‘We Did Not Get The Opportunity To Salvage APGA’

Maxi-OkwuMr. Maxi Okwu, a foundation member of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and once its factional National Chairman spoke on the plan to form a new mega party, President Buhari and former president Goodluck Jonathan’s administrations, activities of food-is-ready politicians and other topical issues.

WHAT is your assessment of President Buhari’s administration so far?
Nearly one year on, President Buhari’s government is a disaster. Yes, there has been a change, but it’s not the change we need or want. There is too much hype on the anti-corruption initiative, but it’s just surface deep. President Buhari is alone in his efforts on this front, no matter how well- intentioned. He is not carrying along his party, the All Progressives Congress, National Assembly members and the State Governors in this effort. Again considering that he sought the Presidency four times before securing the seat, he seems not ready for governance.

Are you surprised with the disclosures on how public funds were looted during Jonathan’s administration?
No, I am not surprised. It was an irresponsible government. That was why some of us prayed that the PDP would be defeated at the last general elections. Jonathan’s government was an unmitigated disaster.

You once vowed that if you lose in the APGA leadership tussle, you will quit the party, have you left the party now?
Technically, by the judgment of the Supreme Court I am no longer a member of APGA. I could easily move on and continue my political vocation. However, there is the unfinished business of our supporters particularly in Anambra State, where you have a sitting APGA governor. They have had a culture of APGA since 2003, I have to take them into account.

There is a peace initiative by Governor Willie Obiano through the Maja Umeh committee. For the sake of our teeming supporters we have resolved to give that initiative a chance. This is in spite of my reservations. Let’s see what happens before we consider our plans.

Was your faction part of the APGA group that is trying to form a new mega party ahead of 2019?
Which mega party? I always laugh whenever I hear such grandiose terminology. You don’t proclaim yourself Mega. You are mega from your attributes. You may recall that a similar quixotic attempt at a mega party was made around 2005-2010, how did it end? Two so-called mega parties were registered which have since gone into oblivion. But compare that with the efforts of Bola Tinubu and his associates that resulted in the APC. Do you need to be told that APC is a mega party?

Do you think there is the need for another mega political party when the PDP is there already?
There will be an alternative to the APC come 2019. The PDP which is right now in an oxygen tent and life support may survive, but cannot recover. The imperative of two dominant political parties at anytime in our polity is now obvious to everybody.

In fact it is at the heart of any genuine multi-party democratic setup. The bane of the APC is that it has been totally infiltrated by the old PDP, making it difficult to see any difference between the two. In fact I foresee elements of the new PDP making a hostile takeover bid of the APC at the next national convention. The political arithmetic makes the scenario very feasible.

If PDP is not an alternative, how are we sure that the new mega party will be different?
The alternative to the APC will be a crystallization of progressive elements of the APC and other progressives from other frontline political parties, civil society and irredentist ethnic nationality organizations. The true left and left of center in our politics.

Is there any difference between political parties and politicians in the Nigeria?
For the moment, the lines are blurred, but it will improve with time. I must thank God for 16 years and counting of unbroken democratic experience in Nigeria. It is work in progress, but am I am optimistic we shall get there. There are some politicians who have shown consistency and identification with a set of core values and programmes. In terms of the political parties, there seems to be not much difference in aims and objectives. Like I have argued earlier this will change with time.

Do you agree with the assumption that Nigerian politicians are food-is-ready people?
The level of prebendalism in our politics ought to be deplored. It is however a direct consequence of our clime. The citizenry is yet to be sensitive and vigilant to their democratic franchise. It is so easy to corrupt the electorate with peanuts.

Secondly political office is so lucrative that it’s the fastest way to self-aggrandisement. With time I believe this bane of our political life would be drastically reduced.

Why are Nigerian politicians, serial defectors?
As stated earlier ideological orientation is scarce in our politics. Secondly, most politicians are driven to seek the surest platform for political self-actualisation. In this wise the tendency is to join the “winning” party or the party in government. It’s an instinct for self-survival and definitely not for public service.

Do you support Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s recent decision to support Buhari’s government in the face of ongoing agitation for the Biafra Republic?
Ohaneze is entitled to its politics. Recall they endorsed former President Goodluck Jonathan. The agitation for Biafra is beyond Ohanaeze.

Was it true that you were used and dumped in APGA by the former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi?
I don’t think so. I was called in to do an assignment, I gave it my best shot, but the Courts shut us down. I accept it in good faith. I do not hold any grudges against Peter Obi. I also do not have any major regrets. If anything I feel sorry that we did not get the opportunity to salvage APGA.

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