Chief Willy Ezugwu is a member of the Board of Trustees of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and an outspoken leader in the Nigerian civil society. He is also the secretary general of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) and the national coordinator of South East Revival Group (SERG). In this interview with PAUL UWADIMA, he spoke on the recurring APGA leadership crises, and the November governorship election in Anambra State, among other issues.
As a member of the Board of Trustee of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), how is the party’s recurring leadership crisis impacting on its success?
It is true that APGA has been ridden by leadership crisis since the death of our great leader, Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Emeka Odumegu Ojukwu.
We thought that when the Chief Victor Umeh’s leadership won the case at the Supreme Court, following the protracted legal tussle with a faction of the party that the leadership crisis was over. But when we thought it was time to move forward, the leadership crisis reared its ugly head again. The recurring leadership crisis is usually caused by imposition of candidates but it has been worsened by the inability of Governor Willie Obiano to manage the party well as the leader. Can you imagine that a party with great prospects like APGA, which have started making waves in parts of the country, including the north, has been unable to hold at least one Board of Trustees meeting in two years, not to mention a national convention, yet we are approaching an election in Anambra. I don’t know how Obiano wants to win a second tenure, if at all he wins the party’s primary, because he has not played his role as a leader in the party and his unparalleled arrogance and grandstanding has caused a lot of members to defect to other political parties. Former Governor Peter Obi brought Governor Obiano from nowhere and entrusted the party into his hands on a platter of gold and he has totally destroyed the foundation of APGA through inexperience in political party management. One would not have blamed him because he is a novice and a green horn in party politics but you cannot help it when he has refused to learn all these years that he has been in power as a governor. It seems he is not interested in the success of the party because once he is through with his tenure he returns to the United States from where he was conscripted into the governorship race by Peter Obi. But thank God that the founding fathers, have arisen to take the party back to the people through the leadership of Chief Martin Agbaso as the new national chairman.
Apart from not managing the party well, as the only sitting governor on APGA platform, what is your assessment of Governor Obiano administration in Anambra State?
Well, if not for the unequalled performance of his predecessor, Peter Obi, which Governor Obiano inherited, he would have no project to use for his media propaganda. The huge sums of money left by Peter Obi in the Anambra State treasury and the increasing internally generated
revenue accruing to the state are what Obiano is using to sponsor the “Willie is Working” propaganda. Governor Obiano should visit his neighbour, the Governor of Enugu State to learn what it means to govern the people. Despite the fact that Enugu State is a civil servant state with little or no internally generated revenue, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has shown leadership by impacting positively on the lives of rural people. Currently, Governor Obiano is facing a lot of opposition because most of the developmental projects initiated by him are concentrated in his Anambra North Senatorial Zone. He has been accused of engaging his kinsmen who occupy most of the sensitive positions in his government, while he allows his wife to be the dominant force in the running of the government.
Based on your assessment of the Anambra State government’s performance and with few months to the governorship election, what are your party’s chances of retaining the state?
It will be a miracle for Governor Obiano to win the party’s primary election in the first place because other political parties are holding meetings but APGA is not meeting and even the Board of Trustee members are not carried along. As for the chances of the party in winning Anambra State governorship election in November, the governor has killed APGA already through his ineptitude but like I said earlier, thank God for the party’s elders who have arisen to take the party back to the people of Nigeria. With the level of crises faced by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), APGA would have been the main opposition party in the country but for Willie Obiano’s exceptionally bad style of leadership. I’m not the only one that fears for Obiano’s re-election in November. Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, also a member of the Board of Trustees of our party recently said that there were no indices on ground to show that the party or Governor Willie Obiano is ready for the contest in November even though the Anambra governorship election will, to a large extent, determine the future of APGA in Nigeria. As Chief Ezeonwuka rightly observed, opposition parties in Anambra are catching-in on the uninspiring attitude of the Obiano government to infiltrate the nooks and crannies in the state such that instead of the ruling party receiving decampees as is the tradition, APGA is losing members to the opposition on daily basis. So, everybody in APGA is worried that Obiano is killing the party by installments
like Chief Ezeonwuka said. As chieftains of APGA, we have seen a lot of things going wrong, but, there are no efforts by the governor to correct them even after series of warnings.
But what you are talking about is what you should have discussed with the governor in private.
Yes, I agree with you. And I can assure you that efforts have been made by many APGA leaders to get the governor to understand the impending danger ahead but to no avail. I personally wrote to him, but as I am talking to you, he never acknowledged nor replied the letter even when some people close to him confirmed that he has received my letter. If as a member of the Board of Trustees of APGA, who has contested for the Senate three times and the Secretary General of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties wrote a letter to him and he didn’t acknowledge it, will he listen to the ordinary Anambra State resident? We cannot stand akimbo and look while the opposition is taking over the grassroots of Anambra State. Is it not insulting enough to hear outsiders boasting of defeating APGA in Anambra State at the governorship election in November? It is because the political stakeholders in APGA are not being carried along.