20 February 2013

Nigeria: APGA Interim Leadership Moves to Reconcile Factions

The leadership crisis rocking the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Tuesday took a new dimension as one of the key actors in the conflict and leader of a faction of the sacked National Executive Committee (NEC), Alhaji Sadeeq Massalla, recognised the new interim National Chairman, Mr. Maxi Okwu.

Massala until Tuesday was the Acting National Chairman of APGA appointed by factional NEC, on July 16th, 2012 to battle the leadership of APGA led by Chief Victor Umeh.

The former national Vice Chairman of APGA (North Central) who was conspicuously absent at last Saturday national caucus of the party in Abuja, where Okwu and Alhaji Sanni Shinkafi were elected as Acting National Chairman and Acting National Secretary, respectively, had Monday denounced the caucus meeting which produced the new leaders for the party, describing the move as illegal and unconstitutional.

Giving reasons for the sudden turn-around, Massala told reporters that he changed his position on the matter after studying the Enugu High Court Judgment and was properly briefed by his lawyers.

Massalla who was accompanied by Maxi Okwu, said he has reverted back to his former position as the Deputy National Chairman (North) of the party.

"I, the immediate Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Alhaji Sadeeq Massalla, after reading the judgment of the court that removed the entire executive of APGA, support the meeting of the national caucus of APGA that agreed they will not appeal the judgment.

"I also endorsed the steps taken by the party towards organising a proper convention as the court directed, by appointing acting executive and charged them to work towards that.

"As you are aware, I earlier kicked against the move, because of lack of information about the judgment. The problem with those of us that are ardent believers in the rule of law is that we do not act in cases involving court judgments until we have seen the judgment.

"As at the time I was invited to the Saturday meeting, I asked for the judgment to give my personal lawyer for advice, but nobody gave it to me. Feeling that it was a case of using me to perpetrate illegality, I kicked against the move and didn't attend.

"However, I got the judgment on Monday's night. Having read it and having been advised by my lawyer on the import of the judgment, I accept it, realising that the national caucus had acted within the letters and spirit of the judgment and should be commended.

In his remarks, Maxi Okwu promised to use his position to reconcile every aggrieve persons within the party.

His main assignment is to reconcile all warring parties and to try to restore peace to the party.

According to him, the reconciliatory mission which has already started will also move to bring back the founder and erstwhile National Chairman of the party, Chief Chekwas Okories into the party fold.

"We want to bring everybody back to the party. My stay as acting chairman will be very short because very soon, we would convene a national convention of the party to transfer powers to properly elected officers," he said.

Speaking on the controversy trailing his emergence as APGA chairman, Okwu said he has resigned as National Chairman of the Citizens Popular Party (CPP).

He said contrary to insinuations being made by aggrieved members of the party, he has since reconciled with the party leadership and was now a card carrying member of APGA.

He challenged anybody who is not in agreement with his new position to go to court and seek remedy.

Okwu displayed his APGA registration card obtained from his ward Achi-Onu in Oji Local Government Area of Enugu State.

On the issue of his expulsion from APGA, Okwu described his case as that of political expulsion.

" As far I am concerned, I have reconciled with the APGA family and the issue has been taken care of. My mandate is to function for a short period to reconcile the party leaders. We want to bring everybody on board so as to move the party forward," he said.

Meanwhile, the Plateau State chapter of APGA has re-affirmed support for the for the national leadership of the party under Chief Victor Umeh and Dr. Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi (Secretary), whom it said has led the party progressively since they assumed office.

In a press statement signed by the state chairman of the party, Ali Yahaya Ali, the party also commended the leadership style of Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, whom it said has relentlessly served the people of his state.

Urging him to continue in the good work, the party enjoined the party to give him a national leadership position.

The statement however condemned the "illegal national and state caretaker committees" that recently emerged in the party, describing them as illegitimate, illegal and a gross violation of the party's constitution.

On the forthcoming local government election in Plateau State, the party charged the state government to hasten to make all necessary arrangements to set a date for the election, and to allow for democratically elected structure to man the affairs of the councils, describing it as long overdue.

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