By Okoro Chinedum Benedict
Once Philippi is mentioned, two profound events come to mind. While one of the events belongs a renowned literary Age – the Shakespearean Age; the other is of a religious note. Perhaps, the most intriguing aspect of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar may be the appearance of Caesar’s ghost to Brutus, as he was preparing for the battlefield, ensconced and unruffled in his reading table, the spirit of Caesar appeared to caution him ‘thou shall meet me at Philippi.’ (Julius Caesar Act 4, Scene 2).
Despite Brutus stoicism and impressionistic aura, Caesar’s apparition rattled him and signaled an end to his false confidence and grandstanding. Eventually, Caesar did appear at Philippi and Brutus did not live to tell the tale. What consumed Brutus may not be Caesar’s spirit, but, simply the natural laws associated with nke onye metalu….
On a religious note, in Matthew 16:13-20 at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus inquired from His disciples’ saying ‘who do people say the Son of Man is?’. None of His disciples got it correctly. So, He turned to His Apostles saying and ‘who do you say I am?’. Amidst the blaze of answers, Peter saved the day with his response; ‘you are Christ, the Son of the Living God’.
Exegetical and hermeneutical scholars reckon that it was at Caesarea Philippi that Peter confessed that Jesus is the Son of the Living God. These two instances reveal the options at the table as Edozie Njoku heads to the Supreme Court. At this stage, it is only men of depth that are enamored with the gift to discern phenomenon that can advise Oye at this point. Ostensibly, the events referenced above are beyond the comprehension of Oye and his cronies.
The history of APGA is nothing, but an exercise in legal battles. For a party that seized power through the court, the judiciary should be its forte, fortress, shield and rampart. To a very large extent, APGA as a party and legal entity owe its political trajectory and evolution to the Nigerian judiciary.
As Chief Edozie Njoku, the authentic National Chairman of APGA heads to the Supreme Court to reclaim his stolen mandate; his action, when viewed from the prism of prudence and resilience should remind those that have kept track of political developments in APGA that every human organization undergo transmogrification on the heels, wheels and wings of great minds that are always determined to redirect the course of history and align an institution like APGA on the path of self-redemption.
It is instructive to inform that Chief Edozie Njoku journey to the Supreme Court was because his right to fair hearing has been awfully tampered with. He was not heard by the Jigawa High Court; not heard by the Court of Appeal, Kano Division; and not heard by the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division which ordered him to pay N10 Million Naira damages to the Ozonkpu Victor Oye led Executive of APGA for appealing against the Judgment of the Trial Court delivered on 19th July, 2021, in spite of the Judgment of the Court of Appeal, Kano Division, which had not come into existence, but which was delivered on 10th August, 2021.
The above grounds provide the raison d’être for which Chief Edozie Njoku has approached the apex court. The outcome of this case has the proclivity to birth a Judicial Norm that will shape the course of party leadership litigation in Nigeria.
If history is anything to go by, it was Ojukwu’s backing, the eternal leader of APGA that availed Peter Obi the resilience and resolve, when in 2003; he exhibited uncommon guts and dragged Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige to the election tribunal. The Anambra State Election Petition Tribunal led by Justice Nabaruma looking at the merit of his petition confirmed Obi winner of the election.
Ngige rejected the ruling of the Anambra State Election Petition Tribunal. By August 2005, he appealed against the ruling. On March 16, 2006, the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu in a landmark judgement upheld the decision of the Anambra State Election Petition Tribunal in favour of Obi. Delivering the ruling, Justice Rabiu Muhammed maintained that the Independent National Electoral Commission erred in declaring Chris Ngige winner of the 2003 gubernatorial election in Anambra.
