The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) leadership in Anambra State must now be befuddled by the outcome of the ‘Accord Concordia’, to quote blessed K.O. Mbadiwe, which it entered into with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – or did APGA force itself into it? – for the re-election of President Goodluck ‘Ebelechukwu’ Azikiwe Jonathan, the outgoing president of Nigeria.
The urge to support President Jonathan began with former governor, Peter Obi, who argued that Jonathan was the best thing that had happened to the Igbo man. Even though many people could not see the extra-ordinary dividends of democracy flowing from the Federal Government to Anambra State, Obi argued that the President must be supported.
One particular project projected as the main propaganda weapon for this support was the second Niger Bridge that is to be the first Federal Government built toll bridge. When people looked at the pace of rehabilitation of the Onitsha-Enugu Expressway that has now outlived Jonathan in office, Obi instantly found an excuse that he had an agreement with the federal government to repair the road piece-meal and be refunded the cost. The Minister of Works, Mike Onolomemem, made frequent visits to the state to re-enforce the bait.
That was the situation when Chief Willie Obiano succeeded Obi as Governor. In the face of blackmail that he secretly undermined Jonathan’s re-election bid, Obiano put even more vigour in his support. For instance, before Dame Patience Jonathan, wife of the President, visited Anambra State to launch the Transformation Ambassadors’ of Nigeria (TAN) in the state, Obiano had established Join Jonathan Journey (JJJ), managed by his effervescent Special Adviser on Political Affairs, Chief Ben Obi. Obiano, Obi and APGA’s National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, said that it was JJJ that would deliver President Jonathan in Anambra State since that his fractionized Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was helpless. Obiano’s Special Assistant, Obi, boasted that “only Governor Obiano can deliver Jonathan in the election through JJJ,” adding that “since the organization was formed in June last year, it had set out to work for the success of the President and that is why it was registered with the office of the President.” He added: “Only that group led by Governor Willie Obiano with the authority of APGA National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, which attracted President Jonathan for which he personally visited the Governor’s Lodge, Onitsha, where he met with APGA officials during his campaign tour of the state, will deliver the President.”
But in all, what will APGA benefit as a party from the alliance with PDP through JJJ? The taste of the pudding is in the eating, goes a saying, and that soon came to light on March 28, the day of reckoning. Card Reader became the major weapon PDP used to reward APGA for its support for President Jonathan. Whereas Card Readers worked in many parts of the country, it is doubtful if it ever worked anywhere in Anambra State. Before the election, whereas APGA candidates toiled and toured the state for campaign for votes, many PDP candidates who later won the election were not known to have solicited for votes anywhere for once. It was after the votes were counted and collated at ward level that the shortsightedness of APGA was exposed because, by then, APGA chieftains hardly knew that the bilateral relation had snapped. While the party’s hierarchy waited for collation to be done at constituency and ward level, PDP leaders in the state allegedly moved in with Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs). Suddenly, they became field marshals, allegedly commanding high-ranking military and police officers; allegedly ordering who to lock up, who to flog or who to place under house arrest.
Umeh lamented almost to a point of shedding tears that police officers who recognized him earlier in the day as National Chairman of APGA pretended they did not know him later in the day. According to him, when he was told that Hon. Uche Ekwunife allegedly marched on Anaocha Local Government headquarters with soldiers and policemen, backed by Armoured Personnel Carrier, and ordered the house arrest of the chairman of Anaocha Local Government Chairman, Ikeobi Ejiofor, he rushed to see what was happening. But by the time he got to the local government headquarters, Ekwunife and her team had moved to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Awka. On getting to INEC headquarters, he was refused entry.
He said: “I received a call that Hon. Ekwunife stormed Anaocha Local Government headquarters with police and soldiers, backed by Armoured Personnel Carrier, beat up the collators and removed the materials. When I rushed there they had left and when I rushed to INEC office in Awka, I was prevented from gaining access,” he lamented. He lamented that his worry was not only that security personnel had been used in determining the final outcome of the election but that “the situation in Anambra is bizarre when a young woman was given soldiers to overrun the state; the same thing that happened 12 years ago. No one could have believed that.”
But the complaint was too late. As Ekwunife allegedly commanded the Anaocha Sector, Prince Arthur Eze allegedly commanded the Abagana sector and the two met at INEC headquarters for a common purpose, Umeh lamented. Meanwhile, later in the day, results of the Presidential and National Assembly elections were declared and PDP swept the polls except Anambra East and Anambra West as well as Oyi/Ayamelum Federal Constituencies, an act of respect for Governor Willie Obiano, one would say.
As Umeh was licking his wound, in Awka, Ekwunife was having a good lunch with journalists where she praised INEC for its transparency without forgetting to add that “I beat Umeh silly.”
She continued: “He is crying like a baby. Please, tell him to stop crying. Instead he should join hands with me to move Anambra Central Senatorial District forward.”
However, when Umeh filed a petition before the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal, all manner of people sprang up asking him to stop his suit.