be brightened in the state.
In fact, although they have declared for the APC, some of them carry the broom in the day and the umbrella in the night as they have refused to detach from their former party, which is in control of the state government.
The worry is that should things continue their present way, it may be difficult for the APC to win election in 2019 and according to a source, “majority of the new comers still think of self-interest before the party and have not known that APC is in opposition in the state.”
It was also gathered that since joining the party last year, only a few of the PDP defectors have taken up assignments to strengthening the party in the state. While Nwobodo is leading the committee to ensure that the APC wins the Anambra governorship election this year and has been loud on why the party should be entrenched in the state, there are those who have allegedly remained dormant in the scheme of things.
For Chime, who is focused on his desire to ensure that the party takes over the state in 2019, many of those who had worked with him during his 8-year tenure, especially in his Enugu West senatorial district, have become foot soldiers in his new platform.
In fact, the former governor is said to have become very vocal with the APC and has never been absent from any meeting or political rally where new members were joining the party.
On the day he defected to the APC where he practically dragged the entire apparatus of the party to his country home in Udi, he did so with several of his supporters in what has continued to dominate political discussions in the state because of the large crowd that was mobilized to the event.
Odoh, on the other hand, is said to have worked hard in his Igboetiti local government to give the party an identity. On the day he joined the APC; he did so with his numerous supporters and is seen at several political meetings and rallies where new members are received into the party in the state.
His latest assignment for the party is the November local government election for which he has been mandated to lead a committee that would ensure victory for the party in the polls among others.
On the side of Nnamani, however, although he came into the party from the towering height of former Senate President, a large segment of the members believe that his antecedents have not advanced the fortunes of the APC in his Enugu East senatorial zone. They accused him of tilting more to his former party the PDP, than the APC, apparently because of his various contacts within his former base.
They insisted that the much that has been heard about him and the APC in the state was his formal registration with the party at his residence, where none of his supporters joined him to defect, adding that the caucus meeting he attended at the Nike Lake recently was the only appearance he reportedly made at the function of the APC in the state.
A close source said of Nnamani on the condition of anonymity, “During the 2015 general elections, he was given opportunity to nominate State Assembly members and he nominated the representatives for Enugu rural (Onyinye Ugwu) and Enugu South urban (Obinna Okenwa). These persons are serving in the House of Assembly presently from the platform of the PDP.
“After the election and a new government came into place, there was the need to appoint caretaker committee members for the local government; he nominated the Chairman and Deputy for Enugu South council, Sunday Ugwu and Donatus Ani, respectively. These are persons working for him; in fact Ugwu was the acting President of his faction in the communal crisis rocking Amechi.
“He also nominated, Chika Ogbe as Commissioner for Culture and Tourism and contributed a good number of Executive Assistants from Enugu South council. I know he joined the stakeholders meeting called by the local government chairman recently where the issue of creation of more development centres was discussed.
“Last week, there was this nomination for Ani as Commissioner in Enugu State. Ani has been screened and we believe that it could not have come without his (Nnamani’s) input, because right now, there is a contention in Enugu South on why he should be allowed to nominate the person that should replace Ani as Deputy Chairman.”
The source added, “To me, I do not think he can jettison the political party that has allowed him to make this level of contribution; because this is an investment. I believe he did not join APC for the sake of advancing the party. It should get the APC worried because his zone recorded the least number of members in the last re-registration. It should get the APC worried because it does not show that he is really working for the interest of the party, it should get the APC worried because right now, local government election is coming and it does not seem that anything is happening in his area.
“As a former Senate President, we expect him to lead in the mission of the APC in the zone. It is not playing to the gallery, knowing that the utmost target is the control of power. I sincerely do not think that he will make the necessary inroad for the APC the way he is going. If some of the big names are working and talking at their various levels, why has he chosen to remain almost inactive? He is behaving as if the claim that he is politically irrelevant is true.”
But the former Senate President seems unperturbed by his little visibility in the affairs of his new party, stressing that people should draw a distinction between party politics and governance to advance society and democracy.
Speaking to The Guardian he said: “I don’t know about those allegations. I don’t think it is right that because I am in APC I should take bows and arrows and go after my state government. We have a good governor that is working and is ready to bring anybody on board, so why should I start a fight? The election is over and a government has emerged. What it means is that whether you are in party A or B, you should team up to bring development and peace to the state. I don’t believe in too much fighting for interest.
“Once we learn this concept about politics and governance, it will help our society to grow. That is one thing I have tried to do as a politician and think that it should be emulated by all and sundry to reduce over heating the system.”
On some of the nominations he made to the PDP state government, he said: “I was not in APC when I made some of those nominations in the state. I was allowed to contribute because of my position then in the PDP and as a former President of the Senate. Likewise, if I am called upon now to nominate somebody, why should I say no? There is not more than one former President of Senate in Enugu South and you cannot ignore him.
“That I belong to the APC does not mean that I should not contribute my quota to the development of my local government if the government in power asks me to do so. I am in APC, but I am not quarreling with the PDP people because they are my brothers and sisters and if they invite me to do something that is of interest and development, I should not say no.”
Zonal Publicity Secretary of the APC, Chief Hyacinth Ngwu, said the party was comfortable with the contributions of the new entrants, especially the ‘big names’, who according to him “are also working to give the party a new lease of life.
“However, if the state government has allowed the APC members to nominate people for them or help them administer the state, then, it shows their level of incapability. I still want to treat the issue as part of rumours and speculations going round in the state.”