Chief Sylvester Nwobualor is uncle to the Anambra Gov Peter Obi, hence in a position to know the inner recess direction of the party. He has remained the chairman of Peter Obi Campaign Organization since inception in 2000, immediate past Special Assistant (Parks/Markets) to the Governor. He was the whistleblower to Chief Victor Umeh’s ouster. He spoke in an exclusive interview on sundry issues. Excerpts:
After the judgment, now what next for APGA?
Before talking about the judgment, let me first note that Chief Victor Umeh is not my enemy; he remains my friend. What I am fighting against is incompetence in the party administration. Any discernible observer would have seen that our party was sliding fast downhill. And it all started about two years ago, around 2010. I said he ceased being the national chairman of the party in 2010 when his tenure expired. We told him, thinking he would improve but to no avail, instead things in the party continued to deteriorate even beyond our imagination. We then urged him to resign peacefully so as to retain the cohesion and support of all but he refused.
Therefore as peace-loving citizens with so much regards and trust in the judiciary, we went to court seeking to remove him for having overstayed his tenure since 2010. We urged the court to remove him as the national chairman and also an order dissolving the National Executive Committee (NEC) and for us to conduct a national Convention to elect and or ratify a new executive.
In order to avoid creating a leadership vacuum, the outgoing NEC was ordered by the court to conduct a national Convention of the party to elect a new set of national officers of the party and then swear them in and hand over.
Besides being the whistle-blower, do you have any regrets for Umeh’s present travails?
Am very happy with the court verdict. I also feel vindicated because it is in the interest of democracy and the entire members of the party. You can see now that even those who had initially supported him have now accepted the verdict and have counseled him to do so too, in the interest of the people and the party. That’s why am very surprised to hear that he wants to go on appeal.
However, we have immediately commenced the restructuring of the party at all levels nationwide in compliance with the court order. Within the next 60 days we will have a new party executive, a brand new refocused and re-invigorated APGA. Like I said earlier, the processes are already in top gear nationwide. We want to once again take our party into the nooks and crannies of Nigeria as a truly leading national progressives’ party.
Umeh’s appeal against the verdict
It’s his inalienable right. He is my friend and I want to tell him that there is no likely way he would convince anyone to upturn that verdict. But we have to go on with the party restructuring programme. Soon we shall in compliance with the guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) give the mandatory notice of our intention to conduct a Convention.
Umeh faulted the court’s order dissolving the NEC as going beyond the prayers
It was among our key prayers and the honourable court acted in accordance with our request.
Don’t you fear the whole rumpus is fast eroding the political fortunes of your party in the forthcoming governorship election in the state?
The election according to INEC will take place in November 2013 and we expect their guidelines out around July this year. It will not in any way affect the party because within the next three months we must have completed our restructuring and be in a position to beat hands down all political parties in the state at the forthcoming governorship poll.
What must a successor of Gov Obi do to clinch the ticket?
The decision of the Governor and the party is to allow the North Senatorial zone of the state produce the successor. He must be credible, acceptable to all, committed to the aspirations of the citizens and above all, must show a demonstrable willingness to continue with the Obi legacies.
On the contrary?
If they (the zone) fail to bring an acceptable candidate, the party would then throw the doors open for all aspirants from all parts of the state. The choice would then be made through popular party primaries for the selection.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) merger talks
It’s not worth discussing. It’s a non-issue. No one can go into such business without the clear and specific mandate of the party. The process include the governors, the national chairman and the Secretary who would then submit the proposal to the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), and after a successful deliberations sends same to the National Executive Committee (NEC) and thereafter the National Convention for final ratification.
But everything appears to still be on preliminary stage?
Yes, if they have the intention, no member, including Gov Rochas Okorocha who was reported to be involved in the merger discussions has told our party. Yet reports have it that the discussions were already concluded and signed, whereas Gov Okorocha did not even discuss it with Gov Obi, especially when all other relevant parties’ governors were fully involved in the whole discussion processes. He was even reported to have gone to the talks with some non-APGA members. Well, they are on their own.. Both Okorocha and Senator Annie Okonkwo are always free to associate or join any group or organization, but they should not in any way peddle the APGA name without due mandate from the party.
Is APGA considering any punishment or sanctions for them if they insist on going ahead, then?
They cannot insist, or there would be dire consequences. More so, the INEC have insisted that it won’t register the new group unless APGA name is removed.
The seven years prolonged non-conduct of LG polls is still plaguing the APGA administration in Anambra, especially when neighbouring states have had it about three or four times within same period.
I want to assure you that there is going to be Local Government election soon. The governor in conjunction with the party is working to conduct the election as soon as possible. This would take place once the various court cases were vacated.
Gov Obi told party chairmen on Dec 25, 2012 that he was sorting out the pending court cases impeding LG poll for out-of –court settlement. But Prof Titus Eze whose suit over the manner of his ouster as ANSIEC told journalists that no one has spoken to him, more than a month after?
The governor has now set up a special committee to harmonize all the pending court cases that are impeding the conduct of the Local Government election in the state. All relevant parties in all the suits would be contacted soon.
Who and how many are on this committee? Are you a member?
Am not a member. I won’t like to say more than that for now, for security reasons. Neither would I like to pre-empt the committee, but hopefully in the next one month they would be through with their assignment.