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Restoring the spiritual journey to save APGA

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Let me use these two verses in the Holy Book to kick off. The first says: So, shall we then continue in sin that grace may abound? … Either we take him at his word when he equates sin to death, or we do not believe him at all (Ephesians 2:1). The second is Psalm 145:8, which reads: The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

Both comes handy for anyone attempting to situate the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), in a historical context particularly given the crisis currently tending to asphyxiate and concern it to the scrapheap of forgotten political records.

One of the greatest tragedies besetting APGA today, is that those running it or pretending to, have little or at best a faint idea of its history, having not been there at the formation and therefore bereft of the ideas and projections of the original founders. Majority of them are just journeymen, passing by and using the party as a vehicle to achieve various and divergent ends, which apart from being totally personal, appear at variance to these ideals.

If only they did, they would have been seized of the fact that APGA’s foundational history is decked heavily in spiritualism and perhaps attempted a return to those spiritual pathways as a way of not only self-rediscovery but saving the party from imminent and sure death, such as presently facing it.

For instance, consider the false narrative that APGA was founded by the late Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, which they now promote. If not ignorance, then it must be for sinister reason(s), because it is a complete lie. Ojukwu never founded APGA. The late Ezeigbo Gburugburu, actually joined APGA more than six months after its formation and registration.

Chief Chekwas Okorie, was the conceiver, originator and SOLE FOUNDER of APGA. In fact, Noah building the Ark, Okorie was even mocked while labouring at the project. However, the only contribution Ojukwu brought to the party was his influence capital, which gave APGA its leap and relevance. To that extent, it could be right to ascribe him as the father of APGA. But to say he founded APGA is completely overreaching the facts.

Indeed to persuade Ojukwu, who was then a chieftain of the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), it was former President General of Ohanaeze, the late Eze Ozobu, former Chief Judge of Enugu State, who openly begged him to do so. This was at an Ohanaeze meeting in Asaba, where Okorie presented the APGA certificate to Ndigbo for the first time. Ozobu urged the late Ikemba to join the party as part of his further service to Ndigbo.

It was not only in September of that year, five clear months after that the Ikemba gave an indication that he was nibbling at the offer. That was at a function at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), where he publicly tore his ANPP card, though failed to state where next he was headed politically.

However on December 24, 2002 he finally accepted to become a member of the party in his Enugu residence at number 4 Isi-Uzor Street, Independence Layout, before the likes of Chief Hypolite Ogboko, Prof. Joe Nwogu, Onwuka Ukwa and others. Having caught the big fish, an upbeat Okorie, two days later at Zodiac Hotel, Enugu, told reporters that the coming election would be a contest between three Generals – incumbent Olusegun Obasanjo for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Muhammadu Buhari for ANPP and as he put it, The Wise General from the East – Ojukwu.

Yet, the Ikemba did not get APGA registration card until about a month later before the convention of the party at the Old Parade Ground in Abuja on January 10, 2003, ahead of that year’s presidential election, where he ran as the party’s candidate. I personally witnessed virtually all these developments and those I didn’t, I got as an insider.

But today, the narrative is that Ojukwu founded APGA? Today the founder of the party whose creativity and sweat the current party leadership and those before it are enjoying, is totally relegated to the background. How would there be peace, when there is a Just God watching?

APGA also had a spiritual journey that started after two failed attempts by the same Okorie to register a political party that it believed would promote Igbo Political identity in 1996 and 1998 using the name of Peoples Democratic Congress (PDC) in both occasions. He had opted to seek the face God in any future attempts. In 2001, he wrote prayer requests to all Christian Churches and Mosques for God’s divine assistance.

He then applied to INEC with the name of United Progressives Grand Alliance (UPGA) and later changed the name to APGA with the motto: Be Your Brothers Keeper (Onye aghana nwanneya) the same he used for Igboezue Cultural Association, which midwifed the formation of APGA. The efforts eventually paid off with the birth of APGA on June 22, 2002. The release of the certificate became one of the biggest political events in the South East, eliciting wide jubilation among Ndigbo, having become the first political party registered in Nigeria based on Igbo initiative.

Thereafter, Okorie in company of the late Jacob S.P.C. Nwokolo, proceeded to the late Arch Bishop Anthony Obiefuna to bless the APGA certificate of registration at his residence at Onitsha.

After going round to present the same certificate to Igbo leaders such as Ojukwu, former Vicer President, the late Alex Ekwueme, Ozobu and the late Christian who prayed on it, it was formally presented to the General Assembly of Ohanaeze in Asaba Delta State where a traditional prayer was held, led by Ozobu.

