By Dickson Okafor
Cassandra Richie Isinwa, Chairman of the newly constituted Executives of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Eti-Osa Local Government of Lagos State has said the presidential candidate of his party, Prof. Peter Umeadi will win the presidential election in 2023. In this interview, he spoke on various issues.
Mixed reactions have continued to trail the letter Governor Chukwuma Soludo wrote to the Presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi on his ambition; what is your take as one of the leaders of APGA?
It is unfortunate that greater number of Igbo did not welcome the statement of Governor Chukwuma Soludo on Peter Obi’s Presidential ambition which they consider shouldn’t come from a high profile Igbo leader like Soludo. To many, it is a discouragement to actualise President of Igbo extraction. However, regardless of the political differences between APGA and Labour Party supporters, our main aim is to jointly work to actualise a President of Igbo extraction in 2023. Meanwhile, don’t forget that Soludo spoke as one who also has an APGA Presidential candidate in next year’s election in the person of Professor Peter Umeadi. So, if we juxtapose this, Soludo is urging the people to vote his candidate instead of Peter Obi. Therefore, I want to appeal to Ndigbo to see the comment by the governor about Peter Obi as campaign for APGA to win the Presidency in 2023. Yes, many believe that Governor Soludo spoke without pre-empting the reaction of concerned Nigerians especially Ndigbo when he said blatantly that Peter Obi will lose in the Presidential race next year. Once again, I appeal to our people to see it as the game of politics because Soludo and Peter Obi are brothers.
What impact will your inauguration as the Chairman of APGA in Eti-Osa LGA, Lagos State make ahead of 2023 general elections in Lagos State?
I thank the National, the state leadership and the State Working Committee of APGA led by the Acting Chairman of the party in Lagos State, Chief ThankGod Ibe who is also the standard bearer of the party for House of Representatives in Ojo Federal Constituency for deeming me fit to lead APGA members in Eti-Osa LGA of Lagos State. I was surprised to see our able members agitate and pressed that I should be made the chairman of the party in the area. The people chose me to lead the Executives because of my antecedent. Prophetess (Mrs.) Cassandra Richie Isinwa is a household name in the area and by virtue of how God is using me to heal people spiritually, people from far and near come to my ministry to seek spiritual solution to their problems. It is also worthy to note that I’m among leaders of the party who made APGA a national party with national spread. Therefore, I promise to do all I can to ensure that APGA sustains its acceptance and huge membership. The party has over the years witnessed a rising of its members to the peak of their political career. To answer your question, my appointment will bring a lot of positive impact ahead of next year’s general elections in Lagos State. Meanwhile, as it stands now, Nigerians especially youths don’t care anymore about political parties but they are concerned about the quality of candidates aspiring to lead them next year. So far, we have embarked on awareness drive in the whole local government areas and development councils in Lagos State to explain why APGA will serve them better than the other political parties and how the party will implement or fulfill its campaign promises if elected in any of the positions. Yes before now, some people felt that we were not making a noise like the other major political parties and for that reason, they felt APGA was not on ground. But now they can see that we are strategic in our campaign and mobilization process. I assure you that APGA will shock the main political parties next year.
Many won’t agree with you that APGA has a national spread as you are insinuating because they see APGA as a sectional party; how do you intend to acquaint the people in Lagos about APGA as the best political party?
Those in doubt of APGA having national spread are not in tune with the political sphere in Nigeria. Remember that APGA in 2003 had two governors in the South-East, they include Imo and Abia states respectively. The party also had over 20 elected Senators across the country then. Also, the late Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu and founder of APGA contested the Presidency on the platform of the party. However, APGA has structures in the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. How would somebody say APGA has no national spread? Mind you, Igbo is the second largest population in Lagos. So, Yoruba will vote for APGA next year.
But APGA Presidential candidate, Prof. Peter Umeadi is not among the frontline contenders in the 2023 Presidential race, what are his chances?
