…Says state govt afraid to conduct LG elections
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
AHEAD of the 2019 governorship election in Abia state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has already started beating warning drums, urging the incumbent governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, to brace up for its imminent takeover of the Government House.
The Abia State Publicity Secretary of the party, Daniel Benedict Godson, who gave the warning in an exclusive interview with Daily Sun, equally made a passionate appeal to the governor to organise elections into the Local Government Areas.
He also speaks on other burning issues in the state, including assessment of the present Abia government, lamenting that though Governor Ikpeazu is trying to leave legacies, the oil producing communities in the state are still in darkness and dotted with impassable roads.
What is the relationship between APC at the centre and Abia chapter?
I can categorically tell you that we have been relating very well because we don’t have any problem. There is no crisis and the truth is that we have a cordial working relationship. The support due to us is accorded to us.
Nigerians must thank APC for bringing President Buhari because the country was at the verge of collapse. We heard about individuals keeping millions and billions of naira and dollars at their homes in a country where people are suffering. APC is doing well in Abia State and has even moved to new office at Ministers Hill.
The only problem which even took us to the National Secretariat of the party is that the Minister representing Abia State is not a politician and he is not relating very well with the party. As a Minister, we are not telling him to get himself involved in politics, but to relate in a democratic system.
We are not under a military system. He should be an anchor point to link us with the centre. Even as the public secretary of this party, I have not seen the Minister once; it is same for my state chairman and the exco members. We don’t know who the minister is and I can tell you that the party in Abia is not represented at the national level in terms of appointment. We have somebody who does not relate with the party whether he is a politician or not.
If we do things by merit, there are some party members in the state better than him. So, we are begging the federal government and our national party leaders to consider Abia party members in subsequent appointments. There are people who could not allow us, under the leadership of Theodore Orji, to campaign.
They stopped us from campaigning because they have government apparatus from the centre.
We are like outcasts and called all manners of names like Boko Haram all over the Southeast.
Our zonal vice chairman, Emma Enuhu, our national leaders, the National Auditor, Chief George Moghalu, and National Organising Secretary encouraged us. At a point, the threat was too much. They have the security, funds and everything. All forms of intimidations
were meted to us and that is why we are not happy that the Minister representing us failed
to realize that the party should be encouraged, advised and protected. We are managing to survive; I can tell you that the minister is not relating with the party.
Any change in the impression about APC members?
Yes, I can tell you that there are some of them claiming to be PDP then that are now scrambling for positions for the APC government. The situation has really changed because they have seen where the tide is going and have known who Mr President is.
Is Abia State APC regretting supporting President Buhari?
Supporting Buhari is the best thing to happen to us. We needed a change and the change is what we have gotten. In terms of vote in Southeast, we were able to weigh them down and they were not able to do their magic considering the number of votes PDP got in 2011 and what they got in 2015.
If we didn’t weigh them down, it wouldn’t have reflected on what happened because we have to use force; we were able to follow them bumper to bumper so that they won’t write their result the way they normally do.
Is APC benefitting from Mrs Eunice Uzor Kalu joining the party?
She has done so much; she has tried as a mother and you know with her political experience and weight, she will be an asset. It is her status in the society that they call her Okanamba. She has done so much in terms of her advice; we consult leaders like her.
What sense of belonging is APC getting from PDP government in Abia State?
Well, you know that the style and mark of the PDP government is autocracy, intimidation and harassment.
We are begging them to improve on security. Only recently, two students of Abia State University were beheaded in what they call cultism. The government in power should checkmate the situation.
I believe that we have the highest number of kidnapping in Aba in the entire Southeast. They should please concentrate on this insecurity and kidnapping.
Assess the present PDP government in Abia State
I am from Ukwa Federal Constituency, the constituency that produces oil and feeds Abia with the resources they get from oil from the federal government, yet we have no road and power supply for the past two years. There is also no road from Azuri and
other oil producing areas of the constituency.
Has the government failed Abia people?
I can say yes, but let me also say that the Okezie government has started well so far in Aba within the few months he resumed office but I want to urge him to be independent-minded. He shouldn’t be anybody’s stooge. He should run the state as an independent-minded governor.
He should not allow his government to be like the immediate past one that failed Abia citizens. Sometimes, when I am driving into Umuahia from Ubakale, I see bad roads all through, yet Umuahia is the state capital.
Theodore was in charge for eight years, yet he could not fix the roads. It is an eyesore. I want to beg Governor Okezie to be ready for criticisms. We will praise him where he has done well and spank him where he failed.
He is there to govern people not to work on the instructions of persons. We want to appeal to the PDP government to conduct local government elections. It has been long since we have any elected local government chairman or councillor. In fact, the only time we had elected persons was when Hon Tony Nwamuo, my younger brother who represented me on the platform of PPA emerged.
We are begging Dr. Okezie to use his good office to conduct the elections and stop the idea of caretaker committee in a democratic era. This is not military government and since he was elected, other people down the road should also be elected to give people a sense of belonging.
If the PDP is not afraid and if they are confident of themselves, they should organise the local government elections. All we ask is for the position to be elective and not appointive. I don’t know if they are afraid of conducting the election. We want the governor to conduct the election within a space period of 90 days.
Any possibility of legal action if Ikeazu fails to conduct LG election
I cannot answer that question right now but all we are saying is that we want local government election to make Abia a democratic state and we beg the governor to be transparent and independent-minded.
I still plead with President Buhari to consider the real members of APC in Abia State to avoid the embarrassments from PDP members claiming that we can only work but they will benefit.
I know APC government does not believe in bribery and corruption; so they should concentrate on those who suffer to work for this party.
Is Abia APC also feeling the hardship in Nigeria?
Talking about hardship, Nigerians must understand that we are trying to fix what has gone wrong for 16 years. Nigerians should thank President Buhari and APC government because with what we are hearing from EFCC, Nigeria would have collapsed. Buhari is trying but I want to urge everybody to be patient because it is not easy to correct damages of decades.
We are surprised over the amount of money people cart away under the PDP government. People stole money with impunity but I want to beg all Nigerians that APC has come to remedy the situation. I have no doubt that come 2019, APC will take over Abia State government House and the whole Southeast and South-south.
Has Ndigbo accepted APC ?
It is not true that Ndigbo have not accepted or embraced APC. They have seen that APC has come to stay. Prominent Igbo sons like Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, former Minister of Health has joined us. Lots of top Igbo sons including the immediate past governor of Ebonyi State, Dr Martin Elechi is rumoured to have joined the APC. As I speak, we are talking with credible Igbo sons and daughters with conscience to join the APC.
The situation of APC in Abia State
We are doing wonderfully well right now under the leadership of the state chairman, Chief Hon Donatus Nwankpa, who was soul pioneer interim chairman. We served together. He is a former House of Assembly member for eight years and Commissioner. The party is moving forward There is APC in Abia and anybody that said there is no APC in Abia is lying. We have new entrants into the party; for example, Mrs Eunice Orji-Uzor, the mother of former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor-Kalu is with us. We just lost one person from that zone, late Senator Kenneth Okoroafor.
We have whole lots of wonderful persons like Justice Imo, former State Attorney-General of the state who is also the Secretary and Deputy Chairman of the State Elders Advisory Council. We have new entrants like Senator Adigije, Chief Tony Ukasanya who served eight years as the state Chairman of PDP.
We have BoT members like former Deputy Governor, Chris Adigije, Sam Ikiri, and Chief BB Akpugo.