Chief Tony Gray Okpe, is a leader of All Progressive Grand Alliance APGA, in Owerri West LGA. So, he was on ground the day the party’s sensitization train ably driven by Barr Peter Ezeobi, the state chairman arrived his council during the last statewide sensitization tour. During proceedings at the well attended rally, chief okpe was accorded the privilege to speak as one of the leaders of APGA in the council.He spoke well to the admiration and applause of all. Then before concluding he became nostalgic and said :” Who can believe what is happening here today and in APGA now. Just two or three years ago this party was almost a shadow of itself but now it is the party to beat in the state. Thanks to all those who stood by this great party in those trying times. Thanks Okey Ezeh, thanks Hon Dan Ikpeazu and all those who kept faith with our great party APGA.” It was really a moving confession that touched his audience. It was, indeed, an open confession from a grateful heart.
What Chief Okpe said is true and he is not alone in this business of appreciating a good and faithful man. APGA members in Imo State and indeed, the South East Zone have never hidden their admiration neither have they stopped acknowledging that this man helped in putting back their party back on track in the state. I have listened to the Owerri Zonal Women Leader express profound gratitude over and over again publicly. The ex lawmaker who represented Owerri North LGA in the Imo Assembly Hon Dan Ikpeazu also shares this sentiment. Indeed, within the rank and file of the party, Mr Ezeh is percieved as a great asset, a powerful pillar and bulwark and a highly dependable personality whose committment and unwavering interest and love for APGA is total and final. For him, APGA is the only political vehicle in the polity and therefore, if it is not APGA, it can never be like APGA.
For any fair minded folk what the APGA faithful are doing is apt. In Igboland it is said that when you appreciate a doer, he is motivated and encouraged to do more( emezie onye akidi o gwota ozo). Okey Eze has more than paid his dues in the Party and rightly deserves every accolade that comes out from the mouth of obviously elated party men and women. Perhaps, why the party people are so happy is simply because his gestures are markedly different from those of other politicians in say PDP or APC. When politicians in these other parties bankroll or make material contributions for the upkeep of their parties such gestures can be taken for granted because they are giving back to the platforms that made them. But in his own case, his party has never been in power in the state and he has never held any political appointment, or occupied any elective office. So, having not tasted power nor political office, everything Mr Ezeh has done and is doing in his Party is from his hard earned income and private pocket. In our clime not many politicians can exhibit this rare selflessness. They can’t because the political class has perfected the ugly culture of food is ready politics. They don’t like sowing but always desperate to reap even when it is clear they didn’t sow This, of course, has caused more harm than good to our body polity as our country is now rated among the the worst corrupt countries in the world. Being a new generation politician, Mr Ezeh does not in anyway subscribe to “come and chop” politics. He belongs to the John F Kennedy political school of thought which says” don’t ask what your country or party will do for you rather ask what you will do for your country or party.” In line with this way of life he has been deeply committed to his party.
Indeed, his selfless spirit can best be described as legendary and incomparable. It is true that without this man and a few others like Hon Dan Ikpeazu who stood solidly behind the Barr Peter Ezeobi state executive when the going was too rough the Imo APGA narrative would not have been what it is today. Three years ago this same party which is bursting at the seams today was almost an orphan. After the 2015 poll in which it put in an abysmal showing, most members deserted it. In fact, the party suffered mass desertion especially from leaders .The situation that unfolded was akin to the bibilical” to your tent o isreal” as both the high and mighty and ordinary members went home to rue the unfortunate loss.And In ensuing months and years the party became a deserted homestead which people and even members pointed at its secretariat from a distance. Indeed, the depression between 2015 and 2017 was very pathetic. However, there were a few strong hearted men and women who approached the issue with philosophical calmness believing that after the storm the sky must brighten up again. These few were able to stand their ground not because they are super human but mainly because they believed in what the party stands for. This focus helped them look beyond the sombre mood of those dark days and in so doing saw the silver lining behind that dark cloud that overshadowed the party. With that ray of hope, ray of the possibility of reviving the party these individuals were fortified the more and did everything humanly possible to change the narrative and this eventually paid off.Today, APGA is at the front burner in Imo politics. Political commentators with deep insights in Imo politics are of the opinion that the party has become the APGA of old. The APGA of 2003 to 2011 era that was the nightmare of other parties in the state. Those years were the glorious golden years when the party successively clinched the governorship seat of the state, not minding that it was brazenly robbed of victory on each occasion. With over fifteen governorship aspirants and hundreds of other aspirants lined up to slug it out for senatorial, House of Reps and State Assembly tickets of the party, the obvious fact that APGA has come back to life becomes clear to even blind and loud to the deaf.
For this and his role in making this new dawn possible, an average Nigerian politician in Mr Ezeh’s shoes would by now be bragging about this achievement. But he would do no such thing because as he had repeatedly stated his was a labour of love for party and state given that it is the only platform he insists can retrieve the state from APC and PDP misgovernance of almost twenty years and put it back on the path of greatness..As a result of this conviction he has remained humble and committed to building and strengthening the structures of the party to ensure it bounced back to power in 2019.
For instance as part of this resolve to get the party back to winning ways he has made a strong case for free, fair and transparent primaries in the Party ahead of elections. He has also been quoted severally to have vowed to accept whatever is the outcome of such exercise so long as it is free and fair. To all intents and purposes this gesture is proof of his genuine love and commitment to APGA as well as eloquent testimony of his great sportsmanship. This is so because politicians exhibit this ugly penchant of “if it is not me, then it should be nobody else”. Again, this unhealthy appetite grows with every little contribution made to the party. This is why in the polity now we are seeing individuals who are behaving as if their parties are their private estates. This is happening in APC and PDP as I write
The APGA leadership in the state should partner Mr Ezeh on his request. They should help position the party for victory by conducting open and transparent primaries. Once this is done the party would have the opportunity of fielding it’s first eleven next year. Going to the polls with its best would no doubt enhance it’s electoral chances tremendously. But, even more crucial is the peace and tranquility they would be enjoying in the build up to the election. Once everyone both losers and winners are convinced beyond all reasonable doubt that they were not cheated or unduely favoured at primaries they would have no other option than to work for the success of their party at elections. But when there is bitter struggle after such exercise chances of electoral success are irredemably damaged.
Mr Ezeh has patriot should do for his party. The members have shown tremendous appreciation too thus putting the ball in court of Barr Ezeobi and his executive. We are watching to see whether they would take the party to greater heights or fritter the successes so far recorded.