Chief Onwuka Ukwa, an elder statesman and founding member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), is being prodded by some leaders of the party to come to the rescue of APGA.
Ukwa, a former Deputy National Chairman, former BoT member, speaks on his vision for the party.
How would you describe APGA; is this the party you founded about 17 years ago?
I must thank you for this opportunity to talk about this baby, which I was part of its birth and its nurture. It was initially called United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA), the person that gave it that name was Prince Arthur Eze. When Chekwas first muted the idea he expressed fears saying that he had made a similarly attempt earlier but it failed. I told him that this cannot fail. I took him to Prince Arthur Eze where I convinced the Oil magnet to finance the party. His response was that ‘it is important for everyone to have an address.’ He came up with name UPGA and we accepted it and he provided the finance that was how the journey started in his sitting room. He also brought the name APGA when it became necessary. There was an attempt along the line to frustrate the party because of the name so he, Prince Arthur Eze also suggested APGA. He was the sole financier of the party until I started reaching out to some of my other friends that it may not be necessary for me to name here because of the strategic position they hold in other parties, but they contributed to making APGA.
Are you proud of the party today?
Not at all. APGA has lost focus, people no longer have faith and trust in the party. It has lost focus of that viable political platform that was established. People have created their own stories of how the party was formed I feel this is the time to put the records straight. For many years, I was the lone voice fighting and pointing out the decay and corruption in the party. Corruption in APGA did not start with the current leadeship; it was already an established pattern. I was shouting that the leadership of APGA had turned the party into a private ATM. But no one listened. You cannot run a party that way. The vision that compelled the formation of APGA was that there must be a new viable political platform that will provide, control a political space with which like minds can go and vie for power at the centre. Along the way, the leadership turned it into a trading company. What we are now witnessing that has led to the total collapse of the party is something that has been on over the years.
Is that why you want to lead the party this time?
Not just that but there have been several approaches from different groups and individuals who are pained by the state and situation of things in the party especially the rate at which candidates are being extorted. These calls coming from very senior members of the party and other politically conscious elders from the zone jolted me back to consciousness. I have therefore decided hearken to the demands of well meaning party men to make serious attempt at unifying, harmonising the party and re-establishing a credible platform on which the party can now proceed as a national political party. I am coming out to contest the position of National Chairman.
I will also use this opportunity to urge all aggrieved members of the party to please come back; I am going to put myself forward, I am going to sacrifice myself, to unify the party, whatever it takes. All I am asking is the support of all because I am determined that the baby we gave birth to, will not be allowed to die.
What would you bring to APGA leadership should you be elected?
My mission as APGA National Chairman will be very simple. I am not coming to haunt or castigate anyone but to re build, reconcile, unite and grow the party into a true national party.
For once, transparency and accountability will be incorporated in the administration of the party.
If I am given the opportunity to serve, administration under me would be guided by the principle of consultation, trust, and cooperation for shard benefits and values of all party members.
The present culture of extortion of money from candidates seeking elective offices on the platform of our party will end. It is my desire to work with members of our National Working Committee (NWC), members of Board of Trustees and Governor Willie Obiano.
The real focus of the new administration is to turn more states into APGA states, have more members at the national and state assembly, and of course with substantial enlarged membership nationwide.
A situation where APGA members are describing our party as ‘one chance party,’ a party of swindlers, a collection of armed robbers, Association of Greedy Extortionists, Cash and Carry Company is unacceptable.
What are your chances?
My position on issues is well known to everyone; my character and record in the party is there for everyone to examine and I believe these were considered before I was persuaded to present myself for the position. I expect a thorough examination of my party record and account of stewardship in the positions so far held. I know the people know that I will serve the party well as National Chairman. So, without being a judge in my case I know my chances are very bright.