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In defence of Chekwas Okorie

A reply to Victor Umeh

By Chief Ogbuehi Dike

Our attention has been drawn to a four-page lengthy, incoherent and puerile interview granted by Chief Victor Umeh to Saturday Vanguard of May 6, 2017, in which Umeh continued his habitual malicious fabrications and vicious lies against Chief Chekwas Okorie, the founder and former National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and now founder and National Chairman of United Progressive Party (UPP).

It has for a long time been the attitude of Chief Chekwas Okorie to overlook Chief Umeh’s tantrums against his person when he discovered that the only thing that brings Umeh to the pages of Nigerian newspapers and indeed to public attention is only when he has to attack the person of Chief Chekwas Okorie.

It is to be noted that Umeh cannot be credited with any profound statement on national issues. Since he lacks the intellectual depth to comment meaningfully on national issues, he often resorts to denigrating Chief Chekwas Okorie to draw cheap attention to himself. This time I have decided without reference to Chief Chekwas Okorie to give a measured response to Umeh’s recent vituperation against the very person who lifted him from obscurity and indigency to political relevance and limelight. In Umeh’s

interview he tried shamelessly to distort the history of the origin of APGA and the crisis that engulfed the party that has left it in its present comatose state, he summersaulted in his illogicality several times.

In a nutshell Chief Okorie had begun the effort with his associates to found a registered national political party based on Igbo initiative in 1995 when the then Head of State, General Sani Abacha lifted partial ban on political activities. Chief Okorie floated in that year a political association named, Nigerian People’s Movement (NPM) with the motto of “Be Your Brother’s Keeper” in Igbo  “Onye aghana Nwanneya”.

It will be recalled that Chief Okorie had given this motto to  Nzuko Imo  which later became  Nzuko Abia na Imo  in which he was President-General in 1988. In 1992 Chief Okorie founded Igboezue Cultural Association with the same Motto of  Onye aghana Nwanneya. In 1996 Abacha lifted full ban on politics and Chief Okorie approached the electoral body at that time called National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON) to register the Peoples Democratic Congress (PDC) with the same Motto of Be Your Brother’s Keeper.

The details of this application can be found in the record of the present Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). PDC was not registered. In 1998, another opportunity presented itself and the ever determined Okorie returned to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make a second attempt to register the Peoples Democratic Congress (PDC) as a political party. PDC again was not registered by INEC.

In 2001 a third opportunity arose for the registration of political parties, Chief Okorie ever determined to give to Nigeria a progressive political platform based on Igbo initiative resumed the effort to register a political party. The consistent Motto of all his efforts at party registration has been “Be Your Brother’s Keeper” and the symbol of Cock had featured in all the three attempts.

In this third attempt the name of the association had changed to the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA). The association was presented at an impressive public ceremony at the Nike Lake Resort Hotel Enugu on August 28, 2001. Chief Okorie commenced immediately to recruit Protem Officers across the country to meet the INEC guidelines for party registration.

It was at the Nike Lake Resort Hotel presentation that Victor Umeh announced publicly his resignation from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and declared membership of an unregistered association (UPGA). Impressed by this apparent show of faith in an association that was yet to be registered Chief Chekwas Okorie appointed Victor Umeh the Protem National Treasurer on the same day in 2001.

In October, barely two months after Umeh was appointed Protem National Treasurer a Vanguard newspaper publication published names of Officers of a faction of PDP in Anambra State and behold the name of our Protem National Treasurer was conspicuous among the State Officers of this small faction which was opposed to the faction led by the then State Governor, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju.

When Umeh was confronted with this publication in one of the Caucus meetings at Enugu presided by Chief Okorie and reminded him that it was criminal for a person to belong to two political parties. Simultaneously, he arrogantly bolted out of the meeting saying that he was better off in PDP, to the astonishment of every member.

Chief Okorie did not see Umeh again till July 2002, 9 months after his unceremonious resignation. Chief Ralph Nwosu was recommended by late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo to replace Umeh as Protem National Treasurer since the position was zoned to Anambra State where Umeh comes from. Umeh was not around to know the circumstance that led to the change of UPGA to APGA. It was the same circumstance that led us to change the symbol of Cock from standing alone to standing on the party’s acronym APGA and still retained the Motto “Be Your Brother’s Keeper”.

APGA was registered on 22nd June, 2002 and Umeh came back to join the party in July 2002, one month after the party was registered and 9 months after he resigned from UPGA in October 2001. It is a criminal lie for Umeh to tell a lengthy and unwinding falsehood on the history and journey to the registration of APGA. The truth is that he was not there when Chief Okorie criss-crossed the length and breadth of Nigeria to establish offices and appoint officers in 36 States and FCT to meet the requirements for the registration of the party.

As Chief Okorie was returning and filing back the list of officers to Abuja, I, Chief Ogbuehi Dike and others, namely Hon. Chambers Okorie, Barrister Ifeanyi Nwigwe, Chinenye Nwogu, Mr. Mike Echefu and Barrister Onyeakalam Alilionwu were on ground in Abuja filling up these forms in relevant INEC booklets and forms in readiness for submission to INEC. To the best of my knowledge and records which are still available to us, Umeh’s name never featured.

