These are indeed trying times for us floor members of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State. Like one co-afflicted put it, one does not know just what to say and not be misunderstood. That is, unless one has – literally and literarily speaking – taken sides in the insipient dichotomy eating into the rank of our great party like cankerworm in the self-christened light of the nation. What used to be overheard in muted conversation has since ended up on the pages of our newspapers even as we pretend that nothing is amiss.
But come what may, one must have something to say. Like the author Salman Rushdie said, human beings over time “understand themselves and shape their futures by arguing and challenging and saying the unsayable.” Or a la our elders in our oral holy books: an old man does not stay at home and watch goats strangle themselves on their tethers.
And so a voice I must add, if for nothing else, because – to quote our late leader Dim Emeka Ojukwu – I am involved. Which goes all the way to buttress the truism about great men – no sooner are they gone than they are missed. Ordinarily, all it would have taken to call the duelling parties to order would have been a mere summons to Casa Bianca. At the end of the necessitated briefing either side would have sheathed swords or it would be sheathed for them. All the more so as what is at stake boils down to over-bloated egos and out-massaged superegos.
To call things by their names, there is no gainsaying the fact that much of what our party turned out to become was the handiwork of the parties at war now. Trying now to say who did or did not do which in the past will be tantamount to finding out the difference between six and half a dozen. Also, either of them trying to distance itself from the other now would amount to the saying about rouges and the sharing of loot.
Perhaps a trip down memory lane will suffice here.
Together they warded off the hawks that wanted us to surrender an incontrovertible electoral victory to crooks in high places. I still remember like yesterday even friends to the governor-to-be asking him to let sleeping dogs lie with indefensible statistics. Even institutions that are today reaping the benefits of the Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS) – even more than all – joined the cacophony. In fact, bed-mates as different as light is to darkness united to plead that truth backpedal for falsehood. All to no avail, owning to nothing else but the doggedness of these parties that today appear to be irreconcilable. Holy Ghost fire!
Even if we forget the foregoing, how indeed could they themselves have so easily forgotten how they had – like the wounded lions they were – fought back to reclaim mandates that were truncated by same wolf in sheep clothing dancing to the tune of the cabalistic symphonies orchestrated by their masters in faraway Abuja. Not even when the selfsame demagogues went ahead to swear in a governor when there was no vacancy for one did they relent; nor when same denizens wanted to hand our party back to the same turncoats who had sold their mandates in the party for expected contracts.
Indeed, it goes without saying that we all in this benighted nation suffer this disease of selective amnesia inflicted by our underdevelopment up- and downstairs.
It goes without saying that no one should wish a bridge collapse because one has crossed it. Not when so many more are bound to use the same route after them. Nor when there is every possibility of even them still making use of it later. This is the more reason why swords need to be re-sheathed if indeed they had been drawn. After all, anger amongst brothers does not get to the bone. What it would amount to after all is letting our opponents harvest at peace fields we had laboured to cultivate at harder times of strife. It will amount, like our elders would say, washing your hands and cracking kernels for wild chicken.
This is the lesson we should have learnt from the results of the last senatorial elections in the state. Or how on earth did it come to pass that our party could not capture a single senate seat in a state that boasts its Board of Trustees (BOT) and party chairman as well as state governor? The abject lesson in this that needs reiteration is that candidates ought to emerge legitimately. On paper everyone is a tiger; but it is often in the field that that thoroughbred ones are separated. A political heavyweight that needs to be appointed a candidate should be pointedly designated a paperweight and nothing else.
Both parties at war cannot claim not to have arrived at these odious decisions in unison. What else led to the re-coinage of Agulu/Aguluzoigbo Progressives Grand Alliance from the party acronym? Was not an order issued to local government party chairman to tell delegates where to cast their votes at party primaries? Were those that did not comply not summarily sacked over the phone? Who announced the result of the primaries for the Onitsha Federal Constituency and where?
Enough for questions, but it is not enough to settle the aggrieved with appointments. It all amounts to the ostrich burying its small head and exposing the rest of its gargantuan frame to escape peril. True as it is that trouble in the land is profit to some, the baby should never be thrown away with the bathwater. Or there will no baby to be bathed in the tub at the next dispensation. It does not require a night masquerade to state the obvious fact that we may have shot ourselves in the foot so far.
Cashing in on the crisis, many that would otherwise have been serving the party in other capacities have today become “honourables” of various cadres. The trouble yet to be seen by the benefactors is that government is being strengthened at the expense of the party and nobody is shouting. If by this the party is totally disarmed as it is bound to be if things keep going this way, come the next elections there will no goose to lay the golden eggs. Restructuring our party means making it possible for party organs to work like is outlined in our constitution, thus acting as a kind of ombudsman on the government. Both need to be as strong as need be in this symbiotic existence. What is playing out presently is a recipe for chaos I dare say.
In the same vein, such oddities like hiring delegates for the anointed that will lead us across the Red Sea at party primaries will cease. It is not democratic and will never be. It would amount to the kettle and the pot calling themselves names if we complain about the party at the centre and yet fall over ourselves to outdo them in their trademark jingoism. This should hold out as we prepare for the forthcoming local government elections. As well, it will be a control experiment for the governorship elections in 2014.
The onus for this falls squarely on the party chairman Chief Victor Umeh. He should not see this as an indictment or affront. Whatever source it comes from, like this one, he should have enough magnanimity to see it as a well-meant advice by proud members of our great party. Discretion being the better part of valour, he should make the process an all inclusive, forgetting who was on which side as the battle raged. It has to be agreed by all and sundry that we have reaped the dividend of trying to dig up a tuber of yam standing. Now is the time to stoop to our knees to dig out the broken-off bottom.
Our party The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra state needed to atone for its past sins and this has been done. The time is nigh to apply a dose of extreme unction to it – as Catholic faithful do to the sick – or we run the risk of it falling into the desuetude of extinction that will favour no one. This is most important given the position our beloved state has been chosen to play in the party o behalf of the South East and the nation.
*Uzoatu, a card-carrying member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), wrote from Onitsha.