APGA crisis: Obi dumps Umeh
The events of yesterday ended the speculations on the position of the Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi in the crisis rocking his party as he took sides with the faction fighting Chief Victor Umeh. Obi and the party Chieftain, Dr. Tim Menakaya yesterday endorsed the leadership of Alhaji Saadiq Masalla faction in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
At the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting yesterday led by Masalla in Abuja, Obi was represented by Chief Obinna Okafor and even expressed regret for not attending the NEC, which they said, was the first in almost two years in person. His representative stated that Governor Obi was in support of the move aimed at sanitizing the party to move it forward.
Apart from Governor Obi, other top party members who attended the meeting included Menakaya, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, who the party sees as replacement for the late Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu.
Four gubernatorial candidates of the party in the 2011 elections from Plateau, Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi states were present at the meeting.
Others in attendance were 22 members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party as well as tens of other party chieftains who came from all the geo-political zones. Obi, who addressed the meeting through his representative explained that what was uppermost in the party was to capture the state governorship positions in Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Rivers, Delta, Lagos, Kano and Plateau states.
According to Okafor, “Governor Obi would have been personally present at this meeting but he sends his apologies. He wants APGA to secure these states and move forward rather than retrogressing as we have all seen.
“He is of the opinion that if this party should make progress, we should review our constitution and open up the party so that new members could come in through massive registration of members throughout the country. He is firmly behind this move to reposition the party,” he stated. Menakaya, in his speech said the country was under the yoke of violence and corruption, “APGA needs to change its mode and prove to Nigerians that it has the capacity to move the country forward.”
He also lent his support to the meeting, stressing that “the party must open up, expand and be a party to be embraced by every Nigerian. The party must stop hiding and come out in the open.”
He said he was one of the founders of the party as such would work to ensure that “our party must be able to accommodate everybody and not be a close-ended political party. Our leaders should be people who should have patience; who should have listening ear so that everybody will be contented. Change is natural in the affairs of men.”
Others who attended the NEC are Chief Frank Ogbuewu and Chief Reagan Ufomba. Ogbuewu spoke on behalf of the gubernatorial candidates of the party. Representatives of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) led by the Director in-charge of Political Party Monitoring Directorate, Mrs. Regina Omo-Agege were also at the meeting.
At the meeting, the body formally suspended Chief Umeh and Alhaji Sani Shinkafi, national secretary who were replaced by Alhaji Masalla and Dr. Ifedi Okwenna respectively. Motion for the suspension was moved by Chief Sunday Obaseki, one of the chieftains of the party from Edo State and supported by Alhaji Garba Barma, while Chief Joseph Tonny, National Vice-Chairman, North Central zone of the party formally asked the members to replace Umeh with Masalla and Shinkafi with Okwenna. Barrister Uzoma Anamma seconded the motion.