Ahead of the 2025 governorship election in Anambra State, the factional chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Edozie Njoku, spoke to newsmen in Lagos on the perennial crisis that has been affecting the fortune of the party and the need for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to obey the Supreme Court judgment for genuine reconciliation.
Why is APGA in a perpetual leadership crisis that has lasted over 15 years?
This question should be directed to INEC. Why, with all these court judgments, the crises ought to have ended. Because if two of us are fighting over a parcel of land and the Supreme Court says the land belongs to me, that should end the matter. So, that’s where the onus is, people should ask INEC, why are they creating a crisis in APGA by not obeying court judgements that I am the authentic APGA national chairman.
We have a judgement of the Supreme Court affirming that I am the national chairman of the party. We got committal charges against them. What else? Are we the one now causing a crisis? APGA is a party that 90 per cent of its members want the right thing to be done.
But when you go and bring a house boy to become the head of the house, there will always be a crisis. APGA used to be doing well; we won seats in Lagos, Taraba and other states, we were doing well but now, we could not even get 10,000 votes in Imo State in the last governorship election because the wrong people are there.
Some people have just come up as hawks to take over and say they are ruling the party. It doesn’t work like that. The leadership of the party is here and if we were to be the ones who went to Imo State, you would have seen the difference because people are with us and all around the country.
So, the right question we should be asking is, why the INEC chairman is not recognising me? Up to the extent that there’s been a committal charge on the INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu, and he has been doing everything to support the other faction. Nigerians should ask, what is his interest in APGA?
So, you are laying the blame on the INEC chairman?
Yes, because there are judgments from the Supreme Court and lower court that he is not obeying.
APGA used to be seen as the third force in the Nigerian political system but it has lost that. Is that not an indication that the crisis is more of a personality clash against the interest of the party?
APGA is a national party with a strong footing in Igboland. You can notice that Labaran Maku won the election on the APGA platform in Nasarawa State. We have won elections in Rivers State, to mention a few. But that has changed because you keep the wrong people in position and they are doing what will make the party lose elections. Many people who love the party are no longer taking it seriously because of the wrong people who have hijacked the party and they wanted to make it a party for only Anambra State.
Look at the governor of Abia State now, Alex Otti, he was an APGA member, and he had to run to the Labour Party (LP) to win. We also have many members of APGA that have decamped to LP because of the forces that thought the Anambra people must head the party.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I wish the press were playing a bigger role to hold people accountable. INEC has no reason to recognise somebody the Supreme Court rejected. So, if such a person is now foisted on the party, how will the party move forward? Nigerians should ask, what is the interest of the INEC chairman in APGA’s matter, is he a member of our party? If he is not an interested party member, he has no reason not to obey court orders.
When Timipre Sylva was removed in Bayelsa State, the INEC chairman obeyed the court order immediately. But he reinstated Silva’s name as soon as he won in the Court of Appeal. Nigerians should ask him why he is not following the same trend in APGA’s matter.
Is reconciliation still possible in APGA?
When we won in the Federal High Court, I recommended to the party and Governor Charles Soludo to let myself and Victor Oye step aside, and let us now build a party and bring in someone else as national chairman. They said I was a madman, and they did not take my recommendation seriously.
Yes, we are open to reconciliation, but I have won as the national chairman and I intend to carry on and fight my battle till the end as national chairman of the party because once the Supreme Court has spoken, it’s over and it should be over.
Your solution is for the two factional leaders to step aside?
That was then, not anymore. Now, I have won, I’m the national chairman of the party. There is going to be reconciliation. What we need is the recognition to do reconciliation.
What’s your relationship with Governor Soludo?
I don’t have any relationship with him. I spoke with him for about an hour once and he has sworn to different people that over his dead body I will be national chairman of the party. One of our respected leaders asked him why he was taking such a position when he has never met with me.
Even a very big businessman in Anambra State tried everything to ensure the crisis was over. He wanted us to sit and iron things out but Soludo said no. He has his reasons. Maybe he has seen me as a man who cannot be tossed around.
Again, some people believe that APGA is for only Anambra people and many believe that Soludo is part of those people. We have a lot of work to do to make APGA the real national party it is. A Catholic Bishop once told me that Anambra people own APGA. It is that bad and we must correct this.
Again, we must separate party administration from governance. Once the party nominates the candidate and he wins the election, he should be allowed to face governance while the governor should also not interfere with the administration of the party.
One thing people must learn is that we must stop taking stipends from the governor. Only work with him and be straightforward with him, be kind with him and treat him as governor. Even if you don’t like him, don’t stand against his ambition. But the party must be run like a party. If he wakes up from his sleep and feels that he doesn’t like my way, it doesn’t have anything to do with the price of garri. We have won in the Supreme Court and I’m the national chairman of the party.
He may have known my stand on many things, especially my position on party supremacy. But it’s not for him to say who will become the party chairman. He’s not the party.
Your tenure will be ending in May this year, are you re-contesting?
When we get to the bridge, we will cross it. But the most important thing now is that we are a country of the rule of law, the judgments should be obeyed, that’s the point, I really came to explain here. No matter the sentiment behind it, because we’ve been through a lot with different governors to be able to have achieved all these judgments.
The other day, I saw the former CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, lamenting that the government did not obey court order, whereas he was also guilty of that when he was in office. We must all learn because you will not be there forever. You must learn to obey court orders. And that’s the crux of what I’m saying.
What is your take on the state of the nation?
I just got back from England on January 2. And as you know, I’m from the Southeast, I just lamented where we found ourselves in APGA. I’m sure the president of Nigeria is also lamenting where Nigeria is today.
A few years ago, around 2014, we normally used our Nigerian bank’s ATM to buy things in England. By 2017, about two years of Buhari in government, they started rationing it, the maximum you can take was 200 pounds, now it has been finally stopped.
Coming back to Nigeria, you see the level of poverty. You see the price of petrol. You see the price of food and the price of everything. You ask yourself, how does an average person survive in Nigeria?
You look at a new hotel within four years, it will be run down. You employ someone who’s begging you, telling you that his life depends on the job. In three years’ time, you see his outlook of life has changed.
Go to a church, you will see children eating biscuits, drinking coke inside the church. It was never like that when I was young.
Also, go to a supermarket, you will see a big man cutting across to pay before somebody else. You see your driver driving through red lights. You see all kinds of things. You ask yourself, where did Nigerians get it wrong? So, if you’re asking about the economy, that’s a question that should not even be asked because we see it daily that it’s in a mess.
You cannot blame the present president, you cannot blame anybody because Nigeria has got to a stage whereby even our moral standards have all been eroded. A country where the Supreme Court can give a judgment and one man sits in his office and says, I slighted him, I will never give it to him. It’s not his father’s own. It is God that gives power. Eventually, he will give me, I will get that recognition because it’s God that gives power not man.