How Obi Tried To Hijack APGA From Umeh – Umenzekwe | Independent Newspapers Limited
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How Obi Tried To Hijack APGA From Umeh – Umenzekwe

Posted: May 18, 2015 at 12:29 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Campbell Umenzekwe is the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, leader, Lagos State. In this interview with IFEOMA ONONYE, he speaks on current issues in his party. Excerpts…

It has been alleged that the current crisis in All progressives Grand Alliance should be blamed on the chairman of the party, Victor Umeh, and former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi. Is this allegation true?

Campbell Umenzekwe

Campbell Umenzekwe

There is no iota of truth in that allegation. I read the interview of Chike Obidigbo and I repeat that there is no truth in what he is saying or dreaming about. Let me start with Victor Umeh. There will not be any party like APGA today if not for Victor Umeh. He has gone to court several times to defend this party. People have tested him severally to submerge this party with other political parties but he never agreed. The latest was when they were about to form All progressives Congress, APC. Bola Tinubu tried persuading Victor Umeh severally to join APGA to APC because he knows that with APGA, he can get Igbo race. APGA is the only Igbo political party that can negotiate national affair for the Igbo nation. It is only APGA that can defend Igbo interest at the national level.

Is there still crisis in APGA?

There is no crisis in APGA. The crisis that people say is in APGA is just in their imagination. When someone looks to achieve something and does not get what he or she wants, they create a scenario where it will seem like there is crisis. The crisis is over long ago. The faction of the party for which Obidigbo is claiming that is in court is the one that former governor, Peter Obi, arranged when he was trying to maneuver who will succeed him as governor. When Obi was about to finish his term, Obi created a scenario to hijack the party structure from Victor Umeh. Peter Obi created a faction of APGA and now employed Maxi Okwu as a workman.He brought Maxi Okwu from Citizens Popular party, CPP. As at December 2012, Maxi Okwu was the Chairman of Citizens Popular Party. Obi recruited him as a mercenary to help him fight Victor Umeh and they created a scenario where there is no confusion. They also instigated a man called Okoli from Enugu State who said that Umeh’s tenure had expired. Note that those who’re vilifying Chief Umeh-led APGA should instead be thankful to him because if he had danced to tempting pressure of APC leaders, like Bola Tinubu and Co., to surrender APGA’s Certificate of Registration to APC Merger, that’s the end of APGA and case closed. Note, Governor Okorocha’s faction of APGA in APC, is still today been treated as a non-full member in APC. They have an observer status. Even President-elect, General Buhari, said it recently. “DPP and APGA was not part of the Mega Party of APC, since they did not submit their Party Certificates. We’re handling their members in APC as an observatory status!” Chief Umeh is the only Igbo leader who stands by late Emeka Ojukwu’s Political Legacy: APGA. This despite the difficulties, otherwise if Umeh had demised APGA into APC Merger in 2013, today Umeh should’ve been the leader of APC in the South-East, but he resisted those favours and remained faithful to APGA.

 But critics say that at the time Victor Umeh was running for a senatorial seat he was supposed to have handed over the chairmanship to another person before running –

That was later. I am telling you how the Maxi Okwu issue started. Obi raised Maxi Okwu to fight Victor Umeh and Umeh went to the Appeal Court and subdued the case. He made peace with Peter Obi and that was how Obiano was picked from Peter Obi’s side as his successor. Umeh brought the deputy governor so that there will be peace and move forward. But Maxi Okwu started asking Peter Obi for what is not available, that Obi should sponsor him for Enugu State candidacy in 2014.

Don’t you think that that ploy of employing someone to fight another person is what caused the confusion? Because he employed Maxi Okwu and Okwu appointed his own candidate, and after Okwu was left in the lurch, it affected Obidigbo who obviously spent his money to get the party ticket and this is why he is still contesting the case in court. Many believe that this is the kind of politics that Nigerians play that is seen as dirty –  

This is why I am saying that Igbo people are not always sincere to themselves. They always see things in a different angle. This does not happen in Yoruba land or northern area. If someone employed you for a job and the same man calls you to say he has made peace and you start asking for what is not available, then what do you want the man to do. Maxi Okwu was asking for too much and he got nothing. Coming to Chike Obidigbo issue; his own, I will say he is out of chameleonic desperation. When the peace was made between Umeh and Obi, everybody was settled, including me. Our entitlement was paid because there was no payment when that problem crept in. I am also sure that there was offer for Maxi Okwu too but he started asking for too much. Obidigbo was with Peter Obi’s faction. He went to Victor Umeh’s leadership part of the party to buy the nomination form. There were about 13 of them that bought forms from the party for the same governorship race. Anybody in that situation should know that it is a dicey game for 13 people to buy forms for just one position. And before you submit your form, there is a clause in the form that you will swear an oath that you will abide by the party decision. We foresee all these problems and that is why we tell the candidates to swear an oath that you will not give the party trouble. They set up a screening committee headed by Tayo Sowunmi, South-West National Vice Chairman. Six people were screened out. One of the screening conditions was that they will look at your financial status, because they don’t want to give the ticket to someone that will compromise the party or negotiate with opposition parties after wrecking APGA. Only those with solid standing were giving the ticket. So from what I know, Professor Soludo, Obidigbo and others were screened out for reasons best known to the screening panel. They also set up an appeal panel to looking into those that were screened out in case they were not satisfied with the screening.

But there was a rumour that he was made the party flag bearer at some point?

Who gave him the flag? He just went and started reviving the faction of APGA that was already dissolved. That is why I say a man that is approaching 70 years should be seen as a person benefitting from his prosperity because he has worked. 70 is no longer a productive year. Biblically, 70 years is a retirement age.

So, is this also applicable to the president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari?

I am not going into that. I am talking about Chike Obidigbo. We have told him to go and make peace with the party, may be they will compensate him. By now he should be recouping his investment if he had settled with the party. I will advice Obidigbo that we are going for convention now; he can come and become APGA National Chairman. I encourage him to come and buy APGA Chairmanship form instead of asking Supreme Court to make them APGA Chairman when the issue is an internal affair of the party that no judge can rule on.