Anambra Guber: Umeoji, Soludo And Equity In APGA

Such a man that loved his bottles, this lawyer was! Yet, he was actually in the legal team of the Ibrus! I can’t really recall the circumstances, because I know it was the late Kehinde Sofola SAN, that eventually won the case for Ibru over the late Rotimi Williams, who represented Opia. However, my man actually came from the state ministry of justice in the state. He always passing notes to one of the female lawyers, who was leading the team.

Even with my little experience as a rookie, few months into journalism and being in a courtroom for the first time, I had wondered then, how such a person could be entrusted with such a responsibility. But I was to learn later that he was a brilliant lawyer apart from being a senior officer in the ministry.

It was while reviewing the case during one of the intermittent breaks that I heard for the first time the expression – he who goes to equity, must go with clean hands. As he lectured me further about the implications of the argument of the team, he added – when equity is equal, the law prevails. What is the law in this case? The votes!

I didn’t quite understand the second leg of this lecture, talking about equity being equal and the votes. But the first part held a kind of fascination to me that for a long time after, I found a way of infusing it into my lexicon, oral or written.

I couldn’t help recalling my encounter with this lawyer with whom I became very attached mainly because of his gifted sassy wits, concerning the political macabre dance that is going on in Anambra State, particularly in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), as it relates to the adherence of this time-tested principle or lack of it.

Could anybody in good conscience discountenance the issue of equity in the entire APGA saga or play down the import and consequences of not approaching it with clean hands? That is the question anyone getting involved either as an active participant or an observer, must attempt to answer.

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Is it not evident that like in other Nigerian political parties, APGA habours its own fair share of injustice against its members, particularly aspirants? Would it even be farfetched to infer that the party has even elevated crooked selection of candidates for its elections as a way of life? Isn’t this what is playing out in the current saga?

“APGA is a fraud. It is more than a ponzi scheme and a continuous criminal enterprise. It is an Anambra business to defraud and make money using aspirants every four years. It’s a scam. Every four years, people are defrauded. It’s no longer this is our own; it now means this for thieves. Some people lost millions and millions to the cartel, some people were given certificates of returns four times.”

That was one Tony Gray Okpe, an aspirant for the senatorial elections in Imo State about three years ago, at the approach of the 2019 elections. Of course, you needed to hear the version of other candidates including Bianca Ojukwu, widow of the late Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, on whose back the party rode to power in Anambra State to underscore that Okpe’s vituperation, utter disappointment and anger and those of the likes of Sam Amadi, former chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), whose fingers were burnt trying to contest elections under APGA.

Incidentally, many analysts simply paper over this central issue. Even Chukwuma Charles Soludo, while on Channels Television a fortnight ago failed to focus on this unfortunate aspect in his analysis of the current crisis in APGA in Anambra State. That he did so, speaks a lot to the odious nature of Nigerian politics and its propensity to taint, if not consume those who venture into it, no matter their pedigrees, hitherto.

Instead, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), regaled his audience with how Anambra people were begging him to become governor. He conveniently failed to stress how the disqualification of Chukwuma Umeoji, his major opponent for the APGA ticket in the November 6 governorship election in the state birthed the crisis. As usual, he also blamed outside forces.

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Umeoji had posed the greatest threat to the professor of Economics, whether real or imagined in the run up to the party’s primaries. Unlike Soludo, who has never held any political office in the state or even in Nigeria, either elective or appointive, apart from his CBN job, Umeoji, was not only a local government chairman through elections, but a two-time member of the House of Representatives, relying on the votes of the people – the same people that would likely have voted at the primaries.

Obviously, he was only too happy that this obstacle was removed for him by the APGA hierarchy and that a make-shift arrangement was made to select him as the candidate of the party by his camp by putting him up against some agreeable, but paper-weight candidates, to give the process a veneer of credibility.

Now, should Soludo have accepted that the process be skewed in his favour in any political contest? Should desperation for power, no matter how genuine his intentions drive him to the dark part of history as a beneficiary of a rigged process? Having done so, hasn’t he lost the ground to wax moral and submit himself to the jankara politics that is now playing out as the outcome? These are the questions begging for answers – the crux of the matter.

It is unfortunate that the selfsame Soludo, was once a victim of the APGA’s poisoned chalice, having been similarly disqualified in 2009 a few days to clinching the ticket for that year’s election, using the same inexplicable hammer of electoral roguery. It is more saddening that the same man, who did not accept the situation then and ran to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where he contested and lost, would now be singing praises of what he condemned only a few years ago.

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That makes a terrible statement on the nature of politics in Nigeria. People like Soludo are supposed to be change agents in politics. They are supposed to go into that arena to beautify the colour and make it more attractive, by cleaning all the slurs that taint the process no matter how caked and entrenched they have become.

Yes, they should also aspire to win elections to play the same role at the bigger stage. But, if at the smaller level of party primaries you accept a rotten package, how do you redeem it at that level? The history of Nigeria is replete with technocrats like Soludo, who going into the ring, either became hostages to the wicked and outlandish political system or even the purveyors and patrons of the wacky products.

Imagine Umeoji, posting such tall political qualification being disqualified on the flimsy reasons of ”defiance and insubordination to the party leadership and alteration of forms” – whatever that means. Who does that?

Soludo, boasts that his turning the tide and becoming the governor is a matter of time. On the other hand Umeoji, currently swimming the tide as the candidate whose name is in the ballot at the moment believes he would be sworn in next year to “continue the good work” of the present government. It doesn’t really matter who wins at the end of the day. What is evident is that nothing has changed in Anambra, as in Nigeria.

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