By Pamela Eboh
Sixteen candidates will on Tuesday, May 23 run for the position of the state Chairman of the All Progressives Geand Alliance, APGA in Anambra State.
The contest which has been zoned to Anambra Central Senatorial District kicked off with a debate in Awka, organized by the Anambra Independent Support Group AISG, saw candidates lamenting the unprecedented rate of party faithful dumping the party to other political parties.
One of the main contenders, Bar Ifeatu Obiokoye, a former chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP explained that the party’s major membership problem is over dependent on government appointments by members.
According to him, a new way of reward for party faithful after elections should be adopted.
He added, “Our party has come of age and after every general elections people expect political appointments but this cannot go round hence the need for the establishment of a welfare scheme through the use of cooperative societies where party faithful would be given the opportunity to execute small scale projects through which the members and the party would be funded.
“If elected, I will facilitate the return of defected party members back to the party immediately. I will create opportunities for every member to grow to his potential in the party.
“The effects of the Labour Party movement in the last general election is a pointer to the fact that APGA needs urgent and far reaching plans to retain its position as the third largest political party in the country.
“There will be equal opportunity for the Youth, women and elders, we must create platform for equal participations. Under my chairmanship, there will not be barrier to any person’s growth.”
While saying that he was the brain behind the secret of Obiano winning 21 over 21 in his second term election, Obiokoye explained that he is used to local politics and mobilisation, promising to continue in that stead.
He described APGA as an interventionist political party, saying, “I will continue with the approach to provide dividend of democracy to the people.
“I will do everything possible to retain the interventionist movement of APGA in the state and beyond.We are going to change things in our environment, there is need for us to do things differently to rebrand our party.
“APGA has a structure already in existence at the grassroot level. What will make the masses to follow any person is the character and his reach-out to them. I have the good character and the capacity to reach out .I will restore the glory of the party, by being our brothers keeper.
“We must work in unity to move the party forward. We must go back to our “Onye aghana nwanneya mantra.”
He however pointed out that time had come for tge position to be given to a person from Awka North extraction, noting that since the inception of the party nobody from the area had been chairman or deputy.
Obiokoye added, ‘In every election, we the Awka North people normally deliver, but none Awka North man has had the opportunity to lead the party. There is need to give us a chance. I have the capacity and the vision to move APGA to a higher level.”
Earlier in his speech, the Convener of the debate and Coordinator Anambra Independent Media Support Group AISG, Dr Harris Chuma Odili said that the current political trend demands purposeful leadership that would drive the fortunes of the party to electoral victory, noting that it has gone beyond internal affairs of the party.
He added, “You will realize now how exalted the office of Chairman is when you weigh that Anambra state is the spiritual, social, economical and political hub of the All Progressives Grand Alliance APGA.
“It is therefore expedient that you command great influence and that is why the Anambra Independent Media Support Group have decided to organize this interactive session or town hall meeting which gives the aspirants the opportunity to share their ambition and aspiration for the party in Anambra state.”
The debate was attended by seven out of the sixteen candidates vying for the position.
They however unanimously agreed to support any of their fellow aspirants that eventually emerge as the winner of the state Congress.