New Telegraph

Enugu APC: Agballah’s bid brightens party’s chances

KENNETH OFOMA reports on the intriguing race for the chairmanship of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu State, which has a former governorship candidate in the state, Barr. Ugochukwu Agballah, as the frontrunner


The race for the chairmanship position of the Enugu State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming state congress of the party is getting more interesting by the day.


The stake is also getting higher. This is because the contestants that hitherto operated behind the scheme are now coming out with a bang.


One of them is a two-time governorship candidate and former Commissioner for Works in the state, Barr. Ugochukwu Agballah. The state congress of the APC was earlier scheduled for October 2 before it was later shifted to October 16.


To slug it out with Agballah are former Nigeria’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and one-time APC guber candidate, Fidel Ayogu, and a former military governor of Gombe State and guber aspirant, Group Captain Joe Orji (rtd). Although Agballah (from Enugu West senatorial zone) joined the party about two months ago, he has extensive political contact, having been a former campaign manager of two former governors of Enugu State – Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo and Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani. He is expected to bring such contacts to bear. Again, nobody argues whether he has the capacity. In fact, the major argument is that having contested for the governorship of the state twice, why would he condescend to be the party chairman. But his co-contestants are no political neophytes as well.


Ayogu (from Enugu North senatorial zone) aside from being a former ambassador, is a former minority leader of the National Assembly, former gubernatorial candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party ANPP, former local government chairman (Igboze North) and former state chairman of defunct United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP), among other positions he held in the past.


Group Captain Orji (from Enugu West), on his part, aside from being a former military governor, is a former governorship aspirant and senatorial aspirant. Stakeholders of the party in the state recently met and set up a nine-man committee to zone the state executive committee and other positions among the three senatorial zones in the state.


Members of the zoning committee are Barr. Okey Ezea, Engr. Ik Ugwuegede, Hon. Eugene Ogoh, Phil Eze, Joe Mammel, Val Nnadozie, Barr. Jerry Eneh, Emma Nweke and Mrs. Chukwuanyim.


The committee is expected to zone the chairmanship of the party to either Enugu West or Enugu North senatorial districts since the governorship ticket of the party is expected to go to Enugu East senatorial zone. Whichever way the zoning goes or whether the zoning fails, the contest promises to be an interesting one.


Agballah’s declaration of interest for the state chairmanship of the party has thrown members and none members of the party into jubilant mood as he is considered a grassroots politician, who can deploy his long established political structure as well as his political tentacles to turn around the fortunes of the party in the state.


APC, as the main opposition party in the state is yet to win any political position in the state since 2015.


Many pundits blame the development to the initial apathy of strong politicians towards joining the party as well as the closeness of the leadership and some stakeholders of the party to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government in the state.

It has been alleged that some of them collect monthly “rent” from the state government.


But with the likes of Agballah, and a former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon.  Eugene Odoh, among other fresh bloods and political heavyweights, who joined the party, many political watchers are of the view that the era of one-party system in the state would soon be over.


Agballah contested governorship elections twice and analysts strongly believe he won both elections but was cheated out of the game through arms twisting and rigging tactics, because those parties (APGA and Accord Party) were not in government in the state or at the centre.


It is therefore hoped that with his membership of APC, Agballah would transform the fortunes of the party and reposition it to be able to win elections, particularly, at a time the people of Enugu State are fatigued with the monotonous and lackluster performance of PDP in the state.


Agballah’s stint with APGA afforded him a rare opportunity of tapping from the great tutelage and political philosophy of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who was then the leader of the party.


There is, therefore, no doubt that he imbibed Ojukwu’s unapologetic Igbo irredentism, courage and spirit of being one’s brother’s keeper. Agballah is the President General of Igbo Improvement Union, a socio- political organization founded by Ojukwu with the sole purpose of protecting Igbo interest in Nigerian politics.


In the 2019 general election, when the South East PDP governors, senators and leaders dragged their feet in supporting Peter Obi’s vice presidential aspiration, Agballah activated the leadership of Igbo Improvement Union in all the states of the South-East by convoking a town hall meeting of the zone’s political leaders, which was presided by Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyawu and Chief Jim Nwobodo.


It was the group that took over the mobilization for the election when the South-East PDP leadership prevaricated. It is rumoured that Agballah’s sudden interest in APC is because of the new reality of the possibility of an Igbo presidential ticket on the platform of APC.


It is also rumoured that Agballah was specifically head hunted by the national leadership of APC. Ndigbo, as many would agree are currently at crossroads and require a crop of young and dynamic political leaders imbued with the right philosophical underpinnings to organize and mobilize the people towards socio-political and economic liberation.


To this end, Agballah’s chairmanship of APC in Enugu is expected to rob off on the entire South-East zone in terms of helping to recalibrate the area’s political and economic pathway towards achieving regional economic development.


As a critical step towards clinching victory in the October 16 state congress, Agballah has begun the process of oiling his political structure the Oganiru Enugu whose members are reportedly trooping into the party since the registration exercise commenced. Just few days ago, he convened a state-wide meeting of the group, which saw a cross section of politicians and none politicians across the state in attendance  Former lawmakers, former commissioners, businessmen, professionals of different hue, market men and women, and artisans thronged the venue of the meeting outflanking the 500 capacity hall.


Addressing the gathering, Agballah told them that time has come for them to join the APC in the state and turn it into a winning party ahead of 2023 general elections. “We’ll turn APC into a winning party in Enugu State. It’s time for APC to take over the government of Enugu State. We are not pretentious about our mission and vision to take leadership.


We are also determined to offer the people of Enugu State an alternative platform as our contributions to the deepening of democracy in our life time. One party system as currently available in Enugu State is inimical to democratic culture, civil rights development and the dignity of man. Power in the wrong hands can blossom into authoritarianism.


“What we want to do this time is to raise men and women that will take Enugu House of Assembly, House of Representatives and the Senate.


“The task ahead is enormous. The job requires energetic, vibrant, upwardly mobile and visionary young leader with extensive political structure and contacts. “The PDP is disintegrating, it’s now a house divided against its self…

What is happening in Anambra State today, whereby PDP and APGA lawmakers and other key stakeholders are decamping to APC in droves is a pointer to the fact that APC is where we should be.


“We won elections in the past but we were not able to hold the police, army, INEC, because we are not in the ruling party. So, they forcefully took our victory. But this time around nobody will try that again, nobody will snatch our victory again. “The Bible according to the book of Ecclesiastics says that there is time and season for everything.


This is our time and this is our season. Now is the time to go and strengthen APC in Enugu State. If we miss this timing, Enugu State will regret it in future.”


In a remark, a former chairman of Enugu North Local Government Area, Hon. Ben Onyia, who spoke on behalf of the 34 ex-chairmen of Enugu State councils, stated that character and integrity are ingredients required to take over governance of the state.

He stressed that he is already looking beyond the chairmanship of the party in the state as according to him, it is a task that must be accomplished.


He said his vision is already focused on how to take over governance of Enugu in order to turn the state around economically and socially.


“The man, who can do the job, the man who has character and integrity is Ugochukwu Agballah.


As the chairman of Enugu APC, he will be a game changer,: Onyia said, while commending the initiative of the national leadership of APC under Governor Mai Mala Buni to ensure that grassroots politicians and men of value join the APC.

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