By Uche Amunike
The rumours making the rounds about the Anambra Deputy Governor’s defection from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), to the All Progressives Congress (APC) became reality when, on Wednesday, his picture showing President Buhari handing him the APC flag, alongside Gov Hope Uzodimma of Imo state, hit the airwaves.
This came as a rude shock to the people of Anambra state as the Deputy Governor, Dr Nkem Okeke never discussed his defection, either to quell the rumours or even discuss his defection now that has officially joined the APC.
The argument on ground presently has been channeled to what political value Dr Okeke took from APGA and what his new party, the APC will stand to gain from his defection.
In reaction, stakeholders in APGA have said that the Anambra Deputy Governor’s defection will not affect their chances at victory at the incoming election because he has no relevance in the party.
The APC however replied that they have everything to gain from Okeke’s defection. They went on to describe him as a shining light in the field of politics.
In a press release titled, ‘Defection of Nkem Okeke of No Consequence’, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Barr Tex Okechukwu dismissed Okeke as a paperweight politician whose defection will not change anything about Anambra’s choice in the election.
He said that the Anambra Deputy Governor’s defection happened because he thought the governor and the party would hand him over the governorship ticket in the last primaries on a platter. When it did not happen, he changed and began, not only to neglect his duties as Deputy Governor, but began to be known for insubordination.
He noted that Dr Okeke’s exit without formal notification to the party or to the Governor was most unwarranted, ill-timed and ill-advised, because of how much the Governor has always treated him with love, respect and consideration. He went on to say that APC had no roots in Anambra which is why they go about luring political deadwoods with money and other incentives.
The Anambra Deputy Governor’s defection, according to the press release, is mere distraction, and so, Tex Okechukwu urged Governor Willie Obiano not to be distracted, saying, no matter the designs of the opposition, APGA is poised to win in the forthcoming election and will continue with the massive infrastructural development going on in the state.
In the meantime, the APC flag bearer, Senator Andy Uba commended the Anambra Deputy Governor’s defection move when he welcomed him to the party.
In a release from his campaign organisation which was signed by the Media and Publicity Secretary, Hon Afam Ogene, he described Okeke as an intellectual of looming standing who has tried to steer the ship of Anambra state from the maladministration which the Obiano government hoisted on the state.
Hear him: ‘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’.
APGA Chieftain, Chief Ifeatu Obi-Okoye, on his own part, described the Anambra Deputy Governor’s defection as politically inconsequential and non-sequitur to the fortunes of APGA, either at his electoral Ward, Local Government or the state level on the election day. He described Okeke’s move to the APC as a personal journey and not anything that has to do with the interest of Ndigbo, adding that even though the APC believes he is a big catch, he was nothing but a political paperweight in the politics of Anambra state.
The Anambra state Information Commissioner, Mr C Don Adinuba described Okeke’s defection as unconstitutional, explaining that because he was elected on a joint ticket under APGA with his Principal in 2013 and renewed their mandate in 2017, the honorable thing for him to have done was to resign properly from office.
In contrast, however, an APC member, Ikechukwu Emeka Onyia posited that it was wrong for APGA to describe someone as high ranking as Deputy Governor of a state as inconsequential.
His words: ‘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.’