Unlike other aspirants and candidates in the race, Nneji appears to be the one with the clearest vision and better view of the road ahead
Though it has often been argued that the process of getting to political office in our environment is skewed in favour of the affluent and the powerful to the detriment of quality, integrity and competence, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has always prided itself with having an unblemished profile in this regard. In line with this posture, as widespread public outcry greeted the high costs of obtaining expression of interest and nomination forms in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), APGA leaders pegged theirs at far below what the former charged its aspirants to various offices.
However, it is equally glaring to note that the N10m APGA governorship aspirants pay for the expression of interest and nomination forms is less than half the N22m charged for the same office seekers in APC, it is still higher than PDP’s N6m.
Without the intention of being uncritical of the National Chairman, Chief Victor Oye, who is wont to argue that his party stands out untainted, one must concede that it is not often that APGA is rippled by serious controversies. At least, not the type usually emanating from the APC and PDP over allegations of imposition of candidates, manipulation of internal electoral process, godfather syndrome and the anomaly of concessioning party positions and electoral offices to moneybags.
Yet, it may be logical to argue that this may be largely because beyond overseeing the relatively peaceful change of baton at the Government House in Awka, APGA, in contrast to the big duo, has never faced the challenge of organising high-stakes primaries for hotly contested positions, like the presidency or governorship elsewhere.
That is why as the party’s gubernatorial primary to produce a candidate for the race to Douglas House in Owerri, Imo State, inches closer by the hour, the attention the exercise is likely to attract will be anything but cursory. It presents the real test for the ‘untainted’ and ‘unblemished’ APGA.
Since Chief Rochas Okorocha rode on the party’s platform to be governor in 2011 but later collapsed his own small chip of the group into the then emerging APC, this is the brightest chance APGA is having to reclaim the seat. Reason is partly because of the feeling of despondency and disappointment pervading the state over the performance of the current administration. Moreover, the deep-rooted crisis in the APC in the state which has festered for some time now will be a major drawback for the party as it returns to the electorate for the renewal of its mandate.
Now, let us factor in what has been happening in neighbouring Anambra State. Former and incumbent governors, Peter Obi and Willie Obiano have demonstrated and the latter is still demonstrating that the dividends of democracy are deliverable under APGA. And herein lies another reason why it is correct to assert that Ndi Imo are praying fervently for the extension to Owerri the good governance the ‘cock’ party has entrenched in Awka as captured in the ‘Willie is Working’ slogan.
However, to be able to harness the obvious advantages it is likely to go into the governorship election with in February, APGA leadership owes itself, the aspirants and the party, the duty to ensure that the exercise that will produce its governorship candidate tomorrow is not only transparent, but also fair to all concerned.
A level playing field for all the aspirants in the primary election should be such that will override party leaders’ personal gains especially where they contrast with the party’s interests. The party should ensure fair play and transparency, do away with the influence of money and vote buying, as well as avoid the manipulation of the process in favour of a particular contestant. With the fractures in some other parties as a lesson, APGA leaders must be mindful of the fact that a flawed exercise is a recipe for crisis with attendant pitfalls which must be avoided.
APGA should also commit itself to ensuring that tomorrow’s primary produces a flag-bearer whose personality positively resonates with the people of Imo State. It has been consistently argued elsewhere that the party’s surest path to Douglas House and breaking Chief Obiano’s ‘lonesomeness’ as the only governor on the party’s platform, is for the delegates to vote for a credible aspirant; one with integrity and track record of achievements, and one that is not haunted by past political, financial and social misdeeds in office or in private life.
The candidate that will fly APGA’s flag in the election must be a man with vision for Imo State who has been able to concretise his ideas into practicable work plans backed with strategies for implementation.
The delegates must equally be conscious of the need to endorse an aspirant whose campaign will not be trailed by controversies or enmeshed in scandals. APGA needs a candidate who will confidently dare other party’s representatives and engage them in contestation of ideas without the fear of being outshone. There is absolutely no doubt that no one in the line-up of aspirants in the APGA primary tomorrow is in this mould like Mr. Frank Nneji, OON, businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, foremost transporter, prudent manager of resources, and a Nigerian of enviably high standing and repute. In fact, with Frank Nneji as APGA’s candidate in the election, it will not be an exaggeration to liken the governorship seat in Owerri as a low hanging fruit waiting for the party to pluck.
Unlike other aspirants and candidates in the race, Nneji appears to be the one with the clearest vision and better view of the road ahead, who evidently has painstakingly prepared himself for the demands of the office he is aiming to occupy. The first pointer to this is his one-of-a-kind book launched in May this year. So highly rated is the business memoir he titled Who Says You Can’t? Timeless Lessons and Experiences in Business, that it has been described as being to the business world what Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope is to the American dream, and Bill Gates’ Business @ The Speed of Thought to the computer software industry and the corporate world.
Perhaps more than anything else, what stands Nneji out from the pack is his impressive manifesto as meticulously articulated on his www.nneji.com, where it is noticeable that he has dissected the various problems confronting Imo with blueprints on how he intends to tackle them to the benefit of the people of the state. Nneji has in the Rebuild Imo vision document diligently outlined the various areas of need to include Agriculture, Transportation (covering road construction, rehabilitation and maintenance), Education, Health, Housing, Power, Small and Medium scale Industries, Ease of Doing Business, Tourism, and, of course, Security.
Making the document realistic and credible is that it did not stop at identifying the problems in the various areas x-rayed, but specific strategies have also been integrated into the analysis with a view to remedying the situations and pulling the state away from the brink. Nneji has travelled abroad to feel the pulse of Ndi Imo in the diaspora – most of whom showed that they were more abreast of goings-on at home.
READ ALSO: Igbo in Diaspora condemn attack on Nwodo