Emeka Ojukwu, son of late Chukwuemeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu, says he was driven to join the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, by his belief that his home South-east region must belong in national governance and the political decision-making process of Nigeria.
Mr. Ojukwu said this when he was formally received into the APC by the party’s leadership, led by its National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun.
With Mr. Odigie-Oyegun at the event at the APC national secretariat were the Deputy National Chairman (South) Segun Oni, National Vice Chairman (South-East), Emma Eneukwu, National Auditor George Moghalu, and Chief of Staff to the chairman, Edwin Ikhinmwin.
Mr. Ojukwu earlier declared for the APC from the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, in Awka at a rally ahead of the November 18 Anambra governorship election.
“I decided to lead by example. I have been talking about this for a while and I decided it was time to take the step forward,” he said on Wednesday.
“It is a challenge, there are some people that will not be happy about that. But you have to be bold, take a step and let people understand where you are coming from and why you are doing what you are doing,” he said.
“APC has been seen in our part of the country as the ‘other’ and I believe we are now showing that the APC is a party that can contend equally with any other party in the South East and do just as well.
“We now know that Igbo people are part of the APC, the APC are part of Igbo and Igbo are valued part of the Nigerian nation.”
“We hit around the 25 per cent mark in terms of votes in the Anambra election, which is not bad given where we are coming from. I think in the future, we are going to do a lot better.”
“Let me say this about my father: we shouldn’t take our history and our past to be shackles that hold us in one place. Rather they should be stepping stones and building blocks to get us moving towards the future.
“When my father came back from exile, he had the option to join an ethnic-based party but he chose to move to the centre and there was a reason for that.
“You need to be at the table where decisions are being made. If you are not there, you will always get the short end of the stick, you will be marginalised. That is the message I want to help to propagate.
“This is a much bigger party than the one I came from, so I put myself at your service to help us achieve our dreams. For me, anyway that I can help to push this message forward, I am ready,” he told the party leaders.
Formally receiving Mr. Ojukwu into the party, Mr. Odigie-Oyegun said his entry would be a major asset in the APC’s ongoing drive to mainstream the South-east in national governance and political decision-making process in the APC.
“I thank you for choosing the APC, a family that is practical in its political orientation. It is significant that you chose the platform of the final rally at Akwa to make your very significant statement,” Mr. Odigie-Oyegun said.
“I noted particularly the interpretation of your illustrious father’s interpretation of joining the NPN and the significance of being part of the party’s decision-making process, such that for anybody who seeks to represent a large group, nationality of that nature, it is critical that he seeks to be where decisions that may affect his people are made.
“I hope the lesson went home, it is a lesson we will continue to propagate, particularly in the South-east because we hold the region very dear.
“I have no doubt that your appearance there (Akwa) also contributed significantly to the progress we have made in Anambra State and we are looking forward to being able to propagate that to the other South-east states as we start approaching the next set of elections.”
The APC chairman said despite losing the recent Anambra governorship election, the party’s performance showed that progress was being made in terms of the party’s appeal and inroads in the region.
“I consider that we have made a lot of gains, in spite of not winning Anambra State. But it is clear if people interpret properly that the APC, given the base from which we were starting, given the kind of intense propaganda that goes out there that the South-east is against the APC – whether it is religion, ethnic or even historical – we have made some progress.
“But we are not resting on that. We are immediately setting up a team to study the elections, to look at whatever significant issues it has thrown up, to find ways in which we can improve our performance as we spread into the rest of the South-east, basically to tell us what we did not do right in Anambra State which we need to correct as the electoral processes begin in the rest of the South-east.
“We hope it will throw up valuable lessons that will help us perform much better in subsequent elections in the South-east.
“I truly welcome you, there is no question at all that your name is an asset, what you stand for is an asset and we hope that in the next few months you will be much more closely integrated within the party structure at national level and of course in the South-east.
“For people to join us at this time is a clear indication that they understand what is going on and are ready to put their names, reputation, energies, and resources behind our effort to rebuild the country and be part of this process of change.
“This is a struggle that we must win. The nation cannot afford to lose, because greatness beckons and unless we get our act right, we are not going to get there,” Mr. Odigie-Oyegun said.