Oyi/Ayamelum 2023: APGA House of Reps Primary, Wiper Or Maureen?
In the next 60days or thereabouts, no fewer than 200 delegates of the All Progressives Grand Alliance [APGA} will gather at Oyi LGA Secretariat in Nteje, Anambra State, to pick the party’s flag bearer for the 2023 National Assembly election.
The delegates, both elected and statutory, drawn from the 26 Wards in Oyi and Ayamelum Local Government areas respectively, will choose from the two major aspirants, Sir Uchenna Okafor (Wiper) and Lady Maureen Gwacham, who are asking to be elected as the party’s candidate for an election that bookmakers believe might be the most competitive since 1999, when Nigeria transited from military dictatorship to representative democracy. Whoever of the two that is selected at the primaries, will slug it out with incumbent, Hon Ekene Ofumelu of PDP, and other candidates of different parties in the race.
Barely three weeks since the political stakeholders gathered at Umunya to declare that it is the turn of Oyi to produce the next House of Representatives member, based on the popular zoning arrangements, Lady Maureen Gwacham have traversed the Oyi/Ayamelum Constituency selling her programmes to party faithfuls ahead of the primary. So far, her campaigns have been decent, apparently in adherence to the party’s stern directive asking aspirants not to engage in mudslinging and character assassination.
Discreet attempts by some party leaders in the zone to pick Hon Uchenna Okafor as a consensus candidate among the aspirants were unsuccessful. The contenders preferred to go into contest, believing they could secure victory in a credible primary.
According to the news making rounds, the party’s candidate will emerge by secret ballot. Also, the aspirants will be made to sign an undertaking to abide by the outcome of the primary. Part of the agreements will be that the losers in the primary election will not only strongly back the winner that emerges, but will also not defect from the party.
How The Aspirants Stand
*Hon Uchenna Okafor Wiper:*
A native of Awkuzu in Oyi LGA, Anambra State. The former Commissioner for Trade and Commerce, and one of Oyi’s smoothest political operators, is not new to Oyi/Ayamelum political contests. He was Oyi LGA Chairman, and later Senior Special Assistant on IGR to ex-governor Willie Obiano. Presently, he seats as a member of Board of Trustees of the APGA.
He had much earlier, in 2019, shown interest in running for the House of Reps on the platform of the APGA, but was discouraged by the proponents of zoning. He later worked against the party’s choice candidate to ensure the zoning arrangements and agreements were upheld.
Okafor, prides himself as one of the most experienced in the race going by his credentials as former LGA Boss, and Commissioner for four years.
With a largely successful political career spanning over a decade, Wiper, as he is popularly called, has clearly built bridges and political structures which he hopes to deploy to outwit the strong woman of the moment, Lady Maureen.
Although bold and courageous, a major drawback could be his persistence power mongering misdemeanours. Some members of the party also see him as someone who is desperate to occupy the House of Representatives seat. To these party members, Wiper could be extremely independent-minded and would not be easily controlled by the party hierarchy, if he becomes the Rep Member.
Perception is important in politics. In Oyi LGA, Wiper is believed to have enjoyed enough political patronage, hence, the growing agitation for a fresh face, one without political baggages.
*Lady Maureen Gwacham:*
A highly successful business woman, well educated, and philanthropist of great repute. Lady Maureen Gwacham hails from Ogbunike, Oyi LGA, Anambra State.
While formally declaring her fresh House of Reps bid to run on April 3, Lady Maureen said one of the reasons she never gave up on Oyi/Ayamelum was because the constituents had never succumbed to despair and hopelessness amidst difficulties and growing anxiety.
“This never-say-die attitude gives me immense hope and it is one of the reasons I can never give up on Oyi/Ayamelum,” she said.
Among the aspirants, Lady Maureen appears to be the best prepared for the job. Recently she organised policy retreat with Women Organisation aimed at fashioning a blueprint on how she would run the developmental affairs of the constituency if elected Member of the House of Representatives.
Regardless of how she joined the race, Lady Maureen is optimistic she could fix Oyi/Ayamelum Constituency. She told a crowd of cheering supporters when she formally declared her plan to contest that she would attract developmental projects to the area.
The delegates might also be influenced by Lady Maureen’s acclaimed incorruptible disposition. For some party members, she might be the best option. She also appears to be enjoying huge support from some party chieftains, who could influence delegates to her side.
What may count in her favour at the primary is the belief by some party members that the House of Reps ticket should go to a woman. It would be recalled that no woman has been given the opportunity to represent the constituency since inception. The women are strongly pushing the narrative, this time, it’s their turn.
In conclusion, APGA’s House of Reps primary election appears more of a two-horse race between Wiper and Maureen, but the latter can carry the day.