Ozo Nwabueze Okafor is the acting national chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. In this interview he spoke among others on why his party’s National Working Committee, NWC suspended its National Chairman, Dr Victor Ike-Oye and how Ike-Oye stalled moves to rescind the suspension.
By Enyim Enyim
What actually made the NWC to suspend Ike-Oye?
The action of members of the NWC was an effort to save the party. It was actually a culmination of series of actions/efforts of the committee as the critical organ of the party saddled with the day-to-day running of the party to save it from destruction and extinction that the suspended national chairman was taking the party on.
But Ike-Oye is insisting that it is only the special convention of the party that can suspend or remove him.
I have the party’s Constitution here-see Article 22(2)I part of it said “Any officer of the party at all levels who fails to discharge his or her duties as at when due or whose utterances or activities run counter to the spirit and letters of this Constitution shall be suspended from office indefinitely pending the determination of his case by the relevant organs of the party.
That is the provision of the Constitution of the party. That’s why we said ‘suspension.’ We did not say expulsion. From that comment it shows he was not even conversant with the details, provisions and clauses of the Constitution of the party he was leading. It’s unfortunate.
You were accused by the suspended chairman of being tele-guided and or sponsored by some politicians within and outside the party?
That is not true. We acted in the interest of saving the party we have all staked a lot of time, resources and energy to build. Who or what can anyone give to 29 distinguished officers? Well I won’t be surprised to learn that such frivolous allegation was authored by the embattled suspended national chairman.
But the question remains, did he commit any or all of the offences we listed? He has opportunity to defend himself, not calling us or other members of the public names.
Has Dr Oye reached out to any of you, that is members of the NWC since this crisis started or after the meeting with the party leaders?
No. Not at all. It is indeed predictable that he would not. I would have been very surprised if he did. How can he do so to people he saw and regarded as renegades, charlatans, dissidents?
Can you point out some of the constitutional breaches?
There were so many breaches. The constitutional breaches includes that he has been running the party as a personal property behaving like an overlord, acting as if the party is a personal enterprise. According to our constitution, he runs the finances alone without the treasurer. The NWC is supposed to take charge of the running of the party, it has not been involved in the running of the party. He does everything himself, this has been going on for sometime.
This action has been going on since we were inaugurated. Oye did not involve the NWC in making the electoral regulations which governs the nomination of candidates, which is in contravention of Article 12(3)(c) of the party’s constitution. He does not involve the NWC in the day to day running of the party contrary to Article 12(3)(a) of the party’s constitution.
The National Working Committee and the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party did not ratify the candidates for the Kogi, Edo, Bayelsa governorship elections; candidates for the Borno Central and Abia North elections including Niger elections were solely selected by Ike-Oye, which contravenes Articles 24(3)(4)(5)(6) and (7) of the party’s constitution.
There was no orientation for all the aspirants and candidates to educate them on party supremacy which is a breach of Article 21(2)(e). He has been giving APGA tickets to non members of the party without recourse to the constitutional provisions on applying for waiver to non-APGA members. he has been going around describing APGA as an Igbo party thereby discriminating against other ethnic groups which is a violation of Article 21(1)(e). There are so many breaches of the party’s constitution against Oye. How can he suspend the Edo Executive Committee arbitrarily without recourse to the NWC, he blocked the National Financial Secretary and National Auditor from carrying out their constitutional duties
Why did it take you this long to act?
We were hoping he will change, we sent representations to him, met him personally on several occasions that the action he is taking will weaken the party.
Overtime it seemed that our action was like pouring water on a stone, it had yielded no effort. We had no option but to save the party. This is what led to his suspension. It is pertinent to note that in all his interviews with the media, he has not put a lie to any of the allegations against him.
He made guidelines personally for primary elections in Kogi, Edo, Bayelsa, Ondo elections as against what is in the constitution in article 12 (3)(c), which says that the NWC shall be responsible for getting guidelines for elections.
The way he is handling funds, dissolving state excos, like Edo without the approval of the NWC, the way he is dispensing funds, running APGA without an approved budget. How many states has party office? These are issues he has failed to address. He has not called NEC meeting for the past 16 months, if he had where and when?
What is the procedure for suspending a national office?
According to our constitution, Article 22(2)(1) is very clear that any national officer found guilty of misconduct shall be suspended by the NWC, any national officer, including the chairman.
Once there is quorum, and majority of members vote, the officer shall be suspended. 24 attended, 13 voted in favour of his suspension. The national treasurer who was not around sent in a letter that he is in support of our action, making it 14.
Don’t you think it is a dangerous precedence for the party which is just coming out from the power tussle between Chief Victor Umeh and Maxi Okwu. Can’t this affect your chances in Anambra State governorship elections, next year?
Most of us that have worked with him know that he doesn’t have what it takes to lead a party. All the primaries he has conducted have been bungled. You can’t conduct primaries without following the constitution, which says that the NWC shall meet to set guidelines for the primaries.
We have a national chairman who would have endangered our chances if we win in Anambra. Any other party would have gone to court to say we did not follow the election guidelines. So our action is in the interest of the party.
How true is the claim that shortly after the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano intervened the suspension, though not categorically announced, was rescinded?
The Anambra State Governor, who is the Chairman Board of Trustees, BoT and national leader of the party intervened and called for a meeting to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis. He also made appeal to all parties to sheathe their swords for peace to reign in the party.
From the time the governor declared his intention to seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis, the NWC members who suspended the chairman resolved to take actions to de-escalate the tension already generated and to ensure the issues remained localized within as an internal affair of the party. We therefore chose to stay off the mass media, waiting for the intervention and resolution of the elders of the party led by the Bot chairman and national leader.
We had a meeting with the governor, who did all within his powers to see to the resolution of the crisis. But while we were still trying to digest the way forward to a peaceful resolution of the crisis, the suspended national chairman went haywire and called the people who legally and constitutionally suspended him dissidents, rebels and renegades. He said we were paid to abandon the course we have taken.
We took serious exception to that and so, painfully, we have to now intimate the general public of the key issues that led to the suspension of our national chairman. In all our engagements with him even within the period of intervention by the party elders, he was never able to disprove any of the allegations levelled against him. None of the several constitutional breaches for which he was suspended was disproved; rather he went on a self-destruct journey of name calling, intimidation, harassment, scare-mongering which would not in any way solve the problem. So the peace moves made by the national leader/chairman BoT of the party has been personally aborted by the suspended national chairman, who chose to go haywire to cast aspersions and unleash unkind words on our persons by calling us derogatory names, never-do-wells, etc.
I don’t know how he came to that because members of the NWC who suspended him, are all very distinguished men and women. We are all much more distinguished than him. We have all collectively and individually served our country in various capacities and portfolios. Realistically speaking he is the one that can be said to have doubtful and questionable antecedents because we don’t know where he came from, we don’t know the elections he has ever contested and won, or the positions he has ever held.
Else, he would not be talking about people who have been governorship candidates of the party in several elections in that manner. I was the senatorial candidates of the party in the last general elections in Enugu State. I was elected local government chairman for several two tenures in Enugu State. I was Chairman of Association of Local Government of Nigeria, ALGON, Enugu State Chapter, National President of ALGON, Vice President of United Association of Local Governments in Africa, and an executive member of Commonwealth Local Government Forum.