Leader of Igbo in the Lagos chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Blessing Chinagorom Okere, speaks on why the Igbo in the state should vote APC.
As the APC Igbo leader, what effort are you making to mobilise Igbo ahead of the elections in Lagos?
I will say that some of us, the Igbo leaders in APC are doing our best to ensure that the party is successful in our various areas. But, the issue of negligence and inability of the party leadership to relate directly with more genuine Igbo party leaders and members pose a serious problem for the party. While some of us are busy spending our money to work for the party, others are there parading themselves as leaders of APC and members of the party. They form factions with the Ezes and Chiefs to block the real APC members from benefiting from the party. These people have arrogated power to themselves to the detriment of genuine party members. Such people are not real party members and cannot influence anything for the party.
Sadly, the ugly development is gradually destroying the structures we have in APC and it is really affecting the party in so many ways, especially, when Igbo are called for wards or general meetings, they do not participate because they are aggrieved that they are not carried along the way it should be. If you interview Igbo in Lagos, especially traders, almost 85 percent of them support APC because their businesses are here and nobody is molesting them anyhow. They will tell you they benefitted from government of the state in the area of education, health and other infrastructure like other ethnic groups. And, most of them have now decided to support the state government, if it continues with the good jobs.
Why did you not leave the party after much disappointment?
Being one of the Igbo leaders and founding member of the party in the state, I cannot just leave the party like that. I have invested a lot in the party, so I need to continue to build it.
Are you sure the Igbo in Lagos will vote for APC this time?
Certainly, I have spoken to about 85 percent of Igbo traders in Lagos and they assured me that they were ready to embark on mass mobilisation of Igbo in Lagos as a result of the co-operation extended to Igbo by the state government. So, they will vote for APC and do everything possible within their legitimate powers to ensure the victory of APC in the state.
What is your advice to the APC leadership in the state?
I am not against anybody getting his entitlement, but I am of the view that those doing the real job at the grassroots should be carried along. The danger is that at the end, those diverting the benefits from the party cannot convince anyone on the street to vote for APC. Then, what is the need ignoring the real party members who work day and night to ensure that progress is made and that the party comes out successful during the elections? I want to make it clear to the APC leadership in Lagos State that the so called Igbo Chiefs being paraded as the representatives of the Igbo are not on ground in their various Local Governments Areas in Lagos State and cannot mobilise or even win a pooling booth. Therefore, the APC Chairman in Lagos State, Tunde Balogun should beware of those leaders whose interests are for personal aggrandisement. He should also intervene to save the party from political jobbers. I urge all Igbo in the state to vote massively for all APC candidates in the forthcoming elections. Also, I warn those parading themselves as leaders of G14 in the state to desist from such act of deceit, as it would likely destroy the party. Let me remind Igbo in Lagos State, especially the traders that the information going round concerning demolition of markets and shops by the APC government is false. They should be free to vote Sanwo-Olu who has love for mankind and fear of God.