Factional chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Abia Stat chapter, Nnanna Ukaegbu, has said that Dr. Alex Otti, is not the party’s candidate, as his emergence wasn’t in accordance with the party’s constitution.
Ukaegbu also accused Dr. Victor Oye, the national chairman of the party, of destroying the party.
Why is APGA enmeshed in crisis?
Political crisis is not limited to APGA. The way we play our politics in Third World countries makes it almost impossible to have a rancour-free political party and political association. More so, each time elections draw close, you will notice that almost all the political parties are usually engulfed in crisis. So it is not just limited to APGA, it is in PDP and the worst hit is the ruling APC.
We don’t see politics as that of rendering services; we approach politics from a mercantilist’s point of view, which makes it almost impossible to conform to the rules. We all try to outsmart each other because politics remains a major part of business from our psyche that is why it appears that virtually all the political parties are involved in one crisis or the other.
You have always claimed to be the state chairman of APGA, but the NWC doesn’t recognise you, it recognises Reverend Augustine Ehiemere as the party chairman. Why?
I don’t really claim to be the state chairman of APGA in Abia State, because, I’m the state chairman. So, the issue of claim doesn’t arise. The court has equally affirmed my position as the chairman. I’m a founding member of APGA; I helped to build this party with the late Chukwuemeka Ojukwu.
Like I said earlier, the way we play politics makes it almost impossible to have rancour-free association.
In America, a democrat is always a democrat; you belong to a political party based on your entrenched principle and ideology, but, that is not the case here, where we see political party as vehicle to contest and win election to enrich ourselves.
We have been in this party from inception and we built the party with our resources and all that we got. Somehow, because we play money politics, when those who had acquired wealth joined the party, the wrangling began to manifest because all that they are interested in is to hijack the party, run an election, win and go away. That is the major issue you have.
The national leadership of the party led by Victor Oye recognising me or not is no longer material. We are in constitutional democracy, which connotes the rule of law, and the court interprets our laws. Let the court interpret the law. The court has made its pronouncement. The law also provides recourse for him, where he can appeal that decision. Until that decision is appealed and set aside, he cannot contest it. We have all this autocracy in our nature that we find it difficult to respect a court decision when it doesn’t favour us.
People describe the court as the bastion of democracy and the last hope of the common man when it favours them, but when the decision is on the contrary, it becomes kangaroo and all sorts of derogatory descriptions deployed in the process.
What happened at the party primary where the candidates that emerged through your leadership were not given tickets?
I don’t really want to go into that. Our democracy is still young as we are just emerging from decades of military rule where you don’t see judicial pronouncement as sacrosanct, but the fact remains that the court has made a pronouncement, whoever that doesn’t abide by the decision of the court is playing outside the norm.
Eventually, INEC will recognise the candidates that emerged from the state executives that organised the only recognised state congress to produce and nominate the candidates.
Under our constitution, only state congress can nominate candidates, and the state congress is convened by the state chairman presided over by me, not by the national chairman or by the national delegates. That is the provision of our constitution. It should be Article 24 (3) of the constitution of APGA.
So, if Oye refuses to abide and obey the constitution of APGA, the constitution he swore to uphold, then the yoke is upon him not me. His duty is to uphold the constitution of APGA, if per adventure he says he is not doing that, I shouldn’t be the one to be answering the question, he should be the one. Ask him what the constitutional provision of APGA says on who nominates candidates? Is it the national delegates, is it the NWC, is it the national executives?
In no time, the court will reverse that decision taken by Oye. The problem besetting APGA is not limited to Abia State, it is even worse in Anambra, where the party is at the helm of the government, and there is crisis in the state House of Assembly. The party is in coma all across the five South-East states.
I don’t want to dwell so much on the crisis, we have less than two months to the election, and we are concentrating on getting our message to the people.
Are you saying that Alex Otti is holding the mandate for Chikwe Udensi?
Alex Otti is not the candidate of APGA. He was not nominated in a duly constituted state congress. I don’t want to be dragged into Alex Otti issue. We have nominated a candidate, Sir Chikwe Udensi. Initially, after the primary, INEC invited me to submit the list of candidates that emerged from our primary that I did. You know how we play politics in Nigeria, suddenly and to my utmost amazement, when INEC started publishing list, I saw names that didn’t emanate from our primary. I have the evidence, INEC invited me and I submitted the list to them. This issue that the national leadership of the party can submit list is nonsense.
INEC wrote PDP in Ogun State saying that it will only accept the list that emanated from the state executives. What is the difference when it comes to APGA in Abia State?
But, in Ogun State, INEC later recognised the one from the National Working Committee of the party, which is the reason Amosun’s followers moved to AMP?
If that is the case, they will return to court. The new position of the Supreme Court is that court decisions are not made in vain and must be respected. No matter how disagreeable it may be to you, you must respect it until it is set aside. If that were the case they will return to court and the court will reverse INEC’s position. That is exactly what happened in Abia State, INEC accepted our list, but I’m not saying that a lot of water passed under the bridge and they recanted and started publishing fictitious names.
Will this issue not affect the fortune of the party in the governorship election in the state?
It will not, we have been here before. If it were permissive to boast with the negative, I would tell you that APGA was founded on conflict and judicial litigations, and we have overtime surmounted that. It is the only party in South-East that enjoys the support of the masses.
We have left the APGA crisis far behind us, we are now in the field, and we are telling people that there is no house that is free of rancour, and if the crisis will affect APGA, then the crisis in the other political parties will also affect them. No party is without crisis. PDP in Abia State removed its chairman the other week.
There is this insinuation that the PDP in Abia is using you to cause confusion in the party in order to rob the party of victory. Is that true?
That is also the same insinuation that the PDP in Abia is using Ikechi Emenike to destabilise APC in the state. Who are those making this insinuation?
Uche Ogah, four months ago was a member of PDP just like Otti. Emenike was a member of ANPP. In 2007, he was the governorship candidate of ANPP. He is a foundation member of APC, and his wife is an ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, appointed by President Buhari, and his cousin is a minister. A person who just joined his party couple of months ago is accusing him of being used by PDP to destabilise APC. How?
A losing party will always try to anchor its defeat on one flimsy reason or the other. For example, I have never been a member of PDP; I have been in APGA from 2002 till now. Otti openly boasted that he was sent to APGA by the PDP, but turning around to point fingers at me is laughable. If there is a mole working for PDP it is Otti. When he hijacked the party’s structure in 2014, he made sure that no member of APGA got nomination, and all the people he came to APGA with are back to PDP, including those who ran on APGA’s platform and won. Ask them where they are; they are all back to PDP. If he won in 2015, he would have gone back to PDP, that was the arrangement. In no time, I will tell the people of this state who Otti is.
How can APGA come out of its crisis?
If we were in saner society, Victor Oye has no business running APGA; he would have resigned long ago. Those of us trying to salvage this party are seen as villains, while Oye and his executives are saints.
Oye will kill the party if left unchecked. We are trying to remove Abia State from the coming catastrophe occasioned by the misdeed of its so-called national leadership, and somebody is saying I’m being used by PDP. They are destroying the party; they have turned it into a vampire. He thinks APGA is a bazar he presides over in Catholic Church.
Anybody passing vote of confidence on Oye is attracting a divine curse on himself, we will only pray that his family, children both born and unborn will not be part of the curse. What will be the basis of passing a vote of confidence on Oye?