As peace finally returns to APGA…
The decision of what was known as the stakeholders of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to withdraw all pending suits it instituted against the leadership of the party under Victor Umeh in fulfilment of the pledge by the leader of the group, Dr. Mic Adams, is a significant step in the resolution of the crisis that rocked the party in the last six months.
Specifically, Adams had on December 12, 2012, in his address when he returned to the party, stated that all the suits he and his members instituted against the party in Abuja and Asaba would be withdrawn in the spirit of reconciliation, just as he called on all others that are yet to come back to make use of the window of peace opened by the party's leadership to do so.
“Today, we wish to advance peace and reconciliation process pioneered by our party elder, Chief Onwuka Ukwa. We are back and I urge every member of the party who, at some point might have had cause to leave the party, to return and help in building the party.
“We do however commend Chief Victor Umeh, our National Chairman, and Dr. Sani Shinkafi, our National Secretary, for their efforts that despite the various challenges, crises, disagreements and unending litigations, the party still recorded remarkable achievements.
“Today, APGA controls two states; with two APGA governors, one senator, seven members of the House of Representatives and 34 House of Assembly seats. This is a huge success and incredible. Party rising profile requires peace, stability and unity. With the joint efforts of all of us, our great party will (go places).
“In the spirit of reconciliation and the peace process, and in honour of our departed leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the greatest Igbo leader living and dead, we call on the two APGA governors of Anambra and Imo states to unite and support the party, bearing in mind that APGA is the political party that produced them,” he stated.
While receiving the returnees, Umeh had declared that the party would win the governorship elections in Anambra slated for 2014.
The occasion marked the beginning of the end to the crisis that rocked the party in the past seven months.
Specifically, six out of the nine National Working Committee (NWC) members who had pulled out in June last year came to the headquarters of the party in Abuja for reconciliation.
Umeh, who welcomed and addressed the returnee chieftains and the press, noted: “I had known that a day like this would come. The only thing I didn't know was the exact date. I know that the strength of a body is not in having no disputes, but in the ability to resolve disputes when they arise. The return and visit of our three exco members is a welcome idea. I am assuring Nigerians that by the next time we will gather here, nobody in the old APGA fold would be missing. I owe God all the gratitude for a day like this, because what is happening today is the real symbol of our strength and our motto of being one's brother's keeper.”
He also called on all members and leaders of APGA to pull their efforts together and “revive the great qualities of our great party that made it spring from nowhere to win two states, a senatorial seat, over 10 House of Representatives seats and 34 state Assembly slots. We will do more and that is the reason enemies of the party who are bent on putting us in disarray to have their way planted discord in our midst; but I am sure we have overcome today.”
Umeh also challenged the party members to remember that: “It is the same leadership, all of you, including our brothers who are yet to come back that did the magic of planting APGA as a strong party. I am sure we will do it again in Anambra in 2014. I am from Anambra and I know for certain that the state is waiting to give us their mandate to continue leading the state in the next gubernatorial election. I have no grudge against anyone. Governor Peter Obi (of Anambra) is my brother, and as the election approaches in Anambra, I know we will transparently choose a candidate who everyone will support and we will win the election.”
He declared that the crisis in the party is over, just as he stated that the Anambra governor never told anybody that he had a problem with the leadership of the party.
According to Umeh, “because of the window for peace we opened, a lot of our members who were in splinter groups are now returning. We are happy to receive today our first national youth leader, Dr. Mic Adams, who has led a splinter group. They sued us in Abuja Federal High Court and in Asaba. Our national youth leader who took over from him, Ikechukwu Chukwunyere, who left the party leadership for one reason or another, has returned to the party.
“We are happy to welcome all the returnees and I want to use this opportunity to call on all those that are yet to return to come back unconditionally. We are willing to accommodate everybody. On Governor Obi, although people have been talking on his behalf, he has never called a press conference to say that he has any problem with the party. People may have been talking for him, but these are the people that have returned to the party.”
Umeh pointed out that the NWC of the party is almost complete with just two members that left remaining, adding that “the party is above every individual no matter how highly placed”, as they got to whatever position they are now through the part y.
The other chieftains who also returned from the faction include Tondo Joseph, the National Vice chairman, North Central; and Sunday Obasohan.
Chukwunyere, a former National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) president said: “My leaving the party was due to some disagreements; but now, I am back, as the party has under the leadership of Umeh witnessed tremendous achievements. So I am back with my colleagues to support the re-building process of the party.”
Ukwa had in early December returned to the party with Joseph and Obasohan.
On what motivated him to pioneer the peace process, Ukwa said “it was in response to the calls by various stakeholders, religious organisations, elders of our party and APGA members worldwide that all warring factions must sheathe their swords to enable the party reunite to meet the future political challenges. As an elder and the pioneer Deputy National Chairman of our great party, APGA, I decided to pioneer this peace and reconciliation process. After over seven years of crisis and litigations, there is the need for everybody to join hands with the dynamic leadership of the party under Umeh and Shinkafi in building the party to enable it achieve its original aim of being a viable political platform in Nigeria.
“All the stakeholders and elders of the party are agreed on one thing, which is that there must be peace and reconciliation in APGA. There must be complete unity to enable the party move forward; and not only moving forward, but to enable the party prepare itself to meet future political challenges. As I said earlier, as an elder, I decided to pioneer this reconciliation peace process. I am now appealing to every aggrieved party member to please put aside whatever personal grievances, desires or ambitions they may have and return to the party under the leadership of Umeh to enable the party move forward.”
