Chief Uchenna Okogbuo, the Deputy National Chairman (South) of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), has dismissed those who think that it is all over for the party as a result of what they perceived as the party`s poor performance in the 2019 general elections as being political neophytes.
According to him, the party was very competitive, but like in every political contest, only one party would win.
In this interview, he also spoke on the perceived controversial primaries of the party in the Southeast, the crises in some state chapters of the party, as well as the future of the party. Excerpts:
Before the last general elections, there were postulations that APGA would win some states, but that did not happen, what went wrong?
Election is a contest. It is not mathematics where when you put two and two together and you get four. Election is a contest and in a contest, somebody must win. I want to tell you that we were very competitive in the last election. But that we did not win the governorship in those states that some people were speculating that we ought to win does not mean that we did not do the needful. Again, it is a fact that it was not only PDP, APC and APGA that were in the contest. There were other political parties that also had the same potentials that we have. But some people reduced the contest to only three parties, that is, PDP, APC and APGA, forgetting that there were other parties that fielded candidates with the aim of winning.
What really happened in Imo because that is one of the states people felt APGA would win?
Well, the truth is that the majority of those who came to contest for governorship under APGA in Imo State were political moles. The way they quickly embraced the PDP governor in Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha immediately after the election clearly showed that they never had APGA at heart. They came with the intention of creating crisis and by doing that robbed us of our victory in the state. So, they were detractors who came to cause confusion in the party. The governorship primary that they complained about as far as I am concerned was very credible. I said this because most of the primaries conducted by APC were upturned by the court, but the APGA primary stood. Almost all the court cases against the primary have been won by the party.
Recently one of the founding fathers of APGA said that within three years APGA would go into extinction, what do you have to say about that?
Well, that statement is laughable because APGA is a movement and not your regular political party. Even we have heard that before from Rochas Okorocha who brought a cock in public and killed it and said that symbolized the death of APGA. But what is happening today? Even the party he claimed that he co-founded has served him for dinner. He is now like an orphan in APC, running from pillar to post and begging even gatemen in their national secretariat to help and save him. So, people should be careful when they make statement about APGA because even the ground that they are marching on can rise against them. A lot of those making these careless statements don’t understand the political structure and sagacity of APGA. So, they always talk out of ignorance. What I want to tell them is that APGA has come to stay and would even outlive us.
But you had parallel convention in Awka and Owerri, does that show a party that has come to stay?
The so-called convention in Owerri was a charade. Convention has a process. You cannot jump fence and say that you are holding a convention. Therefore, the right words to use are, “the gathering of like minds” in Owerri. Before convention is held there should be congresses. Those that gathered in Owerri, where and where did they hold their congresses? Which guidelines did they use and who produced it? It is obvious that there was APGA, NEC and National Working Committee and constitutional provisions that must have mandated the above organs of the party to conduct a convention, which is the highest organ of the party to ratify the congresses. All that took place in Awka. You don’t just wake up and say that you are organizing a convention. However, the distractions here and there are all calculated attempts to disorganize the party. But the unfortunate thing for them is the more the distraction, the stronger the party becomes.
Still on your statement that APGA has come to stay, some candidates who won state Assembly election on the platform of APGA in Imo have defected to PDP?
This lends credence to your first question.You cannot expect anything good from a deceitful structure. As I said earlier, most of those who came to contest the last election in Imo under our platform where political moles who were looking for alternative platforms after being frustrated in their so-called parent parties. Some of them came to APGA through their principals and sponsors who are in PDP. So, the question is, how do you expect them to remain in APGA while their principals are in PDP? But right now I want tell you that we have learnt a lot from these developments. In fact, we have grown up. People have been taking advantage of our kindness because in APGA, we treat with passion people who were ill treated in the other political parties. But from now going forward such individuals would have to be thoroughly screened before being considered for anything at all. Since our kindness has been working against us, we have to change tactics. Instead of welcoming defectors whole heartedly, going forward, we would be treating them like suspects till they prove otherwise.
With all these negative developments,what does the future hold for APGA?
The future of APGA is very bright. It may surprise you to note that in recent times, many of those who left the party for one reason or another have started coming back and pledging their loyalty to the leadership of the party led by Ozumkpu Victor Ike Oye. The leadership by example that Nigerians are witnessing in Anambra State under Chief Dr Willie Obiano is a catcher for APGA. Obviously, APGA maintains one state. However, this one state represents 20 other states in Nigeria as a result of the dividends of democracy being enjoyed by the citizens of Anambra State. In APGA, we don’t get involved in the politics of noise making, but rather in progressive process. Our excellent track record speaks for us.
There are strong indications that APGA may find it difficult to win Anambra governorship election in 2021, are you not worried?
The question that I am asking is why would it be difficult for APGA to win? APGA In Anambra State has delivered. In politics, continuity is very important. What we have seen in politics in Nigeria is when a particular government is over, the next person comes to start with a different programme. This has not happened in Anambra State. Peter Obi came in and performed marvelously well. Chief Willie Obiano who succeeded him continued with the same people-oriented manifesto of APGA and Anambra people are happy for it. Anambra is not one of the oil-rich states, but the transformation that is going on there is not happening in any other state in the counry. So, there is no way any right thinking man would want to go and try what another party can promise to offer bearing in mind that the party is already a failure in the other states that it is controlling. APGA as a political party has performed beyond expectation in Anambra State. Look at the consistent payment of salaries. Look at the state internally generated revenue. Look at the massive infrastructural developments. Look at the economic developments and most importantly, look at the security of lives and property, which is the number one priority of any government that is worth its name. Everything is near perfect in Anambra State, which is the only APGA-controlled state for now. We are very confident that Ndi-Anambra will continue to vote for APGA so that they will continue to enjoy the dividends of democracy. The APGA government in Anambra State under the leadership of Dr Willie Obiano introduced a new infrastructure development programme in Nigeria called ‘Do-it-yourself project,’ a project whereby huge sums of money are being given to communities to do projects of their choice. It was kick-started with N20 million and now it has been increased to N40 million,what a political innovation?
What is the cause of the crisis in Abia State chapter of APGA?
When people don’t understand how politics is played, they are bound to be doing the wrong things and believing that they are right. In Abia state, APGA is supposed to be the strongest opposition party, but this is not to be because many of the players are politically naïve. There is no individual or a group of people that can take the place of a duly registered political party. In a political party, discipline and party supremacy can never be over emphasized. Some of the politicians in APGA in Abia State believe that the party should be under them and their little structure. PDP is the ruling party in Abia today simply because they don’t believe in campaign organizations. They oil and water the party structure, hence there is nothing like campaign organizations of candidates being superior to the party. But in Abia, a lot of APGA party members are being deceived into believing that campaign organization is superior to the political party. Little wonder they have not realized that the party is supreme. Nonetheless, with time, they will stop chasing shadow in the name of campaign organization and join the party structure. Even some of these people are detractors and as such will refuse to make a puppy a barking dog. We have it on good authority that the people in this campaign organization are not members of the party and do not have party membership cards. Private investigation carried out in their wards also revealed that their names are not in their wards register. Politics they say is local, but they are only playing their own in Umuahia town. If they are really interested in politics, they should go to their wards and get registered so that we can go to the round table and talk politics. As far as we are concerned, we have one indivisible APGA in Abia State with a strong state working committee with Rev. Augustine Ehiemere as chairman and elder Sunday Onukwubiri as secretary.