We Came In To Save APGA, Says Okwu

| February 23, 2013 | 0 Comments

Former National Chairman of the Citizen Popular Party (CPP) and one-time national Deputy chairman (South) of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), now interim national chairman of the party, spoke on his emergence and its legality and what happened in the past, with a strong conviction that the party would rise again.

MANY of us were surprised with your choice as the Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), following the removal of Chief Victor Umeh from office by the Enugu State High Court, even when you have your own party?

I didn’t found any party; the last party, which I was the National Chairman, was Citizen Popular Party (CPP), which was initially registered as Green Party in 2002 by Chief Olisa Agbakoba (SAN).

When he stepped down in 2005, I took over the party and change its name to CPP and organised its first national convention.

I thought then that it was going to be a very short tenure, because I believe I was on sabbatical, waiting for APGA crisis to blow over. But it didn’t; it lingered. Somehow, by dint of fortune, I am back to the party- APGA.

There was reconciliation among myself, Anambra State Governor Peter Obi and Chief Victor Umeh in Los Angeles, United States (US) at World Igbo Congress. It was packaged by JSP Nwokolo and since then, I have been helpful to APGA.

It could be recall that in September 2009, just as Chief Chekwas Okorie was busy expelling Obi and Umeh from the party in Abuja, we were at Awka adopting Obi as consensus candidate for Anambra 2010 governorship election.

At the reconciliation meeting, a number of agreements were reached, and I challenged Umeh to deny it.

Well, I am back and my mission is reconciliation and re-integration of all our estranged and aggrieved members into the party.

So, you have left the CPP?

No, we are cooperating. On Wednesday at Protea Hotel in Lagos, eight political parties adopted my leadership of APGA and promised to work with me to reposition the opposition parties.

Did the judgment of the Enugu State High Court that removed Umeh as the party’s national chairman recognise or empower you to emerge as the interim national chairman of the party?

That judgment made APGA a party without any leadership, officially. That is why we have come in, by way of transition and doctrine of necessity, because the party cannot be rudderless.

Don’t quote for me any constitution, because I am a lawyer of 36 years experience, so I know the party constitution front and back, because I packaged it.

The party cannot be kept hanging; it has to move forward. Umeh’s removal cannot kill the party.

Of the four ex-officio of the party, which include Obi and his Deputy, and Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha and hid Deputy, it is only Obi and his Deputy that are remaining, since Okorocha has joined APC.

So, Obi has the power to summon a meeting and appoint new leadership, on interim basis, to steer the party and conduct fresh national convention to elect new officers.

Is it what the constitution of the party says?

It is not expressly stated in the party’s constitution, but as a lawyer, I know that if the party is decapitated and there is no provision on what to do in such situation in the party constitution, won’t we use doctrine of necessity to save the party?

It happened in the country and the National Assembly used it to save the country from anarchy.

It is a legal concept used to remedy situations when there are no other legal options.

Are you saying your emergence as interim national chairman is legal?

The Doctrine of Necessity is known by all Nigerians and beyond. There is emergence situation in APGA now that needs to be addressed and that is what we are doing now.

What do we do, just surrender? No, it is not possible.

Do you think APGA will rise again, with all these crises?

APGA will rise again, stronger and better.

What do you think is the electoral value of APGA today?

APGA has so much potential out there, which has not been properly harnessed.

I was there in 2002 and know how popular the party was and the followership it commanded, especially in Southeast zone.

I was the late Dim Odumegwu Chekwuemeka Ojukwu’s campaign manager in the 2003 presidential election, so I know everything that happened in the party. The intra-party squabble affected the party so much, because it lingered for so long.

I intend to take the party’s stakeholders along to go and apologise to Okorie for the wrongdoing.

Having said so, we shall harvest and harness the goodwill.

The same APGA has been in government in Anambra State for years now but has not been in total control of the government, in terms of electoral value?

APGA is in control of the state House of Assembly, because they are in the majority. There are members of APGA in the National Assembly.

Obi allows things to prevail, according people’s choice and will. But in other states, the governors would be desperate to have their way by all means. So, there is great difference between Obi and others, in terms of approach to politics.

What were the major issues that determined your choice to head the interim leadership?

The issues are many and consequential. In the press release by Umeh and others announcing the expulsion of Okorie, my name was not there.

I said no, that due process was not followed in the expulsion and I challenged Umeh to dispute it. Because I refused to betray Okorie, Umeh went and added my name a month later.

I rejoined the party late last year and I am a duly registered member of the party. Before then, I had given up my chairmanship of CPP and I wrote a letter to the Independent national Electoral Commission (INEC) to the effect.

I was never part of the crises in APGA. I have always canvassed for due process, which did not go down with Umeh and his allies.

I told them that as Deputy National Chairman (South) of the party, I was supposed to take over from Okorie.

Was your rejoining APGA in anticipation of this development?

Yes, I was met by the key party stakeholders who appealed to me to return to the party for rebuilding and restructuring of the party, and I accepted the request and returned.

But were you aware that you would be chosen as interim national chairman upon return?

It does seem that the plan was already in the pipeline, but I was not aware until I was called upon to take the responsibility.

But the same Obi, who seemingly aligned with Umeh over the years, reached out to you. Was it something you accepted easily?

I have been cooperating with APGA over the years and there had been some forms of understanding.

So, it was not difficult for me to accept. When the struggle for the restructuring of the party started in Ojukwu’s house in Enugu, Umeh offered me a seat in the Board of Trustees (BoT), but I told him that I was not yet ready to retire from politics, because I have plans to contest election in my state (Enugu) in 2015.

At that time, he did not raise the issue that I was expelled. The level of attention and contact I am getting now is a good sign of good things to come.

With so much backstabbing in APGA, don’t you fear a repeat of the past?

If I push my three Rs, which means Re-integration, Re-approach and Reconciliation diligently, it will reduce drastically.

It is healthy for party politics, but it is all about control of the party structure and being open-minded and sincere in your approach to issues that affect members of the party.

I am not going to bear grudges against anybody; I will continue to reach out to Umeh, even if he avoids me. He is my brother and I have no personal grudges against him and will not have any.

Are you not afraid of being used and dumped?

I am not looking for anything and I know where I am going. Nobody will use me and dump me, because I am not a hungry man.

I want to contest election in Enugu State in 2015, not for mere contesting, but to win. I want to be in contention.

At what point do you part ways with Okorie?

The issue of Obi’s mandate and some discussion with the governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige, which I was not in support and part of. I told him that I was leaving the party for good.

The non-conduct of council election is a sticking point in Anambra politics that could count against APGA in any election. How are you going to tackle this?

I met one of the electoral commissioners recently, who assured that by June this year, there would be council elections.

I hope there will be council elections in the state this year.

APGA was doing well at time, how are you going to bring back the good old days and make it viable once more?

I will reconcile, re-integrate and re-approach. We are going on massive rally and we will do everything possible to bring back our original and foundation members, even if it means kneeling down for them.

What is your position on APGA being part of the All Progressive Congress (APC)?

APGA is not in APC; even Umeh has made it clear. Powerful individuals in the party can go anywhere they like, but it is wrong, in terms of party discipline, and at the appropriate time, punishment will be meted out to erring members.

INEC has said officially that they did not recognise Umeh, whereas he is going about claiming to still be APGA’s national chairman.

Do you believe that Obi is a PDP man in APGA, as being insinuated?

It is labeling. Obi has not changed political party since he won election on APGA platform in 2003. He is the face of APGA and has consistently promoted and supported the party.

Right now, as an interim chairman, he is behind me. APGA is now viable, as others people from all the political parties have been trooping to APGA.

Culled from :Here

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