Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi
* Party’s new interim leadership emerges as Umeh voids moves to unseat him
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Toba Suleiman and Michael Olugbode
The last may not have been heard on the emergence of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), as the Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, has said the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is determined to retain the identity and core values bequeathed to it by its founding fathers and would not join any merger arrangement.
Obi’s statement, however, came on a day his Ekiti State counterpart and Chairman of the APC Contact and Mobilisation Committee (CMC) in the South-west, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said the APC was committed to the birth of a better Nigerian nation, with an open door to all political parties and individuals in the merger arrangement.
While stakeholders of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in Yobe State ratified the earlier decision of the state Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, to enlist the party in the merger plan of the APC, the Governor of Nasarawa State, Alhaji Tanko Almakura, said the merger was geared towards changing the orientation of Nigerians in the development of the nation.
Fielding questions from journalists in Abuja, after an emergency meeting of the national caucus of the party, Obi denied any controversy over the decision of the party not to join the merger by some opposition parties in the country, saying at no time was the issue in contention among the stakeholders.
Obi’s position, which also came shortly after the national caucus of the party approved the appointment of Mr. Maxi Okwu and Alhaji Sanni Shinkafi, to serve as acting National Chairman and Acting National Secretary of the party respectively, said: “APGA as a party is not in merger with any political party but individual party members can go for that, as a personal arrangement. There are no two versions of APGA, we are only one indivisible party and that one indivisible APGA is not involved in any merger talks with any political party. The merger condition is that you have to surrender your identity and logo but we are not surrendering our logo, we are not surrendering our identity. Individuals can do so on their own.”
The caucus meeting, it was gathered, was summoned to holistically review the High Court of Enugu State judgment, which ousted its embattled National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh; the merger and other incidental issues.
Reacting to a statement allegedly credited to the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, that the real APGA was in support of the merger, Obi said the comments may have arisen out of share sentiments of the environment.
“I and Okorocha remained close as brothers and members of APGA. The governor of Imo State has sympathy for the opposition merger arrangement of the APC and he believes that it would serve best the interest of the party. I believe that APGA is an independent party and will remain so. And if I may quote our late hero, he says: ‘It is better to be a majority in a minority than to be a minority in majority, because nobody will hear your voice’.
“We want our voice to be heard in this enterprise called Nigeria and we believe that APGA gives us that opportunity and we in APGA hold that reality so dearly to our heart,” he said.
Speaking on the alleged clash of interests between him and Okorocha, Obi said he had been in close touch with Okorocha, saying he had had no cause to quarrel with him on any issue.
“I had a two hour quality meeting with Okorocha in his resident in Owerri before coming to the Abuja meeting and we had positive discussions before he excused himself from the meeting,” he said.
While defending the appointment of Okwu as the interim APGA national chairman, despite being the former chairman of a recently deregistered party, the Citizens Popular Party (CPP), Obi said Okwu had since November revalidated his membership of APGA.
Okwu and Shinkafi, who got the majority votes of the stakeholders, were expected to hold the offices pending the conduct of a national convention.
Also, all the former members of the National Working Committee (NWC) and National Executive Committee (NEC) were unanimously elected to serve in the interim NWC and NEC.
The only surviving member of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Dr. Tim Menakaya, was elected as Chairman of the party’s BoT, while all the zone was expected to nominate at least two members for the composition of the new BoT.
Part of the mandate given to the interim leadership of the party was for them to conduct all congresses and the national convention on or before April 30, 2013.
In a communique issued at the end of the meeting, the leaders said they accepted the judgment of the High Court of Enugu State in good faith and therefore, pledged to abide by it in order to move the party forward.
The party leaders said they were constrained to act following the removal from office of Umeh and NWC members by the court on grounds that their re-election failed to comply with article 18 of the party’s constitution.
Speaking also, Fayemi in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Olayinka Oyebode, in Ado-Ekiti, stated that the congress would run an open door policy, where other progressive platforms and interest groups outside the merger plan would be accommodated.
Fayemi, who said besides other parties, the congress would also open its door to all individuals who were willing to be part of the new arrangement, said the move was aimed at rescuing the nation.
The statement also added that the APC, which was a merger of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and APGA would extend its mobilisation drive to socio-political groups with progressive bend in the bid to create a robust platform that will work for the realisation of a better Nigeria.
Fayemi, who noted that APC was committed to the birth of a better Nigerian nation, said the birth of APC came at a time Nigerians earnestly yearned for accountable, responsive and responsible leadership is quite significant, adding that the party will be fully dedicated to promoting the values of freedom, social justice, equality and solidarity.
Also in a related development, the Yobe ANPP stakeholders, during the meeting at the Government House, Damaturu on Saturday, stated that they welcomed the mega party plan, insisting that it was in the best interest of the nation.
The meeting, which drew political leadership of the party from the 17 local government areas of the state, including elected representatives at both state and federal levels, was chaired by the deputy governor, Alhaji Abubakar Aliyu who represented the governor.
Various speakers at the forum, including Senator Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North), Alhaji Adamu Dala Dogo (Speaker, Yobe Assembly), Mallam Sani Inuwa Nguru (ANPP, Yobe State Chairman), Alhaji Sidi Karasuwa (former chairman of ANPP, Yobe), and Hajiya Asmau Kolo (Women Leader of the party and Commissioner for Women Affairs), expressed support for the party.
Declaring the meeting opened, the state Deputy Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Ali, said the merger was the best option to wrest power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which had within the past 13 years brought the nation into a near collapse.
The deputy governor noted that the merger was a welcome development in rescuing Nigeria from its decay, and therefore, urged the stakeholders and supporters to support the merger in the interest of the country.
He added that: “All the parties involved in the merger and those to join soon conceived this idea because they are true democrats that are patriotic and willing to see positive changes come 2015.”
While soliciting for their support and cooperation to move the new party to its promised land, he said he was optimistic that APC would in 2015 unseat the present PDP -led government of President Goodluck Jonathan, which was characterised with unemployment, insecurity, poverty, corruption, injustice and above all infrastructural decay.