Magnus Eze, Enugu
Lawrence Ezeh, a prince in Nkanu land in Enugu East Senatorial District was hopeful of becoming the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), until suddenly the name of former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani surfaced as an aspirant.
Nnamani eventually won the party’s ticket. Now, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Ezeh said his people need effective representation and therefore would not vote for a man with baggage like Nnamani.
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Enugu people knew you with PDP; now you are APC senatorial candidate, what happened?
What happened was very simple; when a party reneged on its original ideology and decides to jettison the party manifesto and go ahead with the personal manifesto of an individual; then obviously that is what you will expect. We had a party that was actually rooted on internal democracy and when the new leadership of the PDP came on board, they preached to every one of us that internal democracy was
the new order but it appeared that the internal democracy that was preached at the national level didn’t water-down to the state’s especially in Enugu; of course, the whole country witnessed what transpired at the Port Harcourt convention. The convention was breathtaking in the sense that nobody actually could predict the winner; it was evenly contested primary and people came out in their numbers and voted according to their conscience; that was how Alhaji Atiku Abubakar emerged the winner that nobody expected him to win against certain names that were trumped up.
But in the state here, we discovered that we were working tirelessly day and night trying to garner support from party delegates so that they would be able to support us to win the primary and all the things were going on until one week; and all of a sudden party stakeholders decided to draft into the race, a man that is not in Nigeria; form was purchased for him at the last minute and taken to America, and was purportedly filled that at some point even affidavit was sworn for him by some other proxies, screening was done for him in absentia and it was established that he was screened and cleared as well. After that also, we went into the primary, and also he was not there and organs of the party worked very hard for him and stampeded all the delegates into voting for someone who is basically thousands of miles away from the shores of Nigeria, why because they were threatened, they were coaxed and at the end of the day that was how someone who never took part in any of these processes; turned out to be the PDP candidate against all odds.
These were basically the conspiracy of one or two persons in the party and the number of the entire delegates that converged to vote was in the neighbourhood of I, 500 people from Enugu East senatorial zone. The big question is; someone expecting me to mortgage my political future just because a group of 1,500 decided not to vote for me when we have a whopping over 480,000 voters that are waiting to vote for a candidate of their choice in Enugu East senatorial zone? And of this number 70 to 80 per cent of them are waiting to vote for me and that is why I keep thanking God that today we have an alternative platform.
What could have possibly make APC settle for your candidature?
It is no longer business as usual, where people said when once we push you down from PDP you will not have any alternative to land. So, today is quite different and all the things they did were done within 24 hours to the primary to make sure that one wouldn’t have any other opportunity to be able to cross to another party. But God in his infinite mercy who has always been fighting the battle of his own children made a leeway for me and today by the Grace of God; the APC found me worthy to fly their flag because they had taken time to check my popularity and when we were doing all these in the PDP; they were checking my popularity that truly speaking this man is the top man for this job and everyone in Enugu East is yearning and waiting to vote me in.
What’s your prospect in the election; facing a candidate of Nnamani’s status?
I think somehow people who had this calculation got a lot of things wrong, something told them ‘look, you just come up with the name Chimaroke, even if he is not going to step his foot into this country, he will win election.’ The answer is no. They think that they can play with the intelligence of people of Enugu East zone but it is not going to work because as we speak right now; they are setting up campaign council and they are going to run the campaign council by proxy or in absentia. Do they think that Enugu East senatorial district people are all deaf? The answer is no. You have someone you don’t know whether he is lying critically ill in the hospital, you don’t know whether he is alive or dead, you don’t know whether he is even going to get back even if you vote for him, you don’t know whether he is going to sit at the Red Chamber to be able to fit into that his position.
Only few people will buy into this project and be deceived; those politicians that have already subjected themselves to the whims and caprices of their pay masters. Thank God that about 80 to 85 per cent of the people out there that are apolitical; those who’re not politicians and most of them even detest politics and politicians; these are my support base. These set of people, what they are after is, are you the man running for this job, yes, do you have the capacity, prove to me, tell me why you are the best man for this job and you begin to explain. They are not the type somebody will go and tell of a man who is not here.
If you have someone who wants to marry your daughter, and that man is sending people all the way, every time he is sending people, you don’t know whether he has one eye or whether he is cripple, you don’t know whether he is deaf and dumb and they are sending you photograph of the man like posters that he wants to marry your daughter and you have another man that has everything far more better than him going for him physically, he comes around, you interact with him, you know that he is mentally sound and you know that he is okay to be able to take up the responsibility of being your son-in-law; who will you go for? Our people are not fools. You are talking about Chimaroke, nobody has seen him, nobody knows where he is; he’s got a whole lot of baggage. Let me be very honest with you; when you talk about Chimaroke; he means so many things to so many people even to Nkanu land where we hails from because you know the things that characterised his administration when he was there. Is this supposed to be the right man for this job?
Are you saying that Nkanu people will prefer you to him to go to the senate?
Yes, we wouldn’t do that. Nkanu people have seen me as a man who has been able to use his resources
to develop our people and you are talking about a man who milked our resources dry which one will you choose?