Mbe agaba, Aja mbene
Mbe agaba, Aja mbene
Ga ga ga ga, Aja Mbene
Ga ga ga ga, Aja Mbene
The mammoth crowd could not allow Jim Nwobodo complete the song as a thunderous ovation of Jim!, Jim!, Jim! rent the air. The song had become the signature tune in NPP political rallies preparatory to the 1983 elections.
Jim, adorned in his characteristic white ‘Safari Suit’ brought out his trade mark white handkerchief and waved at the crowd, beaming with his famous killer smiles.
The more he waved, the louder the crowd roared Jim!, Jim!, Jim!….
That was about his last campaign rally just before the 1983 guber elections in the old Anambra State.
As he climbed down from the podium, his commissioners, all look-alike in their beautiful attire as their leader as if they were from the same mother, followed him, led by the State chairman of then NPP, Chief Guy Ikokwu, the party secretary, Chief Frank Oloto and Paulinus Amadike ( Minister of Sports)
It was a full compliment of Jim’s commissioners, including:
Dr. Edwin Onwudiwe, NPP Senatorial candidate and former commissioner for health
Professor Sydney Mgbejiofor, one of the NPP Senatorial candidates who replaced Senator B. C. Okwu after he defected to the NPN
Senator Chukwuemeka Udenze,
Rob Iweka, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice
Thom Chigbo, Commissioner for Information and others.
Also in the entourage were Mike Okeke, NPP Director of Information, Fidel Odum, Eddy Onyia, Chief Press Secretary to the governor who replaced Chris Eluemuno, Anike Nwoga, NPP Youth wing chairman and many others.
Earlier in his speech, Jim had told the mammoth crowd of supporters that he was going to defeat his NPN rival, Chief C. C. Onoh (Aninefungwu) one thousand times. And that one thousand Bishop Eyitennes could not stop NPP from winning the coming election. So nobody should entertain any worry. Mr Bishop Eyitenne was the then controversial Anambra State Commissioner of Police who had a running battle with Jim Nwobodo’s men, Anike Nwoga in particular and his Road Safety Corps outfit.
As it turned out, after the election, NPN defeated NPP. Most people were shocked. Enugu Coal city became a ghost town, as a hushed silence descended upon the erstwhile vibrant city vibrating with excitement of widely anticipated NPP victory.
Everybody was stunned. Perhaps, this was what informed Zik’s famous statement in reaction to the NPP loss: HISTORY WILL VINDICATE THE JUST.
I remembered an incident that happened a few days to that election, involving Victor Oye, then one of the top editors of the defunct Satellite newspaper owned by Jim Nwobodo. The then leader of NPP Youth wing, Anike Nwoga had arranged for the officials of Progressive Association of Youths (PAY) to have an audience with the governor at the Lion Building.
Our team led by Ossy Ugwuoti ( former newscaster with ATV who later became a commissioner of poverty reduction in Enugu state) included Chidi Okolo (DOS), Emeka Mogo ( Spiritual Director), Grace Chinegwundo of NTA ( Treasurer), Ndidi Onyeama (Welfare), Oseloka Offor ( PRO) Barrister Charles Nnorom ( National Secretary) and yours sincerely ( Director of Planning and Strategy).
As we waited in the reception, we could see Victor Oye as he hurriedly made his way to the Governor’s office which suggested that the governor was waiting for him. It also suggested that Victor Oye was playing another role for the governor apart from his editorial job.
A few minutes after, he walked past again from the governor’s office and soon after, we saw Jim’s commissioners and some top functionaries hurry past to the governor’s office, apparently on urgent summons.
At this stage, despite the assurances by Eddy Onyia, the possibility of our seeing Jim became low. Shortly after, we were directed to see the Deputy Governor, Engr. Roy Umenyi instead.
It was after the elections that my brother, Fidel Odum told me during a discussion that if the governor and the NPP leadership had implemented Victor Oye’s strategy that day he came to see the governor, NPP would not have lost the election. However, he did not tell me what the strategy was. Nor did Victor Oye tell me what it was to this day.
But even if Jim failed to apply Victor Oye’s suggestion, nobody should have blamed him, because over ninety percent of Anambra people had no slightest doubt that NPP would win the election. I can say this because Jim Nwobodo’s performance as governor in terms of charisma and achievements in just four years were simply beyond all imagination and far beyond what any other governor before and after him had ever done, may be with the exception of M. I. Okpara. So everybody believed Jim would win.
