…Says voting APC is decision taken in haste
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Chief Peter Ameh, the National Chairman of Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) and chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has built a reputation for himself. Fielding questions from Daily Sun in Abuja recently, he speask on a wide range of political issues, warning that the rerun senatorial election in Abia North on March 5 will be an exercise to confirm the supremacy of Chief Orji Uzor-Kalu as the man to wear the crown.
The two-time secretary of IPAC urged the electorate to remember that voting Kalu, a man with international network and exposure, will be the best thing to happen to the state.
Current situation in IPAC
The reality of the situation is that some persons are trying to use INEC to get legitimacy but never in the history of IPAC have the past leaders used INEC to legitimise themselves. In a case of joint ownership of account, it is only the old members that can introduce the new ones and not an external body.
The election that brought me in was conducted by the immediate past leadership under the chairmanship of Yunusa Tanko. He successfully handed over to me. I also know that twins and even husband and wife do have misunderstanding let alone IPAC members.
IPAC has been there for a long time and has achieved a lot of things, so it is not a big deal that we misunderstood ourselves. I think the only thing we should do is for people to throw away ego and pride and look at a better way of fostering unity through dialogue.
All hands are on deck to resolve the problem amicably within a very short possible time. We are trying to bring those who feel aggrieved into the fold to move IPAC forward and we are getting positive response.
Don’t forget that I was the first to drag the other faction to court to stop him from parading himself as chairman of IPAC and that is why I don’t want to speak much about this issue to avoid contempt. We have been approached by the elders of the Council and even the INEC chairman to ensure we find a solution to the problem.
Incidentally, resolution ought not to take much time because the next election for the council comes up in four months’ time. We must find a way to resolve it before the next election. Taking the crisis beyond then means that there will be brand new factions and it will not be good for the council. Interestingly, the court will also decide on the matter first week of March.
The journey so far as PPA chairman
As you know, this is my first tenure as chairman of PPA because as the former national secretary, I inherited the leadership from Sam Nkire when he resigned and joined APC. I have been in the party since 2006 as a founding member. We have put in energy and resources to ensure that the party stands.
I just started a fresh tenure to run for a period of four years. For me, I will say that the journey has been smooth sailing. If you understand the party’s history, you will know that it is a never die party.
We have been governors, senators and state assembly members with the likes of the late Senator Chukwumerije, T.A Orji and Ikedi Ohakim, the former governors of Abia and Imo states. Crisis had rocked the party through the then National Working Committee that was interested only in the amount of money they want to make, but there is peace now.
We won elections in the 2015 general elections and our performance in Kogi State during the governorship and other elections conducted has been very impressive.
We won the senatorial rerun in Kogi but INEC first declared it inconclusive and later conclusive in favour of PDP after 24 hours. They declared it conclusive when they noticed that the area to conduct fresh election is the stronghold of the PPA candidate.
Lamentably, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) who declared the election conclusive has no mandate under the Electoral Act to declare election results. It is the responsibility of the Returning Officer who rightly declared the election inconclusive.
We are determined to head to the tribunal to contest the Kogi State central senatorial rerun election because the document before us has proven that PPA won the rerun election.
We cannot allow people who believe in back door robbery and who don’t want Nigeria to move forward to run the party. We have taken on board people who believe in the progress of the party. I believe that in 2019, we are going to shock Nigerians.
Abia senatorial rerun
Agreed that the election is conducted in Abia North senatorial zone, but sincerely speaking, that election goes beyond the confines of the state. Orji Uzor Kalu’s representation at the National Assembly affects every minority and majority across board. I am not saying this because it is under the platform of my party.
I am not basing my judgment on party affiliations or because I want to convince the voters. In every part of the globe, people with international credibility and recognition are the ones entrusted with the mandate to lead people.
Kalu’s personality is not restricted within the confines of this country. He is an international figure who has made mark in countries like China, Singapore, America and every other part of the globe.
Electing him to represent Abia North in the senate is like electing someone to represent the interest of the whole Nigerians. It is really unfortunate that people are seeing it from a very myopic point of view, but from the party’s and my own perspective, he is a candidate who can expand Nigeria beyond its present scope in the Senate.
The good thing is that the mantra of how he has driven his political career has never been on the elitist support but on the popular support of the masses. He is a masses man whose doors are open to the rich and poor in the society. He will certainly pursue masses-oriented bills at the National Assembly. He is going to pursue legislations that will affect every single Nigerian regardless of tribe and religion.
