By Omotunde Alawode
An All Progressives Congress (APC) political leader for Akwa Ibom and Cross River States in Lagos State, Chief Edet Okon Etim, in this interview speaks on how his party made a blunder of appointing deceased persons as board members. He also spoke on other issues of interest.
Some Nigerians believe that your party is yet to meet the expectations of the masses as it promised during electioneering. What is your take on the performance of the APC?
One of the cardinal promises made by the APC- led federal government was to fight corruption, which, it is vigorously fighting; leading to the recovery of cash in several unconventional places. We are also trying in other areas like in agriculture but meeting all the promises is a gradual process, which, with time will be taken care of. The problem we have is the defectors from other political parties. These people lack discipline.
Do you think the party will survive next year’s election?
For us to survive beyond 2019 general election, President Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the national chairman should wake up and recognise the original party members that came from ACN, CPC, ANPP to form our APC. These founding members should be integrated into the main stream and Buhari should avoid using defectors for strategic planning. With this in place, we will continue to be stronger and also continue to lead the national government.
What is the condition of APC in Akwa Ibom State today?
The original members of the party have been infiltrated and factionalised by dubious defectors from the PDP. Recall that the then ACN in 2011 singlehandedly fought and won the Uyo Federal House of Representatives and the Uyo State House of Assembly seats under Gov. Godswill Akpabio and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. In fact, our current vice president was the lead counsel in the case for the ACN, at the time. But that could not be achieved in 2015 because we had people that came from other political parties to our fold with negative agenda and support by some of our bad national leaders.
For instance, Athanatius Okon, who is the present national coordinator, friends of president Buhari, Nigeria, among others, have not been given any national appointment, Efanga, a lawyer, lost his brother and mother through gruesome murder for the reason of his being the legal adviser to ACN. I recall that the president in an interview in 2015 had warned that defectors from other political parties to APC should not be allowed to take frontal positions in the party, but now some of them are already taking frontal position which is affecting the policy and ideology of the party. Right now about 50 percent of the present appointees in government are from the PDP, which he asserted is slowing down the programme of the party.
I was particular attacked by the PDP thugs who later decamped to APC with the intention to eliminate me and I almost lost one side of my eyes. But God helped me out, though my pilot jeep was taken away and I have not recovered it up till today. So these are some of the challenges we have.
How do you think Buhari can boost the morale of the masses before next year’s election?
President Buhari, to be very honest with you, has good intentions for the people. I plead for him to be given some months more, he will do something. Thank God he is strong now to handle the affairs of government. I want him to replace some members within the presidency and fight Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen. If he does this and lots more, the people’s morale will be boosted.
For the political appointees, I do not expect something very tangible from them because some of them are failures in their previous endeavours and appointments. Is it the minister of works? Is it the minister of transport? Is it the minister of Agriculture or labour or the minister of state for petroleum? They have not performed. They should be flushed out for fresh minds with nationalistic instinct to be put into these positions for optimum result.
What is your take concerning the appointment of dead persons into boards and parastatals?
It is very embarrassing to the government of Nigeria, even in the eyes of the international community. This is not a party issue. Young energetic people are there for such appointments but dubious people in charge of government affairs exhibited their infantile disposition to such sensitive issues. For our chairman, Chief John Oyegun to deny knowledge of the appointments shows that the party leadership and the federal appointees are in disarray. But that shouldn’t be the case.
The APC national leadership and the government of the day should sit tight and plug all loopholes and remember to bring on stream faithful party members for appointments. We appreciate the sincerity of our first lady in this direction by speaking out the truth that those that suffered for APC to make its victory possible should be compensated by the president through appointments.
The federal government should stop bringing in bunch of deceivers into sensitive positions. It should be noted that the current political appointments meant for Akwa-Ibom are not given to the original members of APC but to those who initially were opposed us but later purport to decamp to APC with the intention to destabilise the party.
I want to however call on all pro-democracy groups and activists like Mr. Femi Falana, to rise up to the occasion and keep watch over government activities, so as to act as a check on its activities. I also believe that even with this seeming embarrassment, the APC-led federal government will bounce back to public reckoning and work to return to the seat of power in next year’s general election.