Politics

Jumping from one get together to a different will diminish Obi’s beneficial properties – APGA pioneer chair

Founder of the All Progressives Grand Alliance and the pioneer chairman of the get together, Chief Chekwas Okorie, shares his ideas with ADEBAYO FOLORUNSHO-FRANCIS, on the disaster rocking the get together, his evaluation of Labour Party presidential flag bearer, Peter Obi, amongst different points

Aside from refusing to recognise your candidate as APGA chairman, the place did you suppose the Independent National Electoral Commission went fallacious?

First of all, the Supreme Court gave an unambiguous judgment on March 24, 2023, when it corrected some errors, it made in its earlier judgment on the All Progressives Grand Alliance management and confirmed that Chief Edozie Njoku is the nationwide chairman of APGA elected on the Owerri conference of the get together held in 2019.

INEC, being a celebration to the swimsuit, was additionally formally served by the bailiff of the Supreme Court. It (INEC) was anticipated to obey, being the judgment of the best court docket of the land. But Prof Mahmood (Yakubu) refused to obey it. The Supreme Court by itself doesn’t implement its judgment. Instead, the structure permits any court docket of file under to implement the judgment of the Supreme Court.

So, two officers of the National Working Committee of the get together went to an FCT High Court at Bwari; Court 40. In the course of the trial, the opposite faction of the get together led by Victor Oye deliberate to carry a conference, even whereas the trial to implement the Supreme Court judgment was ongoing.

The trial court docket, based mostly on utility, gave a transparent order that every one events to the swimsuit should preserve established order ante, which means that no conference, no conferences, nothing must be held till he had completed with the matter earlier than him. Then, he additionally included that INEC mustn’t supervise or recognise any motion taken by both get together.

But these different folks ignored the order, and INEC went forward and supervised that conference and returned the person who now parades himself as the brand new chairman of APGA as duly elected. So, the identical folks had been in court docket to file varieties 48 and 49 for contempt, and INEC was duly served.

The contempt cost took its full course and the court docket discovered Professor Mahmoud and Victor Oye responsible of contempt in early November final 12 months, 2023. In his lenient view, they got 14 working days to purge themselves of contempt. But the judgment was already clear; that they had been discovered responsible.

The choose stated that in the event that they did not purge themselves of contempt, they might face the total wrath of the legislation. He then adjourned the matter to November 29 (2023). On the twenty eighth of November, simply on the eve of the day the judgment was to be held, Oye and his folks received a pronouncement from the Court of Appeal displaying that points had been joined earlier than them, saying that the decrease court docket mustn’t go any additional.

Were you shocked by the ruling?

Of course, everyone was surprised. Usually, you can not arrest a judgment if a matter has been adjourned. You solely enable the judgment to go on. But in case you are not glad, now you can go to enchantment. But right here, a judgment has been delivered. For the various years I’ve been round, I’ve by no means heard sentencing on a matter that isn’t of life and dying. But this was what occurred, and the decrease court docket had no alternative however to adjourn the matter sine die ready to know what the Court of Appeal would do.

What I stated now could be only a repetition of what I stated at the moment. Since the INEC chairman had been discovered responsible of contempt, he had change into a contemnor by our legislation. Contempt of court docket is a felony offence. The structure of the nation can also be clear {that a} contemnor is divested of each proper to be heard by an appellate court docket till he has purged himself of contempt.

So, why will a Court of Appeal even entertain an enchantment by a contemnor like Oye? As we communicate, Mahmood has not even appealed the judgment in opposition to him. It is just Oye that that has gone to enchantment. What the Court of Appeal did was to adjourn that matter that might have ended on the twenty ninth of September by 5 months to April. It was that matter adjourned to April that was finally heard final Monday. What did the court docket do? The court docket now adopted the temporary of all of the events and adjourned for judgment.

But one thing occurred. We noticed a judgment that was unrelated to the management of APGA, which was a matter that we had discarded on the trial court docket that needed to do with the popularity of candidates for the 2023 election. We had discarded it as a result of it had nothing to do with the APGA management matter. But that matter, surprisingly, surfaced on the Court of Appeal.

Unknown to me and all of the litigants, our names appeared as appellants within the Court of Appeal. The judgment in opposition to us was given in June and no one raised the matter. We didn’t even know we had a judgment that was given in opposition to that enchantment. The humorous a part of it was that the enchantment itself was filed out of time so the Court of Appeal merely struck it out for being statute barred.

I had made a petition to the president of the NBA and the legal professional common workplace prior to now. Let Nigerians not hold quiet. There’s no different nation the place a contemnor will proceed in workplace. That was why I made the decision. If we need to flip the opposite eye to a person like Mahmood who’s celebrating disobeying orders of the court docket, together with the judgment of the Supreme Court, to get away with it, the ball is in our court docket. But I cannot be accused of not talking out.

Why is it tough for elders and stakeholders of APGA to name the 2 factional chairmen and resolve the problem?

Well, it’s an excellent query, particularly for the general public who has not been following the occasions. But I can let you know that APGA will go into the Guinness Book of World Records because the political get together with the longest management dispute within the historical past of your entire world.

How outdated is that this dispute?

We have had 22 years of management disputes. I based APGA in 2002. In 2004, a management disaster broke out. It took me seven years to have a celebration I initiated its formation to be registered after three makes an attempt. The two earlier ones failed. In 2002, the third try succeeded, and it was celebrated. I broke an 80-year jinx. No Igbo man ever based a political get together since 1923.

So, the celebration was at dwelling and overseas. But some folks wouldn’t enable that get together to outlive.

