By Jude Atupulazi
On the 31st of this month the ruling party in Anambra State, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, will have its national convention to choose a new helmsman for the party, widely regarded as the hope of the Igbo man in politics. Not a few people from the South East will be anxious to know how the convention will pan out and that will be for many reasons.
Chief among them is the acknowledgement, even if grudgingly, that the party has failed to achieve its ultimate goal of being a rallying point in Igbo Land, at least. Indeed, for 21 years since the formation of the party, APGA, for all its avowal of being an ”Igbo” party, has yet to wield its influence outside Anambra State.
Granted that it produced a governor in Imo State some years back, that did not last as the governor would soon join the ruling party in the centre, All Progressives Congress, APC. This left Anambra to remain the only state the party is controlling.
But even as this state of affairs subsists, a new party, Labour, has entered the scene. In just eight months, Labour; which presidential candidate is Mr Peter Obi, former Anambra State governor, has already produced a governor of a state in the South East – Abia; while threatening to land another state (Enugu) if it succeeds in court. Labour Party has also produced more national assembly members at the moment than APGA.
So, if Labour Party which came into prominence in the last elections could already achieve these feats, what has stopped APGA from doing so or more over the course of the past 21 years? Why has APGA found it difficult to penetrate any state outside its original state of Anambra? Are there things the party is not doing right? Indeed, controlling only one state after 21 years is certainly no way to lay claim to being a party that represents the Igbo identity.
Many have identified APGA’s problem as leadership; not having a leader who fits the bill and who possesses the will and vision to drive the party from a regional to a national party. And that has to start with extending the frontiers from Anambra. Thus, as the national convention comes up, all eyes are on the party to go for a person of quality, vision and doggedness to finally transform the fortunes of the party and make it a real Third Force.
Of the people jostling to become the next national chairman of the party, one man stands out among the pack. He is no other than Hon Ben Nwankwo.
Suave, articulate, thorough, intelligent, resourceful, courageous, innovative, transparent, result-oriented, humble, inspirational and imbued with incredible vision, Hon Nwankwo is seen as the man best positioned to take APGA to the next level which has been long desired but somehow yet to attain. Already, his manifesto has shown that he is miles ahead of others. It is a document that even his fiercest opponent will approve, even if grudgingly.
In an interaction with newsmen, Nwankwo said he would base his leadership of APGA on three main pillars: Regrow, Rebuild and Ascend. According to him, it is a strategy that represents a bold and visionary approach to building a modern, effective and inclusive political party.
He states his mission statement as thus: ‘I see the potentials of Africa as the next industrial destination of the world – my objective is therefore to commit my enterprise, knowledge, talent, experience and professional capabilities as a member of an inspired team, to work for our collective greatness through positive contributions and performance in driving our continent to borderless opportunities through friendship, peace and cooperation, operating within the framework norms and standards of the global community.’
He states further, ‘As a chairman committed to the success of our party, I am excited to present my Pro Growth Agenda with a triple strategy of Regrow, Rebrand, and Ascend. Together, we can build a stronger, more inclusive, and merit-based party that empowers all members to achieve their personal and collective aspirations.’
Indeed, given the shenanigans that have trailed some of the activities of the party, especially some of its recent primaries, Nwankwo’s insistence on inclusivity will no doubt rebuild faith in the party; just as his policy of rebranding will market the party better and perhaps propel it outside the shores of its immediate environment of Anambra.
For anyone who knows the man, Ben Nwankwo, he has always been a stickler for perfection. He is not just the usual opportunistic politician who is ready to pander to the whims of some people to get what he wants. Yet, he remains ever humble, sociable and accessible.
His natural charisma attracts people to him as moths are attracted to flies, the reason he was able to be in the national assembly (House of Representatives) for a whopping 12 years in a state as politically difficult as Anambra. Anyone able to do that must have been hewed from a different wood.
Hon Nwankwo is one person who makes no pretences about the enormity of challenges facing him in any situation. He fully, even at this auspicious moment, appreciates the fact that APGA needs to do better than it has done over the years. He knows that the party needs to be injected with new ideas in a positively violent manner to enable it to compete on equal terms with other parties.
