On Wednesday in far away Abuja, the news of the defection of the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr Nkem Okeke filtered into the state. This did not come to many as a surprise because it has been long rumoured.
With the eventual movement to APC, the new argument has shifted to what political value Okeke took away from APGA, and what will the APC, his new party gain.
APGA in reacting to his exit has, however, said that the deputy governor has no relevance, and cannot affect the chances of the victory the party hopes to gain, during the election, which is less than a month away.
But the APC in a reply to APGA has insisted that it has everything to gain from Okeke’s defection, describing the deputy governor as a shinning light in the field of politics.
In a press release by the National Publicity Secretary of APGA, Barr Tex Okechukwu, APGA dismissed Okeke as a paper weight politician, whose movement to APC cannot change anything about who Anambra people have decided to vote.
The press release titled: Defection Of Nkem Okeke Of No Consequence, stated: “The deputy governor had thought that the governor and the party were going to hand over the governorship ticket of the party in the last primary to him on a platter. When that didn’t happen, he started behaving abnormally, even to the point of insubordination and dereliction of duties.
“The exit of the deputy governor, without formal notification to the party or his principal, is uncalled for, ill-timed and ill-advised as the governor had always treated him with respect, love and consideration. Let nobody be deceived, APC has no root anywhere in Anambra State and that is why all that they do is going about luring political deadwoods with money and other lucres.”
The party said it would win the governorship election without the Deputy Governor, while also describing him as one who has no political value. The party frowned at what it called the desperation being exhibited by the APC in the build-up to the November 6 Anambra State Governorship Election, calling on all members of the party to remain united to ensure that APGA wins the election with wider margins.
“We call on Governor Willie Obiano not to be distracted by the defection of his deputy, which is a ploy to create a semblance of disunity in his government. No matter the designs of the opposition and other subterranean forces, APGA is poised to win the forthcoming election and continue with the massive infrastructural development going on in the state”, the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, the candidate of the APC, Senator Andy Uba has welcome the deputy governor to the party, describing the move as very commendable. A release by the Senator Andy Uba Governorship Campaign Organisation, SAUGCO which was signed by the media and publicity secretary of the organization, Hon Afam Ogene said: “We heartily welcome our deputy governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke, an intellectual of no mean standing who has over the years striven to steer the ship of Anambra State from the parochialism and maladministration which his Principal, Governor Willy Obiano has foisted on the state.
“For several years, Dr. Okeke remained the only sane voice of reason in Government House, Awka, thus before long, he was easily sidelined by Governor Obiano who elevated his wife to the status of co-Governor. For taking this patriotic step, in the face of daunting personal discomfort, this generation of ndi Anambra, and indeed Anambra children yet unborn, would remember the name, Dr. Nkem Okeke, as one who rejected the accoutrements of high office and elected to align with the people.”
Besides the APGA, which has described Okeke’s exit as being of no consequence, some members of the APGA who spoke to DAILY POST on the political value of the deputy governor dismissed him, saying that the party, including his ward, community and local government would do well without him, especially as he moved alone, without any supporters.
Chief Ifeatu Obi-Okoye a chieftain of APGA said: “The defection of the Deputy Governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke is politically inconsequential and non-sequitur to the fortunes of APGA either at his electoral ward, local government, or at the state level, come November 6th, 2021. Evidently, Dr. Nkem Okeke’s drift to the APC is for personal pasture, more than any desire to serve the interest of Ndigbo. Whereas the APC may see him as a big catch, he remains a political paperweight in the politics of Anambra State.”
On his part, the Anambra state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C Don Adinuba said that the defection of Dr. Nkem Okeke is unconstitutional. Adinuba said that the Deputy Governor who was elected on a joint ticket under the platform of the APGA with Governor Willie Obiano in 2013, and had their mandate renewed in 2017, should follow the honourable path and resign from office.
Also, Dr. Uche Nworah, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS), who is also the Spokesperson of Forum of APGA Political Appointees from Enugwu-Ukwu said the forum and its members were not informed by the deputy governor that he was decamping.
“Like everyone else, we saw the viral pictures of the Deputy Governor, Dr Nkem Okeke holding the APC flag at the State House in Abuja on Wednesday. We were disappointed because by virtue of his position in government, he is our political leader in Enugwu-Ukwu and Njikoka local government and never hinted us that he was decamping. He is on his own in making that move. We are not in support at all. Enugwu-Ukwu and Njikoka will give their votes 100% to the APGA candidate, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo”, Nworah said.
Another indigene of Enugwu-Ukwu, Mr. Emeka Ozumba, the Deputy Chief Press Secretary to Governor Willie Obiano said; “We are disappointed that Dr. Nkem Okeke abandoned a joint ticket with Governor Willie Obiano in pursuit of personal gains. Every discerning Onye Anambra and indeed Njikoka and Enugwu-Ukwu know that he is completely on his own in making such a move. Thankfully, his decamping does not in anyway affect the fortunes of APGA in the coming gubernatorial elections. APGA is still formidable in the four Wards of Enugwu-Ukwu.”
In a sharp contrast, however, Ikechukwu Emeka Onyia, a member of the APC said it was wrong for APGA to describe someone in the rank of a deputy governor as being inconsequential.
He said, “The Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke is very consequential and of value in Anambra politics and development. Nkem Okeke is so consequential in all endeavours he has ever engaged him with, from University lecturer, community leader and deputy governor of Anambra State. Nkem Okeke represents a shining star in anything he touches.
“Now, if he was such a paper weight, how come he was chosen as running mate in Obiano’s first term, and still retained in the second? APGA should stop crying over their loss and deal with the reality of looming defeat.”
Meanwhile, the state has less than three weeks to go to polls, to elect a new governor, and the defection of Okeke is one among the many horse-trading going on in the state. Many believe that the defection of the deputy governor, whether inconsequential as the APGA believe, or consequential as APC thinks, his absence would be felt, and the knowledge by APGA that an opposition member exists in its rank, in a government that it controls is enough to haunt it in the next month’s election.