There is no word of phrase that better captures the sorry state that Nigeria has fallen into than these words by Dr. Chekwas Okorie, National Chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP) during the party’s recently held convention. “Nigeria is in dire need of genuine change. We have been politically defrauded by a political party that canvassed True Federalism while it sought for the votes of trusting Nigerians but in a very unscrupulous and unconscionable manner promptly jettisoned its avowed article of faith, and foisted on hapless Nigerian citizens the worst form of nepotism, reductionism, lethargy, cluelessness and retrogression.”
Left or right, front or back; up or down, one fact that daily shamelessly confronts us a people and a nation is that today, Nigeria is in a parlous and perilous stage. It is man-made. It is the deceptive design of promoters of our democracy, especially the political parties. Most of the political parties, lacking in ideology, principle and commitment have stultified, they have become only vehicles to further deprive the people of their resources, while pretending to further our collective interests.
The principle of guaranteed representation of major ethnic nationalities in the political quotient of the Nigeria has remained a contentious feature because of the promotion of lopsidedness above equity, favouritsm above credibility and ineptitude above merit by the hewers of the democratic wood and the greedy sharers of our collective dividends. This structural imbalance is what has continuously given rise to various ethnic agitations today.
It is obvious that despite these intrinsic drawbacks within the present system, the major political parties have shown enough weaknesses in initiating the fundamental reforms and designs that will give cohesion and form as well as comfort the groaning regional and ethnic voices echoing across the firmament of our country.
Today, we have drifted to almost a one party system in which it has become even an offence to hold a dissenting democratic view even within the same party hierarchy.
There is something wrong with a strategy that defines its roots from Abuja to the grassroots. Party democracy should be from the grassroots to Abuja. This inserted pyramid has led to the decimation of Ndigbo in Nigeria. There s no doubt that Ndigbo will be better off with a party that controls all the five states of the south east than with a party that controls Abuja but does not have a strong foundation in the east.
With 2019 around the corner and with the realization of the unfortunate state of affairs that Ndigbo have found themselves today, there is no better time than now to return to a backward political integration that will see Ndigbo for a sustainable realignment that will provide the required direction for our people. There is no better time than now for Ndigbo to embrace UPP.
The only snag is that many of our people have failed to realise and exploit our numerical strength, the power and strength of our doggedness to a cause, our republicanism which in itself is an advantage for democratic advancement. If these potentials are harnessed in aligning with a political party that promotes the potentialities that Igbo political leadership and inclined towards the realization of Igbo political aspirations and agenda, we will be better off.
With Ndigbo constituting 40 per cent of the population of Lagos State, and about 60 per cent of the population of Abuja, 30 per cent in Kano and Kaduna, we will readily take the centre stage or even win the presidential election should we rally round our “own party”.
As it stands today, the only party that can help Ndigbo realise these potentials is UPP. The character and composition of UPP is a study in progressive ideology, bodly underscored in its manifesto and thrust of self-Determination, true federalism, devolution of Power, resource control! referendum, State Police/Community Policing, Citizenship Rights, Unconditional Release of Prisoners of Conscience among others.
In the light of the above, and as Chekwas recently adduced, one cannot but totally agree that UPP can be rightly termed as the foremost and most credible opposition political party in Nigeria. It is the only party that is rancour free and with its cohesiveness and permissiveness, it will not be totally wrong to assert that the possibility of it factionalising and factionalizing is remote.
This given the discipline, uprightness, transparency and credibility the leadership and party members have shown. Already, the promoters of this ideological, revolutionary and progressive party have shown enough dedication and commitment not only to the Nigerian project but to the Igbo political gene.
APGA’s cymbal would have resonated with such intensity. Sadly, right from when political predators and merchant kinglets masquerading as Igbo patriots in the Former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi and Former Chairman of the Party, Chief Victor Umeh staged an unwarranted coup and wrestled the leadership of the party from Chekwas, APGA has remained an epitome of a political party destined for collapse.
Very sad that in over 11 years, APGA has not gone beyond Anambra State, despite all the resources at its disposal. Is it not shameful that even after adopting president Jonathan as its presidential candidate for re-election in 2015, APGA as the ruling party in Anambra state could not win a single seat out of the three senatorial seats in the state. By that act of endorsing Jonathan and refusing to present a Presidential candidate, APGA lost the vision of its founding fathers.
With its soul battered and its spirit bewitched by a self-inflicted curse, APGA has shown that it is incapable of representing and championing the Igbo cause.
Altogether, the PDP and the APC have failed woefully to give Nigeria the true enviable party democracy that Nigerians deserve.
I agree totally with the UPP chairman that “most charitable thing that we can say about the All Progressive Congress Government of Nigeria is that it has divided Nigeria along primordial cleavages more than any government before it. APC has frequently brought Nigeria to near disintegration but it will appear that those who said that God is a Nigerian are right.”
The roadmap to 2019 should begin with the beginning with the November 18, 2017, governorship election in Anambra State. Ndigbo should rally round UPP as a party that they can truly identify as their own, without any cleavages or links to Abuja . The declaration at the its convention that it has ceded its presidential candidate in 2019 to Ndigbo is gladdening. We should build on that ennobling platform. The Anambra election should mark a watershed for political regeneration of Ndigbo if we should embrace UPP and vote massively for it.
Luckily, Chief Chekwas Okorie, the National Chairman of UPP has been tried and tested. His commitment to the Igbo agenda is not in doubt. His dedication has no shadow. His patriotism is as transparent as the sky. He has suffered deprivation, injustice and abuse all because of championing the Igbo project. Like Gold, he has been refined a thousand times and has come out more glamorous and useful. Added to this is the presence of cerebral minds in the party like Chief Osita Chidoka, among others. Ndigbo, taa bu gbo. On UPP let us stand.
*Okechukwu, a native of Nnewi Anambra State resides in Lagos.He can be reached at [email protected]