By Martin Opara
The United Progressive Party, seen by many as the real identity and political platform of the Igbos and people of the South East, at home and in the diaspora, seems to have become a mass movement, gaining more relevance and visibility in Nigeria’s political equation.
The thousands of people of various backgrounds that have recently defected from other political parties to declare for the UPP allude to this fact. The state executives of the Imo state Traders Association and the Executives of the Imo State Association of Allied Artisans stormed the state secretariat of the party along Okigwe road, Owerri, on Tuesday 23rd January 2018 with their LGA, ward executives and coordinators, to collectively declare for the UPP.
In his speech, the leaders of the group and the state Chairman of Imo State Traders’ Association, Comrade David Okoko, said the present APC government in the state is not only a big disappointment, but a colossal failure, that has, inspite of their effort and contributions towards it’s emergence, rewarded them with wickedness, poverty, sorrow and anguish, occasioned by it’s anti people programmes and policies, the climax of which is the demolition of the various markets in the state, alongside buildings, housing, shops and business places of their members, friends, relations and associates.
Continuing, Comrade Okoko said they have x-rayed all the political parties jostling for attention and observed that they are all old wine in new containers. “PDP, APC, APGA and the rest of them comprise the same people migrating from one place to another, in search of relevance and vantage positions to continue deceiving and defrauding the people. UPP is the only political party without dent because it comprises credible people of impeccable track record, and genuine passion for the welfare of the people. Those that constitute the leadership of the party are people who have reasonable and verifiable means of livelihood and not professional politicians who see politics as a means of sustenance and survival at expense of the people”.
Chief Anayo Igbo Ejesi, president emeritus of Imo state Motor Spare Parts Traders Association, who was also there with his members, said they decided to declare enmasse for the UPP because of the transparency, reputation and pedigree of it’s leadership and what they have stood for, over time as against the insensitive and uncaring political merchants who are always willing to sacrifice the interest of the people on the altar of pecuniary benefits and stomach infrastructure.
The traders and artisans, numbering over one thousand, who instantly registered and obtained UPP membership cards, said, “let it be on record today that we have declared to identify and key into the vision of the UPP. We will do for the party what we did for Okorocha when he contested in APGA in 2011 and APC in 2012. We know that UPP government will definitely have a human face, wipe our tears and restore our lost hope”.
The Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Ejike Uche (Dimkpasaa) in his speech, recalled how he was instrumental to Okorocha’s emergence as governor, and resigned as commissioner for Housing and Urban Development after barely ten months. “I could not continue to be part of an insensitive government that was not amenable to advice and operated outside the terms and dictates of the party’s manifesto. “We warned him against most of the anti people programmes and policies of his government. When he refused to listen, I resigned”.
He said UPP will present a credible candidate who will be guided by the party’s manifesto that aside from providing industries will also ensure integrated development on all facts and a functional economy. He assured the new entrants to be rest assured that their dreams of joining UPP will be actualized, and urged them to embark on mass sensitization at the grassroots to educate the people on the good news of the UPP, which include but not limiited to devolution of powers, restructuring, referendum, fiscal federalism, and other demands of the oppressed and marginalized minorities that are the main causes of ethnic protests and agitations.
The National legal adviser, Prof. F.C Dike said UPP represents a new order that is poised to liberate Nigerians from bad governance, stressing that the party is on a divine mission to cleanse the stable and ensure that justice, equity, fairness, rule of law, transparency, and due process prevail in the affairs of the state and nation in the overall interest of the people.
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Chief Ama Iwueze thanked the new entrants for identifying with the party and urged them to be resolute. He regretted that the Igbos unlike the Yorubas, don’t understand political permutations. “Rochas emerged through APGA and later abandoned the party instead of building it. Peter Obi emerged through APGA and after being governor for eight years, also abandoned the party instead of building it. How then can the Igbos have a political bargaining platform? UPP is out to break the jinx and give Igbos a voice and a lasting platform”. Please work with us to reach the promised land and you will not regret it”.
A seasoned politician and member of the Board of Trustees of the party, Chief Emma Ozuzu, urged the new entrants and other members of the party not to be tired or give up because “we will do everything possible to continue repackaging and repositioning the party to be more focused and result-oriented in view of the challenges ahead. We will always be in tune with the dictates and trends of the moment to achieve desired objective”.
The governorship aspirant of the party Prince (Amb) Eleazar Ogbonna consoled the traders and artisans who were almost weeping and regretting their efforts in enthroning governor Okorocha. He assured them that a Daniel has come to heal their wounds, wipe their tears and restore their hope. “I am a youth like you and I understand your needs, goals and aspirations. I assure you of a level playing ground and all injustices and excesses of the present government will definitely be addressed by a UPP government, come 2019 because we will govern with the fear of God and divine guidance”.