We are disappointed, to state the least, in the unprovoked slant Prince Kassim Afegbua gave to his article captioned “Osita Chidoka’s Political Opportunism”. Prince Afegbua obviously set out to carry out a hatchet job in his attempt to diminish the highly rated governorship candidate of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Osita Chidoka who towers head and shoulder above the candidates of other political parties including Prince Afegbua’s All Progressives Congress, APC’s candidate whose emergence remains in messy controversy even as Prince Afegbua was throwing stones from an obvious glass house, hiding under his regular column in the New Telegraph newspaper which does not in any way cover his obvious partisan irredentism.
No discerning mind will deduce political opportunism in the fact that Chief Chidoka took a lawful, well-calculated and strategic initiative to resign from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that was in an intractable leadership conflict that dragged up to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Chief Chidoka considered the options of 44 other political parties including the APC before taking the wise decision to register as a member of United Progressive Party (UPP) in order to offer himself to the good people of Anambra State for consideration to be elected as governor of the State come November 18, 2017.
The United Progressive Party has never hidden its revolutionary ideological underpinning anchored on self-determination of all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria including Prince Afegbua’s minority ethnic group tucked away somewhere in Edo State, restructuring, devolution of power, true federalism, resource control, referendum, state police/community policing, unconditional release of prisoners of conscience etc. The party’s upgraded manifesto and the party’s objective principle of its constitution were ratified by the party’s national convention held at Awka, Anambra State on 29th June, 2017.
Chief Osita Chidoka is expected to promote and canvass the high points of the party’s manifesto which he knew and accepted before joining the party. Prince Afegbua created the impression in his obviously mischievous article that self-determination of ethnic nationalities which he knows is in the Charter of the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU) and in the Nigerian Constitution means secession which is far from what the UPP is promoting. It is pertinent at this point to quote the eminent Professor of Political Science – Obasi Igwe of University of Nigeria Nsukka in his article captioned, “ABC of restructuring” where he stated that: “The general constituent units of political administration is either or both to solve the class question of power distribution between competing elites, or the national question for the self-determination of ethnic nationalities or sects within a polity. This means that whatever form restructuring takes, whether constitutive or institutive, it necessarily interrogates the fundamental issues of state formation, and sometimes even equivalent to it”.
This quote would have been unnecessary to a supposedly enlightened mind like Prince Afegbua if he did not attempt to mislead the public that Osita Chidoka’s reference to and by extension UPP manifesto of self-determination of ethnic nationalities in Nigeria means secession by any stretch of the imagination except by a warped mind.
Prince Afegbua delved into the historical antecedents of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and admitted that Chief Chekwas Okorie founded APGA and later by the turn of events founded UPP. APGA was founded on the same ideological thrust except that UPP coming 10 years after the formation of APGA needed to upgrade and update its manifesto in line with the realities of the moment. Prince Afegbua was also belly-aching on the role purported to have been played by Chief Osita Chidoka in facilitating the fulfilment of the stringent, obnoxious and unprecedented bail conditions handed down by the Federal High Court in Abuja to Prince Nnamdi Kanu. UPP did not hesitate to commend all the Igbo patriots who rose to the occasion to secure Nnamdi Kanu’s release from an undeserved detention. If indeed Chief Osita Chidoka played any role whatsoever in facilitating Nnamdi Kanu’s release then UPP has greater reason to be proud of him as our candidate and as a patriot who will always be there for his people.
If there are political opportunists for the Anambra State November 18 governorship election, they will be located in the Anambra State Chapter of the APC where over 18 aspirants engaged themselves in an obvious bazaar exercise to procure the party’s governorship ticket believing that the result of the election will be written and announced at Abuja as used to be the case in the days of the PDP supervised INEC conducted elections.
The strength and popularity of UPP is not based on its affiliation with the establishment at Abuja. It is not also derived from any primordial sentiment as maliciously portrayed by Prince Afegbua in his vexatious article. UPP is an emerging brand in the Nigerian political scene. It has a very strong and powerful message that is ideologically rooted for all the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria including the people of Edo State where Prince Afegbua comes from. The pedigree of the UPP leadership is incomparable to any other, in the areas of integrity, courage, boldness, uprightness, progressivism and consistency. Chief Osita Chidoka was attracted to UPP along with six other aspirants based on these attributes. His campaign for the party’s nomination was robust and total. His emergence remains the most rancor-free with very strong grassroots mandate of over 90% of more than 1400 delegates present and voting in the party’s Governorship Primary election held on 19th August, 2017.
It is significant to note that APGA is waiting with trepidation for the Supreme Court to decide who between Chief Victor Oye and Chief Martin Agbaso leadership of the party is eligible to nominate a legitimate candidate for the Anambra State governorship election. The PDP that is already a shadow of its former self is still enmeshed in bitter controversy over the outcome of its governorship Primary Election in Anambra State. The worst is that Prince Afegbua’s APC, after the bazaar that characterized the party’s Primary Election in Anambra State, has ended up as expected with multiple suits in various Courts to determine who their authentic candidate will be in an election that is scheduled for November 18, 2017.
In spite of the distractions from the likes of Prince Afegbua, the UPP and Chief Osita Chidoka remain focused and have since mounted the most robust grassroots based campaign to win the election convincingly. The good people of Anambra State have suffered from the debilitating effects of godfatherism. They have also suffered from the damage done to their development by political merchants. Anambra State of 2017 is not available for retirees to come and assume governorship positions only to beef-up their retirement benefits to the detriment of the State’s development and growth. We do not mind to be criticized, after all, we are at the moment an opposition party both at national level and state level. But criticism must be made of sterner stuff, devoid of malice.
Chief Ogbuehi Dike is National Publicity Secretary of UPP