Dr Nkem Okeke, the academic-turned politician, and Deputy Governor of Anambra State, has dumped the party which brought him into office. He did so on Thursday, October 14, 2021. Until then, he was of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. He has divorced from the Party.
He was doing his second term in office with the flamboyant Governor of the State, Chief Willie Obiano, when he decided he has had enough. In doing so, he followed a long line of Obiano’s Aides and Political Associates who, in recent times, gave the Governor a wide berth. They want to associate with him no more.
I don’t know what the plans of the urbane Deputy Governor is. All that is known is that he, in Aso Rock, he defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC. There he stood, looking, suddenly, like a rock star, flanked by no less a person than President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma – the man who between him and the Governorship candidate of the APC, Andy Uba, is bent on emptying as many APGA faithfuls as are possible into the APC. There must be something, or somebody, repelling APGA faithfuls from the ruling party in the State.
Since his defection, Okeke has clamped up. He has not said a word. Or, perhaps, I missed it. He has not said anything about his official status. Is he still in Abuja? Or back to Awka, the State capital? And, does he go to office or not? More important, he has not announced whether he has, also, quit his office as Deputy Governor or not. If not, does he still see himself as the Deputy Governor? If so, I have an unsolicited advice for Deputy Governor Okeke.
He should do the Honourable thing and quit the office of the Deputy Governor. He should drop everything APGA-related. And face his new party. And work towards his new party’s victory in the November 6, 2021, Governorship election. It’s just around the corner. The office of the Deputy Governor has become a distraction to him.
I have read a number of reactions to his defection to APC. From the Government House Awka, it is like: “no scratch.”
They say he will not be missed. They say he has no electoral value. And you wonder when they found that out. And, if so, why run with him for a second term in office? Or, was all that talk “bad belle.?”
From his home base, Enugwu- Ukwu, a few APGA politicians have been trying to distance themselves from their kinsman. They have been reassuring Obiano that with, or without, their former leader, Okeke, the area is APGA’s. They claim they were not aware he was on his way out. They claim he neither said a word to them nor consulted them. They claim they only saw his photograph with the President, and the others, holding the APC flag, as published. These guys didn’t have their ears to the ground.
Another Government source claimed Okeke defected because he was not given the APGA Governorship ticket to succeed Obiano.
True? How come I don’t believe any of the tales?
If Okeke did not tell his constituency, he must be a bad politician with no eyes on the future. If he defected because he was not given the APGA ticket, then, I seem to have given him more (political) intelligence than he deserves.
How many Deputy Governors succeed their Governors in office? It never happens. I can remember only Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, who succeeded his Governor, Dr Rabiu Kwankwaso. Even then, it was neither easy, nor smooth. And, the two of them have gone on to become sworn enemies. At a point, Kwankwaso was barred from entering Kano State. That’s how much powers Governors exercise!
Most Governors simply tolerate their Deputies. Deputy Governors are, to the Governors, a piece of furniture which could either be made use of, or ignored. They are mainly ignored. Most of them remain anonymous till the end of their tenure. They are there in name.
A number of Commissioners are more important, and more influential, than the Deputy Governors. The DGs don’t like it. But what do they do? Any little “gra-gra” or perceived threat, or gossip from one mischievous quarter, impeachment beckons. Ask the DGs who worked with former Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha. Anything could be fabricated to get rid of them by a usually rubber-stamp House of Assembly.
In the case of Okeke, the story is that it was all the above, and more. He, allegedly, had no clout in the Government which number two he is. He never got consulted on most things. He was also not involved in most things. No perks of office. Perhaps no monetary allocation to his office. Perhaps, allowances too.
The story out there is that he really is not the Deputy Governor. That honour, it is alleged, belongs to the Governor’s very flamboyant wife, Ebele.
This other day, the State APC claimed, in a statement, that Mrs Obiano gets the sum of N250m as Security votes every month. Neither the APGA as a party, nor Anambra State Government, denied that serious allegation. But it would be nice to know how much goes to the office of the Deputy Governor, who it is also claimed, has no spare vehicle, and has had to allegedly, at times, stand along the road, waiting for his official vehicle to be repaired whenever it broke down. A bit of exaggeration, perhaps, but that tells the story of Okeke’s sorry situation.
Questions, then, are: If Dr Okeke was this badly treated, what is he still doing in office? Why did he stick around with Obiano for this long – seven years plus, out of an eight year tenure? Or, are the stories not true? Is it just a question of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it? Or, is Dr Okeke, with all the defections that have hit APGA, recently, seeing the hand writing on the wall? Does he think APGA has become a sinking ship, and wanted out before it finally sinks?
