APGA prefers Ifeanyi Ubah as Anambra guber candidate—Ugwunzeh
Nnamdi Campbell Ugwunzeh is the Director of Research and planning of crisis-torn All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). The veteran politician in this interview with OKANU EMELUMBA spoke on the administration of the Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, the party crisis and the recent merger of political parties in the country. Excerpts
What is the genesis of the present crisis in the All Progressives Grand Alliance?
The major issue is that Governor Obi does not want to conduct local government elections since he has been in power. This is seen by all democrats in Anambra State as wrong because Obi himself is a beneficiary of democratic elections. Beside this point, Obi has joined PDP as an ordinary financial adviser to the PDP government. This is purely a demonstration of his anti-party activities. Minus this, all the people Obi has brought or supported for elective positions in the Senate and even House of Representatives have been card carrying members of PDP. Joy Emordi, Dora Akunyili and Chuma Nzeribe are all known card carrying members of PDP. He also refused to accept all the people nominated by APGA as candidates for election. It will also important to point out here that after the election between Chris Ngige and Dora Akunyili, he refused assist Akunyili in the court case. All these are facts against him and it is painful because APGA has given him two terms of office and he does not seem to appreciate this fact. He is the only Governor in Nigeria who joined the PDP government as a member of an economic team without recourse to the party rules and regulation. APGA has no alliance with any party. It was him also who forced the party to support the President in the 2011 general elections. He also refused to accept all the people nominated by APGA as candidates for elections.
What is his purpose of doing all this?
It is simple. He wants a PDP government in the State. He does not want APGA to retain Anambra because of his personal interest. He has no electoral value now and I think he is just wasting his time because it should be clear to him by now that he has lost the fight. He cannot have a PDP Governor in proxy or any other way in the state.
In his eight years as the Governor of Anambra State, what can you say were his achievements in the state?
He has achieved nothing as far as I am concerned. Indeed he has squandered N996 Billion Anambra State revenue earned for seven years between 2006 and 2012. From state and local government monthly allocations and excess crude accounts, foreign aids and international donations under the guise of rural development. What am trying to say is that in spite of these whose amount of money available to him, he has failed to bring any meaningful development to the state. Rural roads are left to dilapidate further by his inaction. Indeed the only thing he has done is to resurface them asphalt. He has not constructed any new road or rebuilding of roads. No new capital project executed by his administration in this period. He has also abandoned both the Onitsha seaport, Oba airport and the orient oil refinery. Public schools trickily transferred to missionaries due to his deserve to avoid cost and responsibility. This is saddening if you consider the fact that Imo State that is ruled by APGA runs a free Education, but here in Anambra State there is no free education or even bursary for students. Also there is no functional and equipped government hospital and even Doctors have embarked on more strikes than work. As a matter of fact Obi seems not to be interested in the development of Anambra State . Awka the state capital has been described by many concerned Anambra indigenes and indeed Nigerians as the most underdeveloped state capital in Nigeria . Even the governor's office built as a temporarily site by the first military administrator of the state in 1991 has remained same excerpt for refurbishments here and there. This is not what Anambra people think the state should be at this stage of our National development. I think as a person that Obi should be called upon to render account of his stewardship.
APGA has not won election in any other geo-political zone outside South East. Why?
There is no national party anywhere. Take France for example, the President did not win all the states or political divisions of the country, but he still won the presidential election. In Senegal it is the same. The incumbent President was removed by the merger of the other parties. APGA to me can replicate this in the country. We are strategizing and can easily become the surprise party in the country. If we can get the whole South East, then with minor votes from other states, we can win at the centre.
What is your strategy in this year's election in Anambra?
The election is won fifty percent already because the party machinery is intact and the present VictorUmeh-led executive will do everything humanly possible to ensure that democratic process is applied to select any candidate. APGA as a party had insisted on all candidates for the governorship elections emerging after going through the primaries, but Governor Obi had objected to it because he wanted to handpick a candidate of his choice in complete disregard of party's rule and regulations. Indeed, APGA under the leadership of Chief Sir Victor Umeh would prefer Patrick Ubah as their Governorship candidate for the election. Ubah is the preferred candidate because he has been the chief financier of the party for up to two years or more. He wants to get there not for the paraphernalia of office but for his desire to serve and render quality to the people. Beside these, I stand bold to say that he will beat any person in primaries whether nominated by Obi or any person that summoned courage to challenge him. The governor does not want him to be there and he has used his powers to frustrate him, but I think by now he must have realized that he has failed.
What can you say on the recent judgment against the Victor Umeh led Exco?
Well to be candid with you, Umeh has appealed and I have to be very careful on my comments on the matter to avoid being accused of court prejudice. Having said that, I am convinced that Umeh's appeal of stay of execution will be accepted and once that is the case, he will continue in office till he is properly removed. I am saying so because INEC recognized the Umeh-led Exco and will continue to deal with him until he is legally removed. What this translates to is that Nwobu Alor who instituted the case and those he represents will not succeed in their plans.
Are you saying that Masallah is not the authentic leader of APGA?
He is not. Indeed he is facing a criminal charge of forgery and impersonation. And until that is cleared, he cannot claim to be the leader of the party. I know the case against him is strong and he stands no chance of winning it.
Does it mean that APGA under Umeh is not part of the merger?
Of course yes. We are not part of it. Any person purporting to represent the party is on his own. APGA did not send any person to the merger talks. The Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha who was there stated it clearly that he was there on personal understanding. People should not see his presence as an official representation of the party. APGA will only talk of merger after the elections in 2015 and not before because that is when our interest will be properly defined.
What can you make of the festering political crisis in Anambra State?
People call every misunderstanding in a political party such as ours crisis. If it is the PDP, no person will call it crisis. There is no crisis in APGA. What we have is political misunderstanding which is common in every political party. The difference in what is going on in APGA is that it does not make us see each other as enemies but as friends and brothers with divergent political opinions which eventually will bring about political realignment for the good of the party. This is the beauty of democracy and APGA is no exception to this.
But there was an allegation that the crisis started because Umeh disrespected the Governor and Bianca Ojukwu?
Certainly not. What happened was that the party advised Bianca not to accept the ambassadorial post six months after the husband's death but she refused. The party hierarchy also advised her that instead of accepting to be ambassador, she should instead ask to be a minister which she also refused. Our reason for the stand we took is because she represents a man many see as our leader, an embodiment of our culture and who must be respected unto death. It was as a result of this that she felt that Umeh is against her. What followed thereafter is this fight to remove Umeh from office.
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