We Are Reconciling Aggrieved Members In APGA – Umeh | Independent Newspapers Limited
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We Are Reconciling Aggrieved Members In APGA – Umeh

Posted: May 20, 2016 at 3:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chief Maja Umeh, former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in Governor Peter Obi’s  administration was appointed to reconcile the various factions of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) following misunderstanding that followed governorship and legislative primaries in the state. In this interview with CHUKWUJEKWU ILOZUE, he speaks on his assignment and successes recorded so far. Excerpts:

You were assigned to reconcile various aggrieved party men and women and factions of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). How far have you gone with that assignment?

Well, we were sworn in February to look into the cases of aggrieved APGA members who for one reason or the other are not happy with the party. We set about our work because most of these people became aggrieved as a result of party primaries or state congresses and issues relating to them in the past. So, APGA consistent with our mantra now set up this reconciliation committee to look into it because our mantra is ‘onye aghana nwanne ya’. That was also reinforced by the Supreme Court judgment which has put paid to Maxi Okwu faction of APGA in which His Excellency, the Governor said there is ‘no Victor, no Vanquished’ and that efforts should be made for everybody to come under one umbrella. So, we set about our work. The first stage was to make our consultations. We consulted with the first group; members of APGA in State House of Assembly. We also consulted with the local government chairman in the 21 local government areas. We held meetings with all these people; and then with 21 chairmen of APGA in the local governments. After all those consultations, we drew up a tour plan which was agreed to by all the people that were in those meetings. After that we called for memoranda from anybody who had information, petition, advice and so on to enable us succeed and we received quite a lot and we are still receiving because some said they didn’t hear and we said okay because we were not stringent on the time limit. At the end of the day,  we began with the first stage of the plan which is the local government tour. In this local government tour we visited the 21 local governments in the state. We met with the various groups; the present and former local government chairmen, the present and former chairmen, former councilors, women leaders, youth leaders, members of Maxi Okwu faction, all the aspirants who didn’t make it, all the immediate and present party and women and youth leaders and then the stakeholders in the various local governments. So, we dealt with a good segment of the APGA family. At the end of the day, we collected their responses and then again replied them. Those we could solve we solved them because 90% of the problem was somebody not hearing them out, or somebody not giving them the opportunity to air out their feeling. At the end of the day, we were able to tell them the way it is and that everybody should put the past behind him.  You know looking at me, I was also a victim of what went wrong in our primaries, so that in every election somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. So, those who lost should borrow a leaf from some us and close ranks so that the party should forge ahead. The idea is to have one united family; keep the party as one and then as long as the party stays alive if you don’t benefit from it today, you will benefit in future. Secondly, some of their grievances bothered on misinformation which we took the opportunity to inform them. Some of them, for example, didn’t know there was a broad policy that all the past chairmen should not participate in the new executive.

The Anambra Central Senatorial District election has been put on hold because of court cases and all that and there has not been any activities relating to election. What is your impression about what is going on?

Well, it is unfortunate that such a development is taking place in Anambra Central Senatorial Zone because right now, I am not sure they have a representative at the senate. It has also confused the aspirants and the candidates and even the political parties. Everywhere looks like it is in disarray. They don’t know when to intensify their campaign; they don’t know when to continue campaigning and they don’t know when to stop because there is no streamlined modus operandi now or cut-out line for activities. I want to appeal to all concerned to please put the interest of the senatorial zone above every other thing irrespective of their political party; think of how to resolve this political impasse both at the INEC office and everywhere. It is an unfortunate development and all concerned should put the interest of the senatorial zone first.

Former Governor Peter Obi was the pillar of APGA and after his tenure left the party. Some of you who were his commissioners, how do you feel seeing Governor Obi at the side of the divide?

Well, it did happen, that is the way we found ourselves. As human beings, we have our emotional disposition and interpretation. The reality now is that he is in a different political party from APGA and whether it is fortunate or unfortunate that is the way it is. Our emotions or feelings not counting. But the important thing is that nothing happens that is surprising to God. I believe that God has a purpose for everything. I believe also that nothing is impossible with God. With God all things are possible and he is a God of possibilities. Many of us would have wished that we continue on that same lane. It is a wish but this happened and it has happened. So, we continue to look at it like other things that have happened. Everything is in the hand of God. By next year Obiano will go back to the electorate to ask for their vote for a second term. In your assessment do you think the Governor has done enough that will give him success in that election?

