The Deputy National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Uchenna Okogbuo, has said that since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cannot guarantee election security and credibility, it is of no use Nigerians taking the body seriously again.
Apparently reacting to the recently concluded Bayelsa and Kogi states governorship elections, he said that President Buhari should sign the amended electoral reform bill into law as that would be the only legacy he could leave for Nigerians.
He also spoke on the new APGA administrative headquarters and on other issues. Excerpts:
How do you see the just concluded Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections?
Well, I don’t think that election should be the right word for the absurdity that happened in Bayelsa and Kogi states on November 16. Even the international observers who spent more time and efforts in the expectation of a credible election were horrified because disappointment is an understatement. Not even in Iraq or Somalia have we seen such a thing. So, I strongly believe that it is high time Nigerians stopped taking the electoral body seriously with regard to election security and credibility. INEC has been taking Nigerians and the international community for a ride. They will go to the media, make all the promises, stating all their strategies that would guarantee free and fair election. They would even summon the Service Chiefs, security agencies and traditional rulers to come and witness the signing of peace accord, but all to no avail. On the election day, insecurity would becloud the exercise. It would be like the day America invaded Vietnam. INEC will still go ahead and declare result as if it was a pre-mediated exercise.
What do you think is the way forward?
The way forward is for President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the amended electoral reform bill into law. So, I am lending my voice to that of the well wishers of Nigeria on calling on the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari to quickly sign into law the electoral reform bill that would give credence to the use of electronic devices in our elections. Nigerians will hold him in high esteem if he does this and it would be the highest legacy he would leave for Nigeria at the end of his tenure.
As the Deputy National Chairman of APGA, I know that some members of the party were suspended at your last convention, have they been readmitted?
The answer to your question is yes and no. The party suspended and later expelled some erring members as a result of anti-party activities and the action was ratified by the National Executive Council during convention. Their suspension and expulsion were based on misdemeanor and insubordination, as well as gross misconduct.
But some of the expelled members are still issuing statements in the name of the party?
Some of the expelled members have accepted their fate and are now trying to join other political parties. But the likes of Jerry Obasi is still parading himself as an officer of the party. The recent interview that he granted to your newspaper is one of the ways he carries out his hatchet jobs, so, we are not surprised. I would ordinarily not want to talk about an element like Obasi as it would amount to making a puppy a barking dog. The truth is that Jerry Obasi and his likes have no credibility, the constitutionality and legality to speak on behalf of APGA. Our legal team is already doing something about that. In his last interview, he said that our immediate past National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh picked me from nowhere and elevated me above everybody by making me Deputy National Chairman. He forgot that the same Chief Victor Umeh picked him from Ebonyi State where he was state chairman without even winning one councillorship and made him a national officer of the party. So, Obasi is just an ingrate. He is somebody that bites the finger that feds him.
What is the position of APGA on zoning in Anambra 2021 governorship election?
I am from Abia State, but I want you to know that Ndi-Anambra are politically wiser than the other Southeast states. Anambra politics can be likened to Southwest politics where people know when a government is working for the good of all. They cannot be bamboozled by seasonal politicians. They know what is working for them. They vote their minds, protect their votes and the results of their votes. They hardly make mistakes. The issue of zoning was championed by Peter Obi when he said that after his tenure that it would be the turn of Anambra North. That was how Dr Willie Obiano emerged and they are seeing the dividends of zoning, going by the wonderful works that Governor Obiano is doing in the state. For the 14 years of APGA governance in Anambra State, no zone has dominated the political space. It is, therefore, an established norm, whether written or oral. We are in support of the zoning structure in Anmabra State. Zoning we all know ensures peaceful co-existence of people within a state. It ensures equity and justices. It also enhances political competition among the elected candidates as the pride of each zone that produces the governor is at stake. So, in 2021 APGA will zone its governorship slot.
APGA is going to commission its new headquarters, what do you want to say about it?
Well, I want to thank the National Chairman of the party, Ozonkpu Victor Ike Oye and the members of the National Working Committee for their vision for making APGA a force in Nigerian political space. On assumption of office in 2015, architectural drawing (imaginary) was presented by the National Chairman as his focused vision for the party before the end of his tenure. In 2019, he made good the vision by acquiring a magnificent office in the highbrow area of Abuja. That is leadership. The National Working Committee of APGA has remained focused under his leadership and will continue to work for the good of all. It is important to note that APGA was formed with the masses at heart. Today, APGA, is the only political party in the country with its own administrative office in the federal capital territory. The importance of such investment is that it is an indication that we are in to work for the masses unlike the other political parties, APC and PDP who are in contract with Nigerians. There is no stability in the modus operandi, no clear manifesto, therefore, anything goes. They cannot think of having their own administrative office because they have no serious business in Nigerian politics. That is why today they are in PDP, tomorrow, they are in APC, the same people. APGA remains the only party in Nigeria with a clean bill of health. In APGA, we are in politics for Nigerians, Anambra State is a case study.