Sylvester Nwobu-Alor, is the Special Adviser on Parks and Markets to the Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi. An uncle to the governor, he is also the leader of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Stakeholders Forum. He speaks with CHINELO OBOGO on the crises in APGA, the recent court judgment that sacked the party’s National Executive Council, the merging of opposition parties and plans of the party in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
The crises is APGA
I do not think that Chukwuemka Ojukwu Jnr. was right, when he said the issue with APGA was about who would succeed Governor Peter Obi and alleging that the governor wanted to ram someone down the party’s throat. The governor is so busy, trying to improve the lot of the state to start squabbling about who will succeed him and who will not. He is not that kind of person. He is not working to run anybody down or prevent anyone from contesting the governorship election. There is no question of a problem, coming from the nomination of somebody from the South Senatorial Zone. All that we are waiting for is to get a nomination from the zone, and then we will take off.
Contrary to widely held beliefs, it is not true that the governor is in support of anyone from any zone, whether north or south. The issue there is that as long as the zones send a nominee for the primary election, then things can take off from there. That is all he is waiting for and I can swear with my hair that he is not in support of any particular person.
AGPA’s forthcoming convention
It is true that a final hearing on Victor Umeh’s case will take place on April 8, the same day the party has scheduled to hold a convention that will produce members of the National Executive Council. Before we fixed that date, we made proper enquiries from lawyers on the workability of the date and they said there was nothing wrong with it. But if on that day, the court rules that no convention should be held and the ruling is in accordance with the constitution, we will respect it. However, I do not think that will happen because we sought for legal counsel before fixing the date. The lawyers that we consulted told us that the judgment that ousted Umeh from being the national chairman was a declaratory judgment and a stay of execution, which Umeh is seeking does not affect a declaratory judgment. In the case of INEC, it is a very important body in Nigeria and it cannot be seen to be ignoring court decisions. The court has said it had dissolved the national executive of the party; it is unfortunate that Umeh is going around disgracing everybody, including the court, just because he does not want to leave office. The court said it had sacked the NEC of the party, including Umeh. But in order not to create a vacuum, it ordered that the party should fix a date to conduct a national convention where party officials will be elected. So, INEC, on its part, should not be seen to be taking sides but should adhere to the ruling that a court of competent jurisdiction has given. We started this party and we are not going to watch while it goes down. On the issue of who will receive correspondence from INEC on the party’s behalf, it is we, the stakeholders that will decide who INEC will deal with, when it comes to official matters. It is not and cannot be Umeh because he has been sacked by the court.
APGA crises will not affect 2014 election
It is not true that Gov. Obi has not given adequate support to the party. It is public knowledge that he has tried his best to ensure that the party stands. During the last elections, he followed most of the candidates and campaigned in every nook and cranny of the state. So, it is unfair for anyone to say he did not do enough for the party.
What we are doing now is to ensure that we put our house back in order and join our forces together so that we will win the elections. What has held us down is that we had an inept leadership and that is why we are working round the clock to put things in order so that we will regain the grounds that we have lost. It is very worrisome that APGA is embroiled in such a situation but unfortunately, that is the character we find in the average Igbo man that believes in running others down when he cannot climb up himself. Our people like creating unnecessary squabbles where none should exist. That is why we are worried about the problems it is having and we are trying hard to restructure the party. Even though APGA is a national party, it has a lot Igbo interests and if we do not work hard, it means the Igbo will be sidelined from a lot of things in the political arena of the country.
Gov. Okorocha and APC
We are not saying we have very strong presence in Imo State and it is because the leadership we had in the party was very ineffective and incompetent. That is why we are where we are. We are working together with everyone who believes in the party and wants to work together with us. A lot of people have said many things about the merger of opposition parties and why the Governor of Imo State, who was elected on the platform of APGA, is joining them. But it is not compulsory that Okorocha works with us if he does not want to. It is not compulsory that he must work with us. You will be surprised at the calibre of people that are joining the party. Many of those who matter in the south-east are gradually coming into our fold. So, I do not see one person, going away as anything important. This party has been on since 2001 and was solely sponsored by one man but Okorocha just came onto the scene. Obi has been reaching out to Okorocha in many ways. He has tried to reason with him over the issue of the merger and to tell him the implications of doing what he is doing but you cannot force the Imo governor to do what he does not want to do. The PDP may not accept Okorocha into its fold and the APC, which he is bent on joining, may or may not be the best for him in terms of strategy. Obi has let him know these issues that I feel he should listen to and he has advised him that if he does not consider his moves properly, he might be losing out entirely in all aspects of politics.