By Collins Ughalaa
Writing in one of his plays in the 16th century, the legendary William Shakespeare in the Merchant of Venice warned the whole world that “All that glitters is not gold/Often have you heard that told/Many a man his life hath sold/But my outside to behold.” Shakespeare went on in the same play in Act 3 Scene 2 to further warn against the inherent dangers of believing what the outward appearance portrays, saying: “So may the outward shows be least themselves./The world is still deceived with ornament.”
Before Shakespeare wrote these classical lines in the 16th century, Our Jesus Christ had warned his followers and the Jewsih Nation, saying: “Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast you your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you”, Matthew 7:6. Making reference to “that which is holy”, Jesus Christ was talking about the flesh which has been offered for sacrifice, the “holy thing” mentioned in the book of Leviticus 22:6 – 16, of which no unclean person, stranger or animal was to eat. To give that holy flesh to the dogs or any other unclean animal or person would have seemed to the devout Israelite the greatest profanity.
While no one can categorically say that there are unclean persons in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Imo State, the lesson contained in the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and the ever fresh Shakespearian lines cannot be lost on the leadership of the party at state and national levels, especially the ever committed members of the party. This is especially germane considering the recent spreading of lies and outright blackmail, to the extent that it has become the avowed duty of some delinquent hirelings of some politicians in the party to spread these lies.
Committed members of APGA know that the party has set her eyes on the governorship of the state. The party is out to win. To win, therefore, the leadership and her members must shun every besetting sentiment and get the man that shoots at the net and scores for the party, not those in whose hands the party’s ticket would become tissue paper, useless.
There is a naïve argument that some people have labored for the party and should be rewarded with the party’s governorship ticket for the 2019 governorship election. Those who make this argument claim their preferred candidate(s) has/have invested so much in the party and therefore deserves a trophy. They go ahead to classify others as new comers and strangers who gatecrashed into the party. They say that these newcomers would eventually dump the party after becoming the Governor and join another party. Unwittingly, these empty heads are creating sharp divisions in the party with their theory of owners of the party and strangers or gatecrashers.
The point must be made that these people do not know the history of APGA. If they did they would not have claimed falsely that their bosses are the owners of the party and others are gatecrashers who should only be used as supporting beams to win the election. They do not know how APGA was formed, where it was formed and those who risked their life to ensure that the party came to life. These people who have become the enemies of the party should find lessons in the Igbo saying that anyone who was not present when someone is buried would exhume the corpse from the head.
APGA should not buy the crap coming from these sworn enemies of the party. They are distractions. The party should rather listen to wise counsel, and like wise old men they should be able to see what is in the pocket without touching it. One of the problems APGA has had is the problem of the enemies within the party. These enemies include those who fought the party, including dragging the party to court, and therefore blatantly worked against the interest and survival of the party. There are also the enemies of the party who instead of swallowing their pride and working for the best interest of the party held nocturnal meetings with governorship candidates of other political parties, collected millions of Naira and sold out. It is worrisome how APGA won only about 20,000 votes in the 2015 governorship election, even losing in the wards and LGAs of some of those who are now running around as owners of the party. They cannot be rewarded for running the party down or selling out on the party.
The character of these saboteurs is different from that of His Excellency Dr. Ikedi Ohakim. Despite that he was cheated in the December 2014 governorship primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ohakim did not work against his party. He did not sell out. He even worked for the candidates in his party who did everything to undermine him, and they won. For the House of Assembly election, the PDP won. For the House of Reps, the PDP won. For the Senate, the PDP won. For the governorship, the PDP won. For the presidential election, the PDP won. Ohakim is a true party man. He puts the interest of the party above his own interest, and APGA needs such a person.
Those who allege that Ohakim will leave the party after he wins the governorship should bury the thought. They are mischief makers. Ohakim does not leave anyone in doubt on where he stands. He has sworn to an affidavit that he will not leave the party no matter what. He said he will defend the party with the last drop of his blood. He has even said that his membership of APGA goes beyond his winning the election and touches more on APGA serving as a strong platform for the Igbo Nation to sit at the roundtable with other nationalities in the country. There are several hot issues in the national discourse demanding a roundtable talk. When the time comes to sit at the table and discuss such issues such as restructuring Nigeria, what kind of team would the Igbo Nation send? Would they send people who would be introduced at the discourse table or send their warriors? Sending their first eleven means that someone like Ikedi Ohakim would better use the APGA platform for the best interest of the Igbo Nation.
Has Ohakim done anything like this before? Yes. On many occasions. Ohakim is the reason the Southeast states are now recognized as gas producing states. He was the person who moved for the dissolution of the national gas council and late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua made him the Chairman of the Council. It was Ohakim who established the Southeast Council of Traditional Rulers and made His Royal Highness Eze Cletus Ilomuanya the Chairman of the Council. It was in order to prove that the Southeast is not landlocked that Ohakim came up with the seaport project. These facts speak for themselves. APGA does not need anyone who would dance Makosa before anyone when his house is on fire but those who would speak truth to power without having any second term to protect.
On the hand, there is nothing to show that those who erroneously ascribe the ownership of the party to themselves will not leave the party either if they win or lose. If they want the members of the party and Imo people to believe they will not leave the party, they should go to court and swear to an affidavit, the way Ohakim has done, and state that they will not leave the party no matter what. If they don’t do this we cannot take any higher than rabble-rousers.
Those who claim to be the owners of the party should ask themselves why the membership of the party was very low prior to the public declaration of Ohakim. They should also ask themselves why the membership of the party has reached alltime high since Ohakim made his public declaration. The reason is that where the corpse is, there the vultures would gather. People follow their leader.
Another set of people APGA should be weary of are those who flaunt all kinds of experiences, including those who failed in the small offices they managed. Whereas it is not my objective to rubbish whatever anyone flaunts as his experience, including those whose experience is tearing down the house or blowing off the roof, the leadership and members of the party should know that none of these people have the *cognate experience* required to be Governor. Having been Governor for four years, Ohakim has the cognate experience to get things going again once sworn in on May 29, 2019.
These people claim that they have invested so much in the party but there is nothing to show that anyone had made any useful investment in it. Forget that some people have bought campaign vehicles and motorcycles and distributed to some party leaders. They are all pursuing their governorship ambition and not investing in the party. Those who had invested in the party are not even running for elections. These real investors must have their names written on the marble for generations to come as those who fought for the liberation of the people of the state and the survival of the party.
APGA should also be weary of those who claim to have been loyal to the party but they are the ones that dragged the party to court. They claim to be loyal to the party but they are sellouts. They claim loyalty to the party but the party never win in their booths, wards and LGAs. What form of loyalty is that? Nobody gets rewarded after fighting his father. And APGA is not going to allow anyone who pretended to be loyal but tore the party apart.
Nigerians are watching to see whether APGA will not do the right thing. Doing the right is giving the governorship ticket to Ikedi Ohakim. Ohakim’s one term only mandate will provide the best opportunity for the party to stabilize. It will also provide the best opportunity for the people of Owerri Zone to produce the Governor in 2023, without any hassles because they will have the support of the Governor. Of course, it will give the Mechanic/Driver the opportunity to fix the broken down Imo vehicle.