He is fully ready to lead a party that is modern in every ramification, to move away sharply from the doldrums. His triple strategy of Regrowing, Rebranding and Ascending is a strategy that, if implemented faithfully, will change the conversation in party leadership in Nigeria.
Under the Regrow Strategy, he wants to ensure the empowerment of party members. We know that part of the complaints of party members, even if muted, border on lack of empowerment. They feel they have not been getting enough to show for their efforts and loyalty to the party.
Hear him talk about the Regrow Strategy: ‘I believe that the key to building a strong party lies in empowering our grassroots members. That’s why I am committed to promoting inclusiveness, revamping our internal structures, and revitalizing our party. By focusing on the needs of our members and stakeholders, we can build a party structure that fosters trust, promotes unity, and welcomes new members.’
Under the Rebrand Strategy, Hon Nwankwo seeks to attract more supporters by elevating the party’s profile. He is a man who believes in continuous change, a man who does not get satisfied after any major feat. He believes in the spirit of competition and he recognizes that to effectively compete, the party must be correspondingly rebranded. Under this rebranding, too, he has put modalities in place to woo more members well ahead of election periods. He wants to make APGA the party to beat.
Hear him: ‘To attract more supporters, we must elevate our public profile and rebrand APGA as a fresh, dynamic, and visionary party. This involves heightening public awareness of our party, tapping into the energy of young people, and reaching out with a message and a vision that resonates with all Nigerians. With a bold and inspiring message, we can build support for our party from all corners of our great country.’
Under the Ascend Strategy, Hon Nwankwo intends to apply a merit based leadership that records success at all levels. Under this, members will be recognized and rewarded for their hard work without bias.
Again he says: ‘I believe that our ascension strategy must prioritize a merit-based leadership system that rewards success and talent at all levels. This approach will foster a culture of democracy, trust, and transparency in our party and ensure that the most qualified and committed individuals are leading the way. By investing in our party’s leadership, we can build a sustainable and successful organization that truly represents the hopes and aspirations of all Nigerians.’
In summation, he says, ‘Together, the Regrow, Rebrand, and Ascend strategies represent a bold and visionary approach to building a modern, effective, and inclusive political party. I am honored to champion this agenda and to work with all of you towards a brighter and more prosperous future for our party and our great nation.’
As APGA members prepare for the all-important national convention, Hon Nwankwo appeals to them thus:
‘Dear [APGA Members], I am thrilled to present to you our Pro-Growth Agenda of Regrow, Rebrand, and Ascend. Our goal is to build a stronger, more inclusive, and merit-based party that empowers all members to achieve their personal and collective aspirations.
We recognize that regrowth is essential to building a stronger party. Therefore, we plan to empower our grassroots members by promoting inclusiveness, revamping our internal structures, and revitalizing our party. Our desire is to build a party structure that is responsive to the needs of members and stakeholders, fosters trust, and promotes unity. The next step in our approach is to rebrand APGA in a way that makes her more attractive to members and non-members. We will work to heighten public awareness of our party to attract more energetic people to our ranks.
‘We believe that greater visibility will lead to more support, and that being a part of a re-energized APGA will be an attractive proposition to persons who share our aspirations. Our ascension strategy is aimed at stimulating a deepening of the core values of our party and promoting the emergence of individuals who are competent, qualified, and committed to leading at all levels.
‘We believe that building a merit-based leadership system that rewards those with the ability and drive to succeed will play an essential role in achieving our goals. We will leverage the power of technology to create a platform for exchange of ideas and engagement with all members.
‘Our vision is to establish a culture of democracy, trust, and transparency in our party. I am honored to lead this charge and look forward to working with you all to achieve our collective aspirations and make APGA a party of greatness.’
There is no doubt that In Hon Ben Nwankwo, APGA, as a party, is about to enter a new era in which it will finally be able to fulfil the dreams of its founding fathers. It is an era of walking the talk; of moving from projection to reality and, more importantly, of expanding the horizons of the party and making incursions into other frontiers so that APGA, the only child in Anambra State, will have siblings who will be in other states.
Achieving that, will, indeed, birth a new dawn for the party. With Hon Nwankwo, APGA will certainly be in good and safe hands.