One has watched closely latest developments in the new look All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), one of Nigeria’s main opposition political parties. When one considers the enormous contributions of the party to the growth and sustenance of Nigeria’s democracy, it will not be out of place to say that the party holds a lot of prospects for Nigerians and Igbos in particular.
One recalls with nostalgia that the party at one time had prominent Igbos as members. Name them the late Ikemba Nnewi and Ezeigbo Gburuguru , Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu who was one time Board of Trustees Chairman of the party, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and Senator Arthur Nzeribe to name just a few.
In Imo State, the eastern heartland, the party at one time paraded a galaxy of Igbos which includes the present Governor of Imo State, Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha, Barr.Humphrey Anumudu, Ambassador Greg Mbadiwe, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, etc. In Anambra State, it had the late Christian Onoh as one of its founding members.
The circumstances, which later influenced their desire to quit the party in search for greener political pasture is better left for these great sons of Igboland to explain.
Of all the political leaders in Igboland, it is Dr. Ogbonnya Onu, former Executive Governor of Old of Abia State that has remained in the party. Despite the unjust manner the presidential ticket of the party was swindled from his grip in 1999 by anti- Igbo conspirators , Onu has remained a true party man that believes that politicians who have an ideology should at all times, remain with a political party where he or she can express his or her political beliefs and convictions .
The ANPP, since its inception since 1999, has at all times demonstrated an uncanny desire to champion those ideals that will promote the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria. Fortunately, previous leaderships of the party designed it to be a check on the excess of the ruling party alone. In other words, it was content with the tag of an opposition political party, whose major objective is to checkmate the excesses of the party in power.
However, the new ANPP leadership led by Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu has strived successfully to change this perception. The party, aside playing its role to put a check on the bad policies of the PDP led government through constructive criticisms, has risen up to the challenge to become the voice of ordinary Nigerians who are victims of the bad governance of the ruling PDP.
The new party leadership has not shirked its responsibilities by always criticizing in strong terms some policies of the ruling party that tends to jeopardize the happiness of Nigerians. From the condemnation in the removal of fuel subsidy, the hike in tariff of electricity to attempts by the National Assembly to gag labour, the party leadership has shown a strong desire to ensure that Nigerians are not taken for granted.
While not losing consciousness of the fact that the party owes it as a duty to Nigerians to put a check on the ruling party, the new ANPP leadership has successfully exorcised the ghost that it is a tribal political party with strong presence in the North alone. Some pundits say that the party is averse to the collective aspiration of Igbos to produce the country’s president on the basis that it has no strong presence in the South East.
However, this assumption is wrong in the present circumstance as the new ANPP leadership has demonstrated a strong resolve not only to maintain its status as a virile national political party that has the interest of all Nigerians at heart, but one that is sincerely committed to the task of ensuring that Igbos and other ethnic tribes see the party as an alternative to the PDP and other political parties.
The party has also successfully built bridges of relationship across the length and breadth of the nation, preaching the gospel of one Nigeria anchored on mutual political understanding and harmony. These painstaking efforts paid off in the last general elections when for the first time in the history of the party, an Igbo man, Hon. Innocent Edeh, from Ebonyi State was elected on its platform to the House of Representatives, Abuja
This development signifies the fact that the new look ANPP has provided a platform for Igbos to build bridges of reconciliation and mutual harmony with other ethnic tribes in the country. This singular act has compelled the party leadership to at all times espouse those values that will give Igbos and other Nigerians a true sense of belonging.
Considering the present security challenges that continue to threaten the corporate existence of Nigeria as one indivisible entity, the ANPP is the only party in the country that has no ethnic colouration and has maintained a consistent political ideology that is not at variance with the progress, prosperity and development of all parts of Nigeria.
For the Igbos, it is the party that offers hope to rediscover relevance in the nation’s political landscape. It is the only party that has shown the willingness to secure a better future for Igbos in a multi ethnic and complex nation like Nigeria. It is one of the political parties that has no ethnic bias and has at all times offered a handshake of friendship to those who are willing and committed to the task of sustaining the development in unity of Nigeria.
The party offers a broad platform for Igbos to roam ideas with their brothers and sisters from other ethnic tribes for the attainment of a better Nigeria, thus making it an exceptional political party that is disposed to Igbos to get a handshake across the Niger to realize the political intentions.
With the 2015 general elections inching close, it is imperative for Igbos not to see the ANPP as a Northern political party, but rather a party with a national outlook that is willing to provide the platform or bridge to the realization of their political intentions. No political party with ethnic bias or where Igbo leaders play second fiddle can be receptive to the aspirations and desires of Ndi Igbo. The ANPP offers that platform for a new political beginning for Igbos. This is the time Igbos embrace the party again.