BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE
Chief Ezike Uche, deputy national chairman (South) of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), is one of those disturbed by the deepening crisis ravaging the party. In this interview, he speaks among others on the causes of the feud and how to resolve it.
HOW do you view the crisis ravaging APGA?
I regard it as very unfortunate and I am bewildered because the journey up to this point was very clear. We had a national convention last year where I was the chairman. All these national executive members, state and local government chairmen are products of that convention. INEC certified the convention. It is on that basis that we started our business.
That some group of people made up of five members of the Exco out of 29 will gather themselves and say they want to remove the national chairman raises a lot of questions. If they feel that the national chairman or members of the executive have erred, there are better ways of resolving it. You don’t just get up in the morning and suspend them. That is like a coup d’état.
What is your reaction to allegations that your exco did not create an atmosphere where such issues could be tabled and resolved?
What kind of atmosphere will warrant us holding Exco meetings here every three months? We held one in December, held two in May and another some few weeks ago.
Could you comment on allegations that Chief Victor Umeh’s opposition to Governor Peter Obi’s policies, especially non-conduct of local council polls fuelled the crisis?
We have been calling for local government elections in Anambra. When we called for the elections initially, the governor told us that the Voters’ Register was faulty and that it could only be used when INEC corrects it. When INEC was done with the correction, we called him again to remind him that we have sold forms to people.
There are three tiers of government: the federal, state and local government. If we don’t have the local government system, we can’t talk about democracy. It is at the grassroots level that we empower people. If we don’t have people in place at the grassroots level, then we are not there yet.
So, what I am saying in effect is that, when we started calling for this local government elections, I think that was where the problem with the governor started from. Why should we call for local government election because they prefer to deal with caretaker committee chairmen?
Aside non-conduct of council polls in Anambra, Umeh’s eight -year occupation of the national chair and clamour for restructuring of APGA are seen as other factors behind the crisis. Do you agree?
Please, get these things correctly. We had INEC recognition in 2010. Check out the information. Before this period, APGA was in real turmoil. So, in real sense, Umeh was not the chairman. He couldn’t sign anything that INEC recognized.
It was after our convention last year that they conferred the approval on us. At that convention in Awka, the chairman said that we should appoint an auditor to look at the financial records of the party. It was the governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi who appointed an auditor to look at our books.
They audited the accounts of the party and gave the copies to him. If an external auditor audited our accounts and INEC certified it. Things must be done rightly. By the way, how can we say we have a governor who is more or less a PDP man? He is an economic adviser to the president.
But APGA entered into an arrangement with the PDP for the 2011 presidential poll…
Did we tell our members to go and merge with PDP? We entered into that arrangement because we had no presidential candidate. We asked for some commitment to be given to us. We had to vote for President Goodluck Jonathan because at that time, that was the only reasonable decision we could make unless you want to disfranchise our members on the presidential elections which we didn’t want to do.