All Prograssive Grand Alliance frequent leadership crises put the party on the highway to destruction
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Dec. 2, 2012 @ 12:11 GMT
WILL the current leadership tussle lead to the demise of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA? This question has been agitating the minds of many of the party’s supporters. It is even made worse with a recent ruling by an Enugu High Court, presided over by Justice Innocent Umezuruike, which restrained Victor Umeh, the party’s national chairman, from performing his functions as the national chairman. The court also restrained him and his agents from expelling any member of the party.
The party is factionalised, with some elements within its fold asking Umeh, whose tenure they said expired in 2010, to step down. But Umeh has refused. Instead, he suspended the aggrieved members, few weeks to the party’s national convention. Sources in APGA said Umeh’s group, sensing that it would be outnumbered, should the national convention hold got a court injunction restraining the party from organising its national convention billed for August. Curiously, the judge who restrained Umeh from parading himself as APGA’s national chairman was the same person who restrained the aggrieved members from going ahead to hold the national convention, which according to sources, would have led to the suspension of the Umeh’s led executive.
Some party supporters in Awka, Anambra State, said the implication of the ruling is that the party would never congregate for any activity until the suit is determined. “For a party that has remained in crisis since its foundation, this might not be strange”, a member of the party in Awka said.
But the trouble with APGA is just its sit-tight leadership. There have been disagreements between Peter Obi Anambra State governor and Umeh over the control of the party’s machinery, nominations and appointments to party positions like the office of the state chairmen and local government chairmen. Obi also alleged that Umeh embezzled N20 million monthly subventions he received to run the party.
But to some party members, there is no crisis in APGA. William Obiora, secretary, All Progressive Grand Alliance, Anambra, State chapter, said all is well in the party. “There is no problem with APGA and even if there was, any, we don’t see it as something that will affect the affairs of the party. Our governor is in good terms with Umeh, it’s only those who are working to drag the party and the entire Igbo race to the mud who took our chairman to court. Their entire plan is to destroy APGA but we will never allow them to achieve it,” he said.
Some party faithfuls are also insinuating that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, may be working to destroy the party. Perhaps, Sullivan Chime, Enugu State governor, thinks the death of APGA is a matter of time. He said while receiving the South East zonal leadership of the PDP, in Enugu, early this year that he was confident that the final death knell on APGA’s coffin would be in 2015. According to Chime, APGA has no succession plans.
The party’s faithful insists that the current upheavals in the party were being instigated by the PDP to stall it from being used as a platform for a presidential candidate of Igbo extraction in 2015. In view of the present scenario, more questions are being raised regarding APGA’s capacity to overcome its travails and still offer a veritable platform for the realisation of an Igbo presidential aspiration in 2015.
The confusion in APGA is made worse by Governor Obi’s open endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term bid, contrary to Ndigbo’s posture of producing a president in 2015. Ndigbo had supported the President in 2011 and expect a pay back in 2015. Ugwunze Campbell, APGA’s director of research and planning, said if Obi is now supporting a PDP candidate in 2015, then he should have resigned his membership of the APGA first. “And he cannot be talking about the progress of APGA and working for the promotion of the ambition of a PDP president in 2015”, he said.
According to Maxi Okwu, former deputy national chairman of the party, the situation in APGA was an unfortunate one and has dwarfed the intentions of those, who propagated the idea as well as set in reverse gear, the political aspirations of Ndigbo. “The APGA story is an unfortunate one and I make bold to say that it began right from the formation of the party. We wanted to have a regional platform that we can call our own and which we will use to negotiate for the future, but it has turned into another thing. This is the third phase of the struggle within APGA, the first was the Okorie expulsion, second was the expulsion of certain other members, then the Masalla –Umeh tussle. This is outside the one of Peter Obi and Umeh,” he said.
Okwu, however, said that the PDP and the judiciary should not be removed from the problems APGA was facing, stressing that the move to ensure that Ndigbo was perpetually kept down had always been the issue. All the efforts to reach Umeh by RealNews magazine to react to the allegations proved abortive.
When the party was registered on June 24, 2002, it was seen as a political platform for the South East zone to negotiate for political power at the centre with a stronghold in the zone. It was set to prove this a year later during the 2003 elections. It made an impressive outing with the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu as its presidential candidate. The party finished fourth in the presidential election.
Although, the party failed to win any office at the state level that year, its candidates in the five states of the South East, came second. But the case of Anambra, which it took to the election tribunal later, became fruitful as the Appeal Court pronounced Peter Obi the winner of the governorship election.
Since the registration of the party, however, it is yet to fulfil the desires and aspirations of those who nursed the dream owing to its crisis. The first in the series of the crises was the leadership tussle, which broke out over the expulsion of its founder, Chekwas Okorie, accused of financial mismanagement. Those who championed that onslaught alleged it robbed the party of victory in the 2003 elections.
Okorie went to court and challenged all the decisions taken against him. The several court cases lasted till last year when the court ruling ratified his expulsion. Okorie left and announced that he was taking away with him the spirit of the party and leaving the carcass for Umeh.
Soon after, another national crisis developed as Sadiq Masalla led group announced the expulsion of Umeh and the party’s secretary, Sani Shinkafi. They were accused of several wrong doings, which had impacted negatively on the party.
The gladiators returned to court and by a Federal High Court pronouncement in Abuja, Masalla and others were checked. However, while the Masalla battle subsided, the Enugu matter, which is now worrying the party and breeding further factions, erupted.