Former majority leader in Imo State House of Assembly and top contender for the state Chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Stanford Onyirimba in this interview spoke on a wide range of political developments in the state(Imo).
Presently Imo State Chapter of PDP is at a crossroads since Emeka Ihedioha was removed as governor of the state, what is your party doing to stabilise?
To me, I don’t see Emeka Ihedioha as former governor of Imo State, rather, I still see him as my governor. I say this because the matter is still in court. Meanwhile, to answer your question, the news of the removal of Ihedioha came as a very big shock to us, hence it was unexpected. Yes, we are shocked over the unpopular judgment of the Supreme Court. The party in the state and in the national level stood firm with Ihedioha. We deemed it necessary to seek redress through the law court against what I describe as injustice meted to the people of Imo by the removal of Emeka Ihedioha. We are fighting to ensure the injustice is redressed and Ihedioha reinstated as governor of Imo State.
What is your expectation on March 2?
Like I said earlier, that judgment was not right and I expected it to be reversed. That judgment given on February 14, 2020 was not right and that is why it attracted a lot of outcry across the nation and internationally, hence the question you need to ask yourself is, why are people crying? Why have people continued to protest against that judgment? There is obvious mistake by the judges and correction needs to be made to preserve our democracy.
Did the former Chairman whom you want to replace resign because he was not sure Ihedioha will regain his mandate?
He resigned before the judgment. It was personal and the reason was best known to him.
There was an allegation that he was not in good terms with Ihedioha?
That is not true, rather, it was Ihedioha that retained him as the state party Chairman.
As one of those aspiring to replace the former state Chairman of PDP, what are you bringing to the table?
We in Okigwe zone are expected to produce the next state chairman of PDP. We need to be consulted because we are a stronghold of PDP in Imo State.
If elected, how do you intend to reposition PDP to be stronger and better?
That is the problem Imo people have now and as a party chairman, you are the driver. Your duty is take your members to their destination which is to electoral victory. Of course, you know that in Nigeria there is no provision for independent candidacy hence, you must belong to a political party to be able to contest election.
Your party in the state has commenced the process to recall its House of Assembly members that defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), how possible can this be considering the fact that the process is cumbersome?
I was Majority leader two times in the State House of Assembly and I want to assure you that those PDP lawmakers in the state Assembly that defected to APC will be recalled. And because they did not consult the people at the local government areas that voted for them before they defected to the ruling party, they must forfeit their candidate to the people that elected them. As I speak with you, the electorate are not happy with them at all and they will pay for betraying the people whose mandate they are holding on trust. The law says except there is crisis in your party, it is then you have the right to defect, but in this cas, there is no crisis in the state chapter of PDP or at the national level. Therefore, they don’t have tangible reason to defect to another party.
The trend is not new because immediately Emeka Ihedioha was sworn-in as governor of Imo State, all the APC and APGA lawmakers defected to PDP, what do you think is responsible for political flight anytime there is change of government?
It was not so in my own time. It is because today’s lawmakers don’t have integrity. If they have regard for party supremacy which is one of the principles of democracy, they won’t switch party with no reasonable reason. They were enticed with peanuts; that was why they jumped ship, but I assure you that the people who elected them will retrieve their mandate this time. This act did not make them honourable, instead it made them horrible. It is unfortunate how low our so-called representative stooped. I’m ashamed as a former lawmaker and leader of the House where these undemocratic actions are taken. This was not the kind of people we thought would take over from us. In my days, there was virile opposition, but today, majority of the state Assemblies are a rubber stamp. They no longer hold the executive accountable. The beauty of democracy is a virile opposition, but that is lacking in today’s state Assemblies. They believe that being in the ruling party, they have added advantage, but that is not true. All they are after is how much that goes into their pocket.
As it is now, there is division in the state PDP as members are divided along Orlu and Owerri zones where Uzodinma and Ihedioha hail from respectively; if elected the state chairman of the party, how would you handle the situation?
I disagree with you, there is no division in Imo State PDP. Majority of Orlu people know that Ihedioha won the election and they are not happy with the Supreme Court judgment. We are talking about justice not sentiment.
With the unification of political bigwigs in the state such as Sen. Ifeanyi Ararume, Sen. Rochas Okorocha and Uche Nwosu all in the ruling party now, how can your party wrestle power from the ruling party?
The same scenario played out in 1998 between All People’s Party (APP) and the PDP. All the political bigwigs were in APP and PDP won the governorship election. We will see a repeat under my watch as chairman because our party is Peoples Democratic Party.