Ukwa noted that the unity of the party is very important.
“We must build the party, and we must continue to assist him to enhance the progress he has been able to make within the past few years. When I left, what we had was one state; now we have two states. We have a senator, more members of the House of Representatives and we have more members in the state assemblies of the two states. By the way, it is important to commend the laudable job that our new governor in Imo State is doing; flying the party's flag in an admirable way. He is not shy, and the job he is doing there is commendable, and it is been done in the name of our party. He has been able to replicate almost in equivalent form what Awolowo did in the west: free education right from the primary level to the university level.
“Let me say this; as an elder in the party and in the nation, and over a very deep reflection of what has transpired over the years, certain things were somehow misrepresented which caused disharmony within the party. I don't want to pick individual issues. After going through it, I felt that the best way to solve the problems of those misrepresentations is to get back to the party to support this very party. I worked day and night, and I was part of those that produced the governor in Anambra; the first, second tenure party structure. I was part of it. Umeh was instrumental in his emergence. There is no question about that. All I am asking is that we should be a bit grateful for what this party has done for us. The little we can do is just to give a little back to the party through the support we can give to the leadership. No governor is excluded because the party is supreme,” he declared.
Ukwa further said: “The NWC members are not exempted because the party is supreme. Even the national chairman is not exempted because the party is supreme. We must close ranks. Every departing APGA official, from the governor to the lowest party official, must bear in mind that if we are unable to hand over the APGA baton to our successor, there would have been a tragic failure on our part. Based on that, I am appealing to everyone. We have made a lot of sacrifices; the party has made a lot of sacrifices in Anambra State. I can say it because I was a part of it. I was a part of that government right from its inception, including its present sustenance, for it is important that the party leadership must be supported.
The APGA NWC had on June 21, 2012 indefinitely suspended its Deputy National Chairman (North), Sadeeq Massalla, and National Vice Chairman (South East), Morgan Anyalechi, from the party over anti-party activities.
Also suspended were Obasohan, Bala Bako (deputy national legal adviser), Ferguson Opara (national youth leader) and Mrs. Ella Nwabueze Ezeanya (national women leader).
The suspended members were said to have on June 19, accompanied by hoodlums, broken into the party's national secretariat and the conference room and addressed the press where they purportedly suspended Umeh and Shinkafi.
Reading the communiqué to newsmen after the NWC meeting and flanked by 18 members of the NWC, Umeh said: “The NWC of APGA met on June 21 and considered a number of issues affecting the party and the recent developments at the party's national secretariat on June 19. On the said date, five members of the NWC, accompanied by hoodlums, broke into this office and addressed the press in the conference room where they purportedly announced the suspension of the national chairman and national secretary.
“These five NWC members further declared Saddeq Massalla (Deputy National Chairman, North) as acting national chairman and one Dr. ifedi Okwenna, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as acting national secretary of APGA.”
Umeh pointed out the “the activities of these dissidents have since been closely monitored by the party. They have been sponsored over time to undertake/engage in dissident and anti-party activities to destabilise the party. Their nefarious activities culminated in the unfortunate event of June 19, 2012 aforementioned.
“After a thorough deliberation, the NWC resolved to suspend the said NWC members indefinitely, which is in accordance with Article 21.2(d) of the APGA constitution. It must be noted that the above suspended officers of the party lacked the constitutional capacity and quorum to do what they did purportedly on June 19, 2012.”
The APGA national chairman also stated that “the NWC also set up a seven man disciplinary committee with Tayo Sowumi (National Vice Chairman, South West) as chairman, Ifeanyi Mbaeri (National Legal Adviser) as secretary, Sagir Maidoya (National Vice Chairman, North West), Jolly Ngor (National Vice Chairman, South South), Ogometu Ukpentu (Deputy National Auditor), Prince Gbenga Afeni (national organising secretary) and Ibrahim Garba Carefore (deputy national youth leader) as members.
“The committee is to investigate the flagrant and brazen display of disobedience to the party constitution by the suspended members and make appropriate recommendations to the NEC of the party which is scheduled to meet on July 24 in Abuja.”
Umeh further said that “the NWC also condemned in strong terms the destabilising activities of Dr. Tim Menakaya, a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party who randomly calls meetings of the party, thereby interfering with the day-to-day running of the party, contrary to the clear provisions of Article 11.10(I) of the APGA constitution which forbids the BOT from taking part in the day-to-day running of the party at any level.
As a high point of the peace and reconciliation efforts, the stakeholders under the leadership of Adams on December 17, 2012, made its promise to withdraw all the suits against the Umeh led leadership of the party, to dissolve the stakeholders' forum and move over to the mainstream of the party.
With the crisis over, there is the need for the leadership of the party to, in its usual way, consolidate on the gains of the peace process, and the interest of the party should be paramount to all, what with the elections around the corner.
There is the need for the leadership of APGA to constitute all organs of the party and engage in an aggressive membership drive aimed at attracting political heavyweights into the fold of the party.
To move the party forward, there is the need for every member of the party to lend support to the leadership. To achieve this, the membership must always strive to sift the truth from propaganda that has always been deployed by enemies of APGA is their quest to destroy the party. For the party, this is a new beginning and a time for it to consolidate on its electoral fortunes in the 2011 general elections in the country.