By Azubuike Ogbonnaya
For Chief Victor Oye, the National Chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), these are not the best of times. Since the conclusion of the candidates’ nominations and primary election by the party in October in readiness for the 2019 general elections, there have been scathing and coordinated attacks targeted at the national leadership of the party.
The criticisms against Chief Oye may not be misplaced, because he could have equally taken the glory if everything had gone well. As it is generally said in administration, the buck stops at hos table. Admittedly, it is predictable that the leader of a party takes responsibility whenever things go wrong within the party and Chief Oye is culpable here. He should be blamed partially for not putting his eyes really down to know what his subordinates were, in fact, doing. No matter what has happened, however, one cannot throw away the bath water with the baby.
In all these, what Oye’s traducers have not done is to sit down to dissect the influences which were responsible for the problems with APGA primaries. In this situation, many have therefore questioned or situated the continued attacks on the chairman, thereby stoking the animosity to the detriment of the party. This is viewed as more dangerous to the party, especially with no fewer than three calendar months to the 2019 general election.
Many will agree that, to a large extent, the process that led to the emergence of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume as APGA governorship candidate in Imo State and the alleged denial of Senatorial ticket to Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu, the wife of the founder of the party, in Anambra have been the twin issues that Oye’s traducers have put forward against him.
In as much as the nomination of candidates and primary election were not tidy and transparent, the entire failure of the process should not only be placed on the shoulders of the party chairman, the NEC of the party should also be roundly condemned, while also addressing such issues that have led the party to the present situation.
One should not also take away the fact that one of the things that illustrate every political period is puffery. Most times some of the misinformation is too feeble to deserve a response; hence they are allowed to die a natural death. Some are professionally shaped and manufactured to a point that the receiver or the target would have to engage media experts to counter and change the storyline. However, over time, events have exposed the fact that no matter how feeble or preposterous a narrative appears to be, there is need to combat it with truth before the little false story grows into a monster and causes much damage to one’s political career, as people would say. As some writers would say, this is because lies if unremittingly propagated, “watered, fertilised and allowed a favourable ambience to thrive, will always attack and dominate truth, thereby causing individuals affected by their peddling to count loses, unreservedly.” And as all lies are like “cankerworms, which should not be allowed a space near a priceless wood furniture, else it wreaks damage on it. Hence, no serious minded individual, public figure, group or organisation smiles at lies, especially when mischievous individuals with the intention to damage a reputation or deprive a price, unleash them.”
This is the more reason the series of media attacks pointed towards the direction of the APGA National Chairman, by a few but aggrieved individuals, who have not shown signs of shutting up, calls for a proper review, with the view of establishing lasting truth that will not only exonerate Chief Oye, but will recognise his place in the party and Nigerian politics.
Even as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Police reports try to right the wrongs of the APGA primaries in some states, especially in Imo State, some of those who are political associates of Chief Oye and analysts say it was evident and known to party members from the outset that the Chairman was out to engender new positive reforms that were to set the party clearly apart from other political parties.
They argued that one of such reforms was his decision to have delegate forms for each political office sold differently to different potential delegates. The implication was to have different delegates emerge for the Governorship, Senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly primaries. This was in a bid to foster transparency in the entire process, they said.
However, it was particularly the gubernatorial aspirants in their quest to have national assembly and state assembly aspirants in their line-up emerge as candidates, who opted to hijack the process by purchasing four forms per delegate.
Another area where Chief Oye’s critics are making mince meat of him is on the N10, 000 price tag pegged on the delegate form. In as much as many will not appear to defend the leadership of the party on that price tag, other political observers also believe that the Chairman could not have made it a unilateral decision all by himself, because in normal circumstances, when such a decision is taken, the National Working Committee of the party must have agreed to and endorsed it. Yet, even when such price was agreed on, it was not forced on party members, others further argued. The delegate forms were available and open to everyone who wished to be a delegate and could afford the form. The forms were well-patronised and party members bought same freely, while it is also on record that money received for such were appropriated accordingly.
At this moment, what is paramount is for the party to support the APGA chairman in mending fences and building support base for the candidates presented and recognised by the INEC for a successful election. This is not the time for bickering and throwing stone or fouling the waters, because if reconciliation and synergy are not pursued immediately, the party would have itself to blame, not just Oye alone.
Those who are close to the party chairman confirm that he has learned his lessons and ready to rebuild and strengthen the party for the task ahead–winning the elections, especially in Imo and Abia States and that those bent at criticising Oye should cease their attacks forthwith.