*Okafor, the acting National chairman of APGA
*Okafor, the acting National chairman of APGA
APGA CRISIS: END OF THE ROAD FOR OYE, OBIANO?
The national chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr Victor Ike Oye was recently suspended by members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party in a meeting called and presided by himself.
Excerpts from the interview…
Since then it has remained a ding-dong affair where elders of the party including its Leader, Gov Willie Obiano tried to broker peace to no avail.
Today, speaking to journalists for the first time since the crisis became public, the Acting National Chiarman, Ozo Nwabueze Mario Okafor(Okpoche Ngene) on behalf of the NWC emphasized they were merely driven by patriotism and concern for the resources they already committed to the building and growth of the party, and in the interest of the majority of their members and supporters to save the party from the glaring destruction Oye was leading the party into.
Q: Recently, the National Working Committee (NWC) of your party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) suspended your National Chairman, Dr. Victor Ike Oye, what was actually the reason for the action?
A: The action of the members of the NWC was an effort to save the party. It was actually a culmination of series of actions/efforts of the committee as the critical organs of the party saddled with the day-to-day running of the party to save the party from the road to destruction, road to extinction that the suspended National Chairman was taking the party on.
The list of the activities of the suspended national chairman is unending. He seems to undermine the development of the party, the growth of the party, our Constitution has been abandoned, the NWC has been abandoned and the party run as a personal enterprise. And all our effort to get the suspended chairman to act according to the Constitution of the party has failed. So the members of NWC, left with no other choice, than to save the party from further slide. We had to take drastic measure of suspending him, if only that would restore sanity.
Q: We learnt that shortly after the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano intervened and the suspension, though not categorically announced, was rescinded?
Well, the Anambra State Governor who is the Chairman Board of Trustees(BOT) and National Leader of the Party interviewed and called for a meeting to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis. He also made appeal for all parties to sheath their swords for peace to reign in the party.
From the time the governor declared his intention to seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis, the NWC members who suspended the chairman resolved to take actions to de-escalate the tension already generated and to ensure the issues remained localized within as internal affairs of the party. We therefore chose to stay off the mass media, waiting for the intervention and resolution of the elders of the party led by the Chairman BOT and National Leader.
We had a meeting with the Governor who did all within his powers to see the resolution of the crisis. But while we were still trying to digest the way forward to a peaceful resolution of the crisis so canvassed by the national Leader and other well-meaning members of the party, the suspended National Chairman went haywire and called the people who legally and constitutionally suspended him dissidents, rebels,renegades. He said we were settled with spaghetti, egusi soup and money so as to abandon the course we have taken.
We actually took serious exception to that. And therefore we have come to a painful decision to come open to enlighten the public for the first time on what was going on. We regret doing this, having taken all necessary steps to ensure that all issues concerning this be treated within the party but Dr Oye has made things practically impossible.
So, painfully though, we have to now intimate the general public of all the key issues that led to the suspension of our national chairman. Because in all our engagements with him even within the period of intervention by the party elders, the suspended National Chairman was never able to disprove any of the allegations leveled against him. Not even one was disproved.
None of the several constitutional breaches for which he was suspended was disproved; rather he went on a self-destruct journey of name calling, intimidation, harassment, scare-mongering which would not in any way solve the problem. So the peace moves made by the National Leader/Chairman BOT of the party has been personally aborted by the suspended national chairman, who chose to go haywire to cast aspersions and unleash unkind words on our persons by calling us derogatory names, never-do-wells etc.
I don’t know how he came to that because members of the NWC who suspended him, are all very distinguished men and women. We are all much more distinguished than himself. We have all collectively and individually served our country in various capacities and portfolios.
Realistically speaking he’s the one that can be said to have doubtful and questionable antecedents because we don’t know where he came from, we don’t know the elections he has ever contested and won, or the positions he has ever held. Else, he would not be talking about people who have been gubernatorial candidates of the party in several elections in that manner. Myself, I was the senatorial candidates of the party in the last general elections in Enugu State.
