Buccaneers Have Hijacked APGA’s Structure – Okoroji | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Buccaneers Have Hijacked APGA’s Structure – Okoroji

Posted: Nov 12, 2016 at 7:09 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)



Barr Bob Okoroji is a chieftain of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and former governorship candidate in Lagos State in the 2015 general election. In this interview with AUGUSTINE ADAH, he spoke on the crisis in APGA and other issues. Excerpts:


 APGA has been enmeshed in several crises since its formation in 2003, what exactly is wrong with the party?


APGA right from its inception has clear objectives by its founder which included a vision that is meant to preserve Nigeria’s unity and to render selfless services. But more importantly, it is to liberate Nigerians from the shackles of poverty, disease, discrimination and exploitation which has constitute a stumbling block to the country’s economic and political development for a long time. Having said that, the major setback APGA has experienced since its formation is what I call the buccaneers. A lot of buccaneers hijacked APGA just few years before its formation and converted the party from its original plan as the party that would bring Nigerians together and pursue the interest of the oppressive people of Nigeria, especially the people of South-East. Though APGA is a national party but don’t forget it has its origin in the South-East. The southeasterners have suffered all kinds of discriminations in the country.  So, this group of buccaneers hijacked the party and derailed the party from its original programme and visions and converted it to a trading post and money making machine. From mid 2000 till the present, National Executives of the party came into being around June 2015, APGA has been for merchandising. We have never presented a presidential candidate after Ojukwu in 2003. Under President Jonathan, they traded APGA to PDP, and the leadership made money not for APGA but for themselves. In 2015, they did the same thing by adopting Jonathan without negotiating interest. Somebody would ask, what does APGA gained by adopting Jonathan, nothing other than bloated pockets of leaders at the national level. They suddenly became billionaires and traded the party off without discussing with the stakeholders in the party.


Is it the same problem with the Lagos chapter of the party?


It is the same attitude that reflects down here in Lagos in 2015. The state leadership here traded our interest to APC and collected millions of naira at airport hotel here. That was why the stakeholders in Lagos have ensured that the erstwhile state chairman and all the buccaneers here in Lagos were removed from the party. They were suspended and later expelled from the party because of their anti-party activities and for corruption. As we speak, the new leadership has clear vision to resuscitate the original vision of APGA to give Nigeria and Nigerians a good governance at all levels of government. The new national chairman and his team are determined to pursue this goal religiously.


How do you describe the suspension of the national chairman, Victor Oye?


Only recently, agents of these same buccaneers who have been trading with the party over the years sought to unlawfully remove the national chairman but they failed woefully. One Nwabueze Okafor was said to be behind the act, but they are minority in the party. They gave an impression that what they did was the popular view of the people but who did they consult? How can they say they want to effect a change in the leadership of the party without consulting people like us? On what basis are they removing the chairman I don’t know because he was not involved in any unconstitutional activity or any misconduct? Is it how they usurp power in a decent environment? I can tell that these people you see, Okafor and his co-travelers are foot soldiers. They are actually acting the script of people whose signature you cannot see now but actually they are the buccaneers who led the party over the years and ruined it and became billionaires. But I can tell you that they would not succeed. As it is today, Nwabueze and his group has been suspended from the party and investigations are going on and they went to court over the matter but my question is would they succeed?  I believe they would not succeed because they want to take us back to Egypt. The entire APGA is behind the national chairman of the party, Victor Oye. He is a visionary leader with a large heart. The party chairmen across the states, the stakeholders and the financiers of the party across the states are behind him. There is no crisis in APGA as portrayed in the media, some people misbehaved and they have to be disciplined. You don’t remove the national chairman on the pages of newspapers because there are procedures.


What are the procedures?


The constitution of APGA as amended is clear on the procedure to follow in the removal of national chairman.  Article 20 of the constitution (section 3 a, b) state that national chairman of the party may be removed from office on the grounds of misconduct. Section 3b in particular states that the national chairman may be removed from office after the vote of no confidence has been passed on him by majority 2/3 of the national convention, convene purposely for that. Has any national convention of the party being convened by anybody since 2015? The answer is no. Any other officers may be removed by simple majority that is what the constitution said.  These people causing confusion in the party are few probably five or six persons as against 22 or 23 people. Let it be stated clearly before all Nigerians in black and white that APGA as presently constituted is not in crisis. Certainly in any organisation, there are miscreants because of their personal interests. Because they don’t have the opportunity they had in the past to use the party for money making, they have sworn to scatter the party. A certain business man in Anambra is lurking in the shadow working to ensure that Willie Obiano did not get the ticket of the party to return for second term and if he gets the ticket he would not return as governor.  He is using these individuals so that they can remove Dr. Oye and by the time he install his own people, they would be able to give him the ticket to contest for the Anambra governorship election under APGA. You did not get acceptance for governorship position by sponsoring football team.


How do you assess Obiano’s performance in Anambra State in the past three years?


