Barr. Prince Nnanna Ukaegbu, factional chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, in Abia State, spoke on why his faction adopted Gov Okezie Ikpeazu as its governorship candidate in the last election and how APGA’s ex -national chairman; Chief Victor Umeh weakened the party in the South East zone. Excerpt
By Ugochukwu Alaribe
One is surprised that as a chieftain of APGA in Abia State, you backed the governorship candidate of the PDP in the last election?
It is incorrect to say I backed the PDP candidate, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, in the last governorship election in the state. The true story was that before the elections, APGA in Abia State reviewed the situation at hand which was that the PDP in the State had two governorship candidates; one in PDP and the other in APGA. What happened was that we were forced to make the best out of a bad situation by choosing the best out of the two available candidates of the PDP. We zeroed in and settled for Dr. Ikpeazu who had a better programme and human face over Dr. Alex Otti. It should not be forgotten that the national leadership of the party at that time had turned the nomination process of our party into one huge bazaar and a money making venture.
The leadership refused to present strong candidates as was the case in all the states and created problems and division to weaken the party as was witnessed in Imo and Abia. In Ebonyi, they even refused entreaties by some aggrieved PDP to run on APGA platform. These are issues in public domain.
But is Dr. Alex Otti, a stranger in APGA?
As the chairman of the party in the state, I met Dr. Alex Otti for the first time on the 11th day of November, 2014 at the APGA national secretariat while he was purchasing nomination forms. I was on a private assignment when the ‘owner’ of the party, Chief Victor Umeh learnt I was in Abuja and ordered me to proceed to the secretariat to witness Dr. Otti’s desecration of our democratic norms.
Of course at the point of purchasing the nomination form, Otti was not a member of our party but it was obvious that Umeh had ceded the governorship ticket. However, events proved that neither Umeh nor Otti wanted the party to win the governorship election in Abia state.
First was the attempt to disgrace and the eventual ouster from the party of Sir Chikwe Udensi who was the financier and governorship hopeful of the party before then; a man who single handedly built the party in the last three preceding years and incidentally, Dr. Otti’s cousin from the same compound in Atani, Arochukwu, Abia North. All my entreaties to Otti for a resolution with Udensi fell on deaf ears.
APGA’s National chairman, Ike Oye, said since he assumed office, he has reached aggrieved members of APGA, that the party is now more united? Did he approach you?
Those who brought Ike Oye as APGA national chairman did not bring him to rebuild the party because I doubt if such is in their agenda. How can you bring a non member to rebuild a party? It can’t work because Umeh so much battered APGA that the party now needs a surgical operation to regain its former glory. They brought Ike Oye to protect their interest and further the disintegration of the party. That is why after almost eleven years of Umeh’s disastrous leadership, they could not find anybody within the party nor could Umeh groom a successor but they had to go outside the party to recruit another Anambra man to take over from him. I won’t answer the question about his touted rebuilding of the party until 2019, if not 2017.
You were an unrepentant critic of the immediate past Theodore Orji administration in Abia state, now that his successor has started addressing some of the issues you were agitating for, can you say that Abia is now on course?
One of the greatest political decisions I ever took against all odds and propaganda was to back Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu. It was not a simple decision to take for the facts that as the leader of the opposition in the state, being the chairman of APGA the leading opposition party in Abia, the chairman of Conference of Nigeria Political Parties, CNPP as well as the state chairman of Intra Party Advisory Council of Nigeria, IPAC; such move was bound to be construed as capitulation.