The political future of former Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi, is at the moment a subject of debate in his Anambra home-state, as feelers indicate that the ex-governor may return to APGA, his old party. Emeka Okeke reports:
In what may well be his dramatic return from political hiatus, speculations are rife that the immediate past governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, is planning a comeback.
Barring all odds, he may return to his old party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, which he dumped for the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, ostensibly to work for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Jonathan’s failure to win the election, apart from putting Obi’s political career in jeopardy, also weakened the latter’s grip on his home-state, as he had long fallen apart with Governor Willie Obiano, his once cherished political godson.
Despite these political misfortunes, two things paid off for Obi. Apart from delivering senatorial and House of Representatives seats in Anambra for the PDP, Obi was compensated by Jonathan, with the chairmanship of the Securities and Exchange Commission shortly before the President bowed out.
PLANNED RETURN TO APGA
Since President Muhammadu Buhari, who defeated Jonathan took over, Obi has kept a low profile politically, a development that has sent tongues wagging as to what will be his next political move. Although there are feelers that offers were made to him to rejoin and assist in repositioning APGA in view of the emerging political reality in Nigeria, Obi has not made a categorical statement on what will be his next step.
But will Obi’s return to APGA also translate into a resolution of the crisis between him and Obiano? Already, his rift with the incumbent governor seems to be widening every day, with supporters of both sides trading brickbats on the internet.
Speaking on the issue of whether APGA will welcome Obi again if he stages a comeback, a key party chieftain and secretary of the party’s national convention electoral panel and Secretary of APGA Screening Committee for House of Assembly candidates, Uba Anene, said it would be a welcome development if Obi returned to the party.
Anene said, “If Obi’s plan to come back is true, it is a very welcome development. I keep saying that politics is an inclusive game; you can disagree with people but do not push them away. “I am not a fan of Obi, but the party can benefit from his native intelligence and I am praying for the day when Obi and Obiano will embrace each other again for the sake of the Igbo race which the party represents.”
Anene believes that Obi, being a very visionary political leader, will be an asset to any group or organisation. Stressing that the outcome of the April presidential election served Obi right because he miscalculated, Anene contended that he wouldn’t be surprised if any moment from now, Obi was seen operating at the highest level of the current political leadership in the country.
Acknowledging the political sagacity of the former governor, “Obi is that shrewd; so nobody should take him for granted, thinking he is down because PDP lost the election. Let no one make that mistake. He is an organiser and every setback to him is a stepping stone,” Anene said.
He particularly raised the hope that Obi would come back to APGA, “and join hands with Obiano to turn the party into a strong machinery for the defence of Igbo interest.” He, in the same vein, thanked Obiano “for his good works and the manner in which he is rebuilding APGA.”
Besides an open invitation to rejoin the APGA by key members of the party, sources also disclosed that royal fathers, opinion leaders and religious leaders in not only Anambra but the entire Igboland, had waded in. They are intervening, it was learnt, with the twin aim of reconciling Obi with Obiano and bringing the exgovernor back to the APGA. Obi is a staunch member of the Catholic community and his reign as governor of Anambra State witnessed generous contributions to the household of God.
This, sources informed, seemed to have elicited sympathy for the former governor in the ranks of the clergy, who felt he should be brought back into the mainstream.
Why the APGA is considered the mainstream in Anambra is especially predicated on feelers that there have been talks between it and the ruling All Progressives Congress to weave a working arrangement towards solidifying Buhari’s acceptance in the South East. In the last poll, the President did not win in most states of the region.
Aside from that, the APGA is now reorganising and is waving the olive branch to those who left the party for various reasons to return and join in rebuilding it, in readiness for the Anambra 2017 governorship election.
Obi had, throughout the time he was governor, served as leader of the APGA and chief strategist and mobiliser for the party, attributes that facilitated his being crowned board of trustees chairman and party leader in January 2014.
However, a few months after he was honoured with top party posts by the then Chief Victor Umeh-led national executive committee of the APGA, things started to fall apart, as the rift between Obi and other key party leaders began to unfold and continued until Obi left APGA and joined the PDP. And this was after the controversy that trailed the defection of the then APGA members at the House of Representatives to PDP, was yet to abate.
OBI, OBIANO’S LINGERING RIFT
Barely nine months into the life of the new administration of Willie Obiano, stories were rife that the two former close friends and confidants were waging a war of attrition against each other. The matter thereafter grew worse when some APGA members of the House of Representatives, led by Uche Ekwunife, now a senator, left APGA and joined the PDP to the utter amazement of supporters of Obiano, who alleged that it was Obi who engineered the defection, as many of the defectors were his loyalists.
The dust raised by the sudden defection of the then APGA House of Representatives members had not settled when Obi took a deft political move and joined the PDP. Obi had, at a ceremony held at his GRA, Onitsha, Anambra State residence, said he left the APGA because the party leader and board of trustees chairman posts, which were conferred on him shortly before he left office as governor, were not ratified in line with the party’s constitution.
Justifying his cross-over to the PDP, Obi added, “We will work with Jonathan from the inside. I am moving on and I have to work with Mr. President with my whole heart… We must now achieve a better result together… all of us must work together to produce results.”
Obi was confident and hopeful that the PDP would win the presidential election, a feat that came to nought as the APC emerged victorious with Buhari as the new president.
Meanwhile, as pundits await the next political move of Obi, his media aide, Valentine Obienyem, has issued an online statement, tactically saying that for now, his principal is busy attending leadership courses, preparatory to rejoining the corporate world.
Obienyem, who also denied that Obi had been lobbying for political appointments, especially a ministerial post, sneered at the peddlers of such rumours. He said that instead, he was astonished at the sheer number of bluechip companies that were courting Obi.