Whatever, Deputy Governor Okeke should do the honourable needful. He should quit his office. He is no longer useful in that Government – either in deed or words. He is no longer worthy of the office. It is like a wife divorcing her husband, and still lives in the same house with him. It is an aberration.
His sticking around, perhaps insisting that both of them were elected together, that the Governor couldn’t have been elected without him, is begging the issue. It is a Nigerian thing.
Most Nigerian political office holders don’t quit their offices no matter how incompetent they are, or how much failure they have become, or how much humiliation their bosses have put them through.
If Okeke was an outsider before, he has even become more of an outsider now. If he was being humiliated before now, the humiliation will be complete now. What if one Special Adviser, or even a Councillor, deliberately asks him to shut-up, or quarks him in public? Some politicians are that raw. What if he gets to office one day, and sees his office locked, ostensibly, for repairs – and, without his knowledge? What if the vehicles attached to his office are withdrawn for servicing without his knowledge. Governors are that powerful, or why do you think their subordinates address them as Executive Governors, even though being Governors mean they have executive powers?
The above aside, DG Okeke needs to resign for his self esteem. For his honour. He needs to do that for his credibility. Nobody deliberately sleeps with an enemy. As far as Governor Obiano and his Government are concerned, Okeke has become an enemy, a spy. Okeke will be lucky if he is allowed into the Executive Council Chambers for the weekly Council meetings. If he enters where something important is being discussed, they will clamp up. One security personnel could ask him out.
If Okeke insists on staying in office, I won’t envy him. His final months could be the most disgraceful in his life. If in doubt, he should ask the immediate past Ondo State Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi. His was messy. He quit the APC, and joined the PDP, and later, ZLP, to challenge his Governor at the polls, without quitting office as DG. By the time the Government finished with him, he realised that harmattan is, indeed, cold.
His official vehicles were stopped at the Government House gate for searching. He lost his Local Government at the polls. After some “gra-gra” from him, he was threatened by the Police and forced to return all Government vehicles attached to him.
But that is the right thing to do. You resign from your party, you quit the office. Holding onto that office becomes fraudulent. But we must blame our very faulty Constitution. That is why Governors Dave Umahi, Ben Ayade and Bello Matawalle of Ebonyi, Cross River and Zamfara States would shamelessly remain in office as Governors after they dumped the political party that brought them to office. It is an aberration. It is fraudulent. It happens only in our clime. And the Judiciary seems helpless.
The only way Okeke will not to go through what Ajayi went through is if APGA loses at the Governorship polls. That is when he will have a sweet laugh at, and revenge against, Obiano.
As for Obiano, many vultures are hovering around. His last months in office as Governor, and Leader of APGA, have been rough and tough. Too many unpleasantness. Faced with an unprecedented state of insecurity in the State since his tenure, the hemorrhage in his cabinet, and party, under his watch has not helped. For him it is a horrible winter.
In the past few weeks, aside from Deputy Governor Okeke, APGA has witnessed an unprecedented loss of membership. House of Representatives members. House of Assembly members. Commissioners and Special Advisers and Assistants. A BOT member. Former House of Representatives members. Former Speaker of the House of Assembly as well as former members. Even those still with him and the Party, he should not quite trust. The story out there is that a number of them cannot wait to vote against him and APGA on November 6.
One of the faces of the Party, Iyom Bianca Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, widow of the still very revered late Ikemba Nnewi, and Leader of APGA, has since given APGA a wide berth. She is indifferent to their activities. She said Governor Obiano insulted the memory of the Ikemba; that he dared declare Ikemba irrelevant.
Before all these, the most high profile exit from APGA was former two-time Governor, Peter Obi. The allegation is that Obi was pushed out of APGA. He was asked to leave or play very low profile. It was like: “You are a former Governor, you need to remain so. Don’t try to shine, or outshine anybody anywhere. You’ve had your time.” Obi chose to leave.
Questions are: What is it in Anambra APGA, incidentally, the only State the party controls, that repels its members? Why are members of a ruling party in a State abandoning the party, in droves, a couple of weeks to a very crucial election – the Governorship election? It is late, almost, but the APGA leadership needs to quickly look inwards.
But, back to Deputy Governor Okeke. He should make haste and resign. There is honour in doing so. Make a difference. Show example. Tell them you are an academic first, before being a politician. Academics are a proud people, with plenty of self-esteem. Prove it. Don’t wait to be humiliated out – in case APGA wins the November 6, 2021 Governorship election. If that happens, impeachment will be on the cards. Don’t count on politicians. Those who dumped APGA could make a u-turn to do the dirty job. That is the way of politicians. For them, it is normal.
*Obi is the Editor-in-Chief/CEO of The Source Magazine