THE DECONSTRUCTION OF APGA
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), conceptualized and built on the ideals of the United Progressives Grand Alliance (UPGA), which was led by the pragmatic Dr. M. I. Okpara, former Premier of the defunct Eastern Region in the First Republic, was registered as a political party in 2003. APGA had Chief Chekwas Okorie as founding national chairman before an internal crisis came to rock the party, which necessitated the emergence of Chief Victor Umeh, the party’s national treasurer, as new national chairman.
APGA had a shaky start when the mandate given to the party by the people of Anambra State for the governorship of the state was allegedly stolen. It took the perseverance and dogged fight, up to the Supreme Court, for three long years, by the governorship candidate of the party in the state, Mr. Peter Obi, before the mandate was retrieved.
Walking through the spirit of the irrepressible Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu as its national leader, APGA soon became a household name in many parts of the country, and by 2007, had gained grounds in most states of the South East and up to the North Central, in particular, and thus became the second strongest party in each of these states. Apart from having the governorship of Anambra State in its kitty, APGA also had captured the governorship of Imo State.
Going by how fast the party was then moving, many people thought that APGA would, in no distance time, take over the entire South East and make strong inroads into many other states outside the region. But that was not to be, as the fortunes of the party began to dwindle by the day, soon after the exit of Dim Chukwemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu in 2012.
First, APGA lost Imo State, when the Governor of the state, Chief Rochas Okorocha, sold a faction of the party to political leaders in the North and the West, to form what they called the All Progressives Congress (APC). What then remained of APGA in Imo State was therefore, nothing to write home about.
Then, attention was focussed on Anambra State, hoping it to be the redeemer of the party. Many people had thought that the new Governor of the state, Willie Obiano, would take up the challenge, rebuild APGA and give it a new face, a national outlook. But Obiano did not do that. Instead, he began to appropriate APGA, to make it his personal property or an arm or department of his government. Every other person who was anything in the party, must come from Anambra State or under the control of the Governor.
Many people were disappointed or disenchanted and accordingly began to leave the party in droves or turn their backs on the party, including some of its founding fathers. The consequence was that instead of expanding, APGA began to shrink or localized to some few local government areas in Anambra State. During the last general elections in the country, the impact of APGA was hardly felt in many states outside Anambra State. It was a very big tragedy.
In 2003, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo launched his political “hurricane” that swept away most governors of the South West then under the political umbrella of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), leaving only Bola Tinubu of Lagos State, the man did not go to sleep or build the government around himself. Rather, he began to rebuild the Alliance for Democracy, and to reach out to other states in the South West, and to spread his dragnet to net in supporters from across the area.
Even when Obasanjo seized funds belonging to the local government areas of Lagos State so as to cripple Tinubu financially, the man remained resolute. He did not surrender. He continued to persevere.
Tinubu was futuristic. He later changed his own faction of Alliance for Democracy to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and began to nurture it. Soon, the ACN became formidable, and Tinubu used it as bargaining chip during the merger talks with three other political parties to form the now ruling party in the country, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Now, the South East is talking about the “Igbo Presidency” in 2023. How do they achieve this? What do they have on the table as their bargaining point? They do not have the population, and they do not have a strong political base. They are mere “follow follow” in other political parties formed by some other people, and which have their base elsewhere.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), would have been a good selling point if all the states in the South East zone had come together or had united under the party. But they would not. Everybody is playing individual games, what will benefit him alone, here and now. That was why APGA has been bastardized or deconstructed, principally due to some selfish interests.
In the First Republic, when M. I. Okpara was the leader of the United Progressives Grand Alliance (UPGA), he was able to reach out to political leaders in both the West and the North to strike healthy alliance with the Awolowo faction of the Action Group (AG) and the Aminu Kano led Northern Elements Progressives Union (NEPU) respectively. That was what made UPGA a formidable political party at the time. One would have therefore expected the leaders of APGA to emulate Dr. M. I. Okpara, and spread their dragnet across the length and breadth of the country to net in supporters. But they did not, which is unfortunate.