It looks like an unwritten constitution that only former governors with tested political and leadership experience should be national chairman of political parties in Nigeria.
Take the case of the two major parties in Nigeria: In PDP, people like Solomon Lar, Okwesilieze Nwodo, Adamu Muazu, Amodo Sheriff, Markarfi and others, all former governors.
APC, you have Bisi Akande, John Oyegun, Adams Oshiomole – former governors.
Non former governors who served as party national chairmen were highly reputable politicians with proven credentials and antecedents of political experience and leadership drive.
In the case of APGA, when Senator Victor Umeh was about to retire as National Chairman, many people naturally began to eye former Governor Peter Obi to succeed him as the only former governor in APGA. But shortly after, Peter Obi decamped to the PDP. There seemed to be confusion, apprehension, and speculations. Will this be the end of APGA?, people asked.
When Victor Oye was eventually elected National Chairman of APGA, some people had apprehension about his ability to captain and steer the ship of APGA in the rough waters of Nigerian politics.
But some of us who knew Victor Oye long before then had no doubt about Victor Oye’s capability to hold the forth of APGA and even outperform the much orchestrated former governors as National Chairman of APGA.
People who were familiar with Victor Oye’s antecedents then knew that he was a man with uncommon leadership drive, immense humility and honesty and a deep flair for perfection in any responsibility he is charged with.
These attributes were very outstanding back in his days as one of the best media men in the country as one of the editors of Satellite newspapers owned by former governor Jim Nwobodo in the early 80’s.
Satellite newspaper at the time sported the best names in journalism in the country, crack journalists like Tony Ojukwu, Emma Okocha, one of the best sports writers in the country, Uche Ezechukwu, Sly Alaekwe, Obinwa Nnaji, Mike Aziude, C. Don Adinuba, Godwin Nzeaka, Edwin Eze, Chigozie Ozim, my very good friend then who was later locked along with Jim Nwobodo and so many others. Please anybody who knows Chigozie’s whereabouts should kindly contact me.
I do not know other places Victor Ike Oye worked before Satellite but I do know that during that time, Satellite was rated as one of the best newspapers in the country, just like the New York Times in America.
There was one event that made a lasting impression on me about Victor Oye. There was this day Zik held a press conference at the Presidential Hotel, Enugu which was attended by over one hundred journalists and NPP leaders and members across Anambra State and beyond including myself as chief servant of Federation of Nigerian Youths (FONY). Many people who came late stayed outside, including yours sincerely, because all the seats inside were full.
At the end of the conference, some of us were taken aback as we watched Zik and other political dignitaries come out from the conference room, with Zik’s left hand fondly placed on Victor Oye’s shoulder as a father would pat his son.
To me and to many people I believe, this points to the respect and reverence Victor Oye has for Igbo leaders, just as he showed to Jim Nwobodo and Ojukwu and is still showing for Ojukwu through APGA.
When Jim Nwobodo had problem with the federal military government through Awote panel and was imprisoned, Satellite gradually ran aground reaching a point where staff salaries could no longer be paid, creating room for other newspapers to make big deal employment offers to Satellite staff. Victor Oye was one of the last staff that left Satellite, for a long time defying mouthwatering offers from several media institutions. That was dedication.
It was with the same dedication and passion for perfection that Victor Ike Oye embraced his now responsibility as APGA National Chairman. It did not take long for results to start coming.
First, it became like magic when APGA scored a 21 over 21 election victory in Anambra State, the first of its kind by any party in Anambra State.
For the first time in APGA history, before you know it, APGA penetrated Benue state and other Northern State and becoming the third national based party after APC and PDP.
I have heard some people claim that APGA victory in Benue and other Middle Belt states was due to protest vote by the people against the killings by Fulani herdsmen.
That is a lie. It was the result of hard work and political ingenuity on the part of Victor Oye. As simple as that. If I may ask, if APGA victory in Benue and North was due to protest vote, what happened to other parties with National Chairmen from these places?
There were up to ninety political parties that participated in the last elections, most of them founded by Northerners and having Northerners as National chairmen.
Some of these included Y. Y. Sani who was National chairman of ADP, Hamisu Santuraki, National chairman of the MPPP from Hausa Fulani, Yusif Mamman Dantalle, National chairman of APM and Alhaji Balarabe Musa, National chairman of PRP.
There were others, such as Senator Sa’idu Dansadau of NRM, A. A. Galadima of ACPN, Tanko Ayuba of NCP, Alhaji Bashir of PDM, Malam Maizabbura of NDLP, Alhaji Nalado of Accord Party and many others.
Some also said it was because APGA picked its presidential candidate from the North, Benue State to be exact. I agree this may have played some role. But then, I ask again, what of the dozens of other presidential candidates from the North?
Apart from Muhammad Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, there were other presidential candidates from the North like Hamisu Santuraki, the presidential candidate of MPPP is from the North. Ditto for YY Sani of ADP and A. A. Galadima of ACPN. What of Aliyu Ibrahim of APA, is he not from the North? What of Shitu Mohammed of APDA, is he not from the North?
Yusuf Mamman, presidential candidate of APM, is he not a Northerner? Is Usman Mohammed who was National chairman of LP not a Northerner? Isa Bashayi of MMN. Yunusa Salisu of NCP. Maimuna Maina of NPC. Usman Ibrahim of NRM. Hamza Al- Mustapha of PPN. Ahmed Buhari of SNP. Ahmed Inuwa of UPN. Are all of them not presidential candidates from the North?
Today, the Gwagwalada Area council in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, APGA is controlled by APGA. If APGA won seats in Benue State because its presidential candidate was from there, did APGA have a presidential candidate also in Gwagwalada?
The party is also controlling federal and state constituencies in Nassarawa, Zamfara, Imo, Abia and Kaduna States. Did APGA have presidential candidates in these states?
So the truth about the magic of APGA’s success lies in political strategy and grassroots reach and more importantly the personal political drive of its National Chairman.
With this, Victor Ike Oye has laid a solid and concrete political foundation for an Igbo based national party which Igbos have been desiring for decades as a means of full reintegration into the Nigerian political mainstream on the basis of equality of tribes.
Now, the battle continues and among the major ones are the battle to ensure APGA continuity in government after Obiano and the battle to win more States in and outside Igbo land.
For APGA to win these critical battles, Victor Ike Oye requires the support and prayers of all APGA and Igbo political stakeholders to build on the foundation he has laid.
Let this foundation not collapse.
Mazi Omife I. Omife