By Christopher Isiguzo
The lingering crisis rocking the leadership of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) assumed a new dimension weekend, as the party’s National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, accused Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, widow of the former Biafran warlord and Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Spain, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, among others of being behind the crisis.
Umeh specifically accused Obi of refusing all entreaties by prominent Igbo leaders, including the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Paulinus Eze-Okafor, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, Onyechi Ikpeazu, (SAN), Anaocha traditional Rulers’ Council, the President of Ndigbo Lagos, Chief Chris Eze, the leadership of Odinma Anaocha, among others.
Addressing newsmen in Enugu, the APGA national chairman dismissed recent media reports to the effect that he alongside the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, shunned a meeting initiated by Obi to resolve the crisis in the party which held in Awka last week as not only mischievous but was intended to tarnish his image as somebody who was impervious to having peace in the party.
Umeh expressed dismay that rather than find ways of building the party to be stronger ahead of the next general elections especially the governorship election in Anambra State by 2014, the governor had continued to engage in clandestine moves aimed at crippling the party, vowing however that he was ready to lay down his life to ensure that the party did not go extinct.
“My attention was drawn to newspaper publications to the effect that I shunned a peace meeting initiated by Governor Peter Obi for the sole reason of resolving the crisis in APGA which held in Awka on November 6, 2012. I was said to have received a text message notifying me of the meeting but I shunned the meeting. I wish to state unequivocally that nobody sent any message to me for the purpose of attending a meeting at Awka.
“On November 2, I travelled to London to attend the APGA UK chapter convention scheduled to hold on the November 3, 2012 and also to attend a meeting of the Igbo Union in Oxford for the sole purpose of celebrating Ojukwu’s birthday, I was one of the guest speakers there. Before my departure, there was no indication that there was going to be a meeting where issues of resolving the crisis in the APGA will be discussed,” he stated.
“One of the serious blackmails being launched against me is to create an impression to the discerning public that I don’t want peace in APGA. If Obi wanted to hold a peace meeting, is it not surprising to note that the best way to invite me to such meeting was through a text message when he knew I was out of the country. Why didn’t he send me a letter or even calling me that I was expected to attend a meeting. It was therefore clear to me that I was not wanted at the meeting so that he will continue to launch the propaganda against me.
“If there is anybody that wants peace in APGA, it is Umeh. I have never instigated any crisis in APGA. It is therefore hypocritical that the people who are instigating and sponsoring crisis in APGA are now trying to portray me as somebody who is not amenable to reconciliation,” he said.
He accused of the governor of having deployed several strategies aimed at removing him as the party’s national chairman some of which he said included a petition to the EFCC accusing him of embezzling party funds and living in affluence, procurement of five members of the party’s NWC to announce his removal, litigations in different High Courts, among others, wondering what could be the intention of his traducers.
“Governor Obi is sponsoring multiple litigations to cripple the party and he is now talking of initiating reconciliation and making peace when he is indeed the problem of the party. Let him own up and stop hiding in the dark and yet sponsoring people in the day just to tarnish my reputation with the sole intent of destroying the party. If there is anybody that is impervious to peace in the party, it is Obi and his co-travellers.”