Michael Jegede: Anambra Central and Umeh’s senatorial ambition
Chief Victor Umeh, an accomplished estate manager and surveyor is the national chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). An astute politician seen by many as a dogged fighter, Umeh has fought and won various legal battles to remain on top as the helmsman of APGA.
The most recent of his legal victories was on June 18, 2014, when the Abuja Division of Court of Appeal once again affirmed him as the authentic National Chairman of APGA, setting aside the ruling of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which had earlier sacked him and installed Maxi Okwu as the chairman on January 15, 2014.
In allowing the appeal, the appellate court insisted that Okwu had no legal right whatsoever to bring a suit against Umeh, having been expelled from the party and even went further to rebuke Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court Abuja for assuming jurisdiction in the matter, when he lacked the jurisdiction to have gone into the matter in the first place. Prior to his battle with Okwu on the leadership tussle of APGA, he had successfully fought Chekwas Okorie up to the Supreme Court, after which Okorie was left with no option other than to go and form his own party.
Umeh, a founding member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1998 and pioneer member of APGA in 2002 has formally thrown his hat into the ring for the Anambra Central Senatorial contest in 2015. His decision to vie for the senatorial seat of Anambra Central came after due consideration of the request made by various groups within and outside Anambra State asking him to go and represent the zone in the Senate. If he eventually gets the ticket of his party, he will be slugging it out with the present occupant of the seat, Senator Chris Ngige who appears to be interested in launching a return to the Upper Chamber in 2015.
It is believed that having contributed immensely to the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria and played key role in the growth and development of APGA since its inception, Umeh will make a good representative of his people at the Red Chamber. With his display of great sense of courage, steadfastness and tenacity of purpose, his admirers are of the view that he would be able to truly represent the people of Anambra Central and equally help to further champion the cause of the Igbo nation in the National Assembly.
The Anambra Central Political Forum, a coalition of APGA members led by Emeka Onuorah, while calling on Umeh to contest the Anambra Central Senatorial seat in 2015, after its inaugural meeting in Awka in February said: “Without any prompting, members moved that the leadership of the forum invite him into the race and we pray that he accepts our invitation. Umeh has served the party faithfully for the past 12 years; we know his capacity and know that he will deliver for the people of the zone.” Youths for Greater Anambra State (YGAS), the youth wing of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and APGA Women for Good Governance are among other groups that have endorsed the candidature of Umeh for Anambra Central Senatorial District come 2015.
Succumbing to pressures for him to go and unseat Ngige from the Senate in 2015, Umeh at a party organised by APGA Solidarity Movement (APGA-SM) to mark his 52nd birthday anniversary on July 19 said: “Stakeholders in Awka South and Awka North Federal Constituency were the first. They brought me to Finotel Hotel and threatened to kill me if I don’t run. Anambra Central Senatorial Zone, the seven local government chairmen and their councillors met and said if I don’t accept, they will kill me and today, the leader of council in Anaocha local government moved a motion here, supported by youth leaders, all youth leaders in the state and all stakeholders and said I must represent you.
“My brothers and sisters, before I say something in that regard, let me tell you, Igbo nation, we need a very strong sense of purpose and mission. Our leaders must do everything to rescue our people. I served Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who lit the light very ebulliently, for five years as chairman and I know his visions for Igbos and that vision has not been accomplished. He is today waiting for us to continue the journey; that vision must be accomplished. We must get to the Promised Land.”
Continuing, he added, “Because of the need to provide effective representation for our people, I want to stand here with all humility before the deputy governor representing the governor and before all of you to say that because of the support I have seen given to me and the show of love extended to me I, Chief Sir Victor C. Umeh, Ohamadike Ndigbo, relying on the support from all of you; and having carefully examined the motion and the support and solidarity extended to me, and in recognition of the needs of our zone, declare that I will vie for Senate and that APGA must win Anambra Central Senatorial zone in 2015.”
Following Umeh’s acceptance to contest the senatorial election, Ngige speaking through his media aide, Charles Amilo, in an exclusive interview Daily Post said he can never lose sleep over the decision of the APGA chieftain. While noting that Ngige’s performance will speak for him, Amilo maintained that there is absolutely nothing to worry about. In the same vein, the Anambra State chapter of PDP vowed to stand on the way of Umeh’s ambition to become a Senator in 2015. Speaking at the end of an emergency meeting of the party, Vice Chairman of PDP in Anambra State, Amaechi Onowu, said the dream of the APGA stalwart of becoming a federal legislator is a huge joke that would turn out to be a nightmare.
However, Stan Okeke, Special Assistant on media to the National Chairman of APGA had noted in a special tribute to Umeh on his 52nd birthday that “His (Umeh) decision to run for senate is a design, not by him, but by the people of his zone who believe he had better things to offer them from the centre. In agreeing to run for senate, Chief Umeh believes in the challenges of office, in making his people understand that the major stake in seeking political office is to do good, to render service.”
Michael Jegede, a media professional writes from Abuja
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