Tug-of-War in APGA

Peter Obi, Governor of Anambra State
Peter Obi, Governor of Anambra State

Governors Peter Obi of Anambra State and Rochas Okorocha of Imo State drag APGA in opposite directions thereby deepening its crisis

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Mar. 18, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

THE crisis rocking the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, has assumed a new dimension with the recent appointment of a new National Working Committee, NWC and a National Executive Committee, NEC, by the Governor Peter Obi led faction of the party. The re-composition of the party organs followed the sacking of Victor Umeh and his executives by an Enugu High Court.

The Obi-led group has Maxi Okwu as the interim national chairman of the party and Sani Shinkafi, as the acting national secretary. It also has Tim Menakaya as the chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT. But the Governor Rochas Okorocha-led group has condemned the appointments and dragged APGA to a merger with other political parties in the country.

Victor Umeh; Embattled Chairman of APGA
Victor Umeh; Embattled Chairman of APGA

Umeh has also disowned the interim leadership appointed under the auspices of the party’s national caucus. He described the national caucus that appointed Okwu and Shinkafi as illegal and working outside the provisions of the party’s constitution. Umeh had also appealed against the judgement of the Enugu High Court and applied for stay of execution. He said the composition of an interim national working committee with Okwu and Shinkafi as chairman and secretary, respectively cannot hold as none of the persons involved in convening the meeting was authorised by the constitution of the party to do so and none of the persons present at the meeting was a bona fide member of the national caucus of the party.

 “It is illegal for anybody in the party to constitute another body to function as the National Working Committee, NWC, and National Executive Committee, NEC, when my appeal is yet to be determined. The action taken by the Peter Obi-led group and the other members of the party to constitute another NWC and NEC of the party can only have the semblance of legality if it has been the Supreme Court that had delivered judgment on the matter. So, I still remain the only competent person to speak on this matter because I was personally sued in the case and neither APGA nor any member of the party was joined in the suit. Therefore, their action is illegal” Umeh said.

But Mike Udah, chief press secretary to governor Obi, defended his principal over his role in the APGA crisis. He said that the governor constituted the party’s National Working Committee, and National Executive Committee, in order to bring sanity to the party.

According to Udah, Umeh and his cohorts are accusing his principal of masterminding his recent sack  by an Enugu High Court and was destroying APGA because he had joined the PDP. He explained that all the allegations were spurious and that Obi has no plans of leaving APGA. He said rather than Obi benefiting from Umeh, it was the other way round as Umeh benefited from Obi’s stature in the party and support when he was elevated from the post of a treasurer to that of the national chairman when Chekwas Okorie, its founding national chairman, was removed.

Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Imo State
Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Imo State

Shinkafi has rejected the new position given to him by the Obi group. He said he cannot move from being a substantive secretary of the party to accepting being an acting secretary. “I will not submit myself to an illegality. I remain the national secretary of APGA until the final determination of the appeal filed by Umeh.  There is no way I will accept to become an acting national secretary of the party when I am the substantive secretary.  I will continue to align myself with Umeh as far as the leadership tussle in the party is concerned,” he said.

Some chieftains in the party have blamed governors Obi and Okorocha for the latest crisis rocking the party. Willy Ezugwu, a founding member of the party, said it was unfortunate that the power tussle in the party had been elevated to a point of ruthlessness which could lead to its disintegration if care wasn’t taken.

“There is nowhere in any party’s constitution that the governor takes decision by himself without recourse to the party’s NWC, NEC and the leaders. Obi has been doing this. He has created factions in APGA and is responsible for its infiltration and the leadership crisis currently rocking the party. I dare say he is doing this for the PDP and this is sad,” Ezugwu said.

He also explained that there have been disagreements amongst stakeholders in the party over the bid by Okorocha to drag the party into a merger with other political parties. “There is no way APGA could just be dragged into this merger bid by an individual without due discussion amongst members. The painful factor in all these is that these persons allegedly discussing the merger bid are just newcomers who do not even know how the party was formed. They only used the party to win elections and now feel they can become lords over the party. That, to me is unfortunate and highly regrettable.”

On his part, Marshal Okafor Anyanwu, chairman of the party in Imo State, has accused Obi of destroying the party to satisfy his pay masters in the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.  He said instead of Obi bringing the party together for national unity, he was busy destabilising the structure he met on ground.

As the feud continues, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has stepped in to clarify the position of the APGA constitution regarding the holding of a national convention. In its reply to governor Obi’s request for an approval to organise a national convention, Emmanuel Umenger, director of public affairs of the commission, said Obi had no authority under the party’s constitution for such purpose adding that only the national chairman of the party has the constitutional powers to convene a national convention. He explained that the electoral body took the decision after studying the constitution of the party. “There is nowhere the APGA constitution gave you; Governor Peter Obi, the powers and authority to convene a national convention of the party. INEC cannot accede to your request to convene a national convention of APGA,” Umenger said in the letter sent to Obi.

Meanwhile, the All Progressive Congress, APC merger committee has revealed that APGA was not granted a full status because of the crisis within the party. The crisis has led to the exclusion of the party in the consideration of APC logo which was released on March 6, 2013.

In another development, Victor Umeh, whose national chairmanship of the party has been declared illegal by an Enugu High Court, last week announced the appointment Emeka Ojukwu, Jr as a member of the party’s Board of Trustees, BoT, to fill the seat left vacant by the death of his father.

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