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The Nigerian Election Debate Group, NEDG and Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON, would never come up with any convincing reason for deliberately excluding the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, which is evidently the third most powerful political party in the country from the presidential and vice presidential candidates debates organised by them ahead of the February 16, 2019 presidential election.

 While it may appear that the candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP are in the forefront of the contest apparently because they are paradoxically in control of more governments either at the federal or state levels, the All Progressives Grand Alliance is undoubtedly in charge of the government and politics of Anambra state, the political and socioeconomic nerve centre of the Southeast geopolitical zone of Nigeria. 

APGA is also controlling some National and State Assembly seats in Anambra, Abia, Imo, Bayelsa and Taraba states. The party equally holds the levers of power in the Gwagwalada Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.

On the contrary, the Young Progressives Party, YPP, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN and Alliance for New Nigeria, ANN, which are selected by NEDG-BON along with the APC and PDP to participate in the debate, are comparatively inferior to APGA. Apart from having ineffective offices in some parts of the country and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the YPP, ACPN and ANN do not have any significant foothold in any part of Nigeria. None of these new parties have local government councillors and chairmen, members of State Houses of Assembly, Governors, House of Representative members, Senators and office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

While nobody is saying that these new parties are not qualified to participate in the debate, there is no cogent reason why APGA with the aforementioned pedigree should be excluded. This once again brings to the front burner the issue of marginalization of the real progressives in the affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Although APGA is not a regional political party, the plain truth remains that it is largely founded and dominated by the Igbo intelligentsia. The party's track record of good governance and impressive delivery of democracy dividends in Anambra, since 2006 has endeared it to most people in the state nay the Southeast geopolitical zone of the country. 

Another reason APGA is erroneously regarded as an Igbo political party is because the only time it fielded presidential candidate, apart from the forthcoming general polls, were in 2003 and 2007 general elections, when the inimitable supreme leader of the party, late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was its standard bearer.

Today, the All Progressives Grand Alliance has been re-branded. Since the party picked General John W.T Gbor as its candidate for the February 16, 2019 presidential election, the leadership of APGA has consciously and deliberately removed the toga of regionalism foisted on it by political opponents. The party is today not like the defunct Alliance for Democracy, AD and All Peoples Party, APP which were clearly dominated by the Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani respectively.

Presently, APGA has been repackaged and rebranded in line with the ideals and philosophy of the National Council of Nigerian Citizens, NCNC of the First Republic and Nigerian Peoples Party, NPP of the Second Republic, both led by the country's foremost nationalist and first President, late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. While APGA has adopted the Cock symbol of the NCNC, the party like the NPP, has by choosing General John Gbor as its presidential candidate in the 2019 general polls demonstrated its strong inclination to the unity and progress of Nigeria. 

In the Second Republic, NPP under the leadership of "Zik of Africa" held sway in the entire Southeast region. It also governed the old Plateau state made up of the present Plateau and Nasarawa states. The party was equally very influential and formidable in Benue state. With the seeming intractable menace of herdsmen in some parts of the country, investigations have revealed that most people in North Central Nigeria, especially in Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Nasarawa state are absolutely uncomfortable with the APC and PDP whose governments at the state and federal levels have woefully failed to address the issue.

APGA is therefore regarded as a trustworthy third force with the ideological bent to fundamentally solve the overall political and socio-economic problems of the country. This is because the party is apparently the only ideology based political party in Nigeria today. APGA’s position on the urgent need to Restructuring the Nigerian Federation is comprehensive, unambiguous, fundamental and non-superficial. Its restructuring agenda would guarantee peace, unity and stability of the country inspite of her numerous ethnic nationalities.

Therefore, the biased and unwise decision of the Nigerian Election Debate Group, NEDG and Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON to exclude APGA from the nation-wide debates by Presidential standard bearers and their running mates is unjust and should be outrightly condemned by all men and women who believe in the principles of justice, equity, fairness and good conscience. This is in view of the fact that APGA is clearly the most viable alternative to the PDP and APC (two sides of the same coin), which have held sway in Nigeria in the past nineteen years of socio-economic backwardness of the country.

Courtesy: Vision Gbor/Chukwueke 2019 Team.

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