Obiano has performed wonderfully in Anambra State. Anambra is ahead of other states in South-East. If there is any state you can compare with Anambra in terms of development, it is only Lagos State. We as party members are satisfied with the performance of Governor Willie Obiano as governor of Anambra State. We are satisfied with him.


Do you think he will win the 2017 election?


He is going to win. His policies, programme and achievements would speak for him. In spite of the wicked machinations of the detractors, he would win. I am not from Anambra but we all are feeling the impact of the good administration of Obiano in Anambra State. Is it in the area of security? Is it in the area of agriculture? We can see the impact all over the place. Rice is being produce in Anambra in large quantity and as I speak with you, effort is being made to start exporting. Within a short time, Anambra produced pumpkin and bitter leaf which was exported and the state made about $5m.


But some described the story of making $5m from pumpkin and bitter leaf as untrue, only intended to deceive people. What is your view on that?


It is true; the statistics is there for everybody to see. It is on Television and you don’t need to travel to Anambra State because we are living in an information age. You can assess everything on the internet. Can anybody deny the fact that Anambra has become the safest place to live today? Kidnapping is no more happening; several arms were being discovered in the market places. Obiano has restored security apparatus in Anambra and people are no longer leaving in fear of being kidnapped or robbed. Once the issue of security is restored in an environment, every other thing would take place. People are moving freely and night live has returned to Anambra. The achievement is unprecedented. APGA is not only going to win election in Anambra State, the party would take back Imo State in the next elections.

 What is your programme for Lagos?


APGA is going to win election in Lagos that would shock the world, because in governing Lagos State, you must recognise population configurations. It would no longer be an apartheid government that would make taxes from the people without giving them a voice. The taxpayers that give Lagos N30b every month must have a voice. They must be governor, commissioners and head of agencies and parastatals. Time has come for Lagos to produce non Yoruba as governor. It is time because it is a cosmopolitan state that has been built by all Nigerians. Governor Ambode would not have a free ride in 2019 that is if he chooses to contest for second term. The Mafia that has ruled Lagos for the past 17 years has its headquarters in Bourdilion but their time is up because APGA is going to mobilise the people of Lagos and give them alternative. It is not going to be a monopoly of one party. Our policy of inclusiveness, our policy of reduction in heavy taxation would give us a selling point. We have what it takes to get there and we are getting there, let no man deceive you.  We intend to run a lean government if we get to power. There is over employment by the state government in the state civil service. If you look at the structure of Lagos which I have explained to you before it is like the Capo regime in Italy.

At the head you see Capo di tutt’i capi otherwise known as boss of bosses who resides in Bourdilion.  Below him is the underboss, that is the governor in Alausa and below the governor, we have the capo regimes who are departmental heads, commissioners and head of parastatals. Then you have the advisers, who are traditional rulers. They are on the pay roll of the government all the time. Below them you have the associates, who are consultants who reeled out ideas and then we have the foot soldiers. The foot soldiers are not good people; they are the blackmailers, killers and kidnappers.

The Lagos State governorship election in 2019 would be between a viper and a cobra. I believe God is hearing the cry of the oppressive people of Lagos State who generate between N30b in a month and few families in Alausa who did not work sit down and award themselves contracts and share billions. It is not right, it is not fair and that brought us to the question of citizenship. There is nothing like non –indigene. As an indigene of Nigeria, you are indigene of anywhere in the country. That is why you are free to live anywhere you like and work anywhere you feel like working in the country.  If you pay your tax where you live, get counted where you live and when election time comes, vote and be voted for where you live that is what is supposed to be. It is on the basis of head count that allocations are given to Lagos. If I live in Lagos, pay my tax, get counted and when it is time for election and I want to be voted for, nobody should ask where I come from but challenge me on the basis of policies and programme. The APGA government in Lagos would not be a tax driven one as it is done presently in the state. If you talk about wealth creation in Lagos you don’t find it, the only thing you see is a tax regime.


 How do you think the election of Donald Trump as president of US would affect Nigeria?


The victory would have a far global effect including Africa and Nigeria. I must be frank with you, I rooted for Trump I was his supporters in Nigeria, and he belong to our club. The club of nothing is impossible.  I like his proposed policy to rebuild American economy, I don’t have problem with that. I like his policies with respect to immigrations; you  don’t get to another man’s country illegally and expect to be given a red carpet. I like his policies towards fighting religious fundamentalism. I want to tell you that the impact of Trump’s administration on Nigeria would be far reaching. Most of them said Africa would be the new hunting ground, it does not worry me that they have plans to re-colonise Africa in a subtle way. What bothers me is the level of our preparedness to respond because whether we like it or not, we cannot stop them from doing what they want to do but we can respond to the challenges. So this is the time for Nigerians who are wasting away in the US without anything to do just because of foreign exchange to come back home with their ingenuity and rebuild the country. Trump I believe is not going to tolerate fundamentalism including here in Nigeria where some people in the name of religion maim and kill people without appropriate punishment from the government. We are waiting to see the programme he would reel out towards Africa that would stems the tide of religious fundamentalism. He is going to tackle ISIS and all the problems created by Democratic Party in the last eight years.