The All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) has been hijacked by ‘mercenaries’, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Spain, Bianca Ojukwu, has said.
The former beauty queen and widow of the late Biafran warlord, Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, was reacting to her defeat in the party’s senatorial primary conducted few weeks ago.
Mrs Ojukwu, a member of APGA’s Board of Trustee (BOT), lost the race for APGA’s ticket for Anambra South senatorial election to Nicholas Ukachukwu in what many described as an upset.
In her first public statement since the primary, Mrs Ojukwu faulted the process, noting that external forces which she described as ‘mercenaries’ have hijacked the party.
“As a member of this party’s Board of Trustees, I am deeply concerned that mercenaries appear to have hijacked the operations of our party machinery. APGA is today facing an existential threat and the overall image of our party is in tatters”, Mrs Ojukwu said in a statement Wednesday published by Vanguard Newspaper.
“This will certainly have serious repercussions going into the main elections”, she warned.
Mrs Ojukwu’s defeat stirred up controversies among APGA supporters and in the entire South-east region where the party has its stronghold.
With the influence of her late husband, Mr Ojukwu – a founding leader of APGA, many expected the former beauty queen to get an automatic ticket.
Late Mr Ojukwu’s influence, many believe, was the major reason why APGA has ruled Anambra State since 2006.
Although he did not go far in his own presidential bid in 2003, the name and image of the former warlord were used by the party to sway voters.
“Vote him, this is my last wish”, the aged Mr. Ojukwu had pleaded for Peter Obi’s reelection in the 2010 APGA governorship campaign posters.
However, his widow was floored by Mr Ukachukwu from Nnewi South Local Government Area in the primaries that took place at Ekwulobia, a popular town in the state.
Mr Ukachukwu polled 211 votes to Mrs Ojukwu’s 177 votes.
Ralph Uwazuruike, leader of the Movement of the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), also criticised APGA over Mrs Ojukwu’s defeat.
“APGA wants to use late Ojukwu’s name and reputation to win election but they don’t want any member of his family to be part of the party. It is a great injustice for not giving Bianca Ojukwu automatic ticket for the election and they have meted injustice to the widow”, Mr Uwazuruike told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.
The movement further warned the party to desist from using Mr Ojukwu’s name, image and symbol in its campaigns.
In Wednesday’s statement however, Mrs Ojukwu said though the situation in the party was worrisome, “aggrieved members should not quit the party.”
“We fought hard, but were stopped by forces within this party that were not comfortable with the prospects of my emergence. But God will vindicate the just.
“Our harrowing experiences through this process have exposed to all and sundry, the fault lines of this party and the basic truth that APGA cannot endure unless we do something dramatically different.”
Four notable personalities ran for the ticket. They were Mrs. Ojukwu and Ifeanyi Ubah of Capital Oil, both from Nnewi; a banker, Anselm Enyimba from Okija; and Mr Ukachukwu, the eventual winner, who is from Osumenyi in Nnewi South LGA.
Mr Ubah was disqualified by the APGA screening committee on the ground that he did not obtain a waiver as provided by the APGA constitution.
APGA’s national publicity secretary, Ifeatu Okoye, said the party had constituted a panel to look into what played out in the primary lost by Mrs Ojukwu.