My Book on the conceptualization and formation of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA is work-in-progress that will come with details on the background, motivation, vision, ideology, agenda, challenges and the actualization of the noble and historic objective of founding APGA.
However, the mischievous and deliberate distortion of the history of APGA especially by persons who are basically smitten by unprovoked envy and malice have compelled me to narrate a brief historical account of the formation of APGA in order to set the records straight and avail the unwary public with the incontrovertible truth about the formation of APGA.
The strong desire to found a national political party based on Igbo initiative motivated me to rally a few associates on the platform of Igboezue Cultural Association, which I founded in 1991,, with the Motto of Onye Aghala Nwanne Ya (Be Your Brother’s Keeper) to embark on the mission of forming a political party.
In 1996 we submitted the application to register the Peoples Democratic Congress (PDC) to the Electoral Commission. PDC was not registered. In 1998 we resubmitted the application to register PDC, we failed the second time.
Not deterred by these failures we approached the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the third time to register the United Progressive Grand Alliance, UPGA.
Let me recall that in all three applications we used the Motto: “Onye Aghala Nwanne Ya” Be Your Brother’s Keeper, and the Logo was the Cock, for reasons that will be found in the main Book that is in the making.
I performed the public presentation of UPGA at the Nike Lake Hotel, Enugu on 28th of July, 2001. Justice Eze Ozobu (rtd), the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo who was to be the Chairman of the occasion, directed his Special Assistant, Mazi Kalu Onuma to represent him.
I then appealed to Professor Ben Obumselu of the blessed memory to preside over the event while I did the presentation. Late Elder Statesman Senator Francis Ella, a chieftain of Ohanaeze from Ikwerre in Rivers State was on hand to deliver his goodwill message, at the occasion.
It was at this well-attended event, which Victor Umeh also attended that he spoke and announced his resignation from the PDP to join the unregistered UPGA. In recognition of that gesture I appointed him Protem National Treasurer of UPGA.
In October, 2001, Victor Umeh walked out on UPGA when he was confronted with his double dealing of still belonging to a faction of PDP in Anambra State, as State Treasurer while at the same time holding the office of Protem National Treasurer of UPGA.
He shamefully returned to PDP. Umeh was not sighted again until July 2002, nine months after UPGA had transmuted to APGA and registered as a political party. In other words Victor Umeh only became a member of APGA in July, 2002. He was not part of the formation of APGA.
INEC announced the registration of APGA, NDP and UNPP on Saturday 22nd June, 2002 and I received the Certificate of Registration of APGA on Monday, 24th June 2002 in an impressive ceremony at INEC Headquarters presided over by late Dr. Abel Guobadia, the Honourable Chairman of INEC at the time.
On Tuesday 25th June 2002 and at the instance of late Barr. J.S.P.C. Nwokolo, I made a discreet return to Enugu. At the wee hours of Wednesday, 26th June, 2002, Barr Nwokolo came to my Independence Layout Residence at Enugu in the company of a young SSS detail attached to him, Mr. Mike Obagu.
Together we drove to late Arch Bishop Albert Kanene Obiefuna at his official residence at Onitsha, where he prayed for and blessed me and sprinkled the Holy Water on us and the Certificate of Registration of APGA.
We proceeded from Onitsha to the Enugu Airport where I returned to Abuja with the morning flight. Mr. Mike Obagu was to become my Chief Security Officer for many years. He has recently retired from the DSS as a very Senior Officer.
My attention has recently been drawn to the fact that Victor Umeh lied to a group of Catholic Priests that he was the person who made this spiritual visit to Arch Bishop Albert Kanene Obiefuna with Late Barr. J.S.PC. Nwokolo.
Umeh was not even a member of APGA when this trip with Barr. Nwokolo was made. Mr. Mike Obagu, alive and well. He is a living witness to this incident. Nothing is too sacred for Umeh to lie with.
On Thursday, 27th June 2002, I then made a triumphant return to Enugu in which a large crowd of supporters and a battery of media men were on hand to receive me.
From the Airport we drove in a long Motorcade to present the Certificate to the Late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu where he could not hold back his emotion as he gave me a bear hug when he beheld the Certificate.
We then proceeded to the residence of Late Dr Alex Ekwueme, where he was on hand to receive us at his Independence Layout Enugu, residence. We then moved to Justice Eze Ozobu’s residence to yet another emotion laden speech and prayers.
We ended the day’s event with a visit to late Chief C.C. Onoh’s residence at Ngwo but unfortunately he couldn’t wait for us because of our apparent late arrival.
In all of these, Victor Umeh was not present because he had not become a member of APGA, after jumping off the UPGA ship in October, 2001. In July 2002, Barr. J.S.P.C Nwokolo passionately appealed to me to forgive Victor Umeh and admit him into APGA. I obliged.
I appointed him the Assistant National Vice Chairman of APGA for the South East Geopolitical Zone, after Chief Edozie Njoku who held the office at the time respected my appeal to accept the position of Assistant National Secretary to pave the way for Umeh who later turned out to be an ingrate.
Umeh couldn’t return to the office of National Treasurer, because the nominee of Late Dr Chuba Okadigbo, Chief Ralphs Okey Nwosu had to be appointed into the office when Umeh lost faith and backed off.
Chief Nwosu was to resign in protest when Mr. Peter Obi emerged as the Governorship candidate of APGA. Victor Umeh at this point crawled back to me begging me on his knees to reinstate him as National Treasurer, since Chief Okey Nwosu’s resignation created a vacancy.
This office was actually zoned to Anambra State.
In my benevolence and soft spot for a man that turned out to be worse than a vampire, I reappointed Chief Victor Umeh the National Treasurer and presented him at the Party’s National Convention on January 10, 2003 for ratification.