Peter Umeadi was Chief Justice of Anambra State and legal luminary. He emerged unopposed and was confirmed as the standard bearer of APGA in the 2023 Presidential election during the party’s presidential primary. However, he chose Comrade Abdullahi Muhammed Koli as his running mate. Koli is a frontline Labour union activist and social crusader. He led many struggles for the welfare of Nigerian workers in his capacity as Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Bauchi State from 1999 to 2002. But because many believe that politics in Nigeria has been turned into a means of exploitation, Umeadi realized this earlier and cautioned that to end exploitation of ethnic and religious fault lines, Nigerians must vote for men and women who are competent, trustworthy with good character. And there is no other person among the Presidential candidates that posses these qualities than Umeadi. Nigerians have expressed confidence that Umeadi will guarantee dividends of democracy to them if elected. Therefore, the task before the leadership of APGA is to continue to display the hallmarks of ‘Onye Aghala Nwanneya’, meaning you are your ‘Brothers and Sisters keeper not only in Lagos, but across the country which is the spirit of the APGA movement. As it stands to Nigerians, Umeadi is not only competent but passionate, hard-working and has been faithful in the conduct of his judiciary duties. He remains one whose integrity is not in doubt to transform the political, economic and security landscape of Nigeria.
With the rising wave of insecurity in the country, Nigerians have vowed to vote for a candidate that can tame terrorism, unite the people and create employment; do you see Umeadi as being capable to find solutions to the challenges facing the country?
Nigeria has never been divided as it is right now and it required a detribalized Nigerian to unite us again. That is one of reasons Nigerians especially youths wants to take back their country and they don’t have any other person in mind to rebuild the country than Prof. Peter Umeadi. On the case of challenges facing the country, like you highlighted above, today, political party’s manifesto used to be an arm through which the vote of the electorate is sought, but today, Nigerians see political parties’ manifestos as a cooked up document to deceive them because after election, those things contained in them which politicians promised to do are not done. To many, this country is a conspiracy of Nigerian politicians because what is going on is unexplainable. So, APGA took note of all these discrepancies before we chose Umeadi who has mapped out strategy on how he can find solution to these challenges if elected President of Nigeria next year. He is like opossum mother that has incredible balance when it comes to the needs of the masses. On economic aspect, Nigeria is well blessed by Almighty God. It requires a competent technocrat to fix the nation’s economy and that is what Umeadi would do. Insecurity is created by bad governance because since there is no job for the youths, they have no option but to take to crime and other social vices. However, this and other challenges will be nipped in the bud by Umeadi when he assumes office.
As it is now, the Presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi has been endorsed by Ohanaeze Ndigbo as preferred candidate, where is Umeadi going to garner votes that will give him victory?
Umeadi and Obi are brothers from the same state, Anambra. And just recently Soludo and Peter Obi met at St. Patrick Church in Awka at a Thanksgiving Mass and they embraced each other irrespective of the statement Soludo made against Peter Obi. Meanwhile, it is worthy to note that the presidential election is won and lost in the grassroots. APGA is a grassroots political party in Nigeria. Since 1999, Ndigbo have supported other regions to produce or to become president beginning from Olusegun Obasanjo to Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan yet people in the other geo political zones think the Igbo don’t deserve equal reciprocity as free citizens of Nigeria. Therefore, the contest is not only between Peter Umeadi and Peter Obi because there are other candidates from the other regions in the race. Yes, there are other contestants from the other zones who are in the race as well. So, each and every one of us should be a good example to others, you don’t let your emotions control you; you don’t let your emotions speak for you, and you don’t let your emotions manipulate you. As an American business magnate investor, and philanthropist, Warren Buffett, rightly said”True power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you.” That is what Ndigbo should put at the back of our mind. These are some of the factors and clear indication that Umeadi will win as the people in the other geo political zones have resolved to back him because he is competent and trustworthy to fix the nation’s security, economy, healthcare, education and job creation.
With commendable conduct and outcome of Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections by INEC, do you expect a repeat in next year’s general election?
This puts the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at great task as they are expected to the repeat the feat they achieved in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections in the general election next year. The electoral empire was able to restore the hope of Nigerians in the body through accomplishing the dictates of the new amended electoral law. So, INEC will either make or mar the 2023 general election. But I pray they conduct a free, transparent and credible election next year. My expectation from INEC is high just like every Nigerian. I want to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to fulfill his promise of leaving legacies of credible elections in 2023. However, the elections conducted so far have further united the electorate in the country and is a plus to INEC. Also, I appeal to the electoral body to ensure no zone was sidelined during collection of the Permanent Voters Card (PVC). I tasked women participatte effectively in the ongoing political process because it is when we participate, we can scale over many electoral huddles. Sometimes, INEC should not be blamed for the outcome of election results because we decided to stay away from electoral battles. If you did not participate, your candidate won’t win or survive the contest and that women in my party participate effectively in the political process, are some of the reasons APGA is proactive and considered a united political party.