Umeh’s Political Golgotha
This may not be the best of times for Chief Victor Umeh, national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. Umeh who has succeeded in wrestling the control of the party from his rival, Chief Chekwas Okorie, after over a six-year battle in court, is facing another battle, this time with the Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi on one hand and the board of trustees, BoT and other party members on the other.
Last week, chieftains of the party met at the Enugu residence of late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. The meeting was convened by Dr. Tim Menakaya, former minister of health in his capacity as the vice chairman of board of trustees of APGA. Umeh was however absent from the meeting. Chieftains of the party resolved at the end of the meeting for an urgent national convention, starting from the ward, local government and state congresses. They cautioned the national chairman, Umeh, to desist from making public utterances that are capable of destabilising the party.
Before the meeting, Umeh appeared to have drawn a political battle line with Governor Obi, who was elected on the platform of the party for two terms. The national chairman has sacked three key members in Obi’s cabinet from APGA, for allegedly engaging in publications that brought the party to public ridicule. They include: Chief Nwobu Alor, the governor’s special adviser on parks and markets, who is also said to be Governor Obi’s uncle; Dr. Godson Emebo and Mr. Osita Okoli. Even though their sack from Anambra State chapter of APGA was signed by Chief Ifeanyi Udokwu and C J Okoli Akirika, acting state chairman and secretary of the party respectively, Umeh gave his imprimatur to the action.
Chief Umeh has also in the past one month launched a media attack against the APGA controlled government in Anambra State, calling on other political parties and the civil society groups to challenge Governor Obi’s administration for not conducting local government elections in the state since he assumed office six years ago. This was regarded as highly unexpected from a national chairman of a party in a state controlled by his party.
A source at the meeting told this magazine that Umeh’s deadly outbursts on Obi’s administration were what prompted the May 26 meeting in Enugu. He said that members took a critical look at his vituperations, which they considered capable of destabilising the party if not checked. Ojukwu’s widow, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, who attended the meeting was also said to have expressed personal emotions on the matter and cautioned against actions that might destroy APGA.
The decision to hold a national convention is seen as a plan to nail Umeh’s political coffin. It would have been assumed that he has completed a maximum of two terms as national chairman, going by the constitutional provisions of the party and will be asked to step aside, even though he spent the years in a leadership tussle with Chief Chekwas Okorie. The move is also to stop him from attempting to build any political structure or anoint a candidate that might succeed Governor Obi whose tenure ends in 2014.
The meeting was a masterstroke against Umeh. Even though the meeting was convened by Dr. Menakaya, it has the backing of the two governors elected on the platform of APGA – Peter Obi and Rochas Okorocha of Imo State as well as Ojuwku’s widow, Bianca. Obi was present at the meeting while Okorocha was represented by his special adviser on politics, Patrick Onuoha.
The frosty relationship between Obi and Umeh, this magazine gathered, had been the contest over the control of APGA. Umeh was said to have started shopping for Obi’s successor ahead of 2014, which did not go down well with the governor. In one of his recent exclusive interviews with a national daily, Umeh accused Obi of abandoning the party immediately after he won his second term in office. He alleged that Obi had come down on his knees begging to be given a second term ticket on the platform of the party with the promise of working for the interest of APGA.
He described as blackmail the allegation of Obi’s aides that he receives N20 million monthly from the Anambra State government as subvention to run APGA and said Obi has not released any money to the party since he was elected for a second term. This is one of the reasons the national chairman launched attacks against Obi and his government. But it appears that he went too far, and this might likely consume him.