Former Deputy National Secretary of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Jerry Obasi, has predicted that the burial of the party would take place anytime soon if the leadership of the party does not take remedial steps as soon as possible to pacify the aggrieved members of the party. He speaks on other issues of interest.
Recently, the court in Delta State nullified the national convention of your party, which returned Chief Victor Oye, as National Chairman. What does that portend for the future of APGA?
Well, it is quite unfortunate that these things are happening. In 2016, I think sometime in October that year, we saw all these coming and we took a very vibrant decision to remove Oye as National Chairman to prevent all these things that are happening now. An Igbo proverb has it that if someone who does not know how the corpse was buried comes to exhume it, such a person is most likely to start from its leg position. That’s where we have found ourselves today. But suffice to say that before the nullification of the convention that was illegally held by Victor Oye, the former National Chairman of APGA, there was already several court orders restraining Oye and his National Working Committee (NWC) from going ahead with that.
At the level of the group which I am in, we got our order from the Bwari Federal High Court. Then there was the one that was gotten by the other group; they got their own in Kwale, Delta State. That one restrained APGA as a political party from holding any national convention. There was plethora of such orders. But some persons in their desperation and flagrant disregard to court orders felt they could go ahead with all these because of the experience we had at the level of the argument led by the Agbaso group which I belong, they went ahead very abusively to hold that convention. So, the same court in Kwale which gave the same order now said, you can’t disobey our orders and that was why it nullified or set aside that convention led by Oye and its outcome.
But mind you, already, those who went to court at the level of Kwale High Court restrained APGA from holding a national convention. So, it is a bad omen for the party. The periods which we were at the courts, are periods which we are supposed to do a lot of things for the party. Considering the abysmal performance of Oye, ordinarily, Oye is supposed to be asked to step aside as the National Chairman. But the Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano, who is supposed to call Oye to order, is supporting these illegalities. I want to say this for the umpteenth time; it was a grave error and mistake on the part of those who made Obiano, Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman and leader of the party after he had become governor. But I think it is a lesson to all of us in APGA. Again, Obiano was too new in the party to have obsessed him with all those positions.
Are you saying that Obiano should be blamed for the woes the party is suffering now?
I leave 70 percent of the blame on Obiano, and then 30 percent on the part of those who actually brought Obiano into power including myself who happened to be the secretary of the primary election committee that produced Obiano as the candidate. Agbaso was the chairman of the committee. In the end, Obiano began to behave the way he is behaving. I want to suggest to us, that in the event of a new leader, because I or Oye will not be National Chairman of APGA for life, and as it were presently, Oye is already out of it, so we should be careful and make sure that anybody that we are going to chose as the national chairman of the party must be from within the ranks of the party.
What would you make of the reported friction between Chief Victor Oye and Chief Victor Umeh who handed over the reins of power to him?
It is unfortunate on the part of Chief Victor Umeh. But I leave it to him because he is human; he is bound to make mistakes. Like my humble self, I see things where some other persons can’t see them until they come to meet me at a point where I saw what I saw. I knew it was going to be so. Even before Oye became National Chairman of APGA, I was shouting to the rooftops saying ‘don’t cede this position to Anambra. Cede it to elsewhere.’ Chief Victor Umeh would have been respected more if the National Chairman of APGA had come from elsewhere and not from the same Anambra where there are a whole lot of disaffections in the party; where there are a whole lot of issues for and against him. And you know they say that a hero is known but not in his place. So to me, earlier, even though that I was blamed not to have made public such outcry, by way of either a memo or from personal discussions. But when the question was posed at them, that memo would have brought judgement against me. Also, personal discussions at that point in time, because the mind has been made up, would have also brought serious disdain to me within the leadership of the party at that time. But all I am saying is very simple; we should borrow a new leaf; we should borrow a heart of repentance; a heart of change to save this party because if we don’t manage this whole situation very carefully, the implosion will deepen and in the event of it, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or the All Progressives Congress (APC) will end up taking Anambra State. This is because already, within the ranks of the party, a lot of persons who want to lead the party are sponsored by other parties and it is quite unfortunate. That is where we have found ourselves today. But the argument between Oye and Umeh is an obvious one. You must have heard about the leaked email and every issue surrounding it. The worst of it is that the only governor we have who is supposed to be the party leader; who is supposed to be the conscience of the party in the person of Chief Willie Obiano is condoning these things for whatever reason I don’t know. But I am using this medium to beg him not to destroy the party before he leaves.
What do you make of the allegations by some of your party members that they were swindled when they sought for the ticket of the party to contest for various positions in the 2019 elections?
Obviously, people were swindled. The records are straight. Outside the fact that these records have been there before now, the memo that was made public by Senator Victor Umeh, our former chairman has said things for itself and it is well manifest. Ordinarily, Obiano, as a leader, ought to have called those that were concerned and handle the matter the way it should be handled. What moral justification does APGA have today or tomorrow to say that any leader anywhere is corrupt or any leader anywhere did not behave well when within us we manufacture misbehaviour and indiscipline? APGA has now become a beehive of fraud; a beehive of thievery; a beehive of squandermania, a beehive of forgery, a beehive of yahoo yahoo, and a beehive of 419.
Away from APGA, recently, the Federal Government came up with what they called RUGA project. There was massive rejection of it by the people especially of Southern Nigeria and some states in the Middle Belt. What is your take?
Well, first and foremost, it is sad and a mockery. It shows a lack of respect at this material time politically to begin to approach the South East with RUGA project. It is known that in the South East, we are a zone that has the most limited land geographically. Secondly, there is still an injustice lying fallow against the South East. We need one or two more states to balance up with other geopolitical zones of the federation. Why are you not thinking in that direction? Why do you want to annex us with your RUGA programme? To me, RUGA programme is a policy of the jihad. Ranching today is the most globally accepted practice and not RUGA settlement programme. They can’t bring RUGA programme as a federal government policy where you now want to build roads, hospitals and so on and so forth for the Fulani people because Buhari is Fulani, whereas the country as a federation is suffering from lack of those social amenities. Why bringing them now to Fulani people? But that islamization policy has failed; it is dead on arrival. In the South East, we don’t need them. There should be a kind of trade between us and our Fulani brothers. When they buy grasses from us, we buy cattle from them. I also want to use this opportunity to tell the Federal Government to find a way to appease the people of the South East who have been so marginalised and neglected and not to bring in RUGA programme which I see as a very hostile policy in Buhari’s administration.
What is your take about the 2019 presidential election?
Apart from the fact that I supported Alhaji Atiku Abubakar during the presidential election with the structures we have in APGA which actually is the major structure of APGA; where we converged on Top Ranks Hotel in Enugu to show support and solidarity to Atiku, it is clear now that the Nigerian masses are already losing confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) because this server debate. But from the manifest evidence and from clear records, you could see witnesses who testified and made evident and manifest, the obvious fact that the PDP scored over 900,000 votes in Katsina State and APC got over 800,000 votes. Also, considering what happened at the governorship tribunal for Osun State where an obvious and manifest election that was won by Senator Adeleke was intertwined as a result of horse trading and arm twisting at the tribunal, I see dark days ahead. I am not the only person saying this. International community and some other persons are saying that. But this is my view. I think there is actually hope for the PDP. There is hope for Nigeria but I will continue to beg the judiciary and the electoral body because they are the two major components that saves or sustains a country – her electoral system, to live up to expectations. They are the two major components of a nation’s life. But if we continue this arm twisting and this unnecessary horse trading that has compromised a segment of our judiciary and INEC, then, I see dark days ahead.