Although peace seems to have returned to the All Progressives Grand Alliance following the reconciliation of Governor Peter Obi and Victor Umeh, national chairman, Maxi Okwu, factional chairman, throws sand into it
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Aug. 12, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
AFTER two years of drifting in the stormy sea without any direction, there is now hope that the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, can safely arrive at the shore. On July 29, Peter Obi Anambra State governor and Victor Umeh, national chairman of the party, decided to bury their differences and embrace peace in the interest of the party. The two leaders, during a reconciliation meeting in Awka, Anambra state, regretted the crisis and pledged that such would never repeat itself.
Realnews gathered that it was because of the fear of losing Anambra state to the opposition and operating without the support of governors from that party that forced Umeh to reconcile with Obi. During the reconciliation, Governor Obi thanked God for the peace, stating that it was God that made it possible for them to end the crisis. He said that APGA would retain Anambra State in the next governorship election and restated that the day he leaves APGA, he would have quit partisan politics. “I have always said it, any day I leave APGA, I leave politics. I have said it and I maintain it,” he siad.
The governor promised that the crisis that bedevilled the party would never happen again, adding that those who thought that was the end of APGA were making mistakes. He said that Anambra would remain APGA state and he would make sure that the party won in all future elections in the state.
Umeh said the crisis rocking the party for more than two years was the work of the devil. “Today is one of the greatest days in the life of our state and our party. My visit to Governor Obi is to crystallise the various peace meetings we had held in the past and also to declare to the whole world that the crisis in APGA has come to an end. Undoubtedly, many people who had followed the events in our party will be surprised at this dramatic end and it is to the glory of God that I have reconciled with my brother. We have worked together for many years in trying to chart a new course for our people through APGA and we have been successful in this bid as we have been able to do impossible things in Anambra State. It is the work of the devil that some problems reared their heads, but those of us who have laboured together were not happy. But today, I can tell you that this is a new dawn in our party,” he said.
He commended governor Obi over the achievements of his administration under the Anambra Integrated Development Strategy, ANIDS, saying that with this, no other opposition party can take Anambra state from APGA. Umeh declared that with his reconciliation with governor Obi, APGA has been liberated and the late national leader of the party, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, would now be happier in his grave. Umeh said that he had already reconciled with Ojukwu’s widow, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, two weeks ago.
On his part, Maxi Okwu, factional chairman of the party, said he was not aware of the move, adding that APGA needed a comprehensive reconciliation to forge ahead. “I am not aware. I am in Enugu, I am not in Awka. It is surprising. We want reconciliation that is comprehensive in APGA and all stakeholders should be involved. As a chairman, I am a stakeholder and should have been involved in the reconciliation. I will consult with those who believe in my leadership and we shall proceed from there,” he said.
Earlier last week, Okwu had said that the timetable released by Sani Shinkafi, national secretary of the party, for the November 16, governorship election in Anambra State was fake. He claimed that his faction was the authentic group and therefore, warned aspirants against picking the N2 million form of expression of interest from announced by Shinkafi.
“The attention of the All Progressives Grand Alliance has been drawn to a purported party timetable released by one Alhaji Sani Shinkafi demanding N2 million for expression of interest form from aspirants wishing to contest the 16th November, 2013 governorship election in Anambra State. The authentic APGA leadership with Maxi Okwu as national chairman dissociates itself from the fake timetable and N2million fee imposed on aspirants and warned party members to be wary of the antics of Shinkafi and Victor Umeh, who are yet to account for over N400 million sales of nomination forms for the 2011 general election. At the appropriate time the authentic timetable will be released for aspirants who intend to contest elections on APGA platform,” he said.
Bernard Akoma, national publicity secretary of the party, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of contributing to the crisis that had plagued it for a long time. He argued that APGA wouldn’t have been in court, if INEC had performed its constitutional function to the letter. “It never said that the convention of APGA in 2011 which was the issue in contention was properly conducted according to its constitution. The judgment simply leaves INEC with an opportunity to do its job in this regard because it monitored the convention. The truth remains that APGA would not have been in court if INEC had performed its constitutional roles in APGA as it has done to PDP. It is the double standard approach of the commission that has left APGA where it is today. If the party remains in crisis, it will not muster the strength to present a common front for elections. If, however, the party is able to wriggle out and win election anywhere, the opposition parties will have enough ground to nullify the election in court because APGA candidates may not claim to have been nominated by validly elected organs of the party according to the party constitution,” he said.