But then, after the elections, there was this popular NTA weekly press conference hosted by the then General Manager of NTA, Eddy Brown Ayogu at which a team of crack journalists took on a guest, this time, the head of NPN campaign in Anambra State, Dr. Ibrahim Tahir. The panelists comprised Chike Abbey of Herald newspaper, Hollands Okoye of Sketch, C.K.C. Ubby of the old Anambra Broadcasting Service, (ABS), Sam Candor Okolo of FRCN and others.
Justifying NPN victory in the election, Dr. Tahir argued that NPN win was already a fait accompli even before the election, given the fact that the entire who is who in the old Anambra State were in the NPN. Name them;
Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu
Chief C. C. Onoh
Sir Joe Nwankwu
Dr. Chuba Okadigbo
Patrick Nwakoby, Chairman of First Bank
Austin Ezenwa, a.k.a. UPGA
M. N. Ugochukwu
R. O Nkwocha
Mike Okoli (Eastern Shop)
Senator N. N. Anah (leader of so called Authentic NPP)
John Nnia Nwodo
Dr Mike Ogbalu
Vincent Ikeotuonye (who decamped from NPP after his kidnap saga)
F.G.N. Okoye sons
Hon. Ozo ughamadu, the youngest of them all, and very many others.
Who again? Tahir boasted.
A few weeks before the recent Anambra State governorship election, when Ozonkpu Dr Victor Ike Oye visited Enugu to address Anambrarians in the course of his day and night campaign tour of the South East states for a last minute campaign for Soludo, he was confronted with a similar scenario in which soothsayers predicted a tragic loss for APGA, given the wide array of timbers and calibers in both the APC , APGA and PDP, he laughed it off.
“Yes, I very much remember what happened to my boss Jim Nwobodo in those days. But that cannot happen in this election because I learnt a lesson from that experience. Soludo will be sworn in as governor. We have worked very hard for it”, he said , with so much confidence. When Soludo won, we were not surprised, thanks to the political shrewdness of the threesome of Obiano, Victor Oye and Soludo and their indefatigable party men and women.
One historical fact about Ozonkpu is that he has never lost any election as National chairman of APGA. On the contrary, he has continued to grow and improve on the gains of his party with every election year.
Today, Victor Oye is the only national party chairman among the major political parties that has survived in office since his assumption of office, unlike other parties that have changed their national leadership countless times. This definitely is a big plus and evidence of honest, humble and visionary leadership.
It has been a historical fact in Nigeria that every political party thrusts its national chairman with the task of winning elections for the party and that is why any time a political party loses a national election, or a party begind to lose direction and focus, it is the National chairman more than any other factor that is held responsible for the loss and made to pay the price.
It happened in 1979 after NPP lost the election to the NPN and this cost the first chairman of the party Chief Olu Akinfosile his seat which now went to Chief Adeniran Ogunsaya.
It also happened in 2015 when PDP lost the election to the APC. Everybody laid the blame on the party narional chairman, Dr. Mu’azu and he was immediately dethroned.
In the present dispensation, It happened in the APC before the 2019 elections when the party suffered a multiple crisis and this led to the sack of the then chairman, Chief John Oyegun who was replaced by Adams Oshiomole. When the crisis continued, Oshiomole was sacked and replaced with another person.
No wonder veteran Nigerian political party leaders in the second republic chose to combine the office of National Chairman with the presidential candidacy of their parties as was the case with Awolowo’s UPN, Alhaji Waziri’s GNPP and Aminu Kano’s PRP because they understood the onerous responsibility of a party national chairman.
Victor Oye was the first party National Chairman to move it’s party headquarters from a rented office to an expansive ultra-modern two storey complex sitting on a 4000 square meters of land at the high rise Katampe, Cadastral Zone B07, Abuja.
Yet, in all his achievements, Victor Oye gives the credit, not to himself, but to all the members of APGA. Just as he has dedicated the recent APGA victory not only to APGA members but also to all Anambrarians who demonstrated faith and trust in APGA as a party with a commitment to the welfare of all Anambrarians.
Mazi Omife I. Omife