APGA Is Nigeria’s Best Alternative – Chukwunyere

APGA Is Nigeria’s Best  Alternative – Chukwunyere

Sequel to the recent leadership crisis that rocked the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, orchestrated by a disputed convention, which has been described as a major set back by most political commentators.

In an interview with AljazirahNigeria’s CHIDOZIE OGBONNAYA, a former youth leader and top contender of the national chairmanship seat, IKECHUKWU CHUKWUNYERE, weighs in on the root cause of the squabble in the party, the expected changes and what he intends to bring on board if he becomes APGA national chairman.
Can you tell us what led to the current crisis in the party
Let me give you a breakdown of what has been happening in the party for a while, prior to now, Chief Victor Oye, the former national chairman and I will refer to him as former because on June 6, 2019, his tenure as the National Chairman of APGA expired so he is no longer the chairman even though he has conducted a fraudulent convention that is still been contested in the court. The office of the National Chairmanship of APGA became vacant on June 6, 2019, before then, when the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party met and they issued a statement and fixed a date for convention, state, local government and also ward congresses, forms were supposed to be given to all aspirants but the party national chairman and his secretary and the rest of them decided to hoard the forms and eventually only released it to those who were in their lineup. You cannot have a congress where aspirant contesting are not allowed to pick the forms for the offices they are aspiring and at the end of the day only selected persons are elected.
You cannot conduct ward, local government, and state congresses and hide the venues of these congresses to the people until the day winners of the supposed held election were announced. Some of us frowned at it, some of us said this abnormality will not be accepted, some of us went to court and even before the convention was held a state High Court in Delta ruled that the convention should be halted but the Victor Oye and his squad decide to go ahead with the convention, for us, it is assumed that the convention did not hold because no matter how irresponsible the court order is, it must be respected.
Now you cannot have a convention where leaders of the party, the likes of the former national chairman Senator Victor Umeh, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, and so many other leaders of the party were not present and you are claiming that the convention held.

Do you think anything can be done about the convention
For us, it’s assumed that convention has not held, we are waiting for the court to sit on the 8th of July and take a decision before some of us can now begin to know what is happening but one thing is certain and we are sure of, that the state High Court in Delta state will annul that election, the whole sham will be dissolved and a proper convention will be fixed where people like us will be able to contest and hopefully I will emerge chairman of the party. The court has said that the convention should not hold definitely this is already contempt of the court; so the court will never allow such abnormality to hold, the court has said the convention should not hold. Why did the party go ahead with such a convention?

What is that one thing you must do to help APGA if you eventually emerge chairman
I will return the party to its true owners which are the masses, the public, Nigerians. What has been happening is that some people sit in their hotels, in the comfort of their rooms and offices and dish out orders, appoint persons who will be governorship flag bearers, appoint people who will be senatorial, house of assembly, local government as well as councilors and give them offices in the state and or Abuja. The party cannot be run that way; you must give the party to the people who own the party that is the masses, the grassroots. The party must be returned to the grassroots whereby the electorate will determine who will represent them in every position. Let it be that members in a constituency or ward are the ones who will elect those that will represent them as councilors. What happened in the last APGA election was a total disappointment; it’s a complete disgrace for those of us who are democrats. Some of us were disappointed with the way the national chairman and his fellows handled the whole thing. you will find out that persons are given money in Abuja and at the end of the day they go to the state and appoint Mr. A or Mr. B as the governorship candidate even when the popularity of this persons have not been tested. The true tests of democracy is the popularity of a candidate; if you know you are popular then go to the polls, go for an election; if people make you their preferred choice; so be it. You cannot be conducting election where APGA cannot win single governorship seat, senatorial seat; even House of Representative seat APGA won was through an individual effort.

How disturbed are you, now that the popularity of the party is diminishing
I am very disturbed that is why I am contesting; I am very disturbed that if we continue this way then there is a probability that we will lose Anambra State. A lot of people are disturbed that APGA ticket is for the highest bidder; so, whoever has the highest money is likely to get the ticket which is not supposed to be so. It ought to be whoever has the highest vote should get the ticket and not the other way round, so I intend to change this.

How do you weigh your chances of becoming the next APGA Chairman?
In the next two to three months everything will be settled and my chances of emerging a winner are very high. I have been in APGA since 2004 and I have held offices. For the past 15years I have been in the party, so I know the party like the back of my palm, I understand the mindset of every party member, I also understand our manifesto and I intend to drive the manifesto with my own ideas.

If that happens where do you see APGA in the nearest future under your care?
First, we will start with four years because if I do well which I know I will then I am certain that I will be given another four years, I see APGA in my first four years winning at least four more governorship seats.

How do you want to do the magic looking at the way politics is practiced in this part of the world
Give the mandate to the people, the people own it. Democracy is all about the people, give tickets to people who can win elections, give tickets to people who are popular, don’t sit in Abuja and give ticket, I am from Imo state I cannot give ticket to someone who is in Ekiti because I don’t know his popularity, I cannot give ticket to someone in Zamfara when I don’t know his popularity. If a free and fair primary is conducted, people in each state are the ones to determine the popularity of the candidate, that way it will be easy for the candidate to sell themselves to the people of the state.

Your plans about women and youth?
One of the problems APGA is facing is that we have majority of men and few women and youths. Women and youths are supposed to be principal offices in the party and that is why if power is given to people like us, we will ensure that women are given 30% of every position in the party, youths should also be given 30% of every position, then the remaining 40% will be for any other person that chooses to contest; that way there will be opportunity for youths, and women in the party.

Can APGA be that alternative political party Nigerians are craving for
Yes! APGA can. To be candid, APGA is the best alternative party Nigerians are craving for. We have the opportunity, the two leading parties have failed Nigerians; we are aware they have failed, and if APGA presents itself as a party that has the capacity to bring better leadership and also promote itself outside their comfort zone, then it is possible. So far after the two leading parties, APGA is next in line. Who says APGA cannot win an election in Zamfara? APGA is one of the most popular political parties in Zamfara, Nasarawa. As a national chairman, I am not going to base in Abuja. I’m going to make sure that every single month I visit one state and sale our manifesto to them.

What will you do to change the misconception that APGA is an Igbo party?
Everything about Igbo party is because of what the former leadership posed, I grew up and schooled in Lagos, so I know the Yoruba man, I have been in the north for a while now and as the former secretary general of NANS I have toured round the 36 states including FCT; so I know what is obtainable in every state in Nigeria, but when you have a national chairman who maybe grew up in Anambra, the highest place he has visited might be Abia state and so everything about his life revolves around South-east; that is where the problem comes. But when a true Nigerian occupy such a position, have friends across the states, as a student leader, I have friends across the states I know I have the capacity to reach out to all these friends of mine for them to be part of the party; so bringing us to that national spread is not a problem at all.

Your last words for Nigerians?
Nigerians should prepare, it’s time for power to go to the youths. I have the capacity to make APGA a national party, I have the capacity to turn APGA to a grassroots party, and if supported I assure Nigerians that the manifesto of the party will be able to put food on the table of Nigerians, provide security, provide basic amenities, economic emancipation and long awaited dividends of democracy.

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