Prince C.C. Nwaka is the Chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Imo State. In this interview with JOHN MGBE, he bares his mind on some pertinent issue in the APGA and the Rescue Imo Administration.
The screaming headline news from one of the newspapers states :“APGA mocks Ojukwu” when in a meeting in Delta State recently, the party elected for the fifth time a new national Chairman, even while the party’s national leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, is yet to be buried. Is this true?
Well, the caption of the article is an indication that whoever wrote that story may not have followed properly what has been going on since what they call “crises in APGA” started. These people who are claiming to be national Chairmen are not members of APGA. With the exception of Checkwas Okorie who used to be the National Chairman and the incumbent National Chairmen, Sir Victor Umeh, none of the rest is even a member of the party, how much more being the National Chairman. To show they are not APGA people,they have no regard for the person of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumuegwu Ojukwu. Any APGA person and indeed any Igbo person has special sentiment for the hero, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumuegwu Ojukwu; he is still in the morgue and somebody is making noise about the party he founded. So, these people should not be taken seriously. In the first place, they are not members of the party and what they are doing is a jest on the personality of the APGA leader, the late Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu. So, this is a mockery of the Igbo nation. They should not be taken seriously. So, they have no stake as regards what is happening in APGA.The correct situation is that Chief Sir Victor Umeh is the National Chairman of APGA and no other person can lay claim to that office now. Here in Imo State, of course, it’s Prince Cletus Nwaka who is the Chairman of the party.
What actually is the relationship between Governor Okorocha and APGA,Imo State branch ? Often, there appears to be some disconnect. It appears the wind of a ruling government does not blow on the Imo State APGA and its secretariat. Is this a correct observation?
If I use your language, the wind of the ruling party is not blowing on APGA and APGA secretariat. I am confirming what you just said. The wind or breeze should be positive. I cannot tell you why it is so. But I can confirm that we are not getting the influence of a ruling party on the APGA secretariat. It is left for the governor to explain. All I can say is that the wind is not blowing on the APGA-that is the wind of a party in power. So, may be the explanation may come from the governor. What I am talking about is the financial wind which should be positive on the party in power. The harmattan wind is touching us but the financial wind of a party in power has yet to touch us here. Even this interview now, we don’t have money to buy a space to publish it. It is as bad as that. However, we are confident that he will not abandon us because as a strong and resourceful politician that he is, he knows the role of a party secretariat in a modern democracy. You know there is a saying that what concerns us must be served last.
What is the official position of Chief Martin Agbaso in APGA in the state, more so, now that the Governor is the leader and you are the state Chairman of the Party?
During meeting at the Concord Hotel between the governor and other stakeholders in the party, the Executive Governor appointed leaders in the three senatorial zones. For Owerri Zone, Ochudo Agbaso is in charge. His Excellency nominated two other people in charge of Okigwe and Orlu Zones. The Speaker of the House is in charge of Okigwe zone while the Deputy Speaker is in charge of Orlu Zone. Even beyond that, Ochudo Agbaso is a very prominent person in APGA set up.
What is happening about the registration of new members in APGA? Most APGA members are reluctant to register new members. Why is this so?
Well, from time to time, parties would want to establish the numerical strength. So, when such an exercise is going on, the party registers are used to update the record of members. When this is the case, it may seem that registration is not going on. But registration of new members is an ongoing exercise. Those wishing to register are advised to do so in their various wards. You go to your ward for registration and the ward chairman will register you.
Some of your officials are hostile to the registering of new members. According to them, “those who are coming now are opportunists who did not help the party to win the election”.
Well, I don’t know the particular officer or ward that you are referring to. That is not the official stand of the party. We welcome and encourage interested citizens to go to their wards and register and those who encounter problems should not hesitate to inform the party secretariat. Once again, registration of new members is ongoing in all the wards.
A cross section of APGA members is complaining about the special recognition that is being given to the Chairmen Campaign Councils (CCCs) and the Agenda Group. They say that APGA is relegated while the CCC and the Agenda Group are favoured by the Governor. What is the true version? They allege that the original APGA people are sidelined.
C.C.C means Chairmen Campaign Council for Governor Okorocha’s election campaign. There is no gainsaying the fact that the governor has his structure which goes by the name “Agenda”; he is not new in politics. This structure is still there; they move with him to whichever party and APGA is no exception. So, these people are his followers but once somebody registers in APGA, he becomes an APGA person. For the CCC (a campaign organization), there is no campaign now because there is a time for everything. So C.C.C is a kind of ad hoc arrangement which should have ended with the campaigns. They can come up again during the next campaign season. There is no structure in APGA called CCC or called Agenda. You may belong to a group but the party is All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Since the CCC is an Ad hoc Committee, why is it still waxing strong several months after the APGA governorship victory?
