The former National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance and the current National Chairman and founder of United Progressive Party (UPP), Chekwas Okorie, has disputed claims that the late Biafran warlord, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, was one of the founding fathers of APGA.
According to him, Ojukwu joined APGA six months after the registration of the party.
Okorie in a statement entitled, “I am the undisputed founder of the All Progressives Grand Alliance – APGA” and made available to newsmen, in Abuja yesterday explained how he founded the party and brought in the former Biafran leader to join the party and become its presidential candidate.
“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,” he said.
He said that it was about six months later that Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu was persuaded to dump the defunct APP for the APGA.
“On the 24th of December 2002, he (Ojukwu) 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,” he said.
Okorie blamed the distortion of the history of APGA on the former national treasurer and national chairman of the party, Chief Victor Umeh, who he accused of deliberate distortion of facts.
He stated that when APGA was formed Umeh was still a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). “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,” he added.
He noted that “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 years.”
He expressed happiness that none of the children of late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu has been tempted to ascribe the founding APGA to their noble father, stressing that a man of immeasurable integrity would never desire to be dressed in 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”, he stated.