The evolution of Nigeria’s politics and APGA’S defection crisis

Nothing is static in nature. Everything is in a state of flux. So, not surprisingly, the dynamics and features of our politics have undergone negative evolution. In the first republic, men with robust intellect, deep erudition, and moral scruples were in our political arena. Dr. Azikiwe, Chief Awolowo, K.O Mbadiwe, Anthony Enahoro, Festus Okotie Eboh, and others dominated our politics, then. The duo of Azikiwe and Awolowo stood out from among the pack owing to their political sagacity and erudition. Dr. Azikiwe, the ceremonial President of Nigeria, was a top-notch, fiery, and brilliant Journalist, who studied in the USA while Chief Awolowo was a London- trained lawyer. Both wrote good books that are studied by university students in Nigeria. They’re the true representation of the philosopher-king leaders, which Nigeria needs urgently.

In the first republic, Chief Awolowo, as the premier of the western region, espoused and implemented the principles of democratic socialism in the western region, which positively transformed the entire Yoruba land. And, he implemented the free education policy in the region; that action offered students from poor homes the opportunity to obtain western education.

And, in both the first and second republics, our type of politics was issued- based. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who was known for his oratorical prowess, dazzled and impressed people with his learnedness and the gift of the gab when he was on the husting. Dr. Chuba Okadigbo and other politicians brought intellectual rigor to the discourse of our national issues. Have followers of Nigerian politics forgotten the exchanges between the Zik of Africa and the brilliant Chuba Okadigbo?

But, with the passage of time, our political cultures as well as political ethos have continued to evolve negatively. The negative evolution of our manner of doing politics is intertwined with the military intervention in our political leadership. Rtd General Babangida entrenched corruption in Nigeria while the kleptomaniac with sanguinary proclivities, Sanni Abacha, deepened and solidified it. This affected the psyche and perception of Nigerians regarding the important issue of morality. Consequently, here, now, we consider right to be wrong, and wrong to be right. And, Nigerians who are deeply religious employ vile and corrupt means to achieve their goals.

Sadly, our warped perception of issues has negatively affected and influenced our manner of politicking. Politicians perceive their occupations of exalted political offices as an opportunity to corruptly enrich themselves. It is corrupt political leadership that has stalled our national development. So, for all our oil-wealth, our roads are death-traps; and hospitals, mortuaries. Our educational system is dysfunctional, and the country is grappling with energy crisis. These are the imprints and consequences of failed and inept political leadership.

But, not all our political leaders are guilty of corrupt enrichment and bad leadership. There are politicians who acquitted themselves very well in the area of political leadership. Dr. Fayemi and Mr. Peter Obi, the former governors of Ekiti and Anambra states respectively, readily come to my mind. A dispassionate and impartial assessment of Mr. Obi’s eight years in office shows that he performed well as a governor.

He constructed new roads, and repaired dilapidated ones. In addition to returning schools to churches, he equipped them with computers and internet connectivity. Teachers were paid their salaries as and when due. For two years running, Anambra state has been out-performing other states in our federation in SSCE and NECO. The state’s spectacular and splendid performances in these examinations are attributed to Obi’s pragmatic intervention in the issues that bedeviled schools in Anambra state. Towards the end of his second term in office, he recruited about five thousand workers to boost the effectiveness of the state civil service that was depleted by retirement and deaths of workers.

But, on his second coming as our governor, Mr. Peter Obi rode to power on the coat tails of Late Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the former Biafran war leader. Chief Emeka Ojukwu enjoyed cult following during his life time. He was the folk hero and rallying point of the Igbo people. During Peter Obi’s bid for re-election as Anambra state governor, Chief Ojukwu backed him and asked Anambra people to vote for Mr. Peter Obi. Anambra people heeded his call and did his bidding. Governor Obi contested on the political platform of APGA. APGA represents and symbolizes the Igbo oneness. It is portrayed as a political party for redressing the injustices the Igbo suffered, and a platform for addressing the Igbo people’s complaints of political marginalization. Upon the death of Chief Emeka Ojukwu, Mr. Peter Obi became the face of APGA. He was the cornerstone of the party, and he fended off the political offensive and darts that came from PDP and APC in Anambra state. In fact, he was the political nemesis of Dr. Chris Ngige regarding the governorship post in Anambra state.

But, to our greatest surprise, some weeks ago, Mr. Peter Obi publicly defected to PDP after rumors concerning his romance with PDP had made the rounds. He said that he was alienated and ostracized from the party. He accused the party apparatchik of sidelining him. But, is he telling us the truth? He played a pivotal role in the emergence of Dr. Obiano as our governor.

The fact is, Nigerian politicians have Jekyll and Hyde personalities; they’re two-faced wily people who do trick us into believing that they intend good things for us. I have no doubt that Mr. Peter Obi has become infected with the political disease called political duplicity. He was denied the job of becoming the aviation minister on the grounds of his non-membership of PDP. So, he joined the ruling PDP to achieve his materialistic and selfish goals.

His defection has dealt a big blow to APGA, which is reeling from internal crisis. Another top member of APGA, Iyom Uche Ekwunife, had defected to PDP before Mr. Peter Obi did. Is the rank of APGA not depleted? But, the fact is, Mr. Peter Obi has betrayed Chief Ojukwu post-humously. Ojukwu, who was a quintessential Igbo man, is quaking in his grave. He has become a poltergeist that should be appeased. But, can Anambra people repose trust and confidence in Mr. Peter Obi again?

APGA members have started re-building the party. Anambra people should rally behind Dr. Willie Obiano, and lend him a helping hand in his efforts to build and stabilize the party. APGA is a bargaining tool for Igbo people in the comity of ethnic nations in Nigeria.