Out rightly, I will tell you yes, because I have been part and parcel of the governor’s second tenure campaign in this state. I was part of Governor Peter Obi’s campaign and his effort for a second tenure. So, we know what it takes to go for second tenure. It takes three things to go for second tenure in Anambra state. One: work, two: work, three: work. Once you work as Governor of this state your second tenure is guaranteed. And nobody is blind to what is going on in the state. Look at the streets of Awka. Buildings are springing up every day, private investors and indigenes of this state; they are coming to develop plots they have had for years, which they couldn’t develop because of insecurity. If you look at the whole state now there is no kind of building you cannot see, there is no kind of car you don’t see. People come home, they move freely because of security. These days night life has resumed and the economy is booming. Someone who made all these possible it is enough to make him go for second tenure. Then one of the problems we had in government was that Awka people are complaining that the previous government was unwilling to develop Awka. Today there are three fly-over; at least you can see them. Those have added the aesthetics of the town. So why shouldn’t Obiano go for second tenure. I was driving from Awka here through the old road. I can see traffic light up to Ogbunike side. Why shouldn’t he go for second term? I saw the same thing from Izuchukwu Junction to Igwe Orizu Palace Nnewi, why shouldn’t he go for second term? The same thing at Regina Caeli, Awka road, Zik Avenue, everywhere, why shouldn’t he go for second tenure? What does it take? I also read in the internet they exported ‘Onugbo’ (bitter leaf) and ‘ugu’ (pumpkin leaf) from Anambra State. Why shouldn’t he go for second tenure? I also see ‘Anambra Rice’ being eaten everywhere, why shouldn’t he go for second term? The man is building one of the longest bridges leading to the refinery, why shouldn’t he go for second tenure? So, we are talking concrete achievements. That is why I said it takes three things to be governor of Anambra state for second time: one: work; two: work; three: work. And you can see it, his mantra is: ‘Willie is working’. They have also borrowed it, Ambode is working we saw it in a paper yesterday, the one in Delta has also borrowed it – Ifeanyi Okowa is working’. So, everybody now knows how to work. I was at Amawbia flyover where we went to switch on the bridge light and the man who did it was the Minister of Sports. His speech was interesting: He said, the first thing God said after the void was let there be light and there was light. He then said that he expects other Governors to come and emulate Governor Willie Obiano. That was the second time I was hearing it. When I went to Amichi, the Anglican Bishop of Amichi had his 50th birthday, some bishops from out of state like Kaduna and Kebbi states, they came and called on other Governors to come and emulate Governor Obiano. I don’t want to start going into ‘The Sun man of the Year Award’ and all that. So, the man has done well and he impressed on the electorate so I do not see why he will not go for second term and succeed. Anambra people are very politically aware. They have passed the stage of abracadabra; they will ask you questions and you will fail. So, Anambra has passed the stage of having bad governors. We can never have bad governors in Anambra State again. From the days of Ngige through Peter Obi they told us government can perform. So, any governor that doesn’t perform the state will overwhelm him and overtake him. We are now like Lagos state where every governor must perform. So, Obiano has risen up to our expectation. We are very happy. Look at his proactive reaction in the past three days following this Fulani herdsmen business. He has already set up committee with representative of Fulani and Hausa community here and the locals. They have been having interaction to forestall any security breach. This was months and months before this mayhem started; pro-active security consciousness pro-active business. That is why today anything that happens in Anambra State within hours it is spotted. You will notice that in the past one week he has been using helicopter to patrol; by that they are seeing every bush with their binoculars and then anywhere that needs reinforcement they move the ground troop there. That is the kind of governance we are talking about. What impresses me most about the man is that I have not seen NLC in Anambra state talk negatively about him. Not only that we have increased their salary by 15%, he has also ensured they get their salary. Pensioners are paid. I hear they call him ‘alert’ Governor now and that by 20 something of every month workers get their salary while those governors whose party is controlling up there cannot pay. The governor has improved Internally Generated Revenue of the state as an alternative source to Federal Allocation. He is also emphasising agriculture. So, you can see that he is a visionary leader. As for the relationship between the governor and the people, I can tell you that so far I am very impressed with the people of Anambra. Ndi Anambra are very good and they cooperate with their government. Even if they feel terrible about one or two things, they don’t allow it to blur their vision. We enjoyed that when we were in government and they have extended it to this government. I want to thank them for doing well especially in the area of their response to IGR, in the area of their response to environmental sanitation, because Onitsha is very clean now and people have formed the habit not to dispose their waste anyhow. I also want to thank them for being security conscious because the tips on which security agencies are working on were given by the people. I will ask that anywhere they are, they should continue to vote for APGA because APGA is a national party.