Note that prior to the convention I exercised the power to appoint Protem Officers of the party.
It was from the position of National Treasurer that Victor Umeh rewarded my benevolence to him with an unprovoked Political Coupe d’état at the instigation and inducement of some elements in the Obasanjo Presidency.
The Obasanjo presidency regarded APGA as a National Security risk, from the very moment Late Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu emerged as the presidential candidate of our party. Chief Obasanjo told me this much.
They had the morbid fear that if APGA was allowed to spread and gain root in the East, that Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu would re-enact his Biafran Mission.
To halt APGA’s expansion, and if possible destroy it, became a state policy of the Obasanjo Administration. Victor Umeh was quite handy to do the hatchet Job. This is the truth of the matter. This is the genesis of the APGA imbroglio.
Let me recall that at the Ohanaeze General Meeting held at Asaba on the 30th of June, 2002, the President General, Justice Eze Ozobu (rtd) urged Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu to leave the APP which later became ANPP and join APGA.
In September, 2002, Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu as a Guest at a ceremony by the students of the Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka, dramatized his resignation from APP by tearing his APP membership card in public.
On the 24th of December 2002, he agreed to become a member of APGA after I had consented to propose him as our Presidential Candidate for the 2003 Presidential Election.
This took place at his No 4 Isiuzo Street residence, in Independence Layout, Enugu, in the presence of Justice Eze Ozobu (rtd), Dr Joe Nwaorgu, Prince Richard Ozobu, Chief H.B.C Ogboko and Chief Onwuka Ukwa.
On the 26th of December, 2002, I proposed Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu as our presidential Candidate in a well-attended World Press Conference at the Zodiac Hotel, Independence Layout Enugu.
On the 10th of January, at the Old Parade Ground, Garki, Abuja, I proudly raised the hands of Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu and Alhaji Sanni Bayero as our Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates respectively.
At this juncture, it is important to debunk another blatant lie that Late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu “single handedly” appointed Mr. Peter Obi as the Governorship Candidate of APGA for the 2003 Election.
The truth is that the National Working Committee of APGA appointed a 7 member Screening Committee to screen and recommend the best Candidates to fly our Party’s Governorship flags in the South East.
The Committee was headed by Chief Maxi Okwu, Deputy National Chairman South. Others were Prince O.N.C. Akanegbu, Chief Onwuka Ukwa, Chief G.U. Uba, Chief David Ukeje, Chief Edozie Njoku and Chief Victor Umeh. The screening exercise took place at the Hotel Presidential, Enugu, on 30/12/2002.
Chief Maxi Okwu, in the company of members of the Committee, addressed a Press Conference on the same day at the same venue and recommended for the approval of the National Executive Committee, the following candidates:
(1). Mr. Peter Obi – Anambra State,
(2). Barr. Ugo Agballah – Enugu State
(3) Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu – Imo State
(4) Barr. Chief Onwuka Kalu – Abia State and,
(5) Barr. Sylvester Oduko – Ebonyi State.
It still baffles me why Victor Umeh will find pleasure in spreading falsehood and fabricating malicious propaganda against his benefactors even on matters of recent occurrence in which the dramatis personae are very much alive with sound memories.
What manner of human being is Victor Umeh who has achieved notoriety in stabbing in the back practically every one of his benefactors? I am yet to see any benefactor of Umeh who did not end up being a victim of his wickedness.
The New Webster’s Dictionary defines a Founder as one who initiated or originated a project. Being the Founder of APGA ought not to be controversial but for malicious, mischievous and envious characters like Victor Umeh.
I gave the late Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu over two decades of unalloyed and unflinching loyalty. He celebrated me severally for the accomplishment of founding APGA.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo under the leadership of Justice Eze Ozobu gave me the Traditional Title of Ogbatuluenyi Ndigbo – A person who killed an Elephant for the Igbo People. By this singular honour I remain the only Igbo person dead or alive who holds an Ohanaeze Traditional Title.
I wonder why any person with any sense of proportion would want to ascribe the founding of APGA to Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu. The Eze Igbo Gburugburu I associated with for a long time never for a moment laid claim to founding APGA.
God knows that I genuinely and loyally added appreciable value to Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s Political Profile. I deserve nothing but gratitude.
Section 18(1) of APGA Constitution registered with INEC which was there before Umeh joined the party states as follows:
“The Founder of the party, CHIEF CHEKWAS OKORIE, shall hold the office of the National Chairman of the party for an initial period of Four Years and may hold the office for a second term of four years if he so desires”.
Umeh aided by sponsors from the Obasanjo Presidency, struck when I was mid-way in my first term of four (4) years.
It is reassuring that none of the children of late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu has been tempted to ascribe founding APGA to their noble father. Late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Eze Igbo Gburugburu, a man of immeasurable integrity would never desire to be dressed with borrowed robes.
I am unable to come to terms with the reasons why his wife Ambassador Bianca Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who is aware of the veracity of the above narrative, would want to join in denigrating the image of the great leader by dressing her late husband in borrowed robes as if he needed it to compliment his historic and noble accomplishments.
This is an obvious and regrettable disservice to the personality of the sage.
The incontrovertible fact is that I, Chief Dr. Chekwas Okorie am the Founder of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA 2002 and the United Progressive Party, UPP 2012. By this feat I proudly join Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Mallam Aminu Kano and Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim, all of blessed memory, as one of four Nigerians who founded two political parties each in their life time.
No matter how hard my traducers may try, my hard-earned place in Nigeria’s political history and the evolution of our democracy can never be taken away from me till the end of time whether I am alive or dead.
Those who wallow in distorting history and denying others their genuine and hard earned achievements must be mindful of the merciless verdict of Amadioha, the Igbo god of retributive Justice.
Chief Dr Chekwas Okorie
National Chairman, UPP
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