Chidiebere Okoh is the deputy national coordinator, Informal Group on Good Governance, a pressure group in Abia State.
He speaks on why Abia North constituency is rooting for former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu and his brother Mascort Kalu as their representative to senate, House of Representatives.
Three names feature in the federal legislative election in Abia North. The former governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, who is contesting for the senate, his brother Mascort Kalu, contesting for a seat in the House of Representatives and Benjamin Kalu and Chima Anyanso, both associates of Kalu and they are facing each other to represent Bende. Is this by design or coincidence?
The thing is that sometimes when people are over ambitious, they tend to do a lot of things. Chima Anyanso is over ambitious. There is no way somebody like him can stand before Dr. Kalu. He is probably being induced by people and that is why he is going about saying all sorts of things against the person of Dr. Kalu. Moreover, Chima has never won election in his life; he has no experience and has no reason wanting to represent Bende people. There are lots of allegations trailing him. He has to first clear his name and then wait for his turn. Chima is trying to do it by force. Benjamin on the other hand has experience in politics. He has contested election before, but because of the way politics is played in this country, he didn’t get there. But this time around I am sure Benjamin is going to win the election.
What do you mean by saying that Chima is trying to do it by force?
He is doing it by force because of the way he is going about it. He will have grudges with people after the election. He is doing it by force because it is common knowledge that Benjamin is the man the people want to represent them. Bende people don’t want Chima to represent them. This is the time for Benjamin to go because the incumbent, Nnenna Ukaeje has said she is not going again. Bende people are bringing somebody new and that person is Benjamin even though he and Ukaeje are not of the same party. Benjamin has been empowering Bende people in various ways. He has been in the system. He was a Special Adviser to former governor, Theodore Orji before he willingly resigned.
What is the relationship between Benjamin and Dr. Kalu?
They are not related. He is from Bende and a business associate of Dr. Kalu that is it.
And Chima, what is the relationship with Dr. Kalu?
I think Chima is a distant relation of Dr. Kalu. At a time he was always at Dr. Kalu’s house. His house is just a stone throw from that of Dr. Kalu. They have a lot in common but the fact that he is from another party should not be enough reason to insult OUK. Dr. Kalu is Chima’s benefactor, OUK made Chima and that is why when he says the things he does, OUK will just laugh.
The PDP is in control in Abia State. What chances does APC has in the state?
The APC has a bright chance if it can organise itself. I admit the APC in Abia State has issues it must resolve. The governorship election is going to be a tight race, but I can tell you that as far as the presidency is concerned the APC will win Abia State.
Are you sure of that?
I am confident. Forget the things they are saying. Abia loves President Muhammadu Buhari. Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo is alleging that President Buhari wants to rig the elections. That is not true. They are saying Buhari should allow the system work. I don’t think Buhari is preventing the system from working. Their problem is that there is no free money again, so everybody is complaining.
President Buhari suspended the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnogene. Is that part of the system he is working?
Truth is that the mere fact that the Chief Justice of Nigeria is alleged to have done something wrong is enough reason for him to step aside to allow the law take its course. The CJN refused to step aside and now look at the way he has ended. If he had stepped aside, all these things we are seeing now would not have come up.
Recently, there was a reported failed gunmen attack at a town hall meeting where Dr. Kalu was to address the people. What do you say about that?
OUK is a pacesetter; he is a man who does not like problems. If not for people like us who put pressure on him to contest for the senate seat, he wouldn’t have gone into the race. These people are those trying to cause trouble. Some people are saying he shouldn’t come to their village to campaign, but I’m telling you that we are calling him to do his grand finale in our village, in Item. I tell you that we have no less than 17,000 votes waiting for OUK in Abia North. It is only those who do not know OUK that are fighting him. I can tell you that on the day of election, I will be there in Item to deliver the place 100 percent to OUK.
Abia North has a sitting representative, Senator Mao Ohabuwa…
(Cuts in) he is minus one.
What do you mean?
We have not felt his presence. He has never come to ask anybody if there are problems in the place he says he is representing. Even his aides are complaining. There is no project that Ohabuwa has attracted to Abia North. That is why I say he is a minus one; he cannot go back to the Senate. OUK is not yet in the senate, but he is the one doing what the senator representing Abia North should be doing.
How did Ohabuwa go to the senate?
I will tell you what happened. They rigged us out. They declared the election inconclusive and while we still contemplating what to do next, all of a sudden they declared Ohabuwa winner. But I can tell you that this time we won’t allow them to do that. I can tell you that there is nobody that can match OUK’s popularity anywhere in Igboland. The question you should ask is what is OUK looking for in the Senate? Is it money? The answer is no. OUK is a man dedicated to service and a man always helping the people, that is why we want him. Benjamin Kalu is also the same kind of person. We need mature men who are committed to helping people to represent Abia North.