Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: APGA Crisis - the Obi/Umeh Tango

The first year memorial service of Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was an opportunity for the embittered and embattled factions in the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA to make peace with one another. But many are wondering now whether the peace on Ojukwu's grave would last?

It was the first time in recent times that the duo of Governor Peter Obi and All Progressive Grand, APGA national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh would meet in recent times. The only man who could have brought the two warring politicians together, Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu died exactly a year ago.

But even in death the Ojuwkwu spirit seemed to be working wonders. The two men who with their proxies had been at war, at the first memorial service for Ojuwkwu in Enugu pledged to reconcile with one another .

But given the collateral damages that have already been suffered, few believe that the reconcilliation would last.

Indeed, the Ojukwu memorial afforded the two gladiators an opportunity to sheathe their swords as they pledged to work for the interest of the party.

The South-east Zone of the Christian Association of NIgeria, CAN was largely central to the peace move.

Umeh, at the occasion said "I want all those who survived our late leader, Dim Ojukwu in the party and in the family to give peace a chance and remember that Ojukwu stood for peace and love. They should know that Ojukwu hated persecution and intimidation and lies being told against anybody. He encouraged people to work hard and reap from where they worked, when we show love, there would be no room for bickering, rancour, acrimony and face off."

"What I want in APGA is peace, truth and fairness because we are human beings and we have chances of error." He traced the problem in the party to selfish quests ahead of the 2014 governorship election. He insisted that APGA has the chance of retaining the seat if due process is followed. He re-assured that there would be no imposition of candidates as the people's choice at the primaries would be selected to fly the flag of the party in 2014.

While insinuating that he knew the sponsors of the crisis that has stoked the party for about one year now, the APGA boss, nevertheless, pledged to bury all issues for the progress of the party. According to him he would not want to undermine the peace moves ofCAN.

Governor Obi, on his part, insisted that the crisis in APGA was a family affair saying "there is no problem in the family of APGA. We are focused and promising a stronger , united party capable of wining election any day ,any time and the best we could do to the name of our political leader is to immortalise him."

Genesis

It is no secret that both men were at loggerhead over the choice of the party's flagbearer for the 2014 governorship election.

The governor, it is claimed, was and remains seriously opposed to the alleged plan by some in the party to conscript Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah, the owner of Capital Oil and Gas as his successor. It is variously claimed that Umeh had given his approval to the plan to draft Ubah into the gubernatorial election on the platform of APGA.

With the party torn between the two tendencies, it is not surprising that both sides hurled mutual accusations and thus deepened the crisis that had in reality festered for some time.

It is not as if crisis is new to APGA. The party originally formed by Chief Chekwas Okorie became enmeshed in crisis in December, 2004 when Chief Chekwas Okorie and Umeh fought for the soul of the party.

The crisis took another dimension on November 6, 2012 when Obi organised the APGA South East Stakeholders meeting in Awka, theAnambraStatecapital where party leaders from the zone were invited.

However, Umeh and Governor Rochas Okorocha, the only other governor in the party, were absent at the parley.

Since he was inaugurated as governor ofImoStatein May last year, there has been great suspicion that Okorocha has been able to dwindle the once commanding influence of Obi over Umeh in the affairs of the party.

It was even speculated in some sections of the party that Okorocha who is known to have for long had the ambition of attaining the presidency could have begun to corner Umeh to his side for the purpose of taking over the national party structure, and by that, keeping his presidential dreams in safe hands.

But Umeh before the Ojukwu memorial had given the impression that Obi did not want peace, and maybe that was why he was not invited to the peace meeting.

"Governor Obi did not want me to attend the meeting so that they would continue to launch this propaganda against me as being difficult," Umeh had said.

However, insinuations by Umeh's associates that the national chairman was not invited for the meeting were proved to the contrary as it was subsequently revealed that Umeh was abroad on the day of stakeholders' meeting hosted by Obi.

Governor Obi also denied the allegation asserting that he would not relent in working hard for the sustenance of the party.

"I have a job to do for the party and that is to ensure that APGA is sustained," he said

CAN's intervention

It was thus a welcome development when the South East zone of the Christian Association of Nigeria, intervened in the crisis towards making peace between the warring parties.

While the Christian body bemoaned the crisis rocking the APGA, it enjoined combatants to cease fire as the continuation of the crisis was a bad signal for the presidential aspiration of the people of the Southeast in 2015.

In his appeal, Southeast chairman of CAN and Anglican Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Rt Revd Emmanuel Chukwuma said peace was essential for the much needed development of the zone. With that truce in place, it is expected that the APGA crisis may now be finally laid to rest.

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