Barely three weeks to the June 23 national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) the secretary of the Convention Planning Committee, Sen. Benjamin Uwajumogu has resigned his appointment due to what he said were “domestic” reasons beyond his control.
In his place, the party has appointed the Chairman of the Board of Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC, Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba.
Confirming the development in a chat with Sunday Vanguard, National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi said the party hierarchy had since accepted the resignation of Sen. Uwajumogu. He dismissed reports that the former secretary was forced to resign as a way of acquiescing to the demands of his state governor, Rochas Okorocha who had threatened to dump the ruling party should his request for a new Scribe be turned down.
“It is not a tradeoff. To the best of my knowledge, the reasons he gave were personal and the National Working Committee NWC has appointed somebody else, Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba. I do not know how that can be a tradeoff because if it is so, I think his replacement should have been another person from Imo but the new appointee is from Cross River”, said Mallam Abdullahi.
There were speculations Friday night that Uwajumogu had tendered his resignation, but confirming the development at a news conference Saturday in Abuja, the senator said when he accepted the appointment, he had believed that the Convention would hold on May 14, saying the new date of June 23 would clash with his long term ambition to attend the graduation of two of his children from universities in England.
“I want to announce to you that yesterday, I tendered my resignation as the Secretary of the APC Convention Planning Committee and the resignation was accepted last night by the national chairman of the party”, he said.
Speaking further, he said; “The reason why I resigned, primarily is that when I was appointed, the date for the national convention, as we were informed, was to be on May 14. Eventually that date was moved to June 2 and there were hopes that the Convention would hold between June 2 and 9. However, the date has now been moved to June 23 and it will conflict with my family activities and responsibilities. For example, two of my children are graduating from the university in England within this month and I have a responsibility to be there and I have some other jobs at Hans too. So, I decided that since I wont have the time for this convention, I should resign so that the position can be given to somebody who has the time. It is a decision that I took by myself. In my letter thank the national chairman and the Convention committee for all the support I received while I was here”, he said.
On whether he was traded off to accommodate the interests of his state governor, Rochas Okorocha with whom he has had a running battle alongside other stakeholders, Uwajumogu said; “For me, my relationship with him is nor a personal thing. It is something that all of us in Imo state are opposed to the way government in Imo state is being run. Our opposition to that is something that is based on principle; based on the fact that 95 percent of Imo citizens and indeed south easterners are not happy with what is happening in Imo state. South east citizens are ashamed, that the only state we, APC, have in the region is being run the way it is in the past three years and for me, I did not have a choice than to detach myself from that government. As a matter of fact, I am happy now that I have resigned, maybe it will be clear that the Convention which is slated to elect national officers,….I am aware that the governor is supporting some south east citizens to run for offices zoned to the region and so now that I have resigned, nobody will accuse me of manipulating the process”.
He said the Convention is not threatened by his exit as the committee had concluded virtually all arrangements to hold the exercise despite having received only N13 million so far for its activities.
Imo now a basket of fraud
He said he had read reports in the social media sponsored by some state elements saying he was sacked because he embezzled the Convention funds.
While he dismissed the claim, he said Imo state under Gov. Okorocha is now a massive basket of fraud. “Now that I have resigned, I can only hope that my governor, Rochas Okorocha will spend more time in Imo state attending to the various issues that he has created for himself because in the last two weeks, he has been here in Abuja running around for the Convention and trying to put only people that are favourable to his policies.
“Okorocha has always threatened to leave the party if the Congresses were not reversed. I hear he has threatened to leave if my position was not taken….This started more than two weeks ago and it is just a coincidence because I had made up my mind to leave. I am just hoping that now that I have left, he will return to Owerri. He has 27 hospitals he said he has built which have been overtaken by weeds. Imo state is a massive basket of fraud and I am very sure that the EFCC have their records.
“It is very clear today, that this is no longer an Imo issue but a south east issue. It is very clear now that the entire south east has lost confidence in the leadership of Rochas Anayo Okorocha and all we are saying is that Nigerians should take note that we no longer have him as our leader.
“My appointment was by the NWC and nobody has asked me to leave this position. The NWC met yesterday ams there was no where in their meeting where I was asked to resign. It is a decision I made by myself. However, in any decision you take, there must be political consequences”.
Confirms receiving nominees from the Presidency
“We have a total of about 20 members for each committee and the committees are 12. That makes it 240 members. In that regard, the NWC sent about 108 people to the committee. We got nominations from different groups. The Buhari Support Organization, the Buhari Campaign Organization, the wife of the president and various interest groups in the APC including diaspora organizations and of course, there is no way I will be a member and the Secretary of the national convention and I will not have nominees in the Convention. I brought about 18 members of my own which was granted to me and approved by the national convention chairman. Some of my nominees are Yorubas, northerners and Igbos. Aside the nominees to the subcommittees, I have a secretariat to run and I have my own staff who have been working with me from when I was a Speaker and who of course are people that I trust for this sensitive position.
“My supporters are always here all the time and the impression created is that all the people you find here are working for the Secretary. People come here so that their businesses could be patronized by the Convention committee and I have forwarded such proposals to the various subcommittees”.
He said six nominees of the NWC whose names were missing from the committee’s list have been reabsorbed.
Presidential Spokesman Femi Adesina had earlier denied reports that the presidency tinkered with the membership of the committee.