Monday, 25 August 2014

APGA defections: Ekwunife, Reps running from their sins Umeh

NATIONAL Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, in this interview punctured claims that the immediate past governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi resigned his position as APGA Board Of Trustees, BoT, chairman as a result of the dominance of the party by some interests. He also said there is a point of convergence between the recent mass defection in APGA and the defectors desire for automatic return tickets to the National Assembly, NASS. Umeh also spoke on other issue.

Some of your members in the National Assembly recently dumped your party for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. What could have been responsible? For those that left APGA for PDP in Anambra State, some of them are running from their sin and they are afraid of the future. If as they claimed, they have been good party members, they wont be running away from party primaries. Some of them have shot themselves on the foot. The only option left for them was to defect so that their sin wont catch up with them when the time comes. The party gave them nomination to contest the election they won to be in the National Assembly. So, what sin has the party committed against them? And that is the same leadership that they are afraid of. Why are they afraid? If the same leadership gave them ticket in 2011, why are they afraid?
Obi and Umeh
Somebody who is in the House of Representatives and was elected on the platform of APGA decided to contest governorship election in Anambra, went through the partys primary and lost and at the middle of the governorship election, she challenged the incumbent governor then our candidate and accused him of double registrations and asked the court to disqualify him and declare her the authentic candidate of the party in that election. She accused the candidate of double registrations and double registration is a crime and because of that, immediately after the election most of the parties that contested the election rushed to court accusing the governor of double registration after winning the election, an offence he did not commit. At the end of the whole thing, the tribunal cleared him; the Court of Appeal also cleared him.
How do you think that such person that took that kind of action will think? That she is in a safe party? Now that the time of reckoning is by the corner, she defected to another party. As you can see, she is running away from her sin. If she had conducted herself very well knowing that this political party gave her the opportunity to be in the National Assembly she would have been given another opportunity. What she did can be described as anti party activity? She was supposed to be expelled from the party because it was a huge embarrassment to the party but because of our leniency we gave her the opportunity to repent and only for her to come out and be saying that APGA is this, APGA is that and that she has gone back to PDP where there would be no primary and she will be given an automatic ticket. So as you can see, their actions were unfounded and not founded on any good reason.
On automatic ticket Well, this is what we experience whenever election is approaching. Many political parties go through earthshaking moment because our politicians have not imbibed the culture of subjecting themselves to party primaries to get nomination for various elections they want to contest. Everybody want automatic ticket and when you dont agree, it is either you are attacked as a party leader or the person who is afraid that he or she may not get the ticket of the party for his or her interest will join another party. So, this is not the way to build our democracy. In America, the Republicans and Democrats have perfected the institution of party primary.
No matter the position you want to contest for, you must subject yourself to your party primary where you will first of all secure the nomination to contest the election and then go ahead to contest the election. In Nigeria today, politicians will insist that they want to get automatic ticket. That is why you are seeing crises in all the political parties once election is by the corner. But for me, I think it is part of the growing process. The best to do is to insist on what is right, follow your party constitution and ensure that people who want to contest election in the party must go through the process as entrenched in the party constitution.
How would you react to Obis resignation as chairman of the Board of Trustees and leader of the party? He resigned as the Chairman APGA Board of Trustees and the leader of the party according to him, for personal and family reasons. I have the letter of his resignation. But we were surprised to be reading something else on the newspapers. According to his media assistant, that one dominated the party and that people are leaving but Obi has not left the party.
There are speculations that you will contest for the Anambra Central senatorial District election in 2015? My accepting to run for Senate was in response to popular demand from the people of my senatorial zone, that I run and represent them. I was a delegate to the just concluded national conference and from what transpired at there, it is clear to me that a lot still has to be done. The debate at the national conference where efforts were made to address issues that have affected my people for many years, the way those issues were hotly debated was a clear indication that the debate will continue at a higher level. Beyond the national conference, the National Assembly is another rallying point where issues that affect my people will be tabled before the National Assembly.
I know that we still have so much to do and in recognition of the fact that my people need quality representation, at my age of 52, I think I still have the time and the strength to represent my people very well. It is not just going there to answer name that I am a senator, is about going there to fight for the right of our people through appropriation bills that will accommodate projects that will advance the cause of your people. Politically and on national level, it is important that at the National Assembly, the voice of our people should not be swallowed.
What are those things that the incumbent lawmaker representing your zone in the senate is not doing, that you intend to do differently? The essence of going to the National Assembly is for you to be able to impact on the lives of people. You must be able to assert the needs of your people. You speak it out, fight for it and come home to render account to them because that is the essence of representing them. You must be able to impact on the development of the constituency through constituency projects that you are able to attract from the National Assembly. But most importantly for me, I want to go Senate to be able to work with the governor of Anambra State who is Chief Willie Obiano of APGA. It does not make sense that you elect a governor through a political party and he does not have his party members in the Senate or in the House of Representatives.
There must be that synergy of common purpose for them to serve our people better. A situation whereby the Senator representing my zone has never visited the Anambra State Government House is not good for our people and cannot be allowed to continue. It is going to be a team work; people from the same party can be entrusted with leadership of the state and through law making processes, they will be able to work with the governor for the good of the people. So, we want to stop what is going on in the state where the governor is elected under the platform of APGA and the federal legislators will be of another party. Ordinarily, they are supposed to be putting heads together for the development of the state but nothing like that and it is affecting our people. So, we want not just for me to win and represent my people in the Senate but for APGA to win the three senatorial seats, the 11 House of Representatives seats and the 30 seats of the state Assembly so that the relationship will be there. So that the governor calls for a meeting, everybody will there to discuss and review the programmes of the government to better the lives of the entire people of the state.
Would you say that the template created by the immediate past governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi is being worked followed by the incumbent? Chief Willie Obiano is a no nonsense man. Having served in the bank at the topmost level and other experiences that he has. We are not surprised because when we chose him we knew he will do well and he has started doing it and people are commending him. The security situation in Anambra State that has defied solution, he has confronted it. Apart from that, he has been flagging off projects and completing the once started by his predecessor.
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