“The senate president position is a strong position and the power therein is being displayed by the incumbent, senate president, Bukola Saraki.”
The candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for Orumba South/Orumba North Federal constituency of Anambra State in the next year’s contest, Uchena Okom has called on the people of South-East to ignore the recent endorsement of Atiku/Obi ticket by Ohanaeze Ndigbo, urging the Igbo to go for the position of the president of the senate, saying the number three position will be more beneficiary to Igbo than the vice president slot offered the region by former Vice President and candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar.
READ ALSO: 2019: Igbo weigh Buhari, Atiku options
The former Chief Whip, Anambra State House of Assembly called on Igbo to vote for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari as it will put the zone at a vantage position for the actualisation of Igbo presidency in 2023, saying nobody can restructure Nigeria, not even Atiku. He also spoke on other issues.
Many have accused you of flouting the zoning arrangement among the local governments that make up your constituency, Orumba North/Orumba South, what informed your decision to run?
I was House of Representatives candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Orumba North/Orumba South in 2015 and by the grace of God, my party men and women have once again entrusted me with the ticket for 2019. I’m running based on the understanding reached by the two local government areas that the position rotates between the two councils. From what has happened, it is not necessarily based on one tenure for each council, which is why the last occupant of the position, Ben Nwankwo, had done two terms. So, by doing two terms, some people are saying that the understanding or gentleman agreement
we entered into has been destroyed. The agreement allows an incumbent to run for a second term in office depending on his/ her track record and what the electorate feels about the person. Nwankwo who hails from Orumba South, having done second term and recognising that the zoning arrangement still exists had to withdraw from the race this time. However, all the political parties in the two local government areas decided to select their candidates from Orumba North. So, anybody from the South that is contesting the position in 2019 is not properly advised. This is where we are. Although this not necessarily the reason why I’m in the race, I’m in the race to seek support of our brothers and sisters in Orumba South.
Anambra is among the states where the PDP is strong and the choice of former governor of the state, Peter Obi by Atiku Abubakar as his running mate for next year’s presidential election appears to have changed the political arithmetic in South-East, don’t you foresee the PDP in the zone sweeping the poll in Anambra and other states in the region in the zone, in 2019?
You question comes with a lot of presumptions and assumptions which may be difficult to substantiate in terms of the present political reality. Well, campaign has just started in line with the guideline of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). We in APC have enough materials and information that will guide Ndigbo from making the same mistake we made in 2015. We must let us refuse to be used and dumped just as we were treated by PDP for 16 years. This time around, Igbo will not vote based on sentiment, they know which way to vote in order to get their fair share during allocation of federal appointments next year. No doubt there are a lot of propaganda and misinformation by the opposition, aimed at misleading the people of South-East in 2019. There is one, who escaped to Israel professing another faith for Igbo. He forgot that Igbo are core Christians and tried convert us to his faith which unknown to us, is called Judaism. We are not interested in the vice president slot any more. Yes, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and my mentor, Dr. Alex Ekwueme were former Vice Presidents including Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd) who was also a second in command to President Ibrahim Babangida during military era. Today, Igbo are clamouring for restructuring, but nobody can restructure the country not even Atiku. However, the ruling party has a better offer for Igbo and that is the position Senate President in 2019 and I think that is better than the vice president slot.
Many will disagree with you; the zone had also produced Senate President five, consecutive times from 1999 to 2007, why do you prefer number three to number two positions?
What happened from 1999 to 2007 was a prelude towards launching the South-East into the mainstream of Nigeria politics. But this time around, we are realigning with the ruling party, APC, so that we will not only key into the mainstream politics, but into the ruling party in Nigeria. Be that as it may, the person who scandalised Igbo politicians and made us look irresponsible was former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, in the way the issue of senate presidency was handled during his eight years reign. The senate president position is a strong position and the power therein is being displayed by the incumbent, senate president, Bukola Saraki. So, for a people seeking for restructuring, South-East will be better off with the senate president position. You have seen all the constitutional amendment made, but because the north is at advantage the way Nigeria is structured that was why certain laws could not scale through the constitutional amendment. Igbo cannot sit at home and expect the north to restructure the country to their favour, rather we must first get a position of influence which will enable us push for further amendment of our constitution to accommodate Igbo interest. So, the people who can restructure Nigeria are those who are not satisfied with the present structure and not Atiku.
I will advice Igbo to vote for APC at all levels because that will enable the zone to produce the next president of the senate and by so doing we will actualise Igbo Presidency in 2023. It is better to wait for four years under President Muhammadu Buhari than 8 years under Atiku/Obi Presidency. Therefore, Igbo must join the ruling party and ensure that President Buhari is re-elected, it is then we can lay claim to the presidency with the support of people from the other geo -political zones. But if Igbo fail to vote for APC and Buhari returns in 2019, what reason will we give for not voting for the ruling party?