In an interview with VINCENT KALU, Chief Umeh said the lawmakers, who recently defected from the party were running away from their sins.
What is your reaction over Obi’s resignation as APGA’s Board of Trustees Chairman and leader of the party?
He resigned as the Chairman APGA Board of Trustees and the leader of the party according to him, for personal and family reasons. I have the letter of his resignation. But we were surprised to be reading something else in the newspapers. According to his media assistant, one person has dominated the party and that people are leaving but Obi has not let the party. The truth must be told all the time.
We made him leader and Chairman of the APGA Board of Trustees and immediately after, the national secretary of the party sent him the budget of the convention of the party to ratify his appointment but he refused to make available fund for the convention to take place from January 14 to March 17 when he handed over to the present governor may be because at the that time there was a judgment against our leadership.
We went ahead with the matter and got the judgment that returned our leadership. Apart from that, when he handed over, he went to pursue other things including the ministerial appointment but at the end, he did not get it. I will say that his calculation did not work out for him. One, he felt that we were no longer in charge of the party and he refused to finance the convention. Two, he was pursuing his ministerial appointment and at the end, his calculation did not work for him.
Why are there crises in the various political parties in the country?
Well, this is what we experience whenever election is approaching. Many political parties go through earthshaking moments because our politicians have not imbibed the culture of subjecting themselves to party primaries to get nomination for various elections they want to contest. Everybody wants automatic ticket and when you don’t agree, it is either you are attacked as a party leader or the person who is afraid that he or she may not get the ticket of the party for his or her interest will join another party. So, this is not the way to build our democracy. In America, the Republicans and Democrats have perfected the institution of party’s primary. No matter the position you want to contest for, you must subject yourself to your party primary where you will first of all secure the nomination to contest the election and then go ahead to contest the election. In Nigeria today, politicians will insist that they want to get automatic ticket. There is why you are seeing crises in all the political parties once election is by the corner. But for me, I think it is part of the growing process. The best to do is to insist on what is right, follow your party constitution and ensure that people who want to contest election in the party must go through the process as entrenched in the party constitution.
Some legislatures elected on your party’s platform recently defected to PDP, what was the problem?
For those that left APGA for PDP in Anambra State, some of them are running from their sins and they are afraid of the future. If their claims to being good party members are true, they won’t be running away from party primary. Some of them have shot themselves on the foot.
The only option left for them was to defect so that their sin won’t catch up with them when the time comes. We are not against anybody in our party. Otherwise, the party gave them nomination to contest this election they won to be in the National Assembly. So, what sin has the party committed against them? We gave them nomination to contest this election in 2011 through which they were elected and that is the same leadership that they are afraid of.
Why were they afraid? If the same leadership gave them ticket in 2011, why were they afraid? Somebody who is in the House of Representatives and was elected on the platform of APGA decided to contest election of the governorship in Anambra, went through the party’s primary and lost and in the middle of the governorship election, she challenged the incumbent governor then our candidate and accused him of double registrations and asked the court to disqualify him and declare her the authentic candidate of the party in that election.
She accused the candidate of double registrations and double registration is a crime and because of that, immediately after the election most of the parties that contested the election rushed to court accusing the governor of double registration after winning the election.
An offence he did not commit. At the end of the whole thing, the tribunal cleared him; the Court of Appeal also cleared him. How do you think that such person that took that kind of action will think that she is in a safe party? Now that the time of reckoning is by the corner, she defected to another party. As you can see, she is running away from her sin. If she had conducted herself very well knowing that this political party gave her the opportunity to be in the National Assembly, she would have been given another opportunity. What she did can be described as anti-party activity? She was supposed to be expelled from the party because it was a huge embarrassment to the party but because of our leniency we gave her the opportunity to repent and only for her to come out and be saying that APGA is this, APGA is that and that she has gone back to PDP where there would be no primary and she will be given an automatic ticket. So, as you can see, their actions were unfounded and not founded on any good reason.
There are speculations that you want to contest for Anambra Central Senatorial District?
My accepting to run for Senate was in response to popular demand from the people of my senatorial zone, that I should represent them. I was a delegate to the just concluded national conference and from what transpired at that national conference, it is clear to me that a lot is yet to be done. The debate at the national conference where efforts were made to address issues that have affected my people for many years, the way those issues were hotly debated was a clear indication that the debate will continue at a higher level.
Beyond the national conference, the National Assembly is another rallying point where issues that affect my people will be tabled. I know that we still have so much to do and in recognition of the fact that my people need quality representation, at 52, I think I still have the time and the strength to represent my people very well.
It is not just going there to answer name that I am a senator, it is about going there to fight for the right of our people through appropriation bills that will accommodate projects that will advance the course of your people. Politically and on national level, it is important that at the National Assembly, the voice of our people should not be swallowed.
What are programmes for Anambra Central Senatorial district if elected?
The essence of going to the National Assembly is for you to be able impact on the lives of people. You must be able to attend to the needs of your people. You speak it out, fight for it and come home to render account to them because that is the essence of representing them. You must be able to impact on the development of the constituency through projects that you are able to attract from the National Assembly. But most importantly for me, I want to go to Senate to work with the governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano of APGA. It does not make sense that you elect a governor through a political party and he does not have his party members in the Senate or in the House of Representatives. There must be that synergy of common purpose for them to serve our people better. A situation whereby the Senator representing my zone has never visited the Anambra State Government House is not good for our people and cannot be allowed to continue. It is going to be teamwork; people from the same party can be entrusted with leadership of the state and through law making processes, they will be able to work with the governor for the good of the people. So, we want to stop what is going on in the state where the governor is elected under the platform of APGA and the federal legislators will be of another party. Ordinarily, they are supposed to be putting heads together for the development of the state but nothing like that and it is affecting our people. So, we want not just for me to win and represent my people in the Senate but also for APGA to win the three senatorial seats, the 11 House of Representatives seats and the 30 seats of the state Assembly so that the relationship will be there and when the governor calls for a meeting, everybody will be there to discuss and review the programmes of the government to better the lives of the entire people of the state.
How would you assess the government of Governor Obiano?
Chief Willie Obiano is a no-nonsense man. He had served in the bank as a deputy director for nine years and other experiences that he has. We are not surprised because when we chose him we knew he will do well and he has started doing it and people are commending him.