I was elected local Government Chairman, for several tenures in Enugu State. I was Chairman of Association of Local Government of Nigeria, Enugu State Chapter, National President of Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) and Vice President of United Association of Local Governments in Africa, Member of Commonwealth Local Government Forum, as an executive member.
So, from these, I don’t know how I can be considered a miscreant, a charlatan or such negative choice of words as portrayed by the suspended National chairman. And since he has resorted to that, he has shown that he is not in any mood to toe the path of peace and reconciliation because his language is not conciliatory at all.
His language does not provide for an atmosphere conducive for peace, understanding and harmony. We are beginning to feel that he is a fifth-columnist planted in the party to destroy the party because he has not invested in the party at any level at all prior to his emergence as the National Chairman.
He has also not held any position in the party, none anywhere apart from claiming to be a backroom staff in Abia State during the tenure of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu as the Governor of that state. We have not heard that he has been elected a Councillor before. Most of us rose through the ranks, moving from being elected Councillors up to becoming elected council chairman.
I rose through the rung of the ladder, which prepared me adequately as the Deputy National Chairman (South East). So I have held positions that prepared me for leadership – both physically, psychologically, mentally and in all ramifications. All of us at the NWC are equally well detailed and prepared for leadership.
Therefore to question our integrity, our motive, our personality, or our character is most unacceptable.
Question: So, where do we go from here sir, given the fact that he sounds the way you alleged.
Ans: Well, the members of the NWC have decided and resolved to sustain his suspension. His suspension stays and subsists until otherwise decided. We wait for the National Executive Committee(NEC) of the party to ratify it, because it’s funny to hear him say we do not have the powers to suspend him.
According to our constitution, under Special Circumstances, the NWC can suspend any officer of the party for gross misconduct. And any officer includes all the officers starting from the National Chairman down to the whole other members of the NWC. And in a validly constituted NWC meeting summoned by him (suspended Chairman) a motion was moved by the National Youth Leader, Engr. Chuks Nwoga and seconded by the Deputy National Welfare Officer- Alhaji Ahmed Hamman Furu from Adamawa State, requesting for the National Chairman’s suspension for gross misconduct as enumerated. He was there and presided over the meeting.
He tried to create a rancorous atmosphere to scatter the meeting, but he couldn’t. The motion sustaine. When there was no counter motion. He was therefore validly suspended according to our Constitution – Article 20. It makes for the suspension or expulsion of any national officer for gross misconduct.
There is no doubt that he has had a lot of conducts that were inimical to the growth, image and development of the party. Our Constitution in Article 12(3a) said that the NWC shall be responsible for the day-to-day running of the party, and make electoral provisions and guidelines to govern the nomination and selection of candidates for different elections. That has not been observed in the nomination of governorship candidates in Edo State, Kogi and Ondo States even in Bayelsa State.
The NWC had not been involved in such nominations. But our party Constitution stated that we shall make guidelines for all these primaries, but we had never been involved in anyone. Not because we didn’t want to, but because the suspended National Chairman sidetracted us. The danger in that is that if our candidate wins an election the opposing candidates can go to court to say that our man’s nomination was flawed.
That his party’s Constitution and the Electoral Act were not followed. That is why we are saying that leaving him at the helm of affairs in the party portends serious and grave danger for the development of the party. He has severally infringed on our Constitution. He alone operates the party’s budget unilaterally, violates various relevant articles of the party constitution and guideline.
He has blocked the national Treasurer, the national Auditor and other relevant officers and organs of the party. He has dissolved state executive committees of the party – in Edo and other states without the approval of the NWC as stipulated in Article 22(2.i)of our party constitution. In fact our Constitution has been implemented only in the breach by the suspended national
chairman. That constitutes gross misconduct.
After several attempts to make him turn around, after several appeals for him to turn a new leaf but were all rebuffed by him, because he considered himself as the overlord; so after several appeals to him by many well-meaning important members of the NWC and there was no sign he was interested or going to change, we then felt that enough is enough. We therefore moved to save the party from the impending doom because we are already on the verge of total collapse. The party was already very close to precipice.
