From interviews and statements, Sunday Vanguard compilation of views from key players in the high-wire politics of Anambra State, preparatory to next Februaryâ€™s gubernatorial election.
By Jide Ajani, Deputy Editor, Charles Kumolu & Umoru Henry
GOVERNOR Suswan to Anambra PDP
â€œI haveÂ Â Â given them my advice and that is to say that I told them there is the need for the NWC to call all the major stakeholders in Anambra state who are members of the PDP to sit down and discuss.Â In a situation where you have 30 members of the State House of Assembly from PDP and the governor is from another party, means there is something fundamentally wrong among the political leadership in Anambra state.
If the NWC is serious about PDP winning Anambra state, then, they must sit down with all the political stakeholders to encourage them to foster unity so that we can achieve success in election in Anambra state, otherwise, nothing can be achieved. â€œIn a situation where people insist that they must be the person who will win, else nothing will happen, is not a good attitude.
I think these are things that the NWC needs to work on because as far as I am concerned, the party in Anambra state is to a large extent in shambles.Â There should be serious effort on the part of NWC to foster unity among the political leadership so that our party can achieve victory otherwise Anambra is 100 per cent PDP.Â 30 members of the house are PDP members and the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker are all PDP and the governor is from another party.Â It then means there is a problem with our party in Anambra state.
Where there are 47 people contesting for a single position, it means there is serious problem.Â Â Â â€œI would want to first address the issue of expectation.Â Before I do that, I want to inform you that I have submitted the report of the congress to the National Working Committee (NWC) of our party and it has been accepted.Â I have finished my job, but I had expected that we would have a very difficult congress and actually, what we met on ground was not very encouraging.Â But, we did our best in terms of the conduct of the congress.
Sen. Annie Okonkwo to PDP
I donâ€™t subscribe to the allegation that Anambra is crisis ridden based on the discoveries of the Suswan committee. Governor Suswan himself is part of the crisis, because as the Chairman of the committee you should take responsibility for the success or failure of your committee. He came to Anambra and became part of the crisis, if he had kept faith, and recorded the actual results of the delegate congress, the distraction of today wouldnâ€™t have arisen.
Why were the results doctored and who doctored it. How would you conduct a delegate congress election, you would not announce the result, you run away and leave it for the chairman of the Appeal committee to handle. The Wakili Adamawa Chairman of the Appeal committee in his press conference said that an additional 285 names were corrected and added to the result list.Â Â In an election of this magnitude why donâ€™t you publish the results as recorded and signed by the electoral officers who conducted the results at the various wards.
Without equivocation if thingsÂ were done properly people would not react, but because the results were now typed and list of people who were not even present at congress venues making the list as delegates, it is absurd. He should have made a press conference to announce the results to Anambra people before leaving. Why be in a haste to beat a retreat.Â Anambarians are very peaceful people wonderful, warm and cheerful.
The issue is that most politicians in Abuja will not do their homework while the party and authorities in Abuja have seen Anambra as a Gold mine where they will always come to make money. Did you imagine the enormous amount of money that the Anambra PDP has made for the party within the last few weeks only for the process to be truncated by hood winking the people and allowing a few of their cohorts to truncate the process of democracy in the state.
That is really the problem with Anambra and each time this injustice is done on us, the people will fight just as an injunction was gotten today to truncate the process of conducting an illegitimate gubernatorial primary
They should start telling themselves the truth , first how can you claim to be aspiring for an elective position, when you donâ€™t have a follower ship, even at the ward level.It is not possible.
If you have prepared very well and you come to Anambra State to contest election and loose you loose gallantly, but you donâ€™t have to go and invite your Abuja cohorts to come and force your self or others on the people. Just because these associates are close to the corridors of power, you use them to destabilize the processes of our nascent democracy.
It is high time people realize that power belongs to the people and not to a few individuals in Abuja or the corridors of power. What happened in Anambra state is a replica of June 12 where the people spoke and a clique or an individual truncated the process. Anambra people should stop Abuja politics and come down to the grassroots and do your campaign, if the people say it is you let it be
Anambra Ward Congresses Committee To Sen.Â Okonkwo
â€œContrary, Senator Okonkwo andÂ a few other stakeholdersÂ are disappointed with the transparent conduct of the congress which did not give them the room toÂ manipulate the process to their advantage.Â They areÂ thereforeÂ merely crying wolf where there is none.
â€œThe committee wishes to adviseÂ Senator Okonkwo and other stakeholders in the Anambra gubernatorial contest toÂ Â Â imbibe the true spirit of democracy by playing the game according to the rulesÂ and accepting the verdict of electoral umpiresÂ rather than find fault with those charged with conduct of elections even where there was no basis for such accusations.
â€œThe Committee remains grateful to Mr President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua, the National Chairman of our great party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor and members of the National Working Committee of the party for the enormous confidence reposed in us as well as the robust support and encouragement which enabled us to successfully carry out our assignmentâ€.
