Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu has asked the All Progressives Congress (APC) to put on its thinking cap to know that Nigeria is in a democracy, adding that it is laughable for the APC leadership to think that it would be giving instructions to the representatives of the people like their maids in the house.
He spoke in an interview, where he also contends that it is senseless for APC leadership to think that it can throw a whole geo-political zone as important as South-East to the trash bin.
Can you please review the performance of your party in the state in the just concluded elections?
Basically, I’ll say that PDP performed creditably well during this last elections in the sense that for the presidential election; you are aware we had about 96 per cent of the votes in Anambra State of which we are grateful to the people for that gesture, and in the National Assembly, we won two of the senatorial seats and six seats in the House of Representatives. One of the senatorial seats is still under contest in the court because the manner, in which the declaration was made, was not very transparent and we are expecting that we should be able to at least bring in one or two more House of Representatives seats in addition to that, from the tribunal. So to that extent, I believe we performed very well. The House of Assembly, despite the monetisation of the process, we were able to take six House of Assembly seats out of the 30 and we are still expecting that through the tribunal, we will be able to receive about four more seats because by and large, in some of the constituencies where PDP was clearly winning, like Onitsha South I, the results will be nullified. The essence of nullifying our results in some polling booths is to give an edge to the APGA candidate. It’s very worrisome. I don’t know why such a thing should be happening in this time and clime and again you know, in some of the other constituencies, the courts have already ruled that APGA didn’t hold any primaries. If you didn’t hold the primaries, there is no basis for you to sponsor a candidate. So we’re still looking forward to gaining more seats at the tribunal. So, to that extent, I’ll say we performed well but more grounds need to be covered.
To what will you attribute or credit these achievements to?
I’ll say that the achievements could be credited to many factors but the major ones are that the party; the national leadership of the party showed a great deal of leadership by example by ensuring that the primaries were conducted in a very free and transparent manner and the state had no other alternatives than to take a cue from what the national did and then again, the leadership in the state was able to show candidates a great deal of transparency and neutrality during the primaries that we conducted in Anambra State too. So, both factors helped in unifying the party in the state and the leadership quality displayed too by our presidential running mate, Peter Obi, is part of the things that helped to give us the victory we had and PDP campaigned vigorously in the state. We campaigned vigorously and we had a message and Anambra people were receptive to our message. These are the factors.
What are your expectations for 2022?
Well, 2021, 2022, we expect that PDP to bounce back to power in the state because for many years now, about 16 years to be precise that is if you take cognisance of the number of years left for this present governor, PDP has been out of power in the state and that has not been in the best interest of Anambra people. So, we expect that working assiduously and sustaining the unity that exists within the party and we do our primaries right which we expect we should be able to do, and present the candidate that is formidable, I have no doubt that PDP will win the governorship election in Anambra State come 2021/2022.
Can you really say now that the PDP in Anambra is united?
Yes, to a large extent. In every political party, there tend to be one or two tendencies but there is one leadership, there’s a greater focus to get things right and like I said, more work will be done within these coming few years to ensure that, that unity and solidarity and enthusiasm of Anambra people is sustained.
What is the leadership doing now to ensure that by 2021, 2022 those things will be eliminated and you don’t fall back to business as usual?
One thing that is clear is that if this followership sees honesty of purpose in the leadership, there’s a great tendency for them to really give all the necessary support to the leadership and that’s why, when I was campaigning to be the chairman, PDP Anambra State, I made it clear that, one; nobody will have to get the ticket of the party based on paying anybody any money, that nobody as an aspirant will be asked for one dime. All you need do is campaign vigorously in your constituency and that once your people choose you, that we will not in any way change those that are chosen by their people and we delivered that in 2019 and taking a cue from that, I believe we’ve enhanced the confidence of the party followership in the leadership in the state and if that has been done, our role now, our responsibility is to ensure that we work assiduously to get the party structures to be very formidable and that’s what we have started doing and in the next few weeks, we will be crisscrossing the senatorial zones, holding stakeholders’ summit and all that and then sustain it with mass mobilisation of followership in various local government areas and at the wards level. Very soon, you’ll start observing that all Ward offices of the party are all opened and manned by staff so that people who are interested in PDP can come and register. Again, we will soon designate a period within which we will send our party leadership at the Wards levels to go and do what we call membership drive. Again, we will not rest on our oars in calling on the present government of the state to order, where they are getting it wrong because Anambra deserves the best. So, these are the things I feel that if we get to do, definitely, the unity that exists will be much more enhanced.
The National Chairman of APGA recently said that the party will zone the governorship of the state to Anambra South, is PDP considering zoning too?
Well, I feel before he said that, he must have consulted with the leadership of his party. Ours is still work in progress. At the appropriate time, the leadership in Anambra PDP will come out with our own, designed in the best interest of all Anambra people. It’s not for me alone as the chairman to take a decision and say, ‘this is the way I feel about it.’ No. I think at the appropriate time, the leadership will meet and take a decision.
Are you confident that your party can upturn INEC’s declaration of Muhammadu Buhari as winner of 2019 presidential poll?
I’m very confident because we have a solid argument before the tribunal. It’s unfortunate that INEC has said that there are no servers but we were in the field and we know too well that in the course of the election, there were two collation officers at every local government and ward and out of those collation officers; one was e-collation officer while the other one was doing manual collation. So, for them at this stage to start denying the existence of the server is unfortunate. So where are those doing the e-collation sending it to? It shows to Nigerians that there was a great deal of manipulation that led to the outcome of what was announced as the result of the election. If not, why would INEC deny something that they know that they deployed? It is better that they say, ‘yes, we had such procedure in place but for some other reasons, that so and so could have happened’ than making a denial that they didn’t do any e-collation. For people who are participants, it shows that INEC has something to hide. We have a very solid case and I have no doubt that we will definitely win because what was announced could not have been the outcome of that election.
What’s your take on the handling of the yet to be constituted 9th National Assembly leadership by the ruling APC?
Well, I think the APC does not understand the country, Nigeria; even the issue of ensuring that all the geographical zones are represented at the national scheme of governance as enshrined in the constitution is not being considered by the party. If the makers of the constitution did not intend that every person will be represented, there wouldn’t be the issue of Federal Character principle. So, I’m amazed that a political party that calls itself national will have a presidential candidate from the North-West, a vice presidential candidate from the South-West and still intend to zone the speakership to the South-West. It shows that they are not putting on their thinking caps.
We have elected representatives on the platform of the APC from the South-East, so, there are no reasons to deny the South-East the opportunity of being represented at the centre. You take away the presidency, you take away the Senate presidency; you want to take away the Speaker of the House of Representatives? Haba! That’s too bad. And again, the way they are going about it; the party has spoken, the party has spoken. The party itself should have understood that all its members are equal and that they are all entitled to determine who should lead them. For them to now say the party has spoken, the party has spoken is an abnormality and for you to be on national television as a national chairman of a political party and be saying ‘party A or party B should not in any way be given anything,’ as if you are giving instructions to your small children in the house, is absurd. The matter of the legislature is a consensual thing. You build consensus because you can never tell when you’ll need each other. So, it’s something that both the PDP and APC should sit down and do and then evolve a much more consensus approach. The question of National Assembly leadership is not something that any political party can hand down as an instruction. That’s not democracy.