It was rainy and cold on 23rd June 2021, the day of the APGA primaries held at the Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka, but that did not frustrate or hinder some of the diehard supporters of Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo, that belong to Chief Victor Oye’s faction of All Progessives Grand Alliance, in defiance to the alleged directive of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to converge, vote and elect Professor Soludo, an erudite scholar and economic designer, as the flagbearer of the APGA party. As the result of the alleged APGA election, Professor Soludo got 740 votes, Chief Ezenwankwo got 41 votes, Chief Damian Okolo got 7 votes, Chief Thankgod Ibeh got 4 votes. simply, the result is a clear reminder of a typical African election, where hopeful contestants are disqualified, and stooges are coated to give a fleeting impression that the election is free and fair.
The 60-year-old Professor Soludo, who hails from Isuofia town, Aguata Local Government Area, Anambra South Senatorial District, is a first-class graduate and professor at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. From being Chief Economic Adviser to the former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Soludo became the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria on 29th May 2004, where he restructured the banking industries in the country. On 9th October 2009, Professor Charles Soludo was chosen as the consensus candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary – an undemocratic action condemned by other PDP aspirants. As would be expected, he lost to Governor Peter Obi of the APGA party in the election conducted by INEC on 7th February 2010. In search of political anointment, he joined APGA in 2013 and was disqualified by the APGA Screening Committee to contest in the APGA governorship primary in which Chief Wille Obiano won – courtesy of Governor Peter Obi, Okwute Ndi Igbo. He later declared his intention for the governorship position in Anambra State and which is currently engulfing the fabric of the APGA party – leading APGA to evident schism and the possibility of INEC barring the APGA from participating in the November 2021 gubernatorial election.
As basklifenews writes, Professor Soludo was allegedly suspended by Chief Jude Okeke’s faction of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the APGA party. Professor Soludo should be concerned about the gloomy development considering forces tormenting his dream. If Chief Jude Okeke’s scheduled 1st July 2021, APGA primary election comes to reality and another candidate emerges, which lion will be said to be the king of the jungle – Soludo or who? In essence, who will INEC be chosen as a validly elected APGA flagbearer?
In an article titled “A DYING POLITICAL PARTY: APGA may cease to exist in Nigeria” dated 16th July 2021, the writer warns the APGA party that “the APGA cohesion is gradually collapsing, and the centre cannot hold any longer. Self-interest, sentiment, favouritism and prejudice are sapping the philosophy and progress of the APGA party. The alleged plan to cloak Professor Charles Soludo as the governorship flagbearer of the APGA party is the primary cause of the smouldering passion of distrust and division in the party.” The touching concise article reminded the distressed party that “a child that says that his mother will not sleep will be awake with his mother.” This is because, “if you bring ant-infested firewood to your house, do not blame Lizards for the uninvited visit.”
The unabated party gallivanting and skirmishes protruded so much so that the attention of INEC was caught. “In the letter written by the Independent National Electoral Commission to the National Chairman of APGA, dated 18th June 2021, REF: INEC/DEPM/UPPM/1/145, titled “RE: FORWARDING OF COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF DELEGATES FOR THE APGA PRIMARY ELECTION FOR ANAMBRA STATE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION 2011,” noted that “APGA did not duly notify Commission of the date of the Congress where the ad-hoc delegates were elected.” The letter also noted that “the Commission is unable to confirm if the ad-hoc Delegates list submitted by your party is the outcome of a democratic process,” and that “the Commission wishes to emphasize the need for full compliance with all legal requirements for the conduct of Party Primaries as earlier communicated in the Commissions letter to your Party dated 3rd June 2021 (REF: INEC/DEPM/UPPM/119/1/27).” However, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, allegedly told the Nation online that “the Commission does not have any position on APGA. As far as INEC is concerned, there are no factions in APGA. The Commission deals with only one National Chairman and one Secretary of the party. Their details are on the INEC website. Secondly, the Commission did not and has not said that APGA will not participate in the Anambra Governorship election.” What is not clear is if INEC will later say or direct that APGA will not participate in the Anambra Governorship election. Mr. Oyekanmi’s assertion was not exhaustive on the APGA crisis.
The joy of Professor Soludo when his APGA faction declared him the winner would not be sufficient to measure if the crown fits his head. Professor Soludo professed in his acceptance speech: “let me thank you all, our esteemed APGA delegates and thousands of our members whom you represent, for the mandate to fly our flag. I am grateful to our members at the 326 wards, local government and state executives; members of NWC, BOT, and NEC. I am particularly grateful to our indefatigable national chairman, Ozonkpu (Dr) Victor Ike Oye, and his dear wife who foresaw and worked extremely hard for this day. You have proved to be an uncommon leader…Let me particularly thank the INEC, under the sterling leadership of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu for its professionalism, especially in monitoring today’s primaries. APGA is a law-abiding party that is thorough about due process.” The pertinent questions to ask are: Is Professor Soludo justly enjoying the mandate of APGA members? Is (Dr) Victor Ike Oye validly the National Chairman of APGA? Is INEC in support of the factional APGA primaries held on 23rd June 2021? Is Professor Soludo truly suspended from the APGA party? Can factionalization cause the barring of the APGA party from participating in the November election? Until these questions are answered, Professor Soludo may end up being a king without a crown – a crown which is the exclusive preserve of INEC to give to who the cap fits.