INEC To APGA
Mr. ChekwasÂ Okorie hadÂ filedÂ the motionÂ and later prayed for the discontinuation of same butÂ the CourtÂ went ahead to giveÂ a ruling whichÂ Victor Umeh and his group have alwaysÂ presented inÂ a skewed mannerÂ to createÂ an erroneous impression that INEC flagrantly disobeyedÂ court orders.
The September 1st, 2009 ruling had nothing to do with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). It was an ex-parte order and not a judgment. It was in respect of the conventionÂ convened by the Deputy Chairman of the party. The case is pending as no final decision on the matter has, to date, been taken.Â INEC cannot therefore be said to have flouted a court judgment that never was.
It should be stated that the interim recognition that was given to Victor Umeh at the inception of the crisis as the acting National Chairman of APGA has been withdrawn since there was no convention of theÂ confirming him asÂ chairman. Acting in consonance with the constitution of the party, therefore, INEC recognized Chekwas Okorie, pending the determination of the case being adjudicated upon.Â It was also against this backdrop that the nomination form for the forthcoming Anambra governorship was issued to the Chekwas Okorie-led faction of the party.
The decision to this effect was not a calculated attempt to either destabilize APGA or to prevent Peter Obi from getting a second mandate as Governor of Anambra States as alleged by Victor Umeh. As an unbiased and non-partisan umpire, INEC is not bothered about who emerges victorious in any electoral contest more so, as the problem in APGA is intra-party affair which the Commission has, time without number, deplored.
Victor Umeh To Chekwas Okorie
What is happening and the latest that is in the news is that the opponents of APGA who have been using our former chairman, Chekwas Okorie, have continued to use him to create crisis in the minds of members of the party as to the stability of the party. The original APGA Constitution never had Okorieâ€™s name.Â When the party was registered, INEC gave the new parties 30 days within which to file its constitution.Â It was within that period that Okorieâ€™s name was inserted into it and taken to INEC.
Nobody saw the constitution.Â We believed it was the same constitution that weâ€™d read that was brought to the first convention of the party and one of the motions that was moved at that convention was the adoption of that constitution.Â A copy of the constitution was just brandished, nobody looked through it and it was given to the INEC Commissioner who came to monitor the convention.
It was after the printed version was distributed that we saw that Okorieâ€™s name was in it.Â We read through the constitution and saw that having put his name in this constitution he has not removed the possibility of sanctioning him if he erred.
He, providentially, failed to expunge Article 19(3) which was a provision for a removal of officers of the party under special circumstances. The provision states that â€œAny officer of the party who is indicted for any criminal offence bothering on fraud, embezzlement or conduct likely to bring the image of the party to ridicule and disrespect shall be deemed to have been expelled from the partyâ€.
This is a special circumstance in this constitution.Â Article 19(1) and 19(2) deal with removal from office; but Article 19(3), deals with special circumstances.Â Okorie has been quoting 19(1) and 19(2) which refers to the convention for the removal of the chairman and all other national officers of the party.Â 19(3) comes after the first two and that is where Okorieâ€™s case falls.
Chekwas Okorie To Victor Umeh
There is no single issue in any court challenging the APGA constitution. He quoted it so copiously, section 19(3). That was APGA constitution he was quoting not a different one.Â And I can also tell you that I was ridiculed and made a laughing stock by people – some of them very high up and I donâ€™t have to mention names here â€“ when I was going for the formation of APGA.
I was called names. I was called a mental case. They said we would never succeed. My own leader, Dim Ojukwu, said, â€œChekwas, this is one of your dreams that will never workâ€. That was his statement in the presence of people. But I was determined, I was convinced and my faith in God is supper.
I therefore knew that that would happen. And all I did was to secure my position for two terms, not life Chairman so that the character of APGA can be firmly rooted. That what APGA represents, can easily be identified before I take my bow. So I put my name as the founder, which no one can dispute; it is my idea, it is my baby. I put my name as Chairman for the first four years and for another four years, if I so demand. It is right there in APGA constitution.
This was debated at INEC. At the time we were registering APGA, our party constitution and manifestoes were subjected to debates. And I was able to convince the INEC of the time. It was approved.
There is a political party monitoring committee at INEC. But then, this issue that is arising now does not make sense to me. Because we have been in Court for five good years, and there has not been a single issue challenging the APGA constitution. Umeh has subscribed to that constitution up till today. If he will challenge the constitution, maybe that will be tomorrow.
And I tell you one thing, if I tell you that this is not authentic, that we had a better constitution I will be willing to present it. But he has not been able to present another constitution, because he wasnâ€™t there! And I want to remind Nigerians of this fact: that a political party is a voluntary organisation.
And that is by the creation of law. You come in, you go out. And if you want to change any aspect of the constitution, there is a process for amendment. Has Umeh moved for an amendment?