This is always the case after an election. Followers of a winning candidate always hustle for one thing or the other. It is not easy to throw out those structures who worked for the victory. The candidate/winner of the election should not throw them out neither should they throw the party out. Each group and the party should be taken along. But in this case, the “taking along” does not seem to be balanced.
There were rumours about the Governor’s defection to PDP. Was it a rumor or are we to hear more on that?
I don’t know about that. The governor, Owelle Rochas Okerocha, is an APGA person. He contested election and won under the platform of APGA. He has not given the party any indication that he is defecting to any other political party. So, he is an APGA man and he continues to be an APGA man.
You may wish to comment on the controversial issue of “Ohakim’s 10000 Jobs”.
Well, our stand in APGA is that you create the jobs before you employ people; you don’t employ people before you create the jobs. So, this government is assiduously and conscientiously working to create the jobs, after which job placement follows. Already most of them have already being employed and others are still being processed
On the issue of 106 traditional rulers, out of which 60 have been approved. Is that the end of the exercise?
The government is taking good care of that and the position will be made known when it is clear.
Is APGA comfortable with the spate of hostile media comments on the Secretary to the State Government (SGI) especially on issues that border on the White Paper on IMO State University Visitation Panel?
Well, there have been comments on that issue. A newspaper once reported that the SGI would be replaced. I don’t know about the source of the story. As of now, the governor is comfortable with all those he appointed to work with him, I don’t know where your colleagues get some of the stories they often publish in the papers. The governor is at peace with his political appointees. Most of these stories are mere rumors; they are mere figments of the imagination of some people.
The ongoing face-off between NARTO and NURTW has created problems for citizens, especially the commuters, in Imo State. The Chairman of NARTO, Eddy Akano, said he was being persecuted because he refused to pay a monthly bribe of N2m to a top APGA politician in Imo State. What is the stand of the party on this allegation?
That kind of situation can never go down well with the Government as well as the party, APGA. So, if there is any such thing, APGA/the government will take appropriate steps to investigate and prosecute the culprit, if found guilty. We are zero-corruption compliant.
The APGA secretariat appears too silent on several issues. Where do you stand on such issues as Mayors, community Speakers, 4th tier and the rest?
If you are not aware of a policy before it was put in the public domain, you don’t discus it. Although I told you the wind of a party in power is not blowing on us, this is APGA government and we cannot go out to rubbish His Excellency for doing what is right. If we do not have a good background of what is being done before it goes to the public, then, we don’t have to talk on it when it becomes a matter for public comment.
Do you have provisions for Community Speakers, Mayors,4th tier in the manifesto of APGA?
That is not something that should be in the manifesto. It’s just a way of achieving the objectives of a government. The governor decides the ways to give effective governance. If he settles for the office of MAYORS, well, it’s just a means to an end. It does not need to be in the manifesto. If by appointing community speakers, government’s intentions for that community can be achieved, well, I don’t see what is wrong with that.
Is there no conflict between Mayors and Chairmen of LGAs
This is the first time the office is created. At this first time there could be some friction. You know there is so much greed and avarice here. But the system can work smoothly with better understanding from the various groups. The intention is superb and, if properly monitored, it can work well. Let there be a proper job description for each of the affected groups so as to enable them to know the extent of their responsibilities. It is a good idea. It’s borne out of goodwill and I hope it’s going to work out well.
Sir, you may wish to make some general comments.
Yes, the general comment is that the APGA government is moving in Imo State and we are on course. If we move at this rate, Imo State will be an ideal state in governance and infrastructural development. Come 2015, we are going to take the other states in the South East. Of course, there is also this idea of strengthening the party which APGA is going to embark on. That may involve tampering with the existing structure. This is just to strengthen the party; the party is already strong but it could be stronger. To make the party stronger, if there is an APGA somebody who generally is considered more effective than I am, as the State Chairman of the party and it is discussed, well, let the best person in any position in the party have it. No problem at all as long as it is properly discussed. If we have hard working, effective and competent officers in all the structures, the party will be stronger. For now, the party is strong; otherwise, it would not have produced a governor. In 2015, the APGA wind will blow throughout the South Eastern States.