I used to be not even allowed to get pleasure from my tenure because the chairman. I used to be barely two years as chairman in 2004 when the disaster erupted. It was led by Victor Umeh and sponsored by Peter Obi. This similar Victor Umeh was coming to me to gather transport cash to come back to Abuja for conferences. But Obi didn’t disguise it and apologised to me. He regretted it and confessed that he was misled. I used to be the one who gave him the nomination and raised his hand on the parade floor.

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I used to be additionally the one who rehabilitated Ojukwu politically. I introduced him into APGA and made him the presidential candidate. I by no means did it as a result of the intention was to not glorify myself. I assumed that the get together would give our folks a platform for political engagement. That was the aim. So, I made all of the sacrifices and virtually introduced Ikemba into it. He was not a part of the formation.

But many individuals gave Ikemba Ojukwu the credit score for bringing his ideology to APGA. Are you contesting it?

Which ideology? Of course, he wasn’t there after we wrote our manifesto and structure. The authentic APGA structure which continues to be with INEC incorporates all the issues we speak about from self-determination, federalism, and useful resource management to the target ideas of the get together. They are all documented on the market. There is not any method you may register a celebration with out first submitting your get together manifesto and structure.

Ikemba joined the get together in January 2003. That was two or three days earlier than we gave him the nomination. His membership card is there. I bear in mind elevating his hand and handing him the flag on the tenth of January. He turned our de facto chief as a result of I used to be not alleged to be. Ojukwu had been anyone I had all the time adopted with utmost respect proper from the time he returned from exile.

Is APGA additionally looking for to affix the rumoured merger with LP and PDP?

Let me first clear this. I’m not the chairman. However, I nonetheless have the ethical authority to talk for all of us in APGA as a result of it’s one thing we’ve got mentioned over time. APGA won’t go right into a merger with any get together. But we imagine in constructive engagement. APGA can go for alliance, accord, and coalition with out dropping its identification. That is what the get together will stand for.

When we based APGA, it was Zik’s (late Nnamdi Azikiwe) political philosophy of constructive engagement that we adopted.

Did the disaster in APGA cease after you threw within the towel?

No method! As I left, that disaster didn’t cease. It continued with Edozie Njoku this time going for the workplace of chairman and so they started to battle him. We have had three governors since APGA was based. What occurred is that each governor spent all the cash he might spend to retain APGA in Anambra State. That is why, exterior me, no one who is just not from Anambra State has been the chairman of APGA and has not been a lackey of the governor.

I feel Umeh comes from the identical village as Peter Obi. They are from the identical Agulu. That is the younger man who in all probability was in secondary college when APGA was based. That was the person who Soludo made the chairman. So, each governor that comes places APGA into his pocket and that’s the reason in 22 years APGA has not grown past Anambra State. It is just by the particular grace of God that APGA has not gone extinct.

Is that in all probability why many individuals nonetheless understand APGA as an Anambra State get together?

It is an enormous disgrace. Even in Anambra State, it’s a get together that each native authorities is now in management. When Peter Obi was there, they derisively referred to as it the Agulu People’s General Assembly. During Obiano’s time, they modified it to Aguleri People’s General Assembly to additionally mirror the place he hails from. Now, it’s the Aguata People’s General Assembly. That is Soludo’s village. So, you may see how APGA has been ridiculed.

 What is your relationship with Obi after the alleged betrayal? Is he nonetheless somebody you may belief?

As I earlier stated, I maintain no grudge in opposition to Peter Obi. We have made up since. I’m so pleased with Peter’s phenomenal rise in nationwide politics. He has graduated from being a state champion to enjoying on the nationwide stage. Though we aren’t in the identical get together, I nonetheless beat my chest I gave him political publicity. If I had not insisted on giving him the nomination, as a result of others had been contesting for that workplace, he wouldn’t have had that publicity as governor of Anambra State for 2 phrases. He would in all probability not have had one thing to make use of as proof of our capability to launch himself on the middle.

Do you foresee Obi dumping his get together for the PDP?

Honestly, this query might warrant charging a consultancy payment. But I can provide it to you without cost. I feel Obi shall be higher off participating the PDP. But they need to be extra curious about getting LP to come back collectively in order that they will proceed with that. This is as a result of at this stage, leaping from get together to get together will diminish numerous his beneficial properties. If he can retain the Labour Party, I can see the 2027 election popping out in a way that may not be a winner-takes-all.

What’s your view on Tinubu’s first 12 months in workplace?

I prefer to be very charitable right here. President Bola Tinubu inherited a really tough financial state of affairs and in addition had his fingers a bit bit tied being in the identical get together that served eight years earlier than his coming. So, he selected to take sure daring steps with out spending an excessive amount of time apportioning blame. Those steps are very unpalatable. I’m a really optimistic particular person naturally. I see that the longer term is vibrant, and it’s painful now. Any one who says he’s not feeling the ache resides in denial.

But the one factor I’d need to advise President Tinubu on is that each himself and the National Assembly ought to, not less than for goodness sake, reduce down on sure ostentation and lavish way of life of those that are the pinnacle of presidency. The method the lawmakers and ministers parade themselves by means of our frequent patrimony could be very offensive. They usually are not being delicate to the emotions of, or aware of the sensitivities of the folks. I’ll add that a few of his ministers inside one 12 months haven’t executed too properly. I’ve not seen what has occurred within the space of agriculture. Now that is the wet season. In the subsequent one or two months, by August, we’ll expect new harvests. I’ve not seen the place these harvests are going to come back from. So, in agriculture, a lot is anticipated.

Will you say the nation is in secure fingers?

I imagine Nigeria is in secure fingers as a result of we’re in such a state of affairs the place any feeble-minded president would have thrown up his fingers and surrendered. But it is a man who’s politically astute, and brave. He is taking steps that I like. The solely gray space that I want to say is that he’s sadly drifting within the path of President (Muhammadu) Buhari by way of nepotism. That is just not so good for common notion.

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