With less than 23 days to the general elections, the crisis rocking the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) took a new twist as a faction of the party unveiled founding national chairman of the party, Chief Chekwas Okorie as its presidential candidate on Wednesday against Prof Peter Umeadi who had been unveiled few months back as the presidential candidate of the APGA.
Prof Peter Umeadi who had been unveiled few months back as the presidential candidate of the APGA.
Okorie had emerged as the party’s presidential candidate at the primary organised by the Edozie Njoku-led National Working Committee.
In December 2022, the Victor Oye faction announced a 1,579-man Presidential Campaign Council led by Anambra State Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo and his predecessor, Chief Willie Obiano for Prof Peter Umeadi candidacy.
Both Oye and Njoku have been laying claims to the leadership of the party.
At a ceremony held in Abuja Continental Hotel to launch his presidential campaign, Okorie said: “It was precisely on 3rd of June 2022, that I was elected as the Presidential Candidate of APGA in a keenly contested election at the National Convention of the party at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.
He said: “It is important at this 6 to inform the public that it is neither by design nor our desire that we are stepping into the campaign arena this late. It is public knowledge that on 9th May, 2022, the Supreme Court of Nigeria corrected a judgment it had delivered on 14th October, 2021, which contained a slip of both the pen and the tongue, in erroneously referring to the former National Chairman of the Party, Chief Victor Oye as National Chairman instead of Chief Edozie Njoku, the authentic and duly elected National Chairman of the Party whose purported removal by a Jigawa High Court was set aside by both the Court of Appeal in Kano and the Supreme Court as not justiciable. This judgment was duly served on INEC and other parties to the suit by an Executive Bailiff of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“Unfortunately, the parties adversely affected by the well-considered correction effected by the Supreme Court engaged in all manner of blackmail, subterfuge and malicious allegations. The Independent National Electoral Commission curiously refused to comply with this judgment. Chief Edozie Njoku, the authentic National Chairman of APGA suffered a lot of persecution, including an undeserved two-day incarceration at the notorious Suleja Correctional Centre. The intention of his undeserved incarceration was to break his will and force his surrender. But this man of history, a man with the lion heart stood firm on the path of justice. As we speak Chief Edozie Njoku has not only been affirmed but reaffirmed to the third degree by the Supreme Court of Nigeria as the authentic, indisputable National Chairman of APGA duly elected at the Party’s convention held at Owerri, Imo State, on May 31, 2019.
“It is after these series of affirmations by the apex court of Nigeria that we resolved that the time has become ripe for us the authentic Candidates of APGA to step into the arena of the 2023 general election to be counted.
“It is now abundantly clear to all discerning Nigerians and the Independent National Electoral Commission that APGA has only one National Chairman and that National Chairman is Chief Edozie Njoku. In the same token, APGA has only one Presidential Candidate and that Presidential Candidate who happens to be the Founder of the Party, is Chief Dr. Chekwas Okorie, Oje Ozi Nigeria.
“Let me seize this opportunity as l have done in the past to urge the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to do the needful without further delay. The 2023 general election to which over #350 billion of tax payers’ money which has been appropriated by the National Assembly must not be put in avoidable peril. The onus is on INEC to ensure that Nigerians do not turn around to hold the electoral body responsible for truncating the 2023 general election by willfully excluding lawfully recognized APGA from participating in the elections. Should this unfortunate and forewarned calamity befall the nation, the repercussion shall threaten the very existence of corporate Nigeria. May God forbid it”, Chikwas explained.
Unveiling of his running mate, he continued, “Shortly after the Convention, I consulted with the National Working Committee (NWC) where it was unanimously agreed that no person was better suited to pair with me on the Presidential Ticket as Vice Presidential Candidate than Hajia Hadiza.
“Hajia Hadiza Mohammed is an accomplished personality with sound education and varied academic exposure. She is an employer of labour who has established striving enterprises in Nigeria and abroad. She is a virtuous woman and a mother of very successful and upwardly mobile children. She stands out amongst both men and women as one who can communicate fluently in seven Nigerian and foreign languages including Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba and Kanuri. A polyglot extraordinaire. I am confident that as l march side by side with Hajia Hadiza Mohammed to campaign across Nigeria our strong and progressive message which will be launched in the days ahead along with the public presentation of our Manifesto tagged revolutionary agenda”.
Also, he announced Jonathan Elendu as the Director-General of the campaign council.
“It is also my singular pleasure to unveil at this occasion the Director General of our Presidential Campaign Organization who prefers to be referred to as simply Jonathan Elendu. His rich profile that shows his wide experience and knowledge as a publisher, an author, poet and public affairs analyst both in Nigeria and many countries abroad has also been read to this distinguished audience. His ingenuity and expertise will be stretched to their elastic limits given the constraints of time and other challenges,” he said.
Continuing, he said, “Njoku, the National Chairman of APGA has proved himself to be a man of immense faith and conviction as well. If it was not for this special attribute of his l will not be here today as Presidential Candidate of a Political Party l founded 21 years ago.
“It is out of faith and conviction that all genuine leaders and members of APGA today believe that in spite of the machinations and intrigues of human beings which have resulted to what is obviously a late entry into the democratic contest for 2023 general election. APGA will surprise its traducers by the outcome of its accomplishments in the forthcoming elections by the special grace of God. Again, it is written that the last shall be the first”, he stated.
Speaking, the vice presidential candidate, Hadiza Muhammad, observed that with her nomination, the party has proven that they respect gender equality in Nigerian political experiments.
In his acceptance speech as DG, Elendu said Nigeria requires rescue from the clutches of effects of an unworkable coupling that has made the development of the country and people almost a mirage.
“From the remote deserts of Sokoto to the savannahs of Borno and Adamawa, the forests of Oyo, the rivers of the Niger Delta and the lands of Alaigbo, there are incredible resources that make the ravaging poverty in our country an abomination.
“Indeed Nigeria is at the threshold of history. Shall we continue to operate a federal democracy that has stunted the growth of our country? A system that professes security of lives and property as the main function of government, and yet knowing that in principle it is unworkable”, he stated.
In his remarks at the occasion, Chief Edozie Njoku also enjoined INEC to do the needful, stressing that he was the authentic national chairman of APGA.
“The party should always be supreme. There should always be primaries, congresses. I commend the supreme court judge, the retired justice who came out of retirement for the sake of justice. I thank the CJN of the supreme court, the chief registrar who I have called out that she should see the right and do it. I apologize to anyone affected because we are fighting for our right. I was accused of forging the supreme court judgement. But I am so happy that the truth always prevails. I take this opportunity to also call out the legal department of INEC. Three musketeers who have vowed that they will disobey the supreme court judgement. Who are they to consistently stand on a position that INEC? We are going into a very testing period of Nigeria elections. It’s been drawn from south to north, from east to west. We all have to be very very careful because when things go out of hand, it will be very difficult to continue.
“INEC cannot continue to say we don’t understand. The highest court of the land has advised that all we need to do is to come before them. All the CTCs are authentic. We are pleading the hierarchy of INEC…if the right thing is not done, there will be multiple suits on the exclusion of all APGA candidates. Chief Victor Oye cannot produce the candidates in this election.
“We as Nigerians who want to have a smooth election must call on INEC to do the right thing.
“I also apologize to all the candidates who have been legitimately fielded, I called on the presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate to take things the way they are.
“We also call on my zone to rest assured that APGA will represent them freely. We will not be compromised. I know APGA will ensure to do their best to know that we are a party that stands on justice.
“I will also stand on what is right. We are a straight forward political party that believes in justice. Today is a day that APGA unveils the vice presidential candidate and the DG, I wish them well”, he said.