NewsReel 27/10/14: Umeh is APGA's major problem -Obi's aide

[ Masterweb Reports: David Onwuchekwa reports ] - In a recent interview, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Vic­tor Umeh allegedly called the former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi an empty bag. Some journalists tracked down Obi’s aide, Mr Valentine Obieny­em for an
interview with his boss, Obi. Obi­enyem insisted that his boss only responds to issues that would contribute to national development and does not have the time to exchange words with men he described as ‘political irritants’. After much prodding, Obienyem ended up speaking to the press himself, with the warning that the views he expressed are strictly his. Excerpts:



Welcome back to Anambra State.



Thanks. I always visited with my boss, only that it’s been more of sneaking in and out.



Why do you have to sneak in and out?



When I say sneaking in and out, I only mean coming in quietly and leaving quietly.



How has life been outside govern­ment?



Well, I think it has been busier. I was lucky to serve a man who is adjudged to have per­formed excellently as governor of Anambra State. We are all proud of him, because he served so well to the point that institutions that worked with him are all trying to celebrate him. We are now busier, traveling from one part of the state to another and from one part of the world to another.



In the last three months for example, we have been to the USA and the UK three times. We attended the 69th United Nations General Assembly session during which he spoke at one of the side events on the post-MDGs agenda, because he was the best governor on mainstreaming the MDGs in Nigeria. We also attended the World Bank Spring meeting. Obi also spoke in one of the sessions because they recognize his expertise in financial manage­ment. One can go on and on.



Locally, institutions beg him to come and speak to them basically by way of sharing ex­periences on what made him succeed as the governor of Anambra State. What is interest­ing is that most of these institutions offer to pay for his trips, accommodation and hono­rarium. He often agreed that his transporta­tion and accommodation should be taken care of, but not honorarium, on the basis that sharing experiences is a way
of contributing to the progress of the country without de­manding anything in return.



Of course he has other activities that occu­py his time. He often solicits assistance from institutions with which he assists churches to set up faith-based revolving micro credit schemes and for the rehabilitation of schools, especially those in the remote parts of the state.



What can you say about his re­cent defection to the Peoples Dem­ocratic Party(PDP)?



As far as I am concerned, that is a non-issue. When has exercising one’s right to association become a subject of inquisition?



Some think it’s normal, others see it as betrayal. What can you say about this?



We shall soon know who betrayed who. I have watched with amusement the wry hu­mour some people have made out of it. Some are showing videos, others visit Ojukwu’s grave to dance, others speak in tongues and I ask is it because one man decided to ex­ercise his right of association? In fact, I celebrated the reactions, because to me, no defection elicited such reactions in Nigeria perhaps since the evolution of parties with the exception of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumeg­wu-Ojukwu’s membership of NPN. It shows how important Obi is in Nigeria. To have elic­ited such
reactions means that the man is an institution, a colossus.



I sympathize with APGA people for cry­ing and rolling on the ground on the loss of a man regarded as the face of APGA in Ni­geria. The implication is that since this man has left, APGA is as good as dead, but it is not like that. Being his own person, he left alone and that means APGA can still reinvent itself. Moreover, they should understand that he left APGA because he was not wanted, and be­cause the party had
since lost track of its ad­vancement because of the greed of one man.



The chairman of APGA, Sir Victor Umeh was quoted as saying that Obi should not be called the face of APGA, because APGA made him and not the other way round. Do you agree?



If Chief Victor Umeh wants, let him declare that the sun rises from the west and people will merely laugh at him because he cannot change existential truth by mere mortal pronounce­ment. Why worry yourself about what Victor says when the other 99% believes that Obi was the face of APGA in the world?



As for Obi making APGA or APGA mak­ing him, Obi has not thought along that line. It’s Nigerians, based on what Obi did for APGA as a political party that submitted that he made APGA, so Victor’s point is laughable as it is baseless.



Umeh even claims that he also contributed in making Obi. He shares the faults of garru­lous people everywhere. When you encounter people that talk a lot, you will see that they do so without circumspection.



Before Obi went into politics, he was chair­man of many quoted companies, including two banks. Obi succeeded in APGA not be­cause of wolves like Umeh who are perpetu­ally after their selfish gains, but because of his inherent character which his pedigree before he became governor would substantiate. Obi is good, Obi has character , he is humble and trustworthy. He did not learn these virtues , be­cause he was an APGA member and will cer­tainly not depart from them because he
joined the PDP.



Each time Victor talks, his purpose is not to pass information, not to instruct, not to cor­rect inexactitudes, but to diminish Obi. How can he say that APGA made Obi? Between him and Obi, who would we say that APGA made? The other day, I was in London with Obi, and he was trying to pack into one of his buildings in London from another one. He acquired both before he became the gover­nor. As we were going through documents, he showed me one document that contained the amount he used to secure Victor’s first inter­national passport for him, and the one cover­ing
his first overseas trip. I know that his first car, a Mercedes Benz V-boot, was bought for him by Obi’s younger brother. I knew the two-room apartment where he lived before he built mansions all over the place and now living like a king. Gentlemen, you can judge who benefited from who.
 


He said it himself that without Obi’s faith­fulness, APGA could not have reached where it is now. I remember the day he presented the Most Trustworthy Party Man Award to Obi, and said if not for his consistency in going to court and fighting his impeachment, APGA could not have succeeded. Juxtapose it with what he says today and your only conclusion will be that the man is only guided by the dic­tates of the time and not by truth.



In his last interview, I even read where he chronicled what he did for Obi to return to power after his impeachment. I was at the centre of it all and, I can tell you that the only man that believed in Obi was Dim Chukwue­meka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. If not because of Obi’s tenacity or if he depended on people like Umeh, he would not have come back. I re­member during his impeachment, some peo­ple went to meet Umeh and he told them that their brother was gone for good. It was when the first judgment restoring him was delivered that Umeh started to lean towards him again.
I remember the day the Court of Appeal deliv­ered judgment, I came back from Singapore that morning with Obi and had to board a 7 am Sosoliso flight from Lagos to Enugu to be in court. The moment the judgment was de­livered, Umeh asked us to wait at Enugu that he would come there with Dim Ojukwu who was paying a condolence visit to the Akpamg­bos in Enugu-Ukwu. On a second thought, Obi decided to call Ojukwu himself, who asked to know the wordings of the judgment. Obi told him the judge said he should take over immediately, and Ojukwu said if it was so, he should move to the Government House. That was how he left, contrary to Umeh’s own position, from Enugwu-Ukwu to the Govern­ment House, and that was
how Obi eventually was reinstated. So, in all his travails, the only man that followed him and not motivated by lucre, was Ojukwu. In fact that was why Obi was touched over the lamentations of Ojuk­wu’s wife, Ambassador Bianca and decided to explain to her what happened, and assured her that a change of platform is not change of principles. That is also why Obi said he would not reply to any other person on his
reasons for leaving APGA, because others are not sincere at all.



What would you say is APGA’s problem?



I think APGA’s problem is 90% caused by Chief Victor Umeh. He is not a good par­ty man. APGA started dying the day he was made the chairman. We wished that Chief Chekwas Okorie continued. As Mrs Ojukwu said, the dismissal of Chekwas Okorie and the appointment of Umeh is like chasing away a cat to bring in the tiger. Dim Chukwumemka



Odumegwu Ojukwu saw this coming, because he actually advised agains

 
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