Anambra Senate re-run: Umeh is candidate to beat -APGA stalwart

From Petrus Obi, Enugu

JERRY Obasi is a former chairman of the All Pro­gressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Ebonyi State. He was also the deputy governorship candidate in the 2015 governorship election and the deputy na­tional secretary of APGA.
In this interview, he discusses the Anambra North senatorial district rerun and also addresses the issue of his arrest by the Police over allegations of conniving with a candidate to bring frivolous al­legations against him.
Can you shed more light on the issue that made you spend close to a month in prison?
Someone said he wanted to run for an elec­tion and the Independent National Electoral Com­mission (INEC), found him unfit to run the said election. He then took INEC to court in suit No: FHC/AI/CS/38/2015, titled Peter Udude vs INEC. Having taken INEC to court, it was clearly a case between him and INEC. But in a deliberate attempt to tarnish my image in connivance with some el­ements in government, my name was dragged through the mud. My political goodwill, which took years to build and my credibility, were brought to disrepute after I was arraigned over frivolous charges. It was most unfortunate that the police got involved. Knowing full well it was a case of advance fee fraud, the matter was supposed to go to the High Court, but they deliberately planned to arraign me at a magistrate court. There was a delib­erate plan to deal with me because even when I was granted bail, they were asking for bail warrant to be produced at the prison.
I suffered in detention and I went on hunger strike. I couldn’t eat for all the days I stayed in de­tention, and as I speak, I am suffering from severe ulcer.
I don’t work in INEC; and in the same election I suffered the same fate with my running mate and 12 of our Assembly candidates. All our names were omitted and I was in Abuja fighting for our names to be listed by INEC. The candidate had a confused issue because at first he wanted to go to the House of Assembly, later, he wanted to go to the House of Representatives, then later he wanted to run for Senate. So, it was an issue between him and INEC and that was why he took INEC to court. So, why now bring me in; why tarnish my image? I suffered so much; my businesses, my family, I suffered pub­lic rejection because of this on my character. So, I blame the police largely for connivance and that’s why I am suing for N50m and I am going to ask for further damages.
What’s do you expect in the forthcoming senatorial re-run election in Anambra State?
Despite the fact that I am a national officer of APGA, I bemoan the situation in Anambra because we suffered a lot because of our support for Jona­than. I had nothing against Jonathan but I was of the opinion that we should have a presidential can­didate of our coloration as APGA. If we were go­ing to support Jonathan, we should have supported him using our candidate who would still serve as our image in the election. My advice then was ne­glected but I don’t want to blame anybody for that because we all make mistakes.
But for the Anambra Central, APGA won the first election. Even though it was rigged in favour of some elements, Victor Umeh still scored over 83,000 votes. With the level of rigging and intimi­dation, it would have been impossible for any other candidate to have been declared outside the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Senate is incomplete without APGA
The Senate as we have it today is incomplete without an APGA senator. At the House of Reps, we have some seats occupied by APGA; so you can see the balance and the role APGA has always played. APGA has always played the role of the stabilizing party; when PDP and APC could not form a quorum to take decisions, APGA will come as the beautiful bride.
So, it’s supposed to happen in the senate; outside the fact that Umeh is already heading to the senate, we are supposed to have more APGA senators. So, I know that if the election would be free and fair, it would be won by APGA. I am going to give my token of support to Umeh because his political experience will help Ni­geria, Ndigbo, and the people of Anambra Central District, where most of my people in Ebonyi also reside.
Everybody in APGA must join hands; this is not time to ap­portion blames, we must all join hands to ensure that APGA se­cures the rerun. Personally, I may have one or two issues against Umeh but it is not in this circumstance; all of us are supposed to come together as a family to deliver not only Umeh but our party. And anybody who actually thinks good of APGA should know that if Umeh wins this election, it is going to make the governor­ship election that will come next year a easier for APGA. Because if Umeh loses and we lose the governorship election, everybody will go home because the APGA we are clamouring for will no longer be there. So, people should sheathe their swords, come to­gether and support Sir Victor Umeh, and support APGA. For me 40 per cent of the life of APGA in the next election in Anambra depends on this because with a senator in Anambra supporting the governor it will be much easier. At least Umeh will bring his re­sources, bringing his experience, his contacts and so o to bear. We must produce a senator in Nigeria; we must clinch the senatorial seat in Anambra and the time for it is now.
Are you worried that the PDP is still trying to find a way to field a candidate in the re-run election?
It’s unfortunate that the PDP still thinks we are in the era of Jonathan, so they are still holidaying around. So, the bazaar is over; and when the bazaar is ended and the priest winds up the ba­zaar, anybody remaining there is a nuisance. So, for me, all those gimmicks happening around the PDP to subvert what is obvious and lawful, to me it is just a nuisance. All they are supposed to do is to take it in good faith; the PDP has benefitted the larger chunk of political misdeeds and nobody is supposed to benefit from its wrong deeds. After refusing to do primary, they want to benefit from that process, we say no; the only people with a window to contest is APC and Chris Ngige is still there; so let him come and run. But if Ngige runs 100 times, we will defeat him because APGA is rooted in Anambra with the good works Governor Wilof political misdeeds and nobody is supposed to benefit from its lie Obiano is doing, it will be an uphill task not minding the propa­ganda machinery of the PDP and APC. Ngige came a distant third with a vote of about 28, 000. You cannot match it with the 83,000 votes Umeh garnered. Ngige was popular, but not to the extent of beating Umeh in this election, no, his popularity is limited to that.­
How do you react to the present economic situation in the country?
Buhari should convoke an emergency eco­nomic summit, because he is sinking in the middle of the ocean. I wonder why he is globetrotting; spending the money we don’t have in countries that have already established economy. He wants us to patronize local goods but where is the envi­ronment to do that. So, first of all he may have to go to countries like China and let them come and start producing here or to produce in China through cheap labour. Through a tax window or tax holiday, we can bring back those materials to Nigeria and sell at more affordable rate.
Unfortunately, he has appointed unqualified hands to manage our finance. Also, he should bring in an economist of high repute to manage the Cen­tral Bank of Nigeria. I don’t know what Buhari is doing, because it seems he is more concerned with firing those he ought to retain on tribal coloration leaving those he needed to have sacked in offices; it is wrong.
I believe Buhari has good intentions for Nige­ria but the intelligential is not there; so he has to hire competent hands to work for him.
His fight against corruption is commendable because corruption has eaten deep into our fabrics, such that if you are not corrupt it seems as if you are stupid. However, we see his anti corruption crusade a little bit selective because all the corrupt elements that were in PDP are in APC today and nobody has touched them. It’s quite unfortunate; so he should look deeper into the situation and know how to bail the cat.

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