By Richard Mammah
Unfolding events in the Nigerian political space signal that a major make-over moment may soon be in the works.
And if current developments are anything to go by, the forthcoming Anambra 2021 gubernatorial polls may be the first major outward development in that regard.
At the moment, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Soludo is rated by bookmakers as the man to beat given that he has currently secured the platform of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance in the state.
But that in itself does not bring endearing comfort as the party is presently enmeshed in what analysts say is a critical challenge of definition.
Indeed, the APGA challenge has been one that it has grappled with since its inception. At that time, factional conflicts between two of the leading lights of the party, Victor Umeh and Chekwas Okorie dragged on endlessly such that the only unifying elements were its control of Anambra State and the all-towering image of its founding leader, the iconic Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
However, Ojukwu’s transition, the untidy succession from Peter Obi to incumbent Governor, Willie Obiano and the emergence of the fractious Victor Oye leadership of the party, and most significantly Obiano’s failure to rise up to the task of leading a massive redefinition and reconstruction of the party has led to a situation where the party’s potential capacity to play the beautiful bride in the political arena has continued to be hobbled.
It is against this backdrop then that APGA is entering the gubernatorial fray this time around and rather than being the surefooted pacesetter, it is coming across as a most vulnerable drunken elephant that has been set up for the poachers knives.
Feelers at the moment are that talks may be ongoing between the APGA leaders and the All Progressives Congress, APC with a view towards literally integrating APGA into the APC machinery.
While the APC has not made any pretence of its avowed intention towards ensuring that it overcomes its perceived liability of being an hamstrung vehicle that has serious sustainability challenges through incorporating as many of Nigeria’s political players from far and near into its fold. Sources close to the party say that this is a deliberate measure towards ensuring that its candidate secures presidential victory in 2023, but there is also a poser in the seeming willingness of the lead drivers of the APGA ship to capitulate to the APC’s overtures as there is very little rational explanation for what APGA as a party stands to benefit in the process.
Indeed, the caution from the political commentator, Clem Obanya is that APGA’s leaders should be wary of getting themselves enmeshed in the same disturbing scenario that the leaders of the then ACN had gotten themselves into through their laid-back subordination of all the values that they and the South West region had long been known for in their 2014 merger with the CPC party that had since led to a wholesale marginalisation of the ACN tendency in the Nigerian political field of play.
On his part, the explanation from Kola Ologbodiyan, spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is that a lot of the defection and absorption going on in the political field at the moment is being driven chiefly by intimidation. According to him, the defectors, including three of his own party’s governors who have already made the switch, have only moved over because they are afraid that the incumbent central ruling party may come after them.
There is however a third reading, and that namely has to do with the tendency of Nigerian politician to do everything possible to align with any party that they perceive has the upper edge in the political arena.
This is also the reason why commentators believe that there would even be some more defections that would be witnessed even as the political process continues to unfold.
Says Obi Azukor:
‘As things are turning out now, some governors in the South East may defect from their existing frames to pursue their senatorial and other ambitions. As for the parties themselves, the PDP and perhaps APGA may remain in one form or the other but evidently there would be more alignments and realignments going forward across the board.
And you could also have some defectors who are now going over to the APC now on account of the lure of central power returning to their old fold or making even new moves on account of their interests not being properly accommodated on getting there. So at the bottom, it returns to self-interest.’
The circus continues.