A week after the Asaba meeting, Okorie led his team to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Uwani, Enugu, where Monsignor Obiora Ike said another special prayer before blessing the party. Thereafter, an officially dedication of the party to God followed at an interdenominational service at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu.

The combined effect of this journey was remarkable. APGA was believed to have cleaned all the states in the South East, and would have been the only party in the area, but for the ubiquitous rigging machine of the PDP under Obasanjo.

Yet, in what is seen as the handiwork of God to underscore the apparent divine essence of the party, a confusion erupted within the PDP in Anambra State that enabled the emergence of Peter Obi as its first governor, leaving the party a sort of lifeline to build survive.

However, instead of building on the momentum, the party descended into a decade-old leadership tussle that clipped its wings and derailed its purpose. Okorie, suddenly became the victim of intense battle, which led to a powerful force twisting his hands to seize his efforts and sweat, using money and influence.

In anger, and weary from endless court battles to retain the ownership of the party, Okorie walked into the Abuja headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), with the same anointed certificate and personally returned it in May, 2012. He then declared in a public statement: “I’ve withdrawn the spirit and soul, I’m returning the carcass of APGA.”

There’s no telling that APGA never recovered from that curse ever since regardless what those operating it may believe, as it has never known any peace “being a party without soul and spirit.”

From then APGA took on a new face, spirit and soul, which manifested after Obi, who was a product of Okorie’s APGA served out his term setting the stage for another election. Then, the rude shock! Chukwuma Charles Soludo, fresh and smelling roses from Abuja as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), became the first major victim, as he was used as a guinea pig to test, what has become the new phenomenon.

Favoured to pick the party’s ticket for the 2009 governorship election, he was rudely shoved off the contest through disqualification, just 25 days to the process after collecting nomination fees alongside about six others. Unable to withstand the shock, he was forced to join the PDP from where he contested and lost.

Till date, like the hounds that tasted blood, the APGA the pattern of collecting huge amounts for primaries from prospective candidates and denying them the rights to contest through disqualifications, have remained the has remained the permanent feature.

The consequences of this odious trend, which disregards persons and status, including wife of Bianca, the adorable wife of the late Ikemba, is what has landed the party into the deep mess it has found itself today.

Until recently, a fuming Bianca, forbade the party from further using her husband’s head on the APGA uniform describing the leadership in unprintable terms.

Hear her testimony on May 12, 2021: “Another season of party primaries has arrived and those whose stock in trade is to milk party aspirants dry all because they aspire to run under our party’s platform, have started sending out requests for funds for our APGA ANAMBRA STATE SECRETARIAT… “The completion of a simple bungalow that could not be achieved in 7 years will miraculously be achieved by transformation to a four-storey edifice in 5 months. Hooray! However, Is it the  best option to set up yet another ‘money mop-up scheme’ for APGA guber aspirants or other political office aspirants by this solicitation of funds after the scandalous mop up in the lead up to APGA’s 2018 primaries which cost the party so dearly?

Tony Gray Okpe, a senatorial aspiriant under the party in Imo State, was no less emphatic: “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 nkea bu nke anyi, but nkea bu nke ndi ori (It is 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.”

Today, the certainty of the party’s candidate for the November 6 governorship election, remains in a quandary following an intense legal battle that has pitted the same Soludo against one of the chieftains of the party, Chukwuma Umeoji.

Umeoji a two time member of the House of Representatives and a former local government chairman under the party, who like Soludo, was denied participation in the party primaries last month, seems to have found a way around his fate, by putting his name on the INEC’s ballot.

Even an order from the Court of Appeal in Kano, quashing Umeoji’s victory at the nearby High Court in Jigawa through which he emerged the candidate of the party has now become a subject of controversy. While Soludo and his camp are celebrating the victory, the Umeoji camp insist that it went into no issue since the appellate court did not make a consequential order to remove his name.

So, unless anything else happens to clarify this situation, the situation might not change, especially given another Court of Appeal judgement in Imo State, which the Umeoji camp insists favours them.

But must APGA pass through all these? If yes, why? If no, what’s the solution? Many analysts believe that APGA must be rediscover itself. It must begin by a true and fulsome reconciliation involving the original founders. Seek out Okorie, wherever he may be and give him a leadership role in the party. Make him return that spirit and soul he took away. It’s not too late to make that restitution even if without the required penance. That’s the only way.

APGA must seek the face of God again through another rededication. That curse placed nine years ago must be reversed. It is even more important now Ndigbo might need the party again for their presidential aspiration if other parties fail them. Let this be done now before it’s too late.

Yes! The anger of God may be slow on APGA, but must it continue in sin that mercy may abound?