PPA has fully mobilised for the rerun election just as we did during the first election. We are very appreciative of the decision the court has taken to order a rerun even though we won the first one.
Whatever we are going to the poll to do on March 5 will be a confirmation of the victory stolen from the party. It will be a reaffirmation of our victory during the main election.
Other contestants knew that Kalu is the best for the position even though they cannot openly confess that since it is against the rules of engagement in electoral contest.
Privately in their homes, they will admit that Kalu is the best man for the job. I strongly believe that the senatorial zone will finally determine who the best person is when it will culminate into announcing him the winner of the election.
Impression about the harsh economic situation in the country
With the present hardship everywhere in the country, certainly, one cannot be happy. Prices for business deals have increased but like others have suggested, the Federal Government should convene an emergency economic summit where successful people in the area of business will rub minds.
If we are claiming that the economy has been in bad shape before now, we should be thinking of the solution. We need the summit to plan how we can rescue this country. We should drop this blame game.
As for the position of my party, we have resolved to wait till the end of this year to be able to do a thorough appraisal and assessment of the ruling party. Whatever assessment we give, people will say that the time was not sufficient enough. We are going to give a considerable length of time like midterm report to assess the APC government without bias.
APC eroding the confidence reposed in them
In politics, it is a case of the more you look, the less you see. Don’t forget that there were many things that happened during the 2015 general elections like the missing Chibok girls, then President Jonathan dancing in Kano when there was a bomb blast.
There was a lot of aggression, people were really angry and voted against the PDP. Perhaps, voting APC was a decision taken in haste. I know that things are really bad right now and I will not play to the gallery.
APC using anti-corruption war to cow opposition
In a multi-party democracy, the ruling party should be cautious in doing anything to the opposition because people will believe they are using state apparatus to intimidate and oppress people to have their way.
There was nothing Lai Mohammed did not do when APC was an opposition. People called former President Jonathan all manner of derogatory names including drunken fisherman. Words like clueless government were freely used during the bombing of ThisDay newspaper.
For the purpose of expanding democratic frontier, government must be ready to take criticisms the way it comes. When there was a pattern that certain persons were picked up because of their utterances, people will tend to interpret that they are trying to coarse and gag opposition from talking.
PPA fielding presidential candidate in 2019
We fielded Orji Uzor Kalu in 2007 and it was the best decision we ever took. However, we have been adopting others which have not benefitted us rather it kept us at the background and in a cocoon.
It is the party that fielded presidential candidate that becomes visible in every part of the country. Already, we have started searching for a credible presidential candidate.
However, the truth is that money is the determining factor in politics even in the ongoing campaign for American presidential election. You need millions of Dollars to move around for campaign.
People have dipped hands into government coffers for elections because there is no structural system designed to protect the ruling party and the opposition. We must design a system to empower political parties or candidates to contest elections.
If candidates go to the extreme of raising money to win election, they will equally go extreme in recouping the money they spent. Elections in Nigeria have been monetised and we should stop pretending about it.
It will take up to 20 years for people to pay monthly dues for political parties they belong. When we experimented it in 2010, people will tell you that it is improper for a party to have two governors and still demand dues from party members.
They would ask why you want them to pay when other political parties are sharing money. The truth is that our democracy has not grown to the point that a man without social benefit will contribute to the progress of the party. It is very difficult for our electoral system to be corruption-free. The situation is that bad.
Target as PPA chairman
The target is to ensure that I leave the party better than I met it. Good enough, I have taken the party beyond the comatose state I met it. I want to create a record with this party that was almost dented by greedy politicians.
PPA was a child of necessity when Orji Kalu put his life on the line to stop the third term agenda of former President Obasanjo. Some cankerworms tried to hijack and crush the party in the past, but we have come to restructure it, give it breath of life and make it a party to win.
What can make him dump the party
I have had opportunities in the past to leave the party but I have not been able to leave because I met people in the party who are now my friends and brothers. Abandoning the ship to wreck will be a burden on my conscience. To join another party, the party must come up with that standard to which I can hold the party the way I have administered this party.
There must be enthronement of internal party democracy and the party must show that it is free and fair to all concerned. I must confess that I have had temptations to join other parties but I still want to stay in this party to see how far we can go. I am very sure that this party will not die in my hands.