It did not end there. Peter Obi had to approach the Supreme Court seeking interpretation of his tenure. On June 15, 2007 the presiding justice of the apex court panel, Justice Aloysius Katsina Alu, after listening to arguments on the constitutional issue concerning the interpretation of section 180 (2) (a) (b) of the 1999 constitution. The presiding Judge ruled that the plaintiff/appellant (Peter Obi) was sworn into office on 17th March 2006. If it is so, his term of office will expire on March 17, 2010.
It was this very judgment that launched APGA into political relevance. Despite being a young party, APGA was able to prove to the political class and money bags that it was determined to pursue a new brand of politics that is anchored on equity, fairness and justice.
Since then, the judiciary has proven to be a reliable ally to all men that seek fairness, justice and equity, in truth and spirit. This has given Chief Edozie Njoku the relentless confidence to fight on since 2019. Implicitly, there seem to be a point of convergence between the judiciary’s responsibility in the discharge of its duty and APGA’s ideological standpoint. This marriage of convenience between the judiciary and APGA has strengthened the peoples’ resolve in the judiciary, and as well unraveled the fecundity in the impartiality of the judiciary. The impact, influence and inputs of the judiciary in the political evolution in Nigeria, especially, since the Fourth Republic cannot be overemphasized.
Undoubtedly, APGA has been through a barrage and vortex of leadership tussles, such as; Chekwas Okorie vs Victor Umeh, Victor Umeh vs Maxi Okwu, Ozonkpu Victor Oye vs Nwabueze Okafor/Martin Agbaso. Each of this battle has left the party with either indelible or negligible scars. Unfortunately, the battalions of ignorant minds around Oye that see him as the spring of life, have little or no time to evaluate, review or assess the impact of leadership tussle on the party. Visibly, the major impact this has had on the party is that it has made extremely difficult for the party to rise to occasion and assume its rightful place, by spreading to the neighboring Southeastern States.
Regrettably, APGA has continued to shrink. However, Oye and his men care less about the party’s ideological, philosophical and organizational goals. They have little or no concern that the party is adrift, as long as it serves as a platform for the perpetuation of their con artistry.
While Oye and his minions have continued to bask in the euphoria of their presumed triumph over the previous party men that have challenged his seat, it is pertinent to remind Oye that the vocation of the tiger is the theater of its death. Ozonkpu Oye is a titled man at Amawbia where he hails from. We do not interpret proverbs for titled men.
Anyone with a good sense of history, will verily allude to the fact Edozie Njoku versus Ozonkpu Victor Oye has remained the longest leadership tussle since the Fourth Republic. While we do not make boasts, there are indications that the Edozie Njoku vs Oye leadership tussle has the propensity to be the political funeral of some political actors.
The tragedy of APGA is that successive leadership have failed to groom or tutor later entrants in to the party on the historical and legal prolegomena that saw the party seize Agu Awka under Peter Obi. A party that came to power through this means should have been bastion of hope, justice, fairness, equity and justice. It is mind boggling that APGA under Oye is a criminal enterprise; yet those who should have stood up to redeem the party, by calling a spade a spade have being recruited for shameless and ignoble roles for pittance. Painfully, where purpose is not known abuse becomes inevitable. Ideally, APGA should be shining panoply for the oppressed and victimized. But, to borrow the words of Leon Trotsky, where tradition is lacking, a striking example elsewhere becomes relevant and admissible.
Unarguably, no matter what happens at the end of the day at the Supreme Court, it has the aptitude to alter the political dynamics, calibration and configuration in the coming Anambra November 6, 2021 election. It is imperative to note that contrary to infantile permutations about the tenacity of Chief Edozie Njoku he has proven his mettle and sustained one of the most audacious and unwavering political cum legal battles in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic.
Given his passion and commitment to restore the dignity of APGA, we shall march on like patriots to redefine leadership and governance in Nigeria. It is this ability to show leadership at a time when men have taken refuge in platitudes and prosaicisms that defines a man.
If Edozie has proven anything it is surely na agbanwe dike izu, agbaghariya.
Okoro Chinedum Benedict is the National Administrative Secretary of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).