In the February 23 general elections, an All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate for the Federal House of Representatives, Danjuma Shiddi emerged winner of Wukari/Ibi Federal Constituency seat in Taraba State, defeating his close rival, Prof. Yakubu Aliyara of the Action Alliance (AA).
Shiddi became the first non-Igbo person, to win an election into the House of Representatives under APGA’s ticket. His second under APGA.
Before his victory, APGA wore the undeserved toga of the Igbo party, or the euphemised ‘regional party’. Even pundits confined the party’s influence to largely Anambra State, not really Igboland. APGA is now being described as a national party.
A former Minister of Information, Labarun Maku, a member of APGA, narrowly lost the governorship election of Nasarawa State to Gov. Tanko Al-Makura of the APC in the keenly contested election in 2015. Maku became one frontline politically exposed person outside Igboland to draw public discourse regarding the party showing at the national level. Had Maku won, the political configuration of the state and the entire region would portray a different shade today.
Aside Shiddi’s victory, another superlative performance was an APGA candidate’s success in Benue State. The APGA candidate for the Onuh Otukpo/Ohimin federal constituency of Benue State, Lady Blessing Onuh, defeated her uncle, Egli Ahubi, current deputy speaker in Benue State House of Assembly. Lady Onuh who defected from the PDP to APGA is the daughter of David Mark, former Senate President, who is still a member of the PDP. There are various APGA victories in the last polls outside South East states.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has really moved beyond Igboland with 2019 general elections despite the noise about the party not supporting a leading candidate in the presidential election, yet made electoral gains. Before the elections, APGA sought to get national frontier, because it never anchored on the premise as an Igbo party when founded, the party looked beyond Igboland’s political space and has achieved that.
Political parties like Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) moved out of the frontier of Yorubaland and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) broke out of the frontier of the North. The two parties once considered as regional parties got into alliance that birthed All Peoples Congress (APC).
Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C Don Adinuba described APGA as the foremost development-oriented political party in Nigeria, a party that focuses on development more than any other thing. “The other parties are concerned with power for its own sake; power for private gains and not for the good of the larger society — but exercising power and manipulating primordial cleavages in Nigeria. APGA has the kind of ideology practiced in South Asia called ‘developmentalism’, otherwise called developmental-state ideology. That is what really helped APGA.”
The All Progressives Grand Alliance was founded in 2003. The party which has the cock as it symbol positioned itself as a national party. It aimed at awakening political consciousness among Nigerians. Against all odds, it made inroad into the turbulent Nigeria’s political system when the party produced its first governor from Anambra State in 2006 and the adoption of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu as it presidential candidate in 2003 and 2007 presidential elections, thus many people perceiving it as Igbo party.
Undoubtedly, the party has her stronghold in Anambra State but it has a growing presence across the geo political regions in the country. The party may have some characteristics that suggested that it was an Igbo party given the adoption of Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, whom the Igbo revered as its leader but the party continued to gain momentum across the country. The national secretary of the party Labaran Maku, and its national treasurer, Alhaji Ibrahim Kyafo, among others are non-Igbo. The party had John Gbor as its presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections. Gbor, a retired army general, former Commandant in the Nigerian Army Education Corps, hails from Katsina-Ala local government area of Benue State.
Special Assistant to Gov. Obiano on Agriculture, Obioma Mbanefo concurred to people perceiving the party as Anambra party, or Igbo party but stated that it is a disservice to the party.
“When people say that APGA is a state or a regional party, I make bold to disagree with them, because I can tell you that APGA is the third largest political party in Nigeria and we are targeting to be the major political party in the country. Right now, we are gaining foothold in other zones in the country. We have already started impacting peoples’ lives in the northern part of the country. We know because those that won using APGA ticket will make a difference and their constituents will feel the impact of APGA. The party has a rooted ideology geared towards adding meaning to peoples lives.”
Mbanefo cited the party achievement in 2011 when perceived as Anambra party, yet won the gubernatorial election in Imo with Rochas Okoracha as its flag bearer. “Unfortunately, he defected to the APC. What did he achieve with that. APGA gave him the platform and it shows that without APGA support he couldn’t have become governor. The former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, worked because APGA gave him the platform and the support he needed. Governor Obiano is excelling on the ideology of the party.”
Continuing he said, “APGA has a clear-cut ideology and is on the lookout for people that can deliver. The party gives the people what they demand – dividends of democracy and that has enabled it attract progressive minds across the length and breadth of the country.”
A lecturer in the Department of Botany, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Edwin Ewim measures the success of a political party by the votes it garnered, “With the recent electoral victory of APGA in the 2019 elections, the party is gaining a foothold as a national party. There should be more spread of the party across Nigeria to firmly cement that status. The party is on course, if they strive with the recent gains, they will be the party to beat in future,” he said.
Former President Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Anambra State Council, Chris Aghanya described APGA as well-placed national party, noting that the just concluded general elections indicated that the party has national spread. He believes the theory of being a national party didn’t end with winning the majority or being a minority group, but having national spread and APGA has achieved that feat.
“The party won seats in more than three states across the country, unlike some parties that didn’t record any gain. I believe with time it will gain more popularity in the country. Before now, the party has not gone beyond the shores of the Southeast zone. Nigerians are embracing the party and more will do in future. Remember there was a time people called it Anambra party and not an Igbo party, but things have changed. By next election the party will gain more grounds.”
The discussion about APGA will no longer be about the Igbo, but one about Nigeria. The party has awakened Nigerians consciousness as a national party with popular identity.