That’s why we felt that it would not help the party to continue to leave him in the saddle. And since the National Convention of the party had mandated us to see to the day-to-day running of the party, and that we will be failing in our duty if we do not put a stop to his maladministration.
That is what culminated in his suspension, but then, one would ask himself that since his suspension this is the first time we as members of the NWC are addressing the press, but the suspended chairman has before now addressed the press on several occasions and at several fora and everyone would observe that he has not been able to say that these constitutional breaches that led to his suspension that he did not commit any of them.
He has not able to say that he has not breached Article 12(3.a). He has not been able to say that he has not serially usurped the duties and functions of the NWC by unilaterally taking over the functions of the committee in running the party alone. He has not been able to say that he did not commit any of the constitutional offences he was accused of.
He has not told anyone his reason for failure to conduct one single NEC meeting in the last sixteen months he has been in charge. If he has, let him tell us. And that he has only had three NWC meetings and the recent one where he was suspended was the his fourth.
The Constitution clearly and unequivocally stated that the NWC will meet every month and same for the NEC and for a chairman who cannot organize any NWC or NEC meeting, that type of chairman is actually working seriously for the death of the party.
And this party is the only platform we have as true progressives platform through which we hope to deliver the goods to Nigerians. We know that since our Governor, Chief Willie Obiano has performed so very well that with a very effective and functional National chairman, Nigerians will give us the required mandate, to show as a model for good governance in Nigeria.
While the Governor of Anambra State is working hard on one hand, to promote and showcase APGA as a party that when elected into office it will deliver the goods to the people, the suspended national chairman on the other hand has been working hard to frustrate the growth of the party. So we decided to keep out sentiments and take a decision for the interest and survival of the party.
Q: But the suspended chairman was insisting that it is only the special Convention of the party that can suspend or remove him.
Ans: Well, I have the party’s Constitution here-see Article 22(2)I part of it said “Any officer of the party at all levels who fails to discharge his or her duties as at when due or whose utterances or activities run counter to the spirit and letters of this Constitution shall be suspended from office indefinitely pending the determination of his case by the relevant organs of the party.
That is the provision of the Constitution of the party. That’s why we said ‘suspension’ We did not say expulsion. From that comment it shows he was not even conversant with the details, provisions and clauses of the Constitution of the party he was leading. It’s unfortunate.
Q: You were accused by the suspended chairman of being teleguided and or sponsored by some politicians within and outside the party.
A: That is not true. We acted in the interest of saving the party we have all staked a lot of time, resources and energy to build. Who or what can anyone give to 29 distinguished officers? Well I won’t be surprised to learn that such frivolous allegation was authored by the embattled suspended national chairman. But the question remains, did he commit any or all of the offences we listed. He has opportunity to defend himself, not calling us or other members of the public names.
Q: Has Dr Oye reached out to any of you, that is the members of the NWC since this crisis started or even since after the meeting with the party leaders?
A: No. Not at all. It is indeed predictable that he would not. I would have been very surprised if he did. How can he do so to people he saw and regarded as renegades, charlatans, dissidents. He believed that no one mattered except himself. Can he reach out to us for what? When he told the world that we had been settled with spaghetti, egusi and money. It is on record that none of us took water, food or money from any one. In fact we rejected even the hotel accommodation reserved for us, as we left the venue of the meeting straight into the night to Enugu, touching neither food nor water or anything else. We are not in this for any selfish purpose. Time will surely tell.
Q: But in all these, what can assuage the situation. Do you have or rather, have you considered a replacement for him?
A: We acted in the party’s interest which supersedes the personal or selfish interest of any member. We have no interest in who replaces Dr Oye.
The party elders, the stakeholders and the teeming members of the party can choose whoever that is deemed fit, capable and well tutored in party administration. Even, the National Leader can choose whoever he feels he would be comfortable with, even if it is his own brother. Once it is ratified we have no problem with it. But we can no longer work with the suspended chairman. Any move to retain him simply meets the end is close bye for the party.