It was the late Barrister J.S.P.C. Nwokolo who passionately appealed to Chief Okorie to re-admit Umeh to the party. The ever compassionate Chief Okorie did not only re-admit Umeh into the party in spite of his betrayal, he created a space for him as the National Vice-Chairman of the Party South East of Nigeria while Chief Ralph Okey Nwosu remained as the National Treasurer of the party.

This so much I can say for want of space on the journey to founding APGA by Chief Chekwas Okorie and the role Victor Umeh did not play contrary to his false claims.

On the emergence of Peter Obi as the governorship candidate of APGA in Anambra State, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party led by Chief Chekwas Okorie appointed a high powered Committee to screen and conduct primary elections for our party aspirants in the South East geopolitical zone. This Committee was led by the then Deputy National Chairman (South) of the party Chief Maxi Okwu. Mr. Peter Obi emerged as governorship candidate in Anambra State, Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu in Imo, Barr. Chief Ugochukwu Agballah in Enugu State, late Barr.

Chief Onwuka Kalu in Abia State and Barrister S. C. Oduko for Ebonyi State. Chief Ralph Nwosu boycotted the screening and primary election exercise and resigned from the party. This created a vacuum in the office of National Treasurer which I said earlier was zoned to Anambra State.

Umeh again came crawling back to Chief Chekwas Okorie to reinstate him to the office of National Treasurer which he had abandoned in October 2001. The ever forgiving Chief Okorie who obviously had soft spot for the ungrateful Umeh, re-appointed him National Treasurer and presented him at the National Convention of the party on the 10th of January 2003, where his position and those of other National Working Committee (NWC) members were ratified by the National Convention.

This was at the Old Parade Ground Abuja. It was at this same Convention that Chief Okorie raised the hand of late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu and handed him over the party’s presidential flag after the Convention had ratified his candidature. Mr. Peter Obi was at that same Convention handed over the party’s flag on behalf of himself and other gubernatorial candidates of APGA for the governorship election in Nigeria. It was not on record that Umeh who had already set a record of serial betrayal and who was under close watch could have played any significant role in the emergence of Peter Obi as the gubernatorial candidate as he claimed in his interview.

UMEH AS A NOTORIOUS BACK STABBER

In January 2003 Umeh confronted and challenged Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu who he never knew closely, over the issue of the    nomination    of a candidate for Aniocha 2 State Constituency. Umeh’s first act as National Treasurer and member of NWC was to go behind Chief Okorie to remove the name of the nominee of late Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu for Aniocha 2 Federal Constituency, boasting to the knowledge of late Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu that nobody should have greater prerogative than him over who became the party’s candidate in his State Constituency.

Ikemba’s anger was difficult to contain but to calm him down Chief Okorie reversed Umeh’s interference with a nomination he had approved before leaving Abuja to return to Enugu. In his reaction late Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu ordered that he would not want to see Umeh either in his residence or in any party activities he was involved.

This is the reason Umeh never participated or featured in all the presidential campaigns even as he was the National Treasurer until the end of the campaign. Chief Okorie never relented in pleading with late Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu to forgive Umeh. Chief Onwuka Ukwa, Ambassador Odi Nwosu and immediate family members of Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu were all witnesses to what Chief Okorie did to secure Chief Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s forgiveness for Chief Umeh. No sooner than this was achieved than Umeh embarked on a series of blackmail and intrigues to run Chief Okorie down before his erstwhile leader Dim Ojukwu whom he had close association with for over two decades. Umeh succeeded in his scheme to damage Chief Okorie’s long-standing association with Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu. That was Umeh’s reward to Chief Okorie for all he did for him.

What manner of a human being will after worshiping at the grave side of his presumed leader, turn around to publish very horrifying and sordid allegations against the very wife his leader loved so much in his life time? Umeh indeed lacks any modicum of character and conscience.

How come Governor Peter Obi has never for a moment talked about his mandate being compromised by Chief Okorie? So Umeh knows more than Governor Obi when his mandate was at risk?

It speaks volume of Chief Chekwas Okorie’s maturity, character and spirituality that he has put behind him his travails and resumed his cordial relationship and comradeship with all his Associates in the original APGA in spite of Umeh’s wicked machinations to destroy those relationships.

.Governor Willie Obiano should beware of Umeh’s negativity and dangerously pervading awful aura.

The Press Conference in which Umeh announced the suspension of Chief Chekwas Okorie and the 2 Deputy National Chairmen – Chief Maxi Okwu and late Dr. Hassan Bello was typical of a coup d’etat. Umeh as National Treasurer was never in the line of succession in the APGA Constitution but the Presidency influenced INEC under Prof. Maurice Iwuh to recognize Umeh as the acting National Chairman of the party. The whole nation was bewildered.

That INEC action was unprecedented and it is not likely to repeat itself at any time in future since such impunity and brazenness have no place in a civilized democracy. Umeh’s sponsors knew that the Party would challenge    the matter in court and they were ready with all the funds and influence that he needed.

Chief Okorie became a victim of a serial travesty of justice. After 7 years of gruesome and excruciating legal nightmare in various Nigerian courts, Chief Okorie and his associates threw in the towel, returned the APGA certificate of registration to INEC and issued a damning pronouncement on APGA which has haunted the party till this day.

Chief Okorie proceeded to INEC to found the United Progressive Party (UPP) to the admiration of many Nigerians. UPP is now 5 years old and is fast developing into a national movement for the self-determination of Nigeria’s numerous ethnic nationalities.

  • Chief Ogbuehi Dike

National Publicity Secretary, UPP


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.