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Osun political battle: Assembly didn’t reverse Adeleke’s executive orders – lawmaker

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There is no truth in the assertion that the Osun State House of Assembly, ever sat on the inaugural speech of the Governor, Ademola Adeleke, let alone reverse his pronouncements he made on Sunday, including reversing the name of the state from State of Osun to Osun State.

This much was confirmed by Adewumi Adeyemi,  representive of Obokun State Constituency, while reacting to the spokesperson for the Assembly, Moshood Akande, who claimed on Monday that the lawmakers took decisions after reviewing the address.

“The State of Osun House of Assembly, having reviewed the inaugural speech of the Governor and the activities of the inauguration, hereby resolves as follows:

“The usage of the State Anthem, Crest and Flag is an enactment of law and as such, its usage is a matter of law and not choice. The enactment, ‘State of Osun Anthem, Crest and Flag Law, 2012’ assented to on the 18th of December, 2012 contained in Schedule I, II, III, IV and V, which carefully details every component of this law, is not in ambiguity.

“Schedule I is the State Anthem, Schedule II has to do with the State Crest, Schedule III is the symbolic significance of the elements in the Flag. Lastly, while we are aware of a court judgment in effect recognising ‘Osun State’, the Assembly, pending the determination and exhaustion of all legal means, would not be drawn into this matter. However, the State shall and will continue to be described as the State of the Virtuous (Ipinle Omoluabi),” Akande had said.

But Adeyemi, while insisting that he had been attending plenary regularly, adding that at no time was Adeleke’s address discussed by the lawmakers, however, encouraged the lawmakers to continue working together and support the new government.

“My attention has been drawn to a statement which reportedly emanated from the Osun State House of Assembly and was signed by Hon. Moshood Kunle Akande.

“In the said statement, it was stated that the Assembly reviewed the inaugural speech and activities of the inauguration held on Sunday, November 27.

“As a lawmaker who attends plenary very well, I hereby state unequivocally that the Assembly has not met after the governor’s inauguration. It is also worth noting that there was no place the resolution was passed by the Assembly. The public, especially Osun people, are hereby advised to take note of this,” he said.

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NBC’s MPI index:  Ikpeazu’s vision resonating on Abia SME’s prime rating

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In January 2018, 30 shoemakers left Aba, the industrial capital of Abia State and by extension, the South East for China to acquire the skills and secure the modern machinery in the industry. That did not just happen, but was the result of a well-planned programme of action based on the maximisation of the core competencies and areas of comparative advantage of the people Abia State.

One man was at the head of it. Early enough, Okezie came into government without taking his eyes off the ball. Among the varied programmes and policies, one of his priorities, was the development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) as the base of economic development of Abia State – the major industry of the people.

The mantra was on his lips wherever he went. Right from the blast of the whistle in 2015, when he came into power, he began the full mobilisation for the project, which took him to Lagos, Abuja and other places where the people of Abia were domiciled to share his vision with the people.

The result of the combination of the multiple efforts the governor has put in this vision, became evident, when the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), released a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) survey report that measured deprivations related to education, health, and living standard of the people and Abia was among the top states.

This positive result from the highest rating body in the land, not only provides an indication of the future of the Abia economy and how it would look like in the coming years, but proves that the foundation laid and the seeds planted in those years of the beginning by the governor could not have been less visionary by a leader desirous of the economic and social emancipation of the people.

Nobody in Abia State can comfortably say that Dr Okezie Ikpeazu as a Governor has done it all but the NBS publication has shown that after all, Ikpeazu’s promise of delivering a better life for the people of the state is a clear reality.

Abia is a state where people are well known for their industrious lifestyle and hard-working nature. It did not start under Okezie Ikpeazu but the coming of Ikpeazu became a catalyst for rapid growth and development of all those involved in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Aba.

One concrete influence Ikpeazu had on SMEs in Abia State is his becoming their Chief Marketer, changing the narrative about made in Aba products. The Governor completely rewrote the age-long story of Aba shoemakers, and other designers and made them proud to say their products were made in Aba.

He vowed to wear only made-in-Aba products throughout his stay in office. Not only did he do that but he also took their products to important government agencies like the army, police,  National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the Nigerian Railway Cooperation, thereby creating serious and available markets for them.

When he noticed the lack of modern equipment available to Aba shoemakers which will not allow them to compete favourably with the rest of shoemakers over the world, he set up the Enyimba Automated Shoe Company (ENASCO) where individual shoemakers can bring their designs and have them produced by advanced machines.

The government equally went ahead to launch an online business directory for small and medium businesses in the state, a men’s that currently boast E-commerce in the state making it possible for customers all over the world to buy products in Aba.

Ikpeazu exposed SMEs in the state to the world because the Abia SME directory contains business names, addresses, telephone numbers, locations, contact information, the type of service or products the business provides, and the number of employees among other things.

Ikpeazu restored the Abia SME and equally became a pacesetter in human capital development in Aba, the commercial hub of the state, a situation that has given youths impetus to go ahead with production.

Abia under Ikpeazu became the first state to have the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises Development that serves as a clearing house for all SME-related activities. The ministry forms the catalyst for business development, marketing and empowerment. Abia is also the first to establish an SME bank tailored towards helping small businesses thrive. These achievements are among the reasons why the rating of Abia has improved in many ways.

The Abia SME bank on its own is Microfinance Bank meant to meet the needs of Abia Small and Medium-sized Enterprises owners that are currently not being met by numerous commercial banks.

The bank is specifically providing micro-credit to SMEs to enhance economic growth in line with the Ikpeazu-led administration macroeconomic policy of empowerment and wealth creation for Abia people and others doing business in Abia State.

What makes the Abia SME Microfinance Bank located at No 17 Ngwa Road, Aba very unique is that despite providing micro-credit to Abia State SMEs, it equally offers efficient and innovative financial services and products to the economically viable SMEs segment.

Today, many areas of businesses in Aba in particular are having specialized clusters where their businesses are meant to thrive without restrictions, as the government equally says it will construct more roads with economic importance to ease trade and commerce in the state.

Perhaps, the efforts of the current administration in Abia State in SMEs will be appreciated more when one visits the Cameroun Park through the Powerline axis of Ariaria International Market to see how people from Central and West African cities like Bangui, Libreville, Bamako, Malabo, N’Djamena, Bioko and Kumba come to buy made in Aba goods for their numerous customers back at home in their countries.

Undoubtedly a rich nation by every standard, one third of over 200million population size of Nigeria citizens are terminally poor confronted with existential challenges, which to ameliorate, the Federal Government introduced a poverty reduction template, targeted at lifting 100 million Nigerians from poverty belt zone by 2030.

Though the government says is attainable, if stakeholders play their expected roles effectively, poverty continues to balloon in the country rather than receding, with a poverty report released last week by the NBS – Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), underscoring the stark realities.

According to the NBS’  MPI, 63 per cent of persons  living within, Nigeria ( about 133 million people) are multidimensionally poor, meaning that poor people in Nigeria experience over one-quarter of all possible deprivations.

It is against this backdrop that the feat achieved in Abia, through the deliberate policy of Ikpeazu to focus on the core areas of the Abia economy by lifting the small businesses and maximising the opportunities therefrom, must be situated and the reason he deserves a lot of accolades. Certainly, things will never be the same again. Abia is now on the move.

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Pomp, as Ihiala community celebrates New Yam, sets up education programme

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Determined to improve the educational standard, the Ihiala community in Ihiala local government of Anambra State has instituted a special Award for Excellence for first class graduates.

 

The traditional ruler of the town, Igwe Thomas Obidiegwu, who announced this during the annual Iri ji (New Yam Festival) of the community, also announced the introduction of scholarship for exceptionally brilliant indigent students.

The monarch who bemoaned the worrisome level of cultism as well as drugs and substance abuse in the community said measure would be put in place to curtail the unwholesome behaviours which he said were totally strange to the community.

“This year’s celebration is unique as it will mark the beginning of some innovative programmes aimed at behavioral change in the attitudes of youths and the young ones.  We are launching today a serious campaign against drugs and substance abuse as well as cultism

“We believe that unless a decisive step is taken to curtail this dangerous trend, we will lose our young ones to drugs and substance abuse. Also worrisome is cultism and its ugly consequences.”

He said he will soon announce a committee to midwife and develop a blueprint for the implementation of the programme.

Chief Ody Chukwube, the Chairman of the Planning Committee, enjoined Ihiala people to join hands with the Oluoha in eradicating drugs and substance abuse as well as cultism.

He announced the plans of the community to construct a permanent Central Palace for the Oluoha soon, which he said would among other things, have a museum for the protection of relics in the monarchy which has lasted over 700 years.

The Deputy Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Mr Paschal Agbodike in his speech noted that the Igbo of the South East should embrace agriculture, adding that over-dependency in crude oil had made the country a monolithic economy.

Agbodike, urged other communities to borrow a leaf from the Ihiala Community in exemplary celebration of Iri ji festivals. He urged them to access soft loans from Agricultural banks to improve food production in the country.

Those present at the occasion include the governorship candidate of Zenith Labour Party ( ZLP), Chief Obiora Okonkwo, Chief Akachukwu Nwankp  of African Democratic Congress and the running mate to Prof. Chukwuma Soludo of the All Progressive Grand Alliance ( APGA), Dr Onyeka Ibezim.

 

 

Posted by  Editor |  15 September 2021, 01:34am

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