Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Court Can’t Make Umeh APGA National Chairman -Okwu

Mazi Okwu emerged the new national chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) at a national convention held by a faction of his party recently. In this interview with Jude Ossai in Enugu, Okwu insists he is the authentic Chairman of APGA as he dismisses the Appeal Court judgment which reinstated Chief Victor Umeh as Chairman. Excerpts:

WITH the Appeal Court granting Victor Umeh’s request to remain the chairman of the party, there seems to be a problem now that you too emerged as the chairman through the APGA’s national convention just held. What is really happening?

If anybody knows how the court operates, you cannot stay an executive judgment. You don’t even stay a declarative judgment. The judgment of the Enugu High Court of February 8, 2013 was executed on April 8, 2013. The order by noon, the same day was an exercise in futility. We ignored it, in the sense that it does not affect us. Everybody knows, including a first-year law student, that you do not stay executive judgment. Secondly, you don’t stay what has been done. So, that baby, the new executive, born by 8.30 am on April 8, 2013 can no longer be aborted. That baby stands.. It was a democratic convention that fulfilled all the rules. INEC was there. So politically, we are moving on. We won’t be distracted. I understand that the respondent, Jude Okuli, who was not even given the right to be heard, including his counsel, has gone to the Supreme Court. I am sure appropriate action would be taken at that level.

How would you react to the allegation that the new APGA is established to make an in road for PDP to win Anambra state in the forth coming Anambra State governorship election?

Well, that allegation is what I will call a political brick-bat. The fact remains that some of you know my political background. I am always for the progressive ideology. I am not saying that PDP is not progressive, but the fact that APGA as a party has remained as APGA. The fact also remains that I am not part of any project to sell the party. I remain focused and committed. I’ve enunciated my vision earlier when I emerged on interim capacity as national chairman of the party. I’ve embarked on the mission of restructuring, reconciliation and re-integration. Thirdly, APGA will be the third party, the third leg on which the Nigerian political tripod stands. What our fathers did during NCNC and NPP days, we shall repeat it in APGA, that’s my mission.

The immediate challenge you have is to produce a viable candidate that can win the forth coming Anambra state governorship election, to ensure APGA retains Anambra state. How would you go about it?

The success of the convention has shown that the project has a lot of viability. Anambra State remains critical to APGA. Anambra is the life blood of the APGA. If we fail in Anambra state, APGA may become a dead party. Therefore, Anambra is very important to us. We will certainly retain Anambra State. We will win elections in Anambra because the governor, Mr Peter Obi has performed and he has restored sanity to the brigandage that he met in the state. On that alone, APGA will retain Anambra.

What does the Enugu appeal court order portend to your operations as National chairman of APGA?

It has no meaning to me whatsoever. Like I said, I will hit the road immediately. I will move from Anambra State to Jos in Plateau State, and from Jos to Kano, trying to let our people over there know that a new APGA is born. I will also reach Owerri in Imo State and Rivers State. I will hit Lagos and the rest of the country. I am a pastoral politician. I want to hit the road and I am already on the road, from the moment I got elecrted.

Any plan by the new APGA under you to merge with UPP?

No, but what we agreed when I went to Chief Chekwas Okorie, the founding chairman of APGA who has now founded UPP is that we shall work together. We are cooperating and that will be in the best interest of Ndigbo.

What is the position of Imo State chapter of APGA in the present situation, obtained within the party?

Well, the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, seems to have taken his own group to his new political play ground called APC, an association which is not yet registered. It is only when the APC is registered that we should begin to talk realistically. For now, it is all speculations and no offence has been committed. Let us wait and not cross the bridge before we get there. But obviously, having put behind us the APGA problem, with respect to the formation of the new executive monitored by INEC, it is better for us to be on the move now. The court can’t make a party. The party has been liberated from the clutch of Victor Umeh because about 35 members of the newly inaugurated executive are strictly on our side. A party is not a corporation. From all rank and files, they have seen our convention. They are with us. So we are not distracted. We shall continue moving ahead. So we will deal with Imo state problem very soon. Once I finish my nationwide tour, we shall then sit down to address Imo state situation. By then, we shall know whether APC is registered or not.

----Tribune Nigeria Interview April 17, 2013
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