Ekwunife is out of Anambra Central race
Erstwhile National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Victor Umeh who is also the party’s senatorial candidate in the forthcoming Anambra Central Senatorial Election in a session with newsmen appraised issues concerning the elections and other national issues. Excerpts:
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
How are you prepared for the fresh poll?
I am ready for the election again but the important thing to consider at this time is the need to do everything according to the law. The previous election was nullified because somebody who was not supposed to take part in it took part after not being properly nominated by her party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). So, as we prepare to go for the ordered fresh election, it is important that all preparations must comply with the relevant laws and the rules.
I say this because if we go into the election, where improper candidates take part, it will expose the exercise to further nullification. I have seen the PDP and All Progressives Congress (APC) pretending not to know what the law says about situations like this. They are now going around to say that they are conducting primaries to present fresh candidates for the election. This is against the established law that only validly nominated candidates that took part in the nullified election will contest the fresh election ordered by the court. So, what this means is that at the stage where we are now, all political parties have been foreclosed from putting forward new candidates to represent them in the election.
Does this mean that the PDP and APC are out of the contest given Senator Chris Ngige’s withdrawal?
15 political parties contested that election. But regarding the two parties that you referred to, Mrs. Ekwunife, who is purported to be the candidate of the PDP in that election was disqualified by the Court of Appeal in clear terms in its judgement. The court said that she was not the product of any valid primary and therefore was not legitimately and validly sponsored by the PDP and that she wasn’t a candidate in the election.
So, with that pronouncement of the court, it follows that the PDP, which committed the foul, cannot go back, based on the judgement that I cited, to conduct another primary to put in a new candidate.
Period of primaries
Apart from the fact that the PDP would not be allowed to benefit from its own wrong doing, the Supreme Court has also placed a bar on that situation because the period of primaries and nominations is gone.
When you talk about nomination, it includes substitution. These are processes of nomination before you go into the election proper. So, having crossed that stage, the PDP cannot hold a primary to cure the defects in its nomination of a candidate in an election that had been nullified. So, the party is clearly out of the way. The APC is qualified to contest the election because it had Dr. Chris Ngige as candidate. So long as Dr. Ngige wants to contest, APC is entitled to take part in the poll. But having accepted a ministerial appointment, he must resign according to the provisions of the constitution to be able to contest. For the other parties, their candidates are in the election like myself.
What do you make of the re-alignment of political forces in Anambra Central and its implication to your chances in the forthcoming election?
I don’t think that politics is a monkey business, where you jump from one tree to the other. People who play politics that is bereft of integrity, ideology and principle are dangerous to democracy. The same people who are jumping into the APC now, said all sort of things about the party during the last elections. They described the APC with very uncomplimentary words. Former Governor Peter Obi, Ekwunife and their cohorts went as far as describing the APC as a Boko Haram party.
At that time, they were dancing the tune of former President Goodluck Jonathan but after losing the election, they have considered it expedient to cross over to APC and begin to sing the praises of the party.
The question at this stage is: Why is Ekwunife trying to join APC? The reason is very simple. When the Anambra Central Senatorial election was nullified, I said it clearly that the repeat election would be conducted under a different template; that the time of godfather, godmother and presidential directive is gone. The time some people will stay in Abuja and say that the president’s wife has ordered for somebody to be supported is gone.
How come that Ekwunife outfoxed an APGA government in Anambra State?
I told you that it was the making of the then PDP-led Federal Government. The government then ordered INEC to receive the list of ad hoc staff from PDP candidates in the 2015 elections. It was not only in Anambra State but in the whole of the South East. During that election, we couldn’t see collation officers in the 109 wards in my senatorial zone. No result was collated at the ward level because they all disappeared; local government collation officers also disappeared. That was how they manipulated the result of the election. Ekwunife, who is saying that she will defeat me again, has forgotten that I played a key role in her election into the House of Representatives in 2011 on APGA’s platform, which is the only election she won in her political career. In 2007, there was no election anywhere and they wrote the results for themselves under PDP.
When she moved to the Progressives People’s Alliance (PPA) and contested the governorship; she lost woefully and came back to me that she wanted to join APGA. That was how we took her and gave her the opportunity to contest for the House of Representatives for the second time. If not for my intervention, she wouldn’t have gotten the ticket. I pleaded with party members to give her the opportunity.
Nobility of character
The way they are opposing her now in the APC was the way APGA members resisted her then. So, for me, politics is about nobility of character. Since 2002, I’ve been a member of APGA, I’ve never changed party and I don’t believe in jumping from one party to the other. Politics that is bereft of ideology is a danger to democracy.
What was the financial consideration for your support for the PDP in the last presidential election?
We are surprised to hear that some political parties received money. But I am very happy that these things are happening so that Nigerians will understand the character of APGA under my leadership. I never did anything as the national chairman of the party to take money from somebody, to enrich myself or enrich members of the party. All our actions under my leadership was based on conviction. During the last elections, I never met Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd); I never met the national chairman of the PDP; even Jonathan never gave us one kobo. We didn’t demand for such, and he never offered. We stated it clear during the campaigns why we were supporting Jonathan.
It was not that I don’t like Buhari as a person because I am aware of his non tolerance on corruption but that was not more important to me than implementing the recommendations of the National Conference.