Home » LongRead: Hustler extraordinaire! Umeoji, the political journeyman in search of relevance

LongRead: Hustler extraordinaire! Umeoji, the political journeyman in search of relevance

by Admin

On Friday, the 29th of October, 2021, Honourable Chukwuma Umeoji, a governorship aspirant in Anambra State under the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), who is also a member of the House of Representatives, representing Aguata Federal Constituency, dumped the party under which he had aspired to be governor for the All Progresives Congress (APC).

Umeoji’s defection, comes just a week to the November 6, 2021 governorship election where he would have being candidate of APGA but for the Supreme Court that threw spanners in his works by declaring a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Charles Soludo, the authentic candidate of the party.

The Chairman of the APC Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni, while confirming the defection in a statement Friday night by his Director- General, Press and Media Affairs, Mamman Mohammed, said: “APC will stand for you and your supporters, and protect your political interests at all times.
“You will enjoy every privilege enjoyed by every member of the party.”

Mala Buni also urged Umeoji and his supporters to work for the party’s success in the election.

Rise of a journeyman politician

Umeoji ventured into politics and was first elected to the House of Representatives in year 2007 before his current stint at the House, which began in 2019. Before then, he had served as chairman, Aguata Local Government Area.

The Aguata lawmaker is credited with quite a number of motions, some of which include motion to curb oil theft in Nigeria; Implementation of the discrimination against persons with disability act; Motion on up-rise in cultism in Nigeria; Killings of Nigerians in Libya and the bombing of Tajoure detention centre; Need to address erosion menace in Aguata Local Government Area; Need to curtail nylon and plastic pollution; Rehabilitation of Igboukwu-Ekwulobia–Umuchu-Nkpologwu-Ezinifite-Uga road; Anambra State; Restructuring of Nigeria’s apprenticeship system and the need to expand vocational training centres to boost youth employment.

Umeoji has also sponsored some bills; this include National Welfare Trust Fund Management Commission Bill; National Council for Widows, Dependent Children and Orphans Bill; Senior Citizens Protection Bill; Factories Act amendment bill; Anti-bully school standard bill; and Nigeria unemployment graduate fund bill.

It is, however, worthy of note that before the controversies that surrounded his emergence as the factional candidate of APGA in Anambra State, not much was known about him, nationally.

Gate-crashing to victory

On the 1st of July, 2021, Hon. Chukwuma Michael Umeoji, was declared the winner of a governorship primary election conducted by a faction of APGA under the leadership of Chief Jude Okeke, who had laid claim to the chairmanship of the party.

The Okeke faction had been at loggerheads with the mainstream APGA led by Chief Victor Oye, which produced the eventual winner of the party, Professor Charles Soludo.

At the factional primary election held in Akwa, the Anambra State capital, Umeoji defeated Nweke Chinyere Elizabeth, in the result released by the chairman of the factional electoral committee, Okoli Christopher.

Okoli had declared that Umeoji had 904 votes, while Nweke Chinyere Elizabeth got 73 votes, out of the 1007 accredited delegates.

In his acceptance speech, Umeoji promised to bring all warring parties together in one accord, adding that he has got all it takes to move Anambra forward and that when elected, he would build on the legacies of Governor Willie Obiano and surpass the expectation of his people.

Hustler extraordinaire!

With the factional ticket in the kitty, and the emergence of Soludo from the Victor Oye’s led APGA, Umeoji and his chairman, Okeke, embarked on a shopping spree for judgment to stay in contention as the authentic candidate of the party for the Anambra election; a move that called to question the integrity of the Nigerian judiciary.

The forum shopping was so bad that the Chief Justice of the Federation, Muhammad Tanko had to summon some state chief judges to a meeting in Abuja, and insisting that the judges found wanting be penalized.

Aside a Jigawa State High Court order that forbade the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognising Professor Charles Soludo as the candidate of APGA, Umeoji further approached an Owerri High Court for a declaration that he was the authentic candidate of the party for the November 6, Anambra State governorship election.

The same court, at another hearing, also struck out a fresh suit instituted by the Victor Oye-led APGA faction, asking the Court to reverse its earlier judgment given in favour of the Okeke-led national executive.

The court also directed INEC to accept and continue to recognize and publish the name of Umeoji as APGA’s candidate for the polls.

Celebrating too soon

Umeoji, while basking in the euphoria of his short lived victory as the INEC duly recognised candidate of APGA, gave what no doubt seemed like a well worded victory speech.

In the speech, titled, ‘No victor, no vanquished!’, Umeoji said, among others: “I wish to specially, thank the great National Leader and BoT Chairman of our party, the Executive Governor Willie Obiano, the fourth democratically elected Governor of Anambra State for his progressive leadership.
“I salute the courage, strength and resilience of our indefatigable acting National Chairman, Chief Jude Okeke and entire Caretaker Committee of our great party
“To my colleagues at the National and State assemblies, and other stakeholders of our party, I thank you all for your great support and partnership.
“To every member of APGA from the national to the ward level, I congratulate and appreciate us all.
“The past weeks have been of intense struggle for our great party APGA, but today, the Independent National Electoral Commission has affirmed that I, and Professor Lillian Orogbu are both governorship and deputy governorship candidates of our great party for the November 6 election.
“I wish to announce that the will of thousands of APGA faithful has prevailed and an end to all litigations.
“This is indeed, a victory for APGA, victory for ndị Anambra, victory for the younger generation and those unborn, a victory that we all have been yearning for.”

Burst bubble

The judgment of the Owerri High Court was despite the judgment of a superior court, the Court of Appeal, Kano Division, which set aside the judgment of the Jigawa State High Court on the 10th of August, 2021.

Reacting to the judgment of the Kano Division of the Court of Appeal, Okeke and Umeoji flatly kicked against it, declaring that its lawyers have been instructed to approach the Supreme Court.

In a statement issued by the factional National Publicity Secretary of APGA, Ikechukwu Chukwunyere, the duo dismissed the appellate court’s judgment as “a mere temporary setback which will be set aside by the Supreme Court.”

The statement partly read: “The Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji Campaign will, therefore, continue unhindered pending the judgment of the Supreme Court where victory is assured. All supporters and party members are, therefore, urged to remain peaceful and law- abiding while maintaining the confidence level, as there is nothing that can stop an idea whose time has come.”

Perfecting doublespeak

In the wake of defections from APGA by members believed to be aggrieved by happenings in the party, Hon Chukwuma Umeoji, appealed to them to rescind their decision to flee the party, asking them to trust the process.

In a statement by his Media Director, Uloka Chukwubuikem, Umeoji linked their dumping the party to “unfair treatment and insensitivity from the leadership of APGA.”

He said: “There’s a leadership struggle and crisis in our great party, no doubt, but we will not throw the baby out with the bathwater. We have to stay and fight for the soul of APGA and start the rebuilding process which is already on course and would turn out good at the very end,” he said.

While admitting that “the people might have felt bad over the ill-treatment meted out to them by some emperors in the party with no sign of remorse”, Umeoji appealed to the aggrieved to still exercise patience and calm while assuring that the “strangers who invaded the party would leave for the original owners of APGA to rebuild the city walls and sustain the great legacy of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.”

He also alluded to what he called the “use and dump” attitude of the Willie Obiano and Victor Oye- led APGA”, saying the act was fueling the mass exit from the party.
“The failure of our party to reward its members and foot soldiers is benefitting the opposition parties as the APC, PDP, and YPP draw their membership base from APGA.
“Those who are leaving the party are doing so because they have been used and dumped, many neglected and let down and even technically excommunicated from the party activities.
“That is absurd but I will still urge them to keep the faith, remain with the party and join force to rescue APGA”, he added.

Incurable optimist

Still believing that he would eventually flag the APGA flag at the guber poll, Umeoji boasted that the November 6 election will be a walkover for him.

He said: “I am confident of flying the APGA flag at the November poll which will be a walkover for us, but that’s secondary. What is primary now is to protect our members and urge them to remain with the party and trust the process we are working on to resolve our internal issues.

Read also: Soludo’s rival, Umeoji joins APC ahead of Anambra election

“I also want to urge the opposition parties to stick to issues during the campaign and present a clear manifesto and not the war of blood and threats. Anambra is beyond such and would continue to set the pace with issue-based electioneering.”

Aside his strong optimism, Umeoji also made plans for what he called a door to door campaign, just as the his faction insisted that as the real APGA candidate, he will not be distracted by the hasty actions of INEC which removed his name of as the valid candidate of APGA.

The factional APGA’s spokesman, in a statement, further said: “In the fullness of time, INEC will realize itself that it is not above the law and will be ordered to restore Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji as the candidate of the party.

“We are not prepared to suffer any disadvantage so the campaigns will commence and run seamlessly as our victory is assured”, he said.

Game of interest!

When Hon Umeoji went about forum shopping for judgment, many had seen through the desperation, and his sudden defection to APC did not entirely come as a surprise.

For most analysts, and even some conspiracy theorists, Umeoji’s real motive may have been to play the card of the APC while being on the inside in APGA. The arguments certainly find strength in his sudden departure from the ruling party in Anambra State and the abandonment of his so called supporters.

In all, it should be clear to watchers of the polity that politics is, indeed, an interest-driven game.

The post LongRead: Hustler extraordinaire! Umeoji, the political journeyman in search of relevance appeared first on Latest Nigeria News | Top Stories from Ripples